If any sporting event epitomizes tradition, passion, and endurance, it’s the Indianapolis 500.
Commonly known as the Indy 500, the annual event is the grandest IndyCar Series race of the season. It holds multiple records for fan attendance, including being the sporting event with the most spectators in a single day, which is why it’s referred to as “Racing’s Greatest Spectacle.”
Spectators of the event, and racing fans in general, can now also bet on it. With online sports betting becoming legal in more and more states, bettors around the country increasingly have a chance to place a wager on the prestigious race.
Top Indy 500 betting sites in NY
With online betting coming to New York soon, racing fans within the state will finally get a chance to bet on the Indy 500 from the convenience of their own homes.
Though the four sportsbooks below do not (and cannot) yet have an online presence in New York, they have proven track records in other states and a variety of betting options. If and when they do eventually launch, opting for any of these sports betting operators will likely be a great choice:
Las Vegas’ renowned MGM Resorts International brand got into online betting in 2018 shortly after the Supreme Court overturned the ban on sports betting. After the ruling, the hospitality giant started focusing on the BetMGM betting platform, and the online sportsbook now operates in 10 states. You can expect a range of races to bet on as well as unique bets specifically for the Indy 500.
DraftKings’ started as a daily fantasy sports provider, but the company has since grown and is now one of the top online sportsbooks in the country. The DraftKings Sportsbook platform has plenty of options, so always expect extensive coverage of the Indy 500.
FanDuel was founded in 2009 and also began with DFS. In 2018, it expanded its horizons by creating its first sportsbook. Since then, the FanDuel betting platform has experienced tremendous growth in the sports betting industry. It’s headquartered in New York City, well situated to launch should online sports betting become legal.
Founded in Australia and launched in America in 2019, PointsBet has been gaining popularity because of its distinctive points-based wagering system. PointsBet Sportsbook platform currently operates in six states and could expand as more people get accustomed to its betting system.
How to bet on the Indy 500
Before you place any type of wager on the race, it’s best to first know what betting options are available and how such bets are settled. Here are some of the most popular Indy 500 bets that you’ll find:
Probably the most straightforward type of bet that you can place. You just wager on the driver whom you expect to win; pick right and you win your bet.
For example, if you think that Josef Newgarden (+1100) is going to emerge victoriously, you can choose him at those odds. If you place a $100 wager on him and he ends up winning the race, you’ll win $1,100 and have a total payout of $1,200, including the initial stake.
A podium bet is equivalent to picking a driver to finish in the top three. In this scenario, your pick doesn’t need to win but does need to finish first, second or third, claiming a podium.
It’s a safer type of bet as opposed to a to-win bet simply because of the additional leeway. However, Indy 500 odds for a podium bet are usually lower than the odds for a race-winner bet. For example, if Josef Newgarden’s odds to win the Indy 500 are +1100, the odds of him ending up on the podium might be around +800.
Sportsbooks offer top five, 10, and 20 finishes, too, but the odds will continue decreasing.
Matchup bets pit two drivers against each other. The drivers don’t need to win the Indy 500; the driver you pick just needs to finish ahead of the other driver for your bet to win.
Certain variations of matchups exist. The most common is the group matchup, where several drivers are grouped together. The same rule applies here: The driver you pick doesn’t need to win the race, but does have to do better than all the other drivers in the group.
Placing a futures bet is simply placing a wager on the race well in advance of the race’s scheduled date.
So instead of betting on the Indy 500 when the festivities begin in May, you can bet months in advance. The biggest advantage of doing so is that futures bets hold greater value, in terms of odds, when compared to bets placed as the race takes place.
Proposition bets, aka prop bets, are wagers that tend to focus on specific events that are not directly tied to the race. These are essentially side wagers and vary between sportsbooks, so it’s always wise to shop around to guarantee that you get a worthy prop bet.
Examples of prop bets are how many caution flags there will be, which country the top driver will be from, etc.
Indianapolis 500 schedule & details
- Date: Memorial Day Weekend
- Location: Speedway, Indiana
- Racing track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Seating capacity: About 250,000 spectators
- Distance: 500 miles (almost equivalent to 200 laps)
- Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
- Size of the field: 33 cars
- Surface: Asphalt and brick
- Pole qualifying: One week before the race
- Defending champion: Takuma Sato (2020)
- Prize purse: $7.5 million (2020)
- Major sponsors: Gainbridge Insurance Agency, NTT Data, Chevrolet, Verizon, Honda, BorgWarner, Firestone
Tips for betting on the Indy 500
Just like betting on any other sport, betting on the Indianapolis 500 requires a tactical approach, especially if your main aim is to profit from the event. Some of the tips to consider before placing a bet include the following:
1. Take note of crossover drivers
The Indy 500’s prestige is almost unmatched; there’s no doubt about that. This prestige attracts big-name drivers from other racing backgrounds and franchises.
Depending on the skill and background of the driver, you can do some research and see how drivers have fared in open-car racing or whether they have any IndyCar racing experience. Additionally, crossover drivers boast well-funded teams, so always take note of that.
Such research can help you make a guided decision. A recent example of a big-name crossover is Formula One’s Fernando Alonso, who first crossed and took part in the race in 2017.
2. Always know the top drivers and owners
Knowing who the top drivers are is essential. This is because it will give you an indication of how a certain driver is expected to fare in the Indy 500 based on recent history. Favorites also seem to perform consistently well in the race.
Additionally, a select few owners dominate the competition, so knowing which entries and teams are theirs will help guide you in your handicapping.
3. Pay attention to practice times
This is part of the research that serious bettors are expected to undertake if they want to ensure that they profit from the Indy 500.
Watching practice times and seeing how drivers maneuver through the tricky track can give you an indication of how certain drivers may fare in the race.
Weather can also be a factor and should be taken into account when monitoring Indy 500 practice times.
Recent Indianapolis 500 winners
Here are the winners of the 12 most recent Indy 500s.
|Driver||Year Won||Nationality||Starting Odds|
|Juan Pablo Montoya||2015||Colombian||+550|
Memorable moments in Indy 500 history
Having been around for more than 100 years, the Indianapolis 500 boasts a rich history and has had myriad iconic moments to savor. The following are a few of the race’s most memorable moments:
Al Unser Jr. emerges victorious in the closest race of them all
The 1992 edition of the race was not only one of the closest calls, but it took place in record cold temperatures. This cold proved to be the undoing of many drivers, including Michael Andretti, who had a 28 second lead with only a few laps to go before he crashed and bowed out of the race.
Al Unser Jr. then somehow found himself in first place, and trailing closely was Scott Goodyear. Unser held on and won the race by a margin of 0.043 seconds, which, to date, is the closest margin of victory in the Indy 500.
Janet Guthrie sets the pace for women
Janet Guthrie began racing in 1963 and was a full-time driver by 1972. She competed in many NASCAR races and was the first woman to take part in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race and the Daytona 500, for which she won rookie of the year after placing 12th in the former.
In 1977, she became the first woman to compete in the Indy 500, though she had engine troubles and was forced to settle for 29th position. She competed in the event twice more in her career and inspired a future generation of women to compete in a male-dominated sport.
Danica Patrick, years later, became the first female driver to lead the Indy 500 in 2004, and she went on to finish fourth in the race that year. She earned a podium place when she finished third in 2009, the highest for a female driver in Indianapolis 500 history.
Danny Sullivan’s spin and win
Danny Sullivan won the Indianapolis 500 in 1985, but what became more iconic was his spin and win. On lap 120, he tried to overtake Mario Andretti in an attempt to claim the lead, but as he was doing so, he lost control of his car, which made him spin 360° in front of Andretti.
However, he regained control and stole the lead with that famous spin. He ended up emerging victorious in the race after re-passing Andretti to take the lead 20 or so laps later.
A quick history of the Indy 500
The first iteration of the race took place in 1911. That inaugural race wasn’t called the Indianapolis 500 but went by the title International Sweepstakes.
Forty cars and 56 competing drivers (changing drivers was legal at that time) were part of that first race, which took place on May 30, 1911. An estimated 85,000 spectators watched from the stands as a racing spectacle was born.
Ray Harroun won that first race, which lasted 6 hours and 42 minutes. He drove in a Marmon Model 32-based Wasp racer; a car that he had aided in the design of.
The race has evolved a lot from those humble beginnings. It is now recognized as racing’s greatest spectacle, and it holds the sports record for fan attendance. Additionally, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it’s considered part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport; Graham Hill is the only driver to have won all three.
Indy 500 trivia & fun facts
- Three drivers are tied for the most Indy 500 triumphs, with each having won it four times: Al Unser Sr., J. Foyt, and Rick Mears.
- Troy Ruttman won the race when he was 22 years and 80 days old, and remains the youngest driver to have won the 500.
- Al Unser Sr., on the other hand, claimed his fourth Indy 500 win when he was 47 years and 360 days old, making him the oldest winner of the race.
- Drinking milk is one of the traditions at the Indy 500. It started after Louis Meyer asked for milk after winning the race in 1936. It soon became a tradition for the winner of the race to drink a bottle of milk.
- Emerson Fittipaldi broke the tradition of drinking milk when he instead asked for orange juice after winning the 1993 Indianapolis 500.
- Willy T. Ribbs became the first African American to qualify for the Indy 500 when he did so in 1991.
- The only time the event has been on hiatus was during both world wars.
- Rick Mears holds the record for Indy 500 pole positions with six.
- “Back Home Again in Indiana” is sung as a pre-race tradition.
- Tony Kanaan took 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 3.4181 seconds to complete the 2013 Indy 500. This translates to an average speed of 187.433 mph/301.644 kph, making it the fastest Indy 500 in history.