The Racing Capital
of the World
May 24, 2015
April 26, 2012 | By John Oreovicz
Graham Hill - Graham Hill was a key member of a wave of international drivers who tested their skill at the Indianapolis 500 in the 1960s. He holds the unique distinction of being the only driver who has won the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Formula 1 world championship. The London native began racing F1 for Team Lotus in 1958 and won his first championship two years after switching to the BRM organization. He rejoined Lotus in 1967 and won a second F1 title in 1968. Hill made his first Indianapolis 500 start in 1966 and is one of x drivers who won the race in their first attempt. Hill made two additional ‘500’ starts, qualifying on the front row in a turbine powered Lotus in 1968, but he did not record another finish. Although he scored his last Grand Prix victory in 1969, Hill competed in F1 through early 1975. He was killed later than year when he crashed his plane on approach in heavy fog.
Jackie Stewart – Often viewed as Jim Clark’s protégé, Jackie Stewart followed his countryman from Formula 1 to Indianapolis and nearly won the classic race in 1966. Then in just the second year of a highly successful F1 career that would net him three World Championships, Stewart made it through a first-lap crash that took out eleven cars to emerge in the lead of the Indianapolis 500 on Lap 150. The Scotsman paced the next 40 laps until his Ford engine lost oil pressure and he coasted to a stop, classified in sixth place. Stewart also retired from the 1967 race with engine problems. He was slated to drive one of the turbine-powered Lotus cars in 1968, but withdrew after suffering a broken wrist in a Formula 2 accident.
Denis Hulme – New Zealander Dennis Hulme made his first Indianapolis 500 start in 1967, the same year he won the Formula 1 World Championship. Hulme finished fourth at Indy, and repeated that result a year later. His 1969 race ended with a broken clutch; Hulme then led the McLaren team’s first assault on Indianapolis in 1970 but he never attempted to qualify after suffering badly burned hands when his car caught fire due to a fuel leak. Hulme returned to Indy in 1971 and qualified his McLaren fourth but completed only 137 laps.
Jochen Rindt – Jochen Rindt never had the same level of success in his two Indianapolis 500 starts as he did in Formula 1, where he won six Grand Prix races and the 1970 World Championship. The Austrian ran the 500 in 1967 and ’68 with a best finish of 24th place.
Ronnie Bucknum – Californian Ronnie Bucknum was a successful sports car racer when he was chosen by Honda to drive their new Formula 1 car in 1964. Bucknum switched to Indy cars in 1966 and made a total of 23 starts, including three in the Indianapolis 500 from 1968-70, with a best finish of 21st place in his rookie year. As an interesting aside, when Honda tested its latest F1 car at IMS in late 1968 to evaluate a possible entry into Indy car racing, Bucknum was the driver.
George Follmer – Another talented American road racer, George Follmer was one of the most versatile drivers of his era. He competed in Can-Am and Indy cars before running a single season of Formula 1 in 1973 for the Shadow team. Follmer won an Indy car race at Phoenix International Raceway in 1969 but never finished the Indianapolis 500 in his three starts.
David Hobbs – The color commentator for SPEED Channel’s Formula 1 broadcasts made a handful of Formula 1 starts between 1967 and ’74. During that time, he also raced sports cars and Formula 5000 in America and mixed in sporadic Indy car starts, including four runs in the Indianapolis 500 with a top finish of fifth in 1974.
Sam Posey – A classic gentleman racer, Sam Posey’s career peaked in 1972 when he competed in the United States Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500, where he parlayed a steady run into a fifth place finish. Best known for his later television career, Posey made 13 Indy car starts and twice competed in the USGP.
Graham McRae – New Zealander Graham McRae’s only Formula 1 start lasted just one lap when he and a dozen other drivers crashed out of the 1973 British Grand Prix. He ran his only Indianapolis 500 the same year.
Clay Regazzoni – Laid off by the Ferrari Formula 1 team at the end of 1976, Clay Regazzoni dovetailed an attempt at the Indianapolis 500 with an F1 campaign with the small Ensign team. The Swiss veteran miraculously walked away from a huge practice accident and went on to qualify for the 1977 ‘500.’ Regazzoni passed about 10 cars on the opening lap but was soon sidelined by a blown engine.
Vern Schuppan – Australian Vern Schuppan was a regular in American sports car and Formula 5000 racing throughout the 70s and he also made nine Formula 1 starts. Schuppan ran the Indianapolis 500 three times beginning in 1976, with his best result coming in his final start in third place.