The 100th anniversary of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will be here a little quicker than we originally thought. The drop of the green flag for the race has been moved from 1pm to 12pm.
Since 2006, the race has been scheduled to start at 1pm locally. This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the very first Indy 500, which began at 10am local time from 1911 to 1941. After WWII, the start time was pushed back to 11am, which was then changed to noon in 2004.
"With less than 100 days until the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, we are excited to finalize our start time so our fans can begin to make plans to celebrate with us at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO.
"Starting the race at noon gives us an additional hour of daylight to ensure we can complete all 500 miles of the race in case we were to encounter any kind of inclement weather. Noon also has the green flag waving in a time slot that is better for our West Coast viewers.
"Our fans also have told us they like an earlier starting time, and it's very important for us to stay responsive to their vital feedback."
As far as the fans go, I think the majority of people will like this move, as it eliminates another hour of waiting under the scorching hot sun. The pace will pick up a little in the garage area in the morning, but it shouldn't have any significant effects on the drivers or teams.
Many people are also wondering if the possibility of a driver performing "the double" on May 29 had something to do with this move. Moving the race up an hour earlier could give a driver enough time to race in the 500, then fly to Charlotte for the 600 in NASCAR.
I don't really think any drivers will take the chance at this, as the risk far outweighs the reward (yes, I know it's like $20 million). The likelihood that a driver could win the Indy 500, and then get in a stock car hours later and win a 600-mile race against the most experienced and talented drivers in both races, is not even slim to none.
No word yet on if the opening of the gate time will be moved from 6am to 5am, but hopefully it does. There is nothing like walking into the Speedway the morning of the 500, and watching the sun rise over the track from the pagoda.
Good move INDYCAR, good move.