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Breathing Easier at the 100th Indy 500

This year marks the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. If it helps to put it in perspective, the first rear view mirror on an automobile was unveiled at the first Indy 500. That’s how long the race has been running, and how far our racing and driving technology has progressed since. We’re glad to say the event has progressed in other areas as well, including ones that make it friendlier to the air and the environment as a whole.

If you’ve lived in Indy long enough, you’ve probably heard the Indy 500 referred to as the greatest spectacle in racing, but did you know that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is also home to the largest solar power system of any sports complex in the world? When the IMS cut the ribbon on the power complex in 2014, they projected to offset 10,288 tons of carbon each year. We’re pretty big fans of that.

On race day, cars can reach speeds close to 240 miles per hour. Maintaining that speed for 200 laps demands a lot of fuel. In the 60s, IndyCars ran on methanol, an alcohol based fuel made from natural gas and less prone to forming ozone. In 2007, IndyCar made the switch to ethanol, making it the first motor sport to compete using a renewable fuel. Today, the Indy 500 is powered by E85 - a fuel consisting of 85% ethanol. If you’re at the track this weekend, keep a lookout for some of our Did You Kno? facts.

None of this is to say there isn’t still room for improvement. Officials estimate the weekend long carnival generates around 50,000 pounds of trash, a great amount of which is recyclable. We’re making progress, though, and in the spirit of race day, that’s something to celebrate.

So what can you do to make your Indy 500 a little greener?

Most people who have had to park a vehicle at the race can tell you that it can be a tedious experience. When waiting in gridlocked traffic or long, unmoving lines, don’t let your vehicle idle. Contrary to what many believe, letting your car idle for longer than 10 seconds releases more emissions than restarting. Shutting down means less ozone and other pollutants in and outside your vehicle.

There are also ways to avoid the long lines. You can park off site and shuttle into the speedway. You can purchase parking passes for different Indy locations and shuttle tickets here.

Better yet, Bike to the 500. Bike riders will meet downtown at the Indianapolis City Market the morning of the race for food and music before departing for the track. You can learn more and register for the group ride here.

Pedal and Park will also be at the speedway and have supervised bike parking available - free of cost! - for those pedaling to the track.

Even if your favorite pastime involves engines roaring around 500 miles of track, there are ways to minimize your environmental impact and keep the air clean. Together, we can make Central Indiana a more livable, breathable and sustainable place to call home.