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Monday, July 15, 2024

Indy 500 Delivers Record Payout and Sees TV Viewership Boost

  • A record purse, viewership increase provide a strong coda to the weather-delayed race.
  • Rain thwarts Kyle Larson’s attempt at ‘The Double.’
The Indianapolis Star

Despite torrential downpours, lightning, and a four-hour delay to the start of the 2024 Indianapolis 500, the 108th running of the iconic race still generated a record purse for the third year in a row and a solid boost in TV viewership. 

The event paid a total purse of $18.456 million, up by 8% from a year ago, and race winner Josef Newgarden (above) of Team Penske earned $4.288 million of that as he became the first repeat Indy 500 champion since 2002. The back-to-back titles prompted a $440,000 rollover bonus that is part of that $4.288 million purse win. 

This year’s Indy 500, meanwhile, also generated an average audience of 5.344 million across NBC Sports platforms, up 8% from last year and up 10% from the year before, according to preliminary figures released Monday by the network, which is battling to maintain its IndyCar Series media rights. Final measurements will be released on Wednesday. 

Those results provided a strong coda to what had previously been a difficult day for Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials managing the severe weather. At the worst of it late Sunday morning, IMS officials evacuated the grandstands and encouraged fans to implement personal safety plans, an advisory heeded to varying degrees. IMS then lifted a local blackout on broadcast coverage of the race, despite those grandstands not selling out—normally part of the parameters of maintaining the blackout policy.

No ‘Double’ for Larson

The Indy 500 delay, however, did have another consequence as NASCAR star Kyle Larson, currently No. 3 in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, missed out his intent to race in both Indianapolis and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day, known among race fans as “The Double.” Larson finished in 18th in the Indy 500, earning him rookie of the year honors there and a total prize of $178,000. But after his late departure from Indiana and further rain in Charlotte, he never was able to drive in the later event as that race was called early with 151 laps left. 

The driver intends to attempt the rare ‘Double’—only pursued fully over the years by four other drivers—again, if possible.

“What I thought could be one of the best days of my life quickly turned into one of the most disappointing ones I’ve ever experienced,” Larson said Monday in a lengthy social media post. “I hope it’s not the last opportunity to try the Double, but if it is I guess it was memorable.”

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