America's largestsports audience—upward of 200,000 passionately interested people—will make anoisy festival next Wednesday of the world's richest sporting event. That, ofcourse, is the Indianapolis 500-mile automobile race. The spectators will payfrom $3 to $30 to be present, and the contestants will divide nearly half amillion dollars in prize money. What is the magnet that every year draws morepeople to the Brickyard than to any other sporting event? The great majority goin excited anticipation of the kind of high-speed, wheel-to-wheel sportdepicted on the following pages. But there is more to it than that—we needattend only once to sense that the Indianapolis drivers are among the world'ssupermen. The skill and bravery they display are so far beyond the commonexperience as to seem magical. At Indy, for a brief afternoon, we can sharethat magic.

D-day minus one,and visitors stroll the speedway's famous Gasoline Alley (above) to inspect thestripped and skeletal cars. Next morning (right) comes the traditional command,"Gentlemen, start your engines!" Mechanics' hands go up to signalcompliance, and the fierce thunder of 33 exhausts rolls forth.

As the raceunfolds, car owners and crewmen can only wait and watch. Below: Stetson-hattedJ. C. Agajanian stands in his pit, tensed against a sudden emergency like theBardahl Special's dramatic flip at right.