The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 is set to begin on May 28, and the cars and drivers will cover 200 laps of the 2.5-mile track at blistering speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. They rip along a track that is almost exactly the same as it was when it was built in 1909. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the world’s largest sporting facilities, with a capacity of 250,000 permanent seats and crowds of more than 400,000 on race day.
When the green flag drops to begin the race, 33 cars will take off in eleven rows of three on their way to glory – or disaster.
However, more than half of the Indianapolis field will have a common friend and a product they don’t want to discuss – life insurance agent Darren Hickey of Gregory & Appel Insurance of Indianapolis and his wares.
“They all want to make sure that if something happens, they’re properly insured. But they don’t want to think about it. They are unable. They can’t be going 200 mph and thinking about getting hurt. We don’t dwell on it, but yeah, it’s very serious,” Hickey says.
James Hinchcliffe is one of his clients, and the famous driver once survived a near-fatal crash during practice in 2015.
“It’s one of those mental things, right?
” Hinchcliffe told the Indy Star. “A guy who’s in our profession doesn’t want to think that could happen and doesn’t want to think he needs that. It’s almost like jinxing it. It’s a difficult mindset to get over, but you have to get over it. I had to do that before 2015, and it holds so much truer now.”
According to Hickey, many drivers are covered by an accident-medical policy, which helps with medical bills, but many opt for a life insurance policy, which includes a flat surcharge added to a standard policy. According to Hickey, a $1 million term policy includes an annual surcharge of around $8,000 for the average IndyCar driver. Hickey has witnessed the horrors of racing and was present at a race once when a driver was killed.
Fortunately, the driver had insurance, “but it doesn’t replace him.”
According to Hickey, 80 percent of the drivers in this year’s Indy 500 will have life insurance.
The Indianapolis 500 Has Five Interesting Facts
A postcard depicting large grandstands filled with fans and cars on the 2.5-mile rectangular track and the infield road course was produced as the track was being built. To allow airplanes to take off and land, the infield track was delayed by 90 years.
In 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had 10,000 parking spaces and 3,000 hitching posts for horses.
When their car flipped, Canadian driver Wilfred Borque and his onboard mechanic, Harry Holcomb, became the track’s first fatalities. Borque was the first of 40 drivers to lose their lives at IMS. Holcomb was the first of thirteen “riding mechanics” to be killed at the track.
Two days after the Borque-Holcomb deaths, a turn one accident killed riding mechanic Claude Kellum as well as spectators James West and Homer Jollif. The five fatalities in three days prompted the media to call for a ban on auto racing in the area.
Following the deaths, safety measures were implemented, including the repaving of the track with brick, and it is estimated that 85 percent of the 3.2 million bricks used at the time are still in place beneath layers of asphalt.
Photo – “Indianapolis 500 Practice” by State Farm is licensed under CC BY 2.0