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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Start Your Engines: The Indy 500 Revs Up Fun This Weekend

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It's the most wonderful time of the year.

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This weekend, the “raciest” event takes place in Speedway, Indiana and is revving up fun for millions this Memorial Day weekend. So what is it about car racing that excites a lot of us? My best friend, a former small town go-kart champion would probably say it’s the thrill of speed while playing cat and mouse with drivers as they zoom past each other to the finish line, or that unadulterated adrenaline rush when you hear those engines roar and shake the earth beneath you.

Though I like to think it’s the speed and concentration witnessed on the racetrack that makes one feel the excitement of the sport, keeps them on the edge of their seat, but then again—it could also be that sensation when fans sit in the stands and feel that warm Indiana sun kissing their skin. However you decide to describe such fun and excitement, you “auto” know (I’m done with puns, don’t worry) that this weekend is bound to be big fun for sports fans and racing enthusiasts as the famed Indianapolis 500 celebrates another year of automobile racing at the beloved Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race also known as the Indy 500, is a car race that is held annually and normally on the last weekend in May, specifically over the U.S. Memorial Day weekend in Speedway, Indiana. The event is known as one of the greatest spectacles in racing and is considered to be one of the three most important motor-sports events in the world, garnering in an in-stadium audience of more than 250,000 and a worldwide television audience of millions! It is the one event that is literally on the lips of every sports fan this weekend. As someone who has visited the IMS, I must say it is one of the best tracks I’ve ever seen.

{Image Credit: IMS/AP Photo}

The IMS complex was built in 1909 as a gravel-and-tar track which brought in some 40,000 spectators for the first time. When starting out, the race was only 5 miles long but when the track broke up, the owners realized it wasn’t sufficient for a car race and hauled in 3.2 million bricks to resurface the track–hence the nickname many know today simply as, “The Brickyard” which to this day still has the original bricks. It was in 1911 that the first Indy 500 took place with over 40 drivers and was completed in about seven hours, as the average speed of the race was around 75 mph. The winning driver, Ray Harroun received $14,000 and from then on, the race was an instant success as the stands were always sold out and the best drivers entered their cars. The IMS soon gained reputation for being “the grand-daddy of all races” and had run every year excluding the time when the world wars took place.

There’s such a rich history behind the IMS and Speedway and it is truly meant to be experienced. And though I’ve never had the opportunity to sit in the stands at a live event for the Indy 500 and witness the excitement first-hand, it is definitely on my bucket list for one of these days because not only is the racing fun and exciting, but incredibly engaging–all due in part to a warm-hearted community at the helm of festivities. If you know Hoosiers like me, you will know how they have an admirable quality of going out of their way with hospitality and ensure that everyone is happy while visiting Indiana.

With the event taking place on Sunday, May 25,  festivities and celebrations are well underway in and around the city before the big race. Tomorrow is the IPL 500 Festival Parade which will allow spectators to witness the pageantry of the annual celebration, complete with larger-than-life floats that will light up the streets of downtown Indy. It is one of the most popular signature events held in the United States each year, and is the only event that has taken place every year since 1957. It was announced just yesterday that The Voice winner, Josh Kaufman will be the Festival Parade’s Grand Marshal, with Jim Nabors serving as Honorary Grand Marshall. Kaufman, the newly-crowned Season 6 champion will perform on Saturday at the KeyBank 500 Festival Snakepit Ball among 300,000 spectators, while Nabors who has struggled with health issues in recent years, will be singing “(Back Home Again in) Indiana” before the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday for the 35th and final time.

This weekend is bound to be quite the celebration, but if you’re not aware of how the racing aspect of Indy 500 really works, it’s simple and not at all complicated. That being said, don’t go out racing your car thinking you can be Hélio Castroneves or Danica Patrick—it’s’s not something anyone of us can achieve just by hitting the pedal. There’s a fine art to speedy driving and these drivers have a certain technique when taking on the race. The Indy 500 consists of 200 laps and of course, 500 miles. One lap alone is 2.5 miles and while the procedural rules are controlled by the Indy Racing League, you don’t need to really read all those technical terms in order to watch the race. Take it for what it is and just enjoy it! One of the most captivating things about race-car driving is that while the drivers speed their way to the front of the line and do their very best to beat the other, it’s been evident in the Indy 500’s history that unpredictability plays a giant factor in the race. Just because a driver may lead in the last few laps, doesn’t necessarily deem them the winner so hold on tightly till the very end to see who’s made it to the finish line!

How many gallons of fuel are burned per lap? An interesting infographic about the Indy 500 // {Image Credit: Wallet Hub}

The annual tradition of milk drinking will once again take place, despite some saying it might be too hot for milk consumption this Sunday (estimated 26°C/79°F), but it all goes back to history. Louis Meyer who is best known as the three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1928, 1933 and 1936 requested buttermilk after winning his second race and asked again for the beverage in his third win but instead, received a bottle. Meyer was then captured by a photographer in the act, drinking from the bottle. It was soon after that a local dairy company recognized the marketing potential behind the symbolic bottle of milk and offered milk to all the winners in future races. Milk has been presented every year since then, apart from 1947-1955 because of the U.S involvement in the World Wars. Today there is variety and drivers are offered a choice of whole, 2% or skim milk and it proves to young fans, that milk does a body good.

When the race is all done and a winner has sped their way through to the finish line, the winner of the Indy 500 receives the Borg-Warner trophy. Last year’s race was won by Tony Kanaan, who was noted as the fastest in history and presented a record 68 lead changes—double the number from 2012. In an interview with USA Today, Kanaan who received $2.3 million in prize money and a staggering 9,000 Twitter followers overnight, said it’s the feeling after the race that drives the racers to continue. “The feeling of this is what you get addicted to. I think what drives us in trying to get another one is what I felt after the race. Now I can tell you that this is the motivation. Before, I didn’t know what to expect. I was like, ‘Man, can I do this?’,” he said.

They surely can! So who’s going to win this weekend? It really could be anyone’s track. Each year, all 33 of the participating drivers who come from solid, humble backgrounds, each have their own unique story of personal triumph, dedicated spirit and steadfast character that encompass what this celebration is all about.

Many of the pre-race events such as the IPL 500 Festival Parade, the Snake Pit Ball Red Carpet and the Indy Lights Freedom 100 will be televised on NBC Sports, ABC and ESPN; with the highly anticipated race kicking off at noon this Sunday, May 25th on ABC—a network that has been airing the race for the past 46 years.

As Speedway celebrates the 98th running of the Indy 500, it’s clear that the famed race will surely deliver high-octane thrills and chills this Sunday in what the world knows as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”!

For more information on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500, visit the IMS at their official site and follow them on TwitterFlickrYouTubeFacebook and Instagram.

To plan your trip to Indianapolis this summer, be sure to Visit Indy!

Who do you think is going to win BIG this weekend?

Connect with Tania Hussain on Twitter and Google+!

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  1. Start Your Engines: The Indy 500 Revs Up Fun This Super Weekend | westlifebunny - May 23, 2014

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