Indy 500: Here's What Happens If It Rains

The 2019 Indy 500 is scheduled for Sunday, but a high chance of rain has racing fans afraid for this year's event.

The Indianapolis 500 is set for Memorial Day Sunday, the perfect timing for fans to kick back and tune in. Unfortunately, mother nature may have other plans, as the forecast in Indiana includes a 100 percent chance of rain at the time of this writing. While precipitation could undoubtedly postpone the race altogether, there are a lot of other considerations to take into account.

There are layers and layers of rules and protocols for massive events like the Indy 500. Of course, safety is the first concern, but organizers will not discount a half-finished race if it starts to rain halfway through. According to a report by Fan Sided, the race will be deemed "official" if the participants make it at least halfway through the planned number of laps. That means we could see an "Indy 252.5" this year, with as few as 100 laps out of the planned 200 being raced.

On the other hand, if the rain begins to fall early on or before the race even begins, the event will be postponed to Monday. Thankfully, the holiday weekend means that most fans will still be bale to tune in for the race, although if it is rained out again on Monday it will move to Tuesday, and so on. This could be a problem for working fans, who will not be able to catch the live broadcast in that case.

As heartbreaking as the idea of a rained out race might seem, it has happened before. Most recently, the 91st Indy 500 was cut short back in 2007. At the time, participants had gone 166 laps when rain began to fall, and the conditions were deemed unsafe for racing.

Long before that, the 62nd race in 1976 was renamed the Indy 255, when rain began to fall just after the official halfway mark was reached. The drivers went 102 laps that year, and many fans felt cheated when the race was cut just halfway, but the results were counted as official.

Meanwhile, there are precedents for postponement as well, including the 81st Indy 500 in 1997. At the time, the race was moved from Sunday to Memorial Day Monday, even though drivers had already gone 15 laps. Years before, the 57th running of the race was delayed by rain multiple times. Drivers did not officially get on the track until Wednesday, at which point they only got to go 133 laps before the rain cut even that belated race short.


The 2019 Indy 500 will be live on Sunday, May 26 at 12:45 p.m. ET on NBC.