An Indy 500 win will ‘change your life’, but what does that mean?

Marcus Ericsson, Indy 500, IndyCar (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Marcus Ericsson, Indy 500, IndyCar (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

Every month of May, we are told that winning the Indy 500 is going to “change one’s life”. But what exactly does that phrase mean?

It might be one of the more underrated cliches of the month of May, considering just how many lines and phrases we have gotten used to hearing in regard to the event that is the Indy 500, the greatest sporting event in the world and certainly the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.

Every year, winning the Indy 500 is going to “change someone’s life”. It’s racing immortality. It’s etching your name into the history books. It’s having your face sculpted onto the Borg-Warner Trophy. It’s never being introduced the same way again.

But what is it, really?

Reigning Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson spoke to us about what, exactly, it means when we consistently hear this phrase throughout the month of May.

“Yeah, you know, I’ve heard that [phrase] as well, you know, that it’s a life-changing thing, winning the 500, and it’s hard to understand what that means until it sort of happens,” Ericsson admitted to Beyond the Flag. “But I feel like it’s been life-changing for me!”

For the 32-year-old Swede, it’s hard to pick just one thing that has changed since his Indy 500 triumph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 12 months ago.

“I think that it’s hard to pick like one thing that’s changed,” the driver of the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda continued. “I think in my home country of Sweden, you know, it’s been a very different focus on me since winning the 500. It’s one of the biggest races in the world, one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

“But also here in America, you know, when you’re an Indy 500 winner, it’s a different kind of respect in the racing world, but also in the sporting world, really here in the States. So that’s been different, and I think also in the paddock with your competitors, you are definitely in a different sort of category when you’ve won the Indy 500.”

What’s interesting in Ericsson’s response is how similar it is to what most Indy 500 winners can reflect upon. Yet at the same time, it is unique, and every driver has his own story to tell.

For instance, 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan noted that his life changed because, in addition to “becoming a legend” and everything else that comes with winning the race, his win a decade ago is what allowed him to stay in the sport.

His KV Racing Technology team didn’t have the funding to go beyond that race unless they won it, and that’s just what Kanaan did. Kanaan, who completed the 2013 season with the team and went on to compete in the sport full-time for six more seasons, hasn’t missed an Indy 500 since. He is set to make his 22nd and final start in the race this Sunday.

Ericsson’s odds at DraftKings Sportsbook to repeat at Indy 500 champion are +1200. Kanaan’s odds to become a two-time winner are +1800.

Odds and availability subject to change. Sign up with DraftKings to bet now and take advantage of their current promotion!

Next. All-time IndyCar wins list. dark

Can Marcus Ericsson become the first driver to win the Indy 500 in back-to-back years since Helio Castroneves won it in 2001 and 2002? Just five drivers have won the race two years in a row in the 106-year history of the race. The 107th running is set to be broadcast live on NBC from the Racing Capital of the World beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET this Sunday, May 28. Start a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss it!