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Memorial Day Races

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon
Mechanics tune-up a car for the Indy 500
Indy Race Car

Memorial Day isn't just a chance for barbecues and a day off school. It's also the weekend two of the year's biggest auto races - the Indy 500 and NASCAR'S Coca-Cola 600.

The Coca-Cola 600

The Coca-Cola 600 is NASCAR's longest and most grueling race of the season. The 400 laps around Lowe's Motor Speedway is a total of 600 miles long. That's about the same distance as Chicago to Washington D.C. If your mom or dad was to drive that distance it would probably take them about 10 hours. The top drivers on the NASCAR circuit do it in less than four hours.

The Indy 500

The Indy 500 is one of the oldest events in auto-racing history. It's been run at the Indianapolis Speedway since 1911. The track is nicknamed the "Brickyard" because it was once paved with more than 3 million bricks. The 2005 Indy 500 will feature 22 racers burning around the track at speeds of more than 220 miles per hour (335 kms).

Memorial Day Racing Facts

  • In 2000, Tony Stewart raced in the Coca-Cola 600 and the Indy 500 on the same day. He raced 500 miles and finished 6th in the Indy on Sunday morning then flew to Charlotte to race another 600 miles in the Coca-Cola 600, where he placed 3rd. That's 1,100 miles (1760 kms) of racing in one day!
  • The only female racing on Memorial Day will be driver, Danica Patrick, who is just the fourth woman to race in the Indy 500.
  • The winner of the Indy 500 usually drinks milk after crossing the finish line.

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