The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is upon us. We’re now 100 days away from the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, which takes place on May 29. To celebrate, IMS has begun a festive countdown that involves a lot of people and places around the state of Indiana. The plan is to celebrate and promote the event over the course of the next 100 days.
It all began last night, as many people gathered on the grounds of IMS. There were driver autographs, tours, refreshments, and an electric atmosphere that kept going all the way through midnight. That’s when IMS President Doug Boles and others huddled on the main straightaway to count down the seconds until the stroke of midnight – which officially marked 100 days out.
Another big part of last night was the ticket unveiling for the big race. As tradition would have it, last year’s winner (Juan Montoya) was featured, but it was something else that lifted some eyebrows. The ticket is actually made of clear plastic. It’s the first time ever that the Speedway has used a souvenir-style plastic for an event ticket. If you have already renewed or purchased reserved seats to this year’s race, you are guaranteed to get one of the unique tickets. If not, you still have until March 31 to purchase your tickets to make sure you get your hands on one (while supplies last).
Today, IMS officials and Verizon IndyCar Series drivers spent the day going around to businesses and organizations in Indiana, delivering signed bottles of milk. This included a visit to the Statehouse for Boles and a few drivers.
Hulman and Company CEO Mark Miles rang the bell at the NY Stock Exchange, alongside the Borg Warner Trophy.
Also today, Team Penske opened their special exhibit at the IMS Hall of Fame Museum, celebrating their 50 year anniversary as a racing organization. The exhibit will be on display until November 30th, with 22 of the team’s cars on display. It features 16 Indy 500 winning cars, which were driven to victory lane by 11 Penske drivers.
“It’s truly an honor for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum and Pennzoil to showcase all of the hard work, dedication and winning momentum from everyone at Team Penske from over the past 50 years,” Roger Penske said. “The museum is a true testament to the heritage this team embodies and we’re most excited to be able to share this with our racing fans.”
As part of today’s opening, the team unveiled Helio Castroneves’ car for this year’s Indy 500. He will have the iconic “Pennzoil Yellow Submarine” livery that Rick Mears drove in route to winning the Indy 500 in 1984 and 1988. Photos, courtesy of IndyCar, can be seen below. You will notice something special about the tires as well.
Firestone unveiled a special tire that will be run during this year’s event, which is a tremendous idea. The sidewalls will feature the names of all 66 winning drivers that used Firestone tires in the Indianapolis 500. Firestone has carried more drivers to victory circle at IMS than all of the other tire manufacturers combined. Firestone will produce more than 5,000 tires featuring the commemorative Indy 500 sidewall, all of which will be used during practice, qualifying and the race.
There will be some type of event every day from now until Race Day in May. The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season begins on March 13, on the streets of St Petersburg.