Reality shows and the Indy 500

Published On April 4, 2016 » 2262 Views» By Jeff Vrabel » Blogs, IMS, Indy 500

We’re chronicling 100 days of Indy 500 history on #SpeedRead leading up to the historic 100th Running. With 55 days to go, Jeff Vrabel continues exploring the many tie-ins between the Indy 500 and pop culture.

More Vrabel: The “500” in old TV | In silent movie | In “Cars” | In “Turbo” | The Beatles at IMS | Pace Car drivers | Snake Pit rebirthThe ultimate “500” playlist | David Letterman, pit reporter | Indy 500 on Atari 2600On “Jeopardy!”More 100 days blogs

With an event as large and cultural significant as the Indy 500, it was really only a matter of time before the race and its surrounding environments started leaking into the world of reality television. Here are three notable instances of the 500 or 500-adjacent people/locations/burgers appearing on reality shows. (Only one of them features the Kardashians, you’re welcome.)

“Man vs. Food” (“Indianapolis, Indiana”): On his nationwide quest to consume bison-sized portions of food in all corners of the country and probably run some accidental side experiments about the power of the human digestive system, Adam Richman stopped to accept the Big Ugly Challenge at Bub’s in Carmel, which required eating four 22-oz. burgers at a total intake of about 6 lbs. But before that, he hit up three Indiana hotspots: Edwards Drive-In, Gray Brothers Catering in Mooresville and the Speedway, where he picked up motivational tactics from driver and fitness-insane person Tony Kanaan. (As the show aired in 2010, we’re comfortable spoiling that Richman had to bail on the Big Ugly challenge after consuming just 2 1/4 of the four required burgers, but on the plus side, he’s still alive.)

“American Chopper” (“Window World Bike”): A 2010 episode of the series that featured bearded people yelling about motorcycles features the Window World “Stinger,” a 2011 concept show car that doubles as tribute to the first winning 500 car. This particular episode featured Paul Teutel Sr. and Jr. battling, not surprisingly, about the viability of their respective businesses. (In happier times, Senior and Junior both appeared at the 2005 edition of the 500, not fighting, probably.)

The Kardashians took in the action in the Centennial Era year of 2010.

The Kardashians took in the action in the Centennial Era year of 2010.

“Keeping Up with the Kardashians”: Yeahhhhhh, sorry. This happened after Kim and Kourtney attended the 2010 edition of the 500 with their mother, Kris. (Oh here’s something weird: Kim tweeted about it.) Keeping up with the celebrity theme, that year’s race was won by Ashley Judd’s then-husband.


About The Author

Jeff Vrabel

I’m an Indiana native and former resident of Chicago and Hilton Head Island who’s written for for such outlets as GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post and my hometown Indianapolis Monthly. I spent decades listening to the 500 on the radio and have run two Mini-Marathons around the IMS track, but only dropped a packet of energy beans on Turn 3 during one of them. And I live near Indianapolis with my family; my oldest son just stole bacon off your plate and the youngest was personally approved by Springsteen (long story). Find me at the cleverly named or

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