Indy 500 vs. NASCAR: Racing Giants

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Difference between Indy 500 and NASCAR

Depending on where in the country you are from, the premier racing event for you may either be the Indy 500 or NASCAR. Both are undeniably high profile events of course, and they are definitely what you want to be looking at if you are in need of pulse pounding racetrack action. Nevertheless, the events and the two organizations behind them are quite a bit different from each other, as you will see in this comparison article below.

At A Glance

The Indy 500 or Indianapolis 500-Mile Race is one of the most familiar and most popular racing events in the United States. It is traditionally held on the Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. The event is actually where the name of the Indy Car class comes from. NASCAR is not actually an event per se, as much as it is a business venture that holds various auto racing events. It was founded in 1947 by Bill France Sr. and the business is currently managed by his grandson Brian. NASCAR currently sanctions three high profile races: the Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series. In addition, NASCAR-sanctioned racing events have been held in countries such as Japan, Mexico, and Australia.


The Indy 500 started out on a gravel-and-tar track in 1909, and it was made up of numerous small racing events before promoters merged them together into a single major event. Much of its early acclaim was due to its 500-mile racetrack. The event was also the setting for the debut of the rear view mirror, which invented and used by Ray Harroun in the first Indy 500 race in May 30, 2011. The first NASCAR event on the other hand, can be traced to Daytona Beach, Florida where several auto racers gathered on March 8, 1936. This event was participated in by coupes, convertibles, and sports cars, and was held to showcase the fastest cars and drivers around.


The Indy 500 has unfortunately gone down in ratings in the past few years, and the 2010 event was reduced in viewership by 9%. The televised event also drew less than 4% of households in the United States, which is an all-time low. NASCAR on the other hand still enjoys a strong viewership, and it is in fact one of the most attended sporting events in the world.

Similarities and Differences

Indy 500

  • One of the most recognizable and most popular auto racing events in the United States
  • Billed as the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing”
  • Held during the Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 
  • Can be seen in person by as many as 400,000 viewers


  • Stands for “The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing”
  • Is a business venture that holds various auto-racing events
  • Has held races in various countries such as Japan, Mexico, and Australia
  • Started out on March 1936 at Daytona Beach, Florida
  • One of the most viewed professional sports events on United States television


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