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by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance

All about the Indianapolis 500 and the 500 Festival

Photo of three racecars on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indianapolis 500
When is the Indianapolis 500? 


In Indiana, the month of May is known for more than its springtime weather. “It’s May, baby,” is a motto heard around the state. It is race time! The 106th annual Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, May 29, 2022; the Indianapolis start time is approximately 12:45 p.m. EDT.  


The Indianapolis 500, often referred to as the Indy 500, is the largest single-day sporting event in the world. When compared with famous events, such as the Super Bowl and World Cup, being named the largest single-day sporting event in the world is no small feat. In fact, for fans of racing, this day is also known as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”  

The Indy 500 requires major advanced planning, preparation and effort to make this a seamless event for viewers all over the world.  


How many laps are there in the Indianapolis 500?  


The Indy 500 is a total of 200 2.5-mile laps, totaling 500 miles, which is how the event got its name. There are 33 drivers that compete in the race and the Indianapolis 500 winner receives one bottle of cold milk and a whopping amount of prize money! Milk? Yes, milk. In 1936, Indy 500 winner Louis Meyer asked for a glass of buttermilk because his mom told him it would refresh him on a hot day. The tradition remains today; drivers fill out a milk preference form indicating their choice. 


The prize money is a different amount every year because the amount of winnings is determined by the purse of the race. The purse is the total amount of money that will be paid to the top finishers and is determined before the race, no matter the conditions or competition.  


Will the Indy 500 be televised in Indianapolis? 


The race will be televised on National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and live streamed on Sirius XM and INDYCAR Radio. However, if you live in central Indiana, you are out of luck. Historically, the race has been blacked out to local broadcast. The blackout was lifted in 2020 and 2021 in response to COVID-19 capacity restrictions. Whether the blackout will be in place in 2022 remains to be seen. 


For those wanting to attend in person, there are still tickets available for purchase. Fans can enjoy festivities outside of race day, such as practice days, Armed Forces Qualifying, Miller Lite Carb Day, Firestone Legends Day, the Indianapolis 500 Snake Pit, as well as community events like the 500 Festival Parade and more. For a full schedule of events, visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s website. 


It is worth it to purchase your tickets now rather than waiting for the day of. Ticket prices increase on race day. 


For more information on where to buy Indianapolis 500 tickets, check out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s website. 



What is the 500 Festival?  


Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance is a corporate member of the 500 Festival. Many employees and agents participate in 500 Festival activities each year and love the opportunity to enjoy the traditions created around the race. 


Although the official race happens on May 29, there is a lot of exciting activity that leads up to race day, specifically the 500 Festival.  


According to the 500 Festival, “The mission of the 500 Festival is to produce life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 and foster a positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana.”  


The 500 Festival was established in 1957 as a not-for-profit community organization to help the city of Indianapolis celebrate the greatest sporting event in the world.  


Some of the main events of the 500 Festival include Breakfast at the Brickyard, the 500 Festival Princess Program, 500 Festival Off the Grid, OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, The American Legion 500 Festival Memorial Service, the Delta Dental 500 Festival 5K and more!  


Each event celebrates the history of the Indianapolis 500 and gives people activities to participate in, in addition to the race, throughout the entire month. If you did not sign up to run the mini-marathon or 5K this year, mark it on your calendar for next year as motivation to stay active throughout next year.  


At-home Indy 500 festivities 

If you will not attend this year’s race in person, this doesn’t mean May 29 will be a day without racing and fun. Make your own Indy 500 celebration in the comfort of your own home! Remember the race will be aired live on NBC for viewers to watch. Or there is always the radio broadcast. Stream the race on the NBC Sports App and, or you can check out IMS Radio Network or INDYCAR Radio for more information. The ways in which you, your friends and family can celebrate the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 are endless. Here are just a few creative ideas you could try: 

  • Have a race of your own - Time to get out your lawnmower and put it to good use—other than mowing the lawn, of course. Let your grass grow as much as possible before May 29 and then the morning of the race, create your own racecourse by mowing out a track on the lawn. Once complete, watch as your kids, dogs, and anyone else who wants to take part in race day run around the homemade grass track! Although there won’t be screaming crowds and roaring engines, this backyard racetrack is guaranteed to make everyone happy.  

  • Super Bowl party? More like Indy 500 party - Get your crock-pot out of its hiding place. It’s time for an Indy 500 party! Get your family together, invite the neighbors over and throw an Indy 500 party. Fill it with appetizers, board games, card games, appetizers, sunshine, fun and, did someone say appetizers? We all know we wish we could eat the “Super Bowl party meal” more than once a year--May 29 is your chance to do just that. Get out your buffalo chicken dip ingredients and get cooking!  

  • Cookout time - Maybe watching the Indy 500 isn’t your cup of tea, but it is loved by other members of your family. Well, here is a compromise. Have a cookout outside with the race on the TV or radio inside. For those more interested in the sun than the race, put the race on the big screen or speaker and eat your freshly grilled hamburger and potato salad outdoors.  

  • Do 500 of something - If you don’t know already, the Indy 500 is a 500-mile race! In the spirit of the 106th annual Indy 500, it is your turn to do something 500 times! Maybe you run 500 meters or eat 500 pretzels or write your name 500 times. How creative can you get? See what you can come up with and post your progress on social media and use the hashtag #Idid500forIndy.    


No matter if you choose to commemorate the Indy 500 this year or not, make the month of May and race day a time to spend with family and friends. Remember when your family and friends ask, “What time does the Indianapolis 500 start,” you know that the race starts at 12:45 p.m. EDT, and don’t forget boogity, boogity, boogity – It’s May, baby! Let’s go racing!