Indy 500 Rules
Like in any sport, Indy Racing has certain rules and guidelines that it calls for its participants to follow. The Indy 500 also has some of its own specific guidelines that you’re going to want to know prior to race day in order to gain a better grasp of the biggest race of the year.
With the rise of NASCAR, Indy Racing had to do something to become more interesting to fans in order to make that money. In 2005, the Indy 500 changed its qualifying format to try to do just that. There are four days of qualifying which fans can come out to watch with each car getting three qualifying runs each day. There are 33 total spots available in the race and 11 are open each day. Drivers have the option of withdrawing their time, even if they have already qualified, to try to improve their pole position. Any spots not filled in any one day are then carried over to the next.
Like golf, you have to make the cut. On the fourth day of qualifying, the slowest driver from the first three days can be replaced if a non-qualified driver beats his or her time. The track is open from noon to 6:00 pm each day to give drivers a 6-hour window to run. Drivers draw a number each day to determine the order in which they will run. Each Driver is guaranteed a qualifying attempt each day. If the weather does not allow it, they will get to run the next day and have that run count toward the previous.
Number of Cars Rule:
Any car entered in the Indy 500 is allowed to have another car with the same number. If the car’s number is 17, for example, the second car would be labeled 17T. Both of these cars can be used for practice runs. If a backup car is running really well during the practice period, it can then be entered separately with another driver. These backup cars from the better teams are sold often enough to other teams who use them in the race.
Unification of Rules:
Indy 500 race specifications for cars used to be different than those of the Indy Racing league, but a rule change has now unified things. Now the only difference between Indy 500 cars and cars for the rest of the races is that Indy 500 cars have a special wings that gives them lower drag. For many years, the USAC and CART set the rules for this race, as illogical as that sounds. As a result, several different engines and chassis were developed for the Indy 500 which couldn’t be run anywhere else.
Inspections are getting tighter and tighter in this era of cheating and the Indy 500 calls for several inspections before the race starts. The first is a safety inspection. The second is to make sure that the car follows all guidelines so that its qualification process will be a legal one.
You’re probably wondering what the hell this rule is all about. Prior to 1971, women were not allowed to drive in the Indy 500 or even be in the pit area. Six years after this rule was wiped out, Janet Guthrie became the first women to qualify for the Indy 500. Now, Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher will both be attempting to qualify.
Be sure to check out all of Jimmy Boyd’s Indy 500 articles including his 2008 Indy 500 odds and predictions to find out who Jimmy likes to win the biggest race of the year.