When you mention the Indianapolis 500 to a racing fan, get ready to see their face light up like a child on Christmas morning. This annual open-wheel event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is known as “the greatest spectacle in racing,” and it continues to draw record crowds and television ratings.
Indy 500 betting is just as popular, with legions of motor sports enthusiasts and casual bettors lining up to wager on their favorite driver (or underdog). The 500-mile race is a contest of both skill and endurance, and trying to predict the outcome taxes even the most skilled punter. For those who are successful, however, a sizable amount of cash is theirs for the taking.
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Facts about the Indy 500
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the highest-capacity sports venue on the planet, and it’s played host to the Indy 500 ever since the first race was run in 1911. The event is part of the IndyCar Series, which is the top level of open-wheel racing in North America.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Indy 500, here are a few facts that you may find interesting:
- Each year, a crowd of over 400,000 turns up at Speedway, Indiana to watch the event in person.
- It’s tradition for the winner of the event to drink milk from a glass bottle. This was started by 1936 by three-time winner Louis Meyer.
- American drivers have typically dominated the event. The second most successful nation is the United Kingdom, with a total of eight wins.
- The inaugural race in 1911 was the first time a rear-view mirror was used in a car. Racer and eventual winner Ray Harroun decided to drive solo to save weight, and he used the mirror to see what was going on behind him (in place of the traditional riding mechanic).
- At one point, the entire track was paved with bricks, which led to the nickname “Brickyard.” The track has since been paved over with asphalt, with the exception of a three-foot-wide area at the finish line.
- Italian chassis manufacturer Dallara has been the most successful constructor, helping build 15 winning cars from 1998 to 2015.
- A replica of the winner’s face is added to the massive Borg-Warner Trophy, which has been around since 1936.
- As of this writing, three drivers are tied for the most wins (four apiece). They include A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr., and Rick Mears.
- Drivers starting in the first row have won the event 42.42% of the time, with the pole position taking the checkered flag 20 times (out of 99 races).
- From 1911 to 2015, 66 of the winning cars at the Indy 500 have driven on Firestone tires.
Where to Wager on the Race
Given its status as one of the top three most significant races in the world, virtually every sportsbook offers odds for the Indy 500. This means you’ll have your pick of any online service, although experienced gamblers know the best strategy is to shop around to find odds that give them an edge. True to our style, we’ve gathered together a list of internet’s top Indy 500 gamblign sites.
Types of Indy 500 Betting
Sportsbooks love to give their customers multiple betting options, and it’s no different for the Indianapolis 500. The choices vary from one book to another, but the following are some of the most common bets:
- Race Winner – The most straightforward wager, the bettor receives a payout only if their chosen driver wins the overall event.
- Top Three Finish – With this option, the bettor gets paid if their chosen driver manages to finish in one of the top three spots.
- Head to Head Matchups – Two drivers are pitted against one another, with the winner determined by the driver who finishes higher. One example would be Helio Castroneves -140 and Scott Dixon +110. The bettor would need to risk $140 on Castroneves to win $100, while a $100 wager on Dixon would yield $110.
- Future Bet – Weeks or perhaps months in advance, bettors can place wagers on the winner of the upcoming Indy event. As you might expect, these odds fluctuate a great deal over time.
- Prop Bets – Proposition bets involve some facet of a sporting event that doesn’t require betting on the final score or a specific winner. Examples include betting on which former Indy 500 winner will have the best finish or whether or not a Canadian driver will win the event. Some oddsmakers can get quite creative when it comes to prop bets.
Indy 500 Odds Vs Actual Performance
Have you ever wondered how accurate the oddsmakers are when it comes to setting the line for the Indy 500? While their rate of success fluctuates from year to year, I wanted to provide a look at some pre-race odds versus the actual success of the drivers. In this case, we’re using the 2015 Bovada odds for the overall event winner.
- Juan Pablo Montoya – 15/2 odds (finished first)
- Will Power – 6/1 odds (finished second)
- Charlie Kimball – 100/1 odds (finished third)
- Scott Dixon – 9/2 odds (finished fourth)
- Graham Rahal – 33/1 odds (finished fifth)
- Gabby Chaves – 150/1 odds (finished sixteenth)
- Conor Daly – 150/1 odds (finished thirty-third)
As you can see, the Bovada oddsmakers did a decent job in the above example. Juan Pablo Montoya was among the favorites to win the event at 15/2, and he managed to take the checkered flag. The top five also saw a few other favorites finish strong, although Charlie Kimball and his 100/1 odds demonstrated the unpredictable nature of sports by grabbing a third-place finish. While the latter did better than expected, anyone who wagered on him still came up short.
When it comes to wagering on motor sports, it doesn’t get much bigger than Indy 500 betting. The event has been around for a century, and its appeal shows no signs of diminishing. Any decent sportsbook is going to offer a variety of odds on this race, with options ranging from the outright winner to head-to-head matchups. While picking a winner may seem like a shot in the dark, those with the skill or luck to succeed can earn themselves a respectable payout.