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Indianapolis 500

Thursday, May 18, 2006
The annual Indianapolis 500 is held each May on Memorial Day. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious car races in the world. The first Indy 500 was run in 1911. Open-wheeled Indy cars have an open cockpit, six-speed manual transmission, V8 or V6 turbocharged engine fitted behind the driver, rear wheel drive and aerodynamic devices keeping the car on track.

The race is 500 miles long and cars generally travel 75 miles between pit stops. It is held at the largest spectator sporting facility in the world, and the race is the largest single-day spectator sporting event in the world, attracting over 350,000 people. There are 250,000 permanent seats and the other 100,000 watch from the infield, the area in the middle of the track.

Referred to as 'the brickyard', the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in 1909 and paved with 3.2 million bricks. It has been covered with asphalt throughout the years and eventually covered completely, except for a 36 inch strip which is the start/finish line. Thirty-three drivers all hope to be the one to finish first.

It was built as a track to test automobile innovations and a competition facility for what was then a booming car production industry in Indianapolis.

The Snakepit Ball is held the night before the race. The black-tie event attracts race fans and celebrities for a spectacular dinner and official race eve party. It is held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom.

The Indianapolis 500 Old Timers Club is a get-together of former drivers, mechanics and racing writers. Members must have been involved with the race for at least twenty years. There are currently over 1000 members.

Locals rent out their yards for people to camp in or just park. Some even provide tents. The 80-hectare Coca Cola Lot Campground holds thousands of tents and recreational vehicles. The atmosphere is very friendly — barbecuing is very popular and sitting around campfires with new friends.

The next Indianapolis 500 race is on May 28 this year.


The capital of Indiana in the United State.


Australian Sports Tours has an Indy 500 package for $1250 per person twin share. It includes three nights' accommodation, breakfast each day and reserved grandstand seating.

Coca Cola Lot Campground costs around $54 for an overnight stay and two day camping passes are around $40.

Air New Zealand has return flights to Los Angeles. Valid for sale until December 9, 2006 for travel between May 18 and June 16, 2006 and again between July 18 and December 9, 2006. Taxes are included.

Fares from;
  • Sydney, $1691
  • Melbourne, $1771
  • Brisbane, $1773
  • Adelaide, $1991
  • Perth, $2233
  • Darwin, $2258
Connections are available from Los Angeles to Indianapolis.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

For further information

Australian Sports Tours Pty Ltd.
404 Sturt Street
Ballarat Vic 3350
Ph: (03) 5332 6407, 1800 026 668
Fax: (03) 5332 6147

Snakepit Ball
500 Festival ticket hotline
Ph: 0011 1 317 614 6400

The Coca Cola Lot Campground
(go to 'Tickets' link for information)
Ph: 0011 1 317 492 6700

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