It may be 200 laps worth of left turns, but the Indianapolis 500 is a very big race. We've assembled the definitive collection of everything you need to know about today's events.
The Starting Grid
- 11:15 AM "On the Banks of the Wabash" played by the Purdue University Marching band. Cars begin to grid on the track
- 11:50 AM Engine warm-up
- 12:00 PM Pre-race ceremonies begin
- 12:31 PM Driver Introductions
- 12:45 PM "America the Beautiful" performed by Miss America, Katie Stam
- 12:48 PM General McKinley addresses the crowd in remembrance of Memorial Day
- 12:51 PM "God Bless America" performed by Florence Henderson
- 12:54 PM National Anthem performed by Major Lisa Kopczyniski, Air Force flyover
- 12:56 PM "Drivers to your cars"
- 12:58 PM Invocations performed by Archbishop Daniel Buechlein
- 1:00 PM Rifle Volley and "Taps" performed by Joseph Young
- 1:02 PM "Back Home Again in Indiana" performed by Jim Nabors, balloon spectacle
- 1:03 PM "Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!" - Mari Hulman George
- 1:04 PM 2010 Camaro Pace car driven by Josh Duhamel (Captain Lennox in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen") leads the field
- 1:09 PM Pace laps
- 1:11 PM Official start of the 2009 Indianapolis 500
Forecasters are predicting a high temperature of 79 degrees F with a 30% chance of thunderstorms about an hour after the scheduled start of the race. The front is approaching from the south and is building strength on the back of high humidity and warm ground temps.
What to watch for
- Helio Castroneves has been on fire this week, setting the pole and winning the pit competition. Momentum has him high on the list of racers to watch for the leader's position
- It's the 40th anniversary of the only Andretti win here at Indy, when Mario Andretti took the checker in 1969. Amusingly, Marco will be racing without the guidance of his grandfather, who will be calling the race for Danica Patrick instead. If Miss Patrick goes for a pass on Andretti and backs off, make a joke.
- Tony Kannan has led at some point during all of the last seven races, but has never taken the win. With this underdog status, he's likely to be the crowd favorite.
- Danica Patrick's car will be wearing its new livery as former sponsor Motorola has been usurped by Sprint's Boost Mobile as the main sponsor.
- Be sure to point and laugh at Alex Lloyd in the #99 car, as he'll be running in hot pink livery with a matching hot pink racing suit. Laugh at him even more as the sponsor is "her ENERGY," "her" being an acronym for "health, energy, revitalizer." Yes, it's an energy drink being marketed specifically for women and it comes in a pink can.