A Fast 500 Miles

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

A Fast 500 Miles

May 27, 2018

It’s fun to drive fast on a highway, but that’s nothing like driving a racecar. Today Indianapolis will hold the 100th run of one of the most famous car races, the Indy 500. The cars speed around the track 200 times to drive 500 miles, which is how the race got its name. With the cars driving 200 miles an hour, it’s very exciting to watch. More than 100,000 people watch the race in person every year…if you lined up their seats in 1 long row, it would stretch for 99 miles! It takes more than 40 ice cream stands and 35 pretzel sellers to feed all those fans. On race day they sell more than 10,000 pounds of hamburgers, which need enough ketchup to fill 10 bathtubs. And of course  there’s the gasoline, because the cars get hungry, too!

Wee ones: The Indy 500 had its actual 100th birthday in 2011 (it didn’t run every year). Were you alive yet that year?

Little kids: If you filled your bathtub(s) in your house with ketchup, how many more would you need to match the 10 tubs at the Indy 500?  Count up your bathtubs! Bonus: 3 people in history have each won the Indy 500 4 times. How many races have they won altogether?

Big kids: The 33 cars line up in rows of 3 at the start. If you’re stuck in the next-to-last row, what number row is that?  Bonus: If each car burns 20 gallons of gas in the race, how much gas do they use together? (Hint if needed: What if each car used just 2 gallons? And how does 20 gallons differ from that?)

The sky’s the limit: The 200 laps around the track add up to 500 miles. If you wanted to try driving just 10 miles of it, how many times would you have to drive around the track?










Wee ones: Different for everyone…if you will be at least 5 years old as of May 29, then you were around for the 100th birthday!

Little kids: Different for everyone again…count up your bathtubs, then subtract from 10. If you have 10 or more, you don’t need any more tubs to match.  Bonus: 12 races.

Big kids: The 10th row, since there are 11 in total.  Bonus: 660 gallons.

The sky’s the limit: 4 laps. If you cut the 500 miles into 200 pieces (the laps), you find that the track is 2 ½ miles long. So you’d need 4 laps to drive 10 miles. Another way to solve it: 10 miles is 1/50 of 500, so you need to drive 1/50 of 200 laps.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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