They say that if you make the grid of the Indianapolis 500, that is your first pay-day. Finish the race and you will almost pay for your weekend of racing (and often car-lease) expenses. Then, if you lead the race at any time, that will be bonus money in your back-pocket.
Such is the importance of ‘Bump-Day’ in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Making the grid goes along way toward paying for your racing.
There is room for thirty-three cars on the grid (11 rows of three) and no more. So, the final day of qualifying, when the complete starting field is set, is traditionally known as ‘Bump Day’.
The first 30-grid positions are set in qualifying with the 30 fastest times. If there are more than 33-entries, then those drivers who haven’t yet qualified in the top 30, get one more opportunity. If a driver, in the fight for the final ‘three’, is out-qualified by faster cars, they are said to have been ‘bumped’ (out of the race).
Hence, the importance of Bump Day. Not making the grid is bad enough without getting your first pay-cheque for starting the race.
With Roger Penske taking over the running of the Indianapolis 500, the prize fund for the 2020 race had been increased to a total of $US 15 million. However, this was cut-down to $7.5m due to the coronavirus and no spectators allowed to attend the live event.
For those that made the grid, and it didn’t matter if you retired out of the race or didn’t make the finish, you still got prize money. The lowest paid driver still earned over $US 200k, while the winner, Simon Pagenaud, is reported to have earned $US 2,669,529.
If entering the Indianapolis 500 in the future, then make sure you have the car, the team and the talent to not get bumped!