It’s a love hate relationship between the Indy 500 Race and Indiana weather.
On the best of years you get the average high temp of 76 making for near perfect weather for the quarter million people watching the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in person. Other years the weather is not so perfect. That’s what happens when you schedule one of the world’s premiere races during the rainiest month of the year.
Since 2000, Indianapolis has seen 5 years where we have recorded rain on race day. We only saw trace amounts of rain in 2009, but in 2007 rain caused the 500 to run only 166 laps.
In 2004 an amazing 3.8” of rain fell on race day and it also caused a shorter race, but that is only the start of the story for that year. Drivers only finished 180 laps that day. According to files, the 2004 race got started 2 hours late, drivers endured a big delay during lap 27 where officials began to talk about delaying the race a day. Eventually the race started back up and they went to 180 laps before a severe thunderstorm warning ended their day. The warned storm would eventually produce an f-2 tornado (EF scale not yet in place at the time) that caused widespread damage to southern parts of the city.
In 1997 rain forced the race to be run on Tuesday. 11 years before that they decided not to run the race until the following Saturday due to rain. It’s not just rain that can cause problems at the track.
Last year’s high of 91 was the second hottest ever for race day. Paramedics and emergency operators were kept busy as people struggled with heat fatigue. This year will see us break a stretch of 4 years in a row with temperatures above 85 degrees. Highs this year should be just shy of 70 degrees. The average high is 76 degrees.
This year’s race could be impacted by rain. The rain chance will be low but going up throughout the afternoon as we begin to see instability increasing. The 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins at 12:12 pm on May 26th.