By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
May 25,2017, 12:24:31PM,EDT
One of the biggest automobile races of the year takes place this weekend as 33 drivers face off in the Indianapolis 500 and inclement weather may be in store.Over 300,000 people will be in attendance for the 101st running of the Indy 500 with the green flag set to fly at 12:19 p.m. EDT Sunday.
Although the main event is not until Sunday afternoon, activities will be taking place all weekend long, including a 40-lap race on Friday and multiple concerts on Saturday.
Those planning on attending the race or any of the pre-race festivities may want to consider bringing a poncho with them as rain is expected to make an appearance at the track during the weekend.
“Saturday will feature clouds and a few breaks of sun with the chance for a brief shower,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Edwards said.
These spotty showers will develop into a steadier rain on Saturday night that will soak the track ahead of the main event.
“The steadier rain should shift east of Indianapolis Sunday morning; however, the threat for a few showers and thunderstorms will be renewed in the afternoon.”
The return of showers and thunderstorms on Sunday afternoon may lead to disruptions to the Indy 500 and could lead to rain delays.
While Indy cars are able to use rain tires on road courses to be able to race in the rain, that is not an option when racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“On the ovals like the Indianapolis motor speedway for the Indy 500, we don’t run in the rain. It’s just too dangerous for us to have rain tires,” Indy car driver Charlie Kimball told AccuWeather.
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Even a brief downpour could put the race on hold as it takes time for crews to dry the 2.5-mile racetrack.
If rain does manage to hold off on Sunday for the race, the heavy rain on Saturday night could alter the way that the cars handle during the Indy 500.
“What the rain does, especially if it’s a really hard thunderstorm type rain that you tend to get in the Midwest in May, it will wash a lot of that base rubber off the racetrack,” Kimball said.
This rubber slowly builds up during practices and qualifying leading up to race day and gives the cars more grip.
Apart from the rain, the other factor that may impact the drivers is the wind.
“For us in the car, especially at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where you’re doing 220 mph, the car is really affected by the wind,” Kimball said.
“Ideally, you’re looking for less than 5 to 10 mph in wind,” Kimball added.
Winds on Sunday may be a bit higher than this, ranging from 7 to 14 mph, according to Edwards. While this may just feel like a breeze to those in the grandstands, it may make the race more difficult for the drivers.
“Other than that, the biggest piece is that it be comfortable for the fans because when you’ve got 300,000 people coming to the racetrack, it’s important that they have a good time and are comfortable,” Kimball said.