The Open-Wheels 500 aims to re-create the 500 Mile Race held each Memorial Day weekend and provide sim racers with the most realistic “500” experience possible. Part of that experience includes the time-honored traditions that make Indy the mystical race that it is.
“BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA”
The song made popular by the late Jim Nabors has been sung on race morning at the Indianapolis 500 since 1946, with reports that it was played at the race as early as 1919. Phil Kaiser of Indianapolis is the current performer of Back Home Again in Indiana for the Open-Wheels 500.
“Bumping” occurs once 33 cars have posted qualifying speeds, but the allotted time for the day has not
yet expired and the only way for a participant to be able to join the field is to post a speed fast enough
to eliminate or “bump” the slowest car currently still in. For the 2020 Open-Wheels 500, Bump Day will be the second day of qualifications – on Sunday, November 8.
DAY BEFORE THE 500
The Open-Wheels 500’s play on Carb Day, a more relaxed day where cars that are qualified in the starting field are given the opportunity for one final practice session before the race itself. In addition to the final hour of practice before the 500 Mile Race, the Day Before the 500 will play host to the Veterans 100 and Pit Stop Competition. These events are created for competitors to have fun and alleviate some stress before the rigors of race day the next morning.
FIELD OF 33
More than just a number. Out of more than 100 entries, the Open-Wheels 500 will whittle its competitors down to a group of 33 qualifiers at the end of Bump Day on Sunday, November 8. Those drivers will be eligible to start the Open-Wheels 500 on Sunday, November 15 – but of course there will be three alternate drivers standing by on race day in case a top-33 qualifier is unable to race. This is to preserve the field of 33 and the 11 rows of three to start the race.
With a field of 40 cars having met the qualifications requirements for starting the inaugural Indianapolis
500 in 1911, track founder Carl Fisher reasoned that this might be too many for the typical standing starts of that era. He believed that it would be safer instead to lead them around on one unscored lap at approximately 40 or 45 mph and then release them to the flagman as he pulled into the pits. Now commonplace at motor racing events around the world, this is believed to have been the very first mass rolling start for any automobile race anywhere in the world, and quite possibly the first use of a pace car
for a major event. The 2020 Open-Wheels 500 pace car will be the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R race car, with a driver to be announced at a later date.
The driver at the end of the first day of qualifications with the fastest four-lap average speed will win the Pit Lane Parley Pole Award. At present, the winner of the Indianapolis 500 Pole Award is the fastest driver after re-qualifying in a nine-car “Fast Nine” shootout. The Open-Wheels 500 pays homage to the Indianapolis 500’s earlier days, crowning a pole sitter at the end of day one qualifications.
Unique on iRacing to the Open-Wheels 500, this race brings the 11 rows of three drivers into sim racing – just like the professionals do on race day at Indianapolis. The iRacing Indianapolis 500 does not feature a three-wide start, and the Open-Wheels 500 is also the only race that utilizes an authentic two-day qualifications format with limited qualifications attempts to set the field of 33 starters.
WINNER’S MILK BOTTLE
This award pays homage to the Indianapolis 500 tradition where the race winner has drank milk in victory lane for each year since 1956. The notion of drinking milk in victory lane began when three-time “500” winner Louis Meyer asked for buttermilk after winning the 1936 Indianapolis 500. The winner of the Open-Wheels 500 receives a milk bottle with the year’s race logo and date etched into the glass.
Long used in Grand Prix racing, the winner’s wreath at Indianapolis appears to have debuted in 1960 – when a wreath with several exotic-looking, dark yellow and brown flowers was placed on the shoulders of Jim Rathmann.