McLaughlin's Qualified Success

May 24, 2024

Scott McLaughlin has broken records to put his Penske on pole-position for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

At a simply astounding average speed of 376.941km/h over the 4-lap run, McLaughlin’s pole-speed is the fastest in Indy 500 history, beating Alex Palou’s 2023 record of 376.936km/h.

This result didn’t come easy to the 30-year-old. Since making the jump to the USA’s top tier of open-wheel racing from Supercars, McLaughlin has never quite found his flow at Indy.

“Indy hasn't been kind to me and a lot of that was my doing. I need to work on things and this is the first step,“ McLaughlin said.

It was a combination of McLaughlin’s learnings from previous outings at Indy, and Team Penske pushing during the off-season to put together a package that could win them their 20th Indy 500 that saw the ‘yellow submarine’ on pole.

The Indianapolis 500

Often referred to as "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indy 500 has a history dating back to 1911. Held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this 200-lap, 500-mile race is a cornerstone of American motorsport.

Like most events that have run for multiple generations, the Indy 500 has gone through periods of immense change and picked up some quirky traditions along the way.

The first Indy 500 was held on May 30, 1911, and was won by Ray Harroun driving a Marmon Wasp. Harroun's first use of a rearview mirror is one of the earliest examples of technological advancement in motor racing.

Introduced in 1936, the Borg-Warner Trophy is awarded to the winner of the Indy 500. The trophy features the faces of all its winners, etched in silver, making it one of the most unique trophies in sports.

The tradition of drinking milk in Victory Lane began in 1936 when Louis Meyer requested buttermilk after his win. The American Dairy Association saw the opportunity and began offering prize money for the winner and their engineer, provided milk was drunk in the victory ceremony. Now, drivers are asked their milk preference before the race, from chocolate to trim milk, to make sure organisers have the winner's preferred milk on-hand. 

There was even controversy after Emerson Fittipali's win when he refused to drink milk, opting for Brazilian orange juice instead. This drew ire from fans and he eventually donated his winnings to charity in an attempt to win-back goodwill.

If McLaughlin can win the storied race, it’ll be the first time a Kiwi has entered victory lane at Indy since Scott Dixon in 2008.