INDY 500

Susan Boone
Saint Agnes Academy
Subjects: 8-12 Mathematics (Algebra 1)
Topic: Mean, Median, Interpreting Data, Finding Rates, Times, and Distances
updated Jul 14, 1999

Purpose: Students will find the mean and median speed for the Indianapolis 500. Rates per lap will be calculated as well as the length of each lap. Students will need to research information via the Internet.

Materials: Internet access and calculator.

Prior knowledge: An understanding of mean and median. The formula d = rt.

Description: (I suggest this lesson be done in May. Student interesst is hight then. You will probably need to use the prior years' data, since the race is held at the end of May.) Students can work in pairs or individually depending on classroom environment. Students should use the previous years' data if the Indy 500 has not been raced when this assignment was given.

Students will be directed to various sites on the Internet to collect data pertaining to the Indianapolis 500. They will research information pertaining to the Official Indianapolis results. Unfortunately, some of these sites are open lines for communication. Students should be monitored to insure they travel the direction the teacher intends!! Teachers may find it necessary to bookmark certain locations so students only go to SPECIFIC sites. Given the speed of each of the participants, they will be able to calculate the average speed per lap, and determine the number of miles in each lap. Students will also be asked to find the mean and median speeds for the finishers of the Indianapolis 500.

Time: This lesson could be done if there is only one available computer to access the Internet or groups of two students could work on this assignment independent of other work. This lesson could easily be modified to accommodate various ongoing group activities. If there is classroom access to the Internet, the lesson could be completed in one 45 minute class period.

Procedure: Divide the students into groups of two or three. (optional) Students will research "The Official Website of the Indianapolis 500". From this page, search the Indy 500 statistics. Students can go to any of the Search Engines found on the Internet to help find the answers to these questions also. Students will use these results to answer the following questions.

Questions:Be sure to include the URL for the site used to determine the answers to these questions.


  1. Who was the topped ranked Indy 500 (winner) driver for 1999?
  2. What was the fastest lap driven in the 1999 Indy 500?
  3. At this rate, how long would it take to complete one lap of the Indy 500?
  4. (hint: Do you know the rate? Do you know the distance? I think you should know both of these! Use the formula t = d/r to calculate the time.)
  5. In paragraph form, discuss how you derived your answer. Be sure to include any math calculations you used.
  1. What is the average "average speed" driven for the top ten ranked drivers of the 1999 Indy 500? (You will need to find the top ten finishers.)
  2. What is the median of the "average speed" of the top ten drivers in 1997? Show your work to justify your answer.
  3. List the name of the drivers that completed the entire Indy 500 in 1999. (Be sure to list the URL...there have been discrepancies!) Calculate their average "average speed". Show all of your work
  1. Study the data for the last 10 years. You should find the finish times for the winner of each year. Be creative and "search" for this data. My favorite search engine is Alta Vista. Make a graph of this data. Look through all of the data. Speculate (in writing) why there are some years that do not contain data.
  2. What did you label the x and y axis?
  3. Do the data points seem to fit in a straight line or a curve?
  4. Are the speeds increasing or decreasing?
  5. What are some factors that would contribute to these results?
Thanks to Vicotria Matassa, Judy Moon and Caroline Vachira for clarifying part two of this lesson.
Extension: There are interactive ESPN sport sites that students may be interested in. One in particular is a survey whether drug testing should be done on high school athletes. Research this topic, and write an essay describing your viewpoints on this topic. Include documentation found to support the issue and your response.

Gender Issues: Search Women's Sport Page

    Write a brief summary of available gender equity in sports support documents. How do feel these documents would help you ensure a gender equitable environment at your school? Please be sure to list the specific URL that you used.
Comments: Questions or comments should be sent to 
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