Driving Forces: Danger and Safety at the Indy 500

Speed kills? Only when it outpaces safety. Here, a look at the history of innovation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


In nearly a third of the Indy 500’s 99 finishes, the post-race atmosphere was as mournful as it was celebratory: The race and related on-track activities have claimed the lives of at least 54 drivers, mechanics, IMS workers, and spectators since 1911.* And yet the legacy is a complicated one. While mechanical tinkering has pushed speed ever upward, Indy 500 innovation in safety procedures and technology—from hosting the first-ever motorsports event that required driver helmets in 1935, to introducing the cocoon-like Dallara cockpit in use today—have tempered the tragedy.

Scroll through a timeline of safety additions to IMS.


This article is part of IM’s special May 2016 coverage of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.