|Indianapolis 500 Miles|
|Venue||Indianapolis Motor Speedway|
|Distance||500 miles (804.672km)|
The International 500-Miles Sweepstakes Race, as it was originally called, was sanctionned by the American Automobile Association and was the brainchild of the track's owner Carl G. Fischer. The event was open to everyone and to some extent, and remained so until 1978. The first race was won by Ray Harroun on a Marmon Wasp, at an average speed of 7,602mph (120,02km/h).
The race became a tradition in American Motorsports, and was held anually (except during the two World Wars) under the sanction of the AAA. However, following the disaster of the 1955 24 Hours of Lemans the organisation withdrew from all motorsports activities. Unfazed, then owner Tony Hulman created the United States Automobile Club to sanction it's race.
In 1978, a plane crash that killed several USAC officials, and the low purses offered by the sanctioning body to it's participants led a group of team owners to form a rival organisation known as Championship Auto Racing Teams. In reaction, the USAC announced that admission to the Indy 500 race entry would be granted on an invitational basis, effectively barring the renegade championship to participate in the race. The USAC soon relented and invited the CART teams back in the race, as most of the popular drivers had deserted the USAC National Championship. Both championships ran paralel schedules with both including the Indy 500 untill the National Championship's demise in 1984
The situation reapeated itself, somewhat in 1996, when IMS owner Tony George announced that participants to his Indy Racing League Championship would be guaranteed to participate in the race, thus effectively locking out most of the IndyCar Chmpionship's participants.