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The 2011 Indianapolis 500. Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images

The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place this Sunday (2:30pm ET, NBC). It's normally held on Memorial Day weekend, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Known as "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indy 500 is joined by the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans to comprise the Triple Crown of Motorsport.

  • Quick take: IndyCar is one of the three major racing series, along with NASCAR and Formula One. Indy and F1 use open-wheel cars with uncovered cockpits, while NASCAR uses the more "normal" stock cars.

The state of play: The famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway was constructed in 1909, endearingly called "the Brickyard" due to being paved with brick and mortar.

  • One yard of original bricks still remain at the start-finish line of the massive stadium, which can hold 300,000 fans, though none will be there this year.
  • The 500-mile race includes a relatively paltry 200 laps thanks to the enormous two-and-a-half mile circuit.
  • At 253 acres, the infield is so ridiculously gigantic that several other sports venues and international landmarks could fit inside (see below).
Courtesy: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Race history:

  • Ray Harroun won the inaugural race in 1911 and invented the rear-view mirror in the process.
  • Three drivers have won a record four times (A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr., and Rick Mears) while Hélio Castroneves leads active racers with three victories.
  • 1936 champion Louis Meyer cooled off after the race with some buttermilk. A photo of his victory chug made the papers, and a milk executive in attendance successfully pushed to make it a tradition.

The intrigue: Hall of Famer Mario Andretti won the Indy 500 in 1969, but the race has since become a family curse, with five Andrettis across three generations combining to go 1-73.

  • His grandson, Marco, won pole position this year, putting him in a prime spot to break the curse.

Go deeper

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Axios Re:Cap digs into what hospitals have, and what they still need, with Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, one of America's largest operators of hospitals and health clinics.

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local cases.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
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  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
41 mins ago - World

Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of COVID-19 cases

Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Photo: THIERRY ROGE/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Belgium is enforcing a strict lockdown starting Sunday amid rising coronavirus infections, hospital admissions and a surge of deaths, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday.

Why it matters: De Croo said the government saw no choice but to lock down "to ensure that our health care system does not collapse." Scientists and health officials said deaths have doubled every six days, per the Guardian.