Indy 500 Schedule: Why Carb Day Remains a Can't Miss Thrill for Race Fans

Joe VersageCorrespondent IIMay 25, 2012

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Beginning with its annual Carb Day, this weekend's Indianapolis 500 has a number of storylines, but the weather will stand out for those who have the good fortune of seeing the race live and in person. 

Thunderstorms are forecast for Friday, as the festivities get under way. Carb Day is short for "carburation day," which is the final opportunity for teams to practice before Sunday's Indy 500. But it means much, much more to fans, some of whom anticipate the day more than they do Sunday.

Carb Day is a joyous celebration of the crown jewel of auto races. Fans can check out practices and competitions and actually stand on or near the track surface. But Carb Day can sometimes get out of hand, as some fans lube up like the race cars they adore.  A free concert by Lynyrd Skynyrd should liven things up a little more and lead to a few hangovers Saturday morning.

According to, Carb Day is when qualified drivers practice in "Race Day trim," as opposed to the less-expensive setups that are used for out-and-out speed during time trials.

Before fuel injection was introduced in the late 1940s, carbs were adjusted during "carburetion runs".  That title and the event that it stands for continue to be used, despite the fact that carburetors have not been used at Indy since 1963. 

There is only a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms Friday, but even if fans get wet, the weather will be much more bearable than the rest of the weekend. Summer-like scorching heat is expected for Saturday and Sunday, with an outside chance at record-breaking temperatures for the 500. It will literally be like a furnace Sunday, with the possibility of breaking all-time records for the 27th of May.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 17:  Deann Klotzsche (L) and Katie Mitchell comfort each other as they view a memorial to two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon at the gate of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 17, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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According to, the temperatures on race day could hover at or above the highest recording since 1871. The Indy 500's record high was 92 degrees, set back in 1937.

Of course, the best advice for any hot, humid summer-like day is to drink plenty of fluids.  

The best way to avoid dehydration is to consume more water than alcohol. For every serving of booze, fans should drink three bottles of H20. That sounds like a lot of liquids, but according to one doctor, it is just enough.

"If you're in a hot environment and you're overheating because of humidity, your blood vessels start to dilate. This can lower your blood pressure," said Dr. Yazid Fadl, a cardiologist for Indiana University Health. "If you're on blood pressure medicine, that effect is magnified."

The collective blood pressures of every Indy car fan will be raised this weekend to begin with, as Indianapolis Motor Speedway pays tribute to the late Dan Wheldon, who lost his life in a horrific crash in Las Vegas on October 16. Wheldon won last year’s Indy 500 and claimed that his most cherished moment was celebrating it with his wife Susie and their two children Sebastian, 3 and Oliver, 1.

Susie and the Wheldon kids are expected to attend the dedication ceremonies for Dan, but she is still not sure they will attend the race, just seven months after Dan’s death.

"I'm ready. I think I'm ready, or I have to be ready, because it's something that I want to do," said Wheldon. "I want to be able to be a part of that for Dan as far as having the boys there." 

Even if she and her children miss the race, Susie knows that her husband's fans will shout out loud for their fallen hero. Despite the heat and despite the sorrow, they will cheer on the race’s tradition and the legacy of their lost champion. Dan Wheldon would not want it any other way.