Families, start your engines!

What better way to celebrate the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 than to fill the month of May with 500-themed activities the whole family can enjoy?

May in Indiana promises beautiful weather, early summer blooms, and lots of opportunities for enjoying the outdoors with your whole family. Going on picnics or simply grilling out at home can refresh your outlook and renew your spirit. But this year provides an additional bonus: the 100th Running of the Indy 500.

For generations, the Indy 500 has been a central point of pride for Hoosiers. And with good reason. Billed as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the 500 is considered one of the three most prestigious motorsports events in the world, drawing international crowds of more than 600,000 annually.

Incorporating this milestone event into your May plans could be a really cool way to encourage your family to be more physically active and more engaged in our local history.

Family reunion, block party, or just having the gang over. Sure, you can buy checkerboard plates and napkins, but also consider organizing a 500-meter (just under one-third of a mile) relay or 500-foot (almost one-tenth of a mile) dash as part of the festivities.

Kid-friendly 500-sponsored events. Every year, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts a variety of activities geared especially for kids, including Kids’ Day and the Rookie Run both held on May 14 in downtown Indianapolis.

Running the Mini. Because the Mini is held on May 7, heat exhaustion won’t likely be an issue. However, I see many patients who have suffered sprains and strains from running the Mini. I cannot stress enough the importance of early and consistent training, proper stretching and warm-up right before the event, and staying hydrated during your run.

Take the Indy 500 history quiz. Inquisitiveness and the ability to seek out knowledge will always be components of overall health. Rich in history and tradition, the Indy 500 provides abundant opportunities to pique curiosity and interest for the entire family. Encourage your kids to research the answers to these questions:

  1. The inaugural race took place in 1911. Why does 2016 mark only the 100th running of the race?
  2. The Speedway is also known as the Brickyard because in 1909 the entire track was paved in bricks. How many bricks were used for the 2.5-mile track?
  3. How many bricks remain on the track now, and where are they?
  4. What non-American nationality boasts the most 500 victories?
  5. How many female drivers have competed in the Indy 500?
  6. How and when did the Victory Lane tradition of drinking milk begin, and was it originally milk?
  7. What is the traditional song performed immediately before the starting of the engines?

Of course, feel free to add your own questions — there’s just so much to learn here. And most importantly, have fun and stay healthy this May!

Kristen Davis Skaggs, MD

Author of this Article

Kristen Davis Skaggs, MD, specializes in family medicine. She is a guest columnist and located at IU Health Physicians Family Medicine – Brownsburg, 1375 N. Green St., Suite 100, in Brownsburg. She can be reached by calling the office at 317.852.2251.

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