Judging by the number of empty seats on race day, most believe that attendance at the Indy 500 has been shrinking. Not that officials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would ever announce official attendance figures. The owners of the raceway have never even divulged official seating capacity at the 2.5-mile oval, though in 2003 The Indianapolis Star conducted a physical count of each permanent seat. The Star's number? 257,325. This year's Indy 500 gets underway on May 29.
Berlusconi trial resumes
After opening on April 6 and adjourning quickly thereafter, the pay-for-sex trial of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resumes on May 31. If convicted of paying for sex with a minor, the Italian leader faces up to three years in prison for the sex charge and an additional dozen years for abuse-of-power charges.
On May 31, pro-Palestinian activists from 25 countries plan on breaking an Israeli blockade and sailing into a port in the Gaza Strip in what they hope will be a more successful repeat of last year's attempt. On that day last year, Israeli commandos shot and killed nine activists who defied Israel's blockade. And this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Western powers to halt the blockade run before it sets sail.
The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season formally opens on June 1, and Colorado State University forecasters predict the six-month season will have above average activity with a possible 16 named storms-five more than usual-with nine officially becoming hurricanes.
Granite State debate
Top Republican presidential aspirants will meet up in Manchester, N.H., on June 7 for the important primary state's first GOP debate. Donald Trump and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have already withdrawn from the race. The debate should put pressure on fence-sitters like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to declare their intentions.