The peculiar Story of Indianapolis 500 in the first Formula 1 Championship: when the worlds of F1 and Indy crossed each other

In 1950, the world of motorsport witnessed the birth of the Formula 1 World Championship. An event that, after over 70 years, we can say started a new era in car racing. However, something many current enthusisasts might not know is the curious role that the Indianapolis 500, one of the most iconic races in American motorsport, had in that inaugural season.
That race was already happening since decades, given the first edition took place in 1911, had become incredibly popular in the USA and was included in the calendar of the first Formula 1 championship.
Decision made to give the brand new championship more appeal globally by including an already prestigious race.
However, pretty much no drivers from Europe decided to participate at the Indianapolis race. The differences regarding technical rules, the geographical distance and the costs regarding all the logistics to move everyhting to the other side of the ocean are important factors that caused this lack of participations by the European drivers. The same way, the North American drivers that participated at the Indy 500 had no interest into competing in the other championship races, in Europe.
All these factors ended up with a race that, despite technically being part of the F1 World Championship, was kinda like a separate event. Since it barely had any involvement with the rest of the season and with the final championship standings, aside for mere stats.
This strange situation continued until 1960, after which Indy 500 was removed from the Fomula 1 championship.
The inclusion of this race in Formula 1 is still an interesting and unique chapter in the history of motorsport. It reflects people’s desire of creating a truly world championship, despite having to deal with the logistical and practical challenges of a time during which motorsport as a global phenomenon was still relatively new in its evolution.
In hindsight, this story is a reminder of how much Formula 1 has been growing and developing throughout the years. Adapting to the new needs of a sports environment that is changing quickly but still keeping its status as the peak of motorsport worldwide.
As well a show drivers and teams accepted and supported changes, both logistically and in terms of geographical distance among races, instead of a “world” championship that saw races taking place only in Europe for the first three editions. With the exception of Indianapolis.
RACEFEVER: you can’t rule speed.
Tommaso Fatichi


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