The return of a live audience to the Indianapolis 500 also saw the return of a veteran driver to the winner’s circle.
Helio Castroneves, at 46 one of oldest drivers in the field, joined the exclusive four-time winners club, gaining his first victory in motor sports’ most fabled race since 2009. The race was televised and streamed by NBC.
He celebrated his achievement by scaling a fence and sprinting across the speedway track to wave to the 135,000 fans in attendance, the largest post-pandemic crowd yet.
Joining him during his victory job were multiple drivers and most of Team Penske, the organization where he spent more than two decades and won three Indy 500s.
In winning, Castroneves joins A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears, his former mentor at Team Penske, as the only four-time winners of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Mears was the last driver to join the club in 1991.
“I love Indianapolis! You guys don’t understand it! The fans, you give me energy,” Castroneves said.