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Fast Facts with Grant Haughawout

We had the opportunity to check out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and have our friend Grant Haughawout answer some questions about the Indy 500! Want to know the average speed of an Indy 500 car, or how driving in the Indy 500 compares to your morning drive on I-465? Watch the video above to find out. The transcript is provided below:

Who are you?

Hello, my name is Grant Haughawout and I work for Andretti Autosport on the 27 car driven by Marco Andretti.

On average, how much does an Indy 500 car cost?

On average, the cost is roughly a million dollars when you take into consideration the actual rolling chassis of the car, the engine as well as tires, and then whatever expenses that are incurred, which is also manpower.

How expensive is it to repair a damaged Indy 500 car?

Typically, if you get into an accident here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s pretty significant, so most likely, if you get into an accident here, you’re out. But if you can fix it, you do, because points are very important at the end of the season. As far as the price for the accident, you know, it depends on what you damaged. The wing is $25,000. For the front and the side parts—depends on how extensive the damage is, but like I said, typically here it’s pretty extensive, so it’s quite expensive.

What’s the average horsepower of an Indy 500 car?

This year we’re running the Honda, and it is a V6 2.2-liter twin turbo engine. Depending on the boost you run, it’s anywhere from 550 to 700 horsepower, which is a pretty big, big range but depending on what track you’re in, you can adjust that. So that’s pretty much the horsepower, and you can tune that up or down.

What’s the average speed of an Indy 500 car over the course of the race?

A typical lap speed for the Indianapolis 500 right now is anywhere from 215 to 225. And that all fluctuates with the amount of yellow laps you have, how many accidents—that will change the average, but when we take the green flag, usually within three laps, you’re up to 220 miles an hour and that’s kind of an average depending on, you know, the yellows.

What are some of the safety features on an Indy 500 car?

There are several safety features that are on the car as well as when you’re going around the track. The biggest improvement that’s been made in the last 20 years is probably the safer barrier wall, which is actually a forgiving wall, so the impact isn’t significant. So if the impact isn’t significant, less Gs go into your driver, so that helps with injuries. The car is basically made to break apart in the event of an accident, which will distribute energy out so it doesn’t go into the driver. So when you see an accident and there’s debris going everywhere, that’s kind of on purpose. As far as the tub where the driver sits, that’s the most safe part of the car. It’s got intrusion panels so the suspension doesn’t go into the driver. It’s got carbon fiber built into the whole body and Kevlar for intrusion, and obviously the driver also wears protective gear: helmet, gloves, fire protection. There’s fire protection in the car if it does catch on fire. But there’s numerous safety features on the car as well as around the car.

How does weather affect Indy 500 cars?

Weather’s a huge factor in IndyCar—in racing in general. The cooler it is, the engine likes it, it gets more horsepower. The tires like it, it gets more grip. When the track gets hot, it gets kind of oily. A lot of the rubber that the car leaves on the track kind of gets oily so it gets more slick, so your lap times typically drop when that situation happens, when it gets warm or hot out. The cooler, the better.

How would you compare driving in the Indy 500 to driving on I-465?

I’m not a race car driver, but I would assume that if you were to ask one, that they would say probably driving here on this track in Indianapolis versus 465 any day, because when you’re driving on 465, you don’t know the person next to you, you don’t know their habits. All of these guys have habits when they drive, and all the other drivers know those habits, so that’s definitely an advantage. I would say here any day over 465.

Do Indy 500 cars have insurance for repairs?

I believe most teams have their own insurance and it’s very similar to what you have on your automobile as well. If you have a small fender-bender, you might want to fix it yourself and not turn it into the insurance—your deductibles go up—and then the same thing happens here. If we can fix it at the shop, we’ll do that, or obviously if it’s a complete write-off—when the car is what they call “tubbed” or destroyed—then I’m sure insurance has a big part of the equation.

Does it matter who is at fault in an Indy 500 wreck?

When you get involved in racing, it’s a dangerous sport and you kind of know what you’re getting yourself in to. If a car crashes or starts to spin in front of you, and you end up getting caught in the debris, you’re just as much as at fault as he is when it comes down to paying for the damage.

How does an injured Indy 500 driver seek treatment?

Yes, IndyCar provides the immediate attention to the driver. Homaltro Safety Team is probably the best in the world. A lot of times they get there to the accident before the car actually stops to get the driver out and seek immediate medical attention, whether it’s to the on-site facility here if it’s somewhat not severe to getting into a LifeLine helicopter and taking it to Methodist Hospital. Whatever needs to be done gets done, and it’s provided by IndyCar.

Thanks to Grant Haughawout and Andretti Autosport for answering our questions!