Inside knowledge: The 7 most difficult things about driving the Indy 500

1y ago


Jack Harvey is one of five British drivers currently competing in this year's IndyCar series.

A former member of McLaren's Young Driver programme and race winner in Formula BMW, Formula 3 and GP3, Jack made his IndyCar debut in the 101st Indianapolis 500 last year.

Jack is ready for the race

This weekend he will be taking on the famous race at the Brickyard again, and he took time out from his preparation to talk us through the biggest challenges of the legendary event.

1. The weather

At least this guy is prepared

Over the course of the month of May, weather here can change quite drastically, which can affect the car substantially.

You can be in a situation where you have been testing the car all week, and then come to race day, it’s suddenly 10 degrees hotter, which completely changes everything.

It’s vital that a driver feels comfortable with how the car is set up on an oval, more so than street circuits. So, because of variables like the weather, a driver’s confidence at an oval really does swing like a pendulum!

2. Wind direction

Keep your eye on the wind sock...

The wind direction at Indianapolis Motor Speedway can change a lot - and incredibly quickly.

One minute you can have a headwind that can then turn into a crosswind, and then it may even become a tailwind by the end of the day.

This can really affect the handling of the car, and if it’s happening mid-race, then you can’t make any setup changes.

3. Concentration

You've got to keep your head in the game

The level of concentration needed for 200 laps is immense. It can be a mentally draining race. You are always focusing on moving forwards whilst hitting speeds of 220/230mph.

4. Dirty air

Following cars is not easy

We are racing nose-to-tail, and so we encounter a lot of dirty air, which is always a challenge as it reduces the car’s downforce.

This is fine in a straight line, but not when you are going around a corner…. which is pretty much the entire 500!

5. Approaching the pitlane

Pit craft is all important at Indy

How quickly and efficiently you can slow down before you get to the pitlane limit is crucial. It may sound like a simple thing, but you have to strike the right balance to lose the least amount of time.

6. Evolving race strategy

Everyone in the team has to be right on their game throughout the race

One yellow at the wrong time can totally ruin a strategy, which means, as a team, we have to react and change the strategy on the fly. At the 500, there are usually a lot of yellows!

7. Milk

Takuma Sato drinks the milk after winning last year's race

Tradition has it that if you win the Indy 500, you need to drink a pint of milk in victory lane.

It’s a ritual dating back to 1936, so if you don’t like the taste of American milk (like me!), then it’s not ideal!

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