When is the Indy 500? Start times, schedules, TV, stats, historical details about the race

·6 min read

When is the Indy 500? Well, the good news is that it’s back in May.

Even better, it’ll have a crowd again: 135,000 fans (with face coverings required) have been approved to attend the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, which will take place on Sunday, May 30 and will be broadcast on NBC.

After the 2020 race was held in August and without fans for the first time in the storied race’s history because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing will return to some degree of normalcy this season.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway officially opens for business for May next weekend with the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 15 taking place on the track’s road course.

The action then will move to the 2.5-mile oval for two weeks of practice, qualifying and then the 500-Mile Race on May 30.

Here are all the pertinent details to help answer the question of “When is the Indy 500?” and many more (all times are ET and subject to change):

What are the Indy 500 race day start times?

5 a.m.: Garage opens

6 a.m.: Gates open

6:30 a.m.: Tech inspection

8:15 a.m.: Cars pushed to pit lane

10:30 a.m.: Cars on the starting grid

11:47 a.m.: Driver introductions

12:38 p.m.: Command to start engines

12:45 p.m.: Green flag for the 105th Indy 500

How can I watch the Indy 500 on TV?

The Indy 500 will be shown on NBC. Prerace coverage will begin at 9 a.m. on NBCSN, moving to NBC at 11 a.m. and running through 4 p.m., followed by a postrace show on NBCSN. It also will be available via streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com.

Practice and qualifying for the Indy 500 will be shown on NBC, NBCSN and Peacock Premium.

When is qualifying for the Indy 500?

The 33-car field for the Indy 500 will be set May 22-23.

Saturday, May 22: Practice from 9:30-10:30 a.m.; qualifying from noon-5:50 p.m.

Sunday, May 23: Practice from 11 a.m.-noon; Last Chance Qualifying 1:15-2:30 p.m.; Fast Nine Qualifying, 3-3:45 p.m., Indy 500 practice 5-7 p.m.

When is practice for the Indy 500?

There will be five practice-only days, starting Tuesday, May 18 and continuing through Carb Day on May 28.

May 18: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (oval veterans 10 a.m.-noon; rookies and refreshers noon-2 p.m.; 3-6 p.m. all drivers)

May 19: Noon-6 p.m.

May 20: Noon-6 p.m.

May 21: Noon-6 p.m.

May 28: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

How many fans will be allowed to attend the Indy 500?

There will be 135,000 fans permitted (with face coverings required) in the 230,000-seat grandstands. Practice and qualifying also are open to the general public. The infield will be closed to fans, and the track has canceled all concerts (including Carb Day, Legends Day and the Snake Pit) for May.

How many laps and how long is the Indy 500?

The race is 500 miles over 200 laps. Depending on the number of yellow flags, the Indy 500 typically takes about 3 hours to complete (give or take 30 minutes).

What is the size, length, width and banking of Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

The track is 2.5 miles, which consists of:

  • Front straightaway: 5/8ths of a mile

  • Back straightaway: 5/8ths of a mile

  • Turns: Each a quarter-mile.

  • Short chutes: Each 1/8th of a mile

The track’s width is 50 feet on the straightaways and 60 feet in the turns. Its turns are banked at 9 degrees.

IMS sits on 963.4 acres (which includes the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, 315 acres of parking lots and a solar farm). There are 17 grandstands, 26 bridges and six tunnels. The infield is 253 acres.

Why do 33 cars start the Indy 500?

There were 40 cars that started the inaugural 500 Mile Race in 1911. Afterward, the American Automobile Association’s contest board decided the field was too big for the 2.5-mile track. A formula was created that decreed each car should be entitled to 400 feet when the field was spread around the track. Because 2.5 miles equals 13,200 feet, that allows for 33 cars at 400 feet apiece.

Why does the Indy 500 winner drink milk?

The tradition began in the 1930s when two-time winner Louis Meyer asked for a glass of buttermilk after his second victory (his mother taught him it would refresh him on hot days). After winning his third Indy 500 in 1936, a photo of Meyer drinking buttermilk led to a dairy industry executive requesting milk be available annually to the winner. Since 1956, winners have been given a $10,000 bonus from the Indiana Dairy Association for including milk in their postrace celebration.

What is the Indy 500 winner’s trophy?

The Borg-Warner Trophy has honored the winner since 1936. Each victor’s face is sculpted onto the trophy with a square that includes their name, winning year and average speed. Originally designed to hold 80 winners, two new bases were constructed to add more space (in 1986 and in 2004, which provides capacity through 2034).

The trophy is 5 feet, 4.75 inches high and weighs 110 pounds. It’s valued at more than $3 million and also features a 24-karat gold sculpture of late IMS owner Tony Hulman. It resides at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Hall of Fame Museum. Since 1988, race winners have received a 14-inch “Baby Borg” to keep.

Which drivers have won more than one Indy 500?




Rick Mears


1979, 1984, 1988, 1991

Al Unser Sr.


1970, 1971, 1978, 1987

A.J. Foyt


1961, 1964, 1967, 1977

Dario Franchitti


2007, 2010, 2012

Helio Castroneves


2001, 2002, 2009

Bobby Unser


1968, 1975, 1981

Johnny Rutherford


1974, 1976, 1980

Mauri Rose


1941, 1947, 1948

Wilbur Shaw


1937, 1939, 1940

Louis Meyer


1928, 1933, 1936

Tommy Milton


1921, 1923

Bill Vukovich


1953, 1954

Rodger Ward


1959, 1962

Gordon Johncock


1973, 1982

Emerson Fittipaldi


1989, 1993

Al Unser Jr.


1992, 1994

Arie Luyendyk


1990, 1997

Dan Wheldon


2005, 2011

Juan Pablo Montoya


2000, 2015

Takuma Sato


2017, 2020

What are the closest finishes in Indy 500 history?




Margin of victory


Al Unser Jr.

Scott Goodyear

0.043 seconds


Ryan Hunter-Reay

Helio Casroneves

0.06 seconds


Sam Hornish Jr.

Marco Andretti

0.0635 seconds


Juan Pablo Montoya

Will Power

0.1046 seconds


Gordon Johncock

Rick Mears

0.16 seconds

When is the Indy 500? Start times, schedules, TV, stats, historical details about the race originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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