News & Multimedia

Hundreds share in fun of Fan Appreciation Night

Sixty-seven years to the date that Tony Hulman purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Eddie Rickenbacker for $750,000 and began its restoration, two of the premier drivers in Indy car racing history returned to share anecdotes of the racetrack and its marquee event, the Indianapolis 500, with fans.

“All these people came to see us?” Bobby Unser said to fellow three-time Indy 500 champion Johnny Rutherford upon seeing the hundreds of people seeking their signatures on a cornucopia of items at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum on Fan Appreciation Night.

“I think they’re all here to talk to you. You’ll be busy,” Rutherford quipped to his longtime friend and competitor.

Either Unser or Rutherford won the 500 Mile Race, which will be contested for the 97th time next May 26, in 1974-76 and also in 1980 and ’81.

“(This) is my home in a lot of ways and it’s always special to be here,” said Unser as he engaged the first person in the winding line while seated in front of the No. 3 Rislone-sponsored Dan Gurney Eagle/4-cylinder Offy entered by Leader Cards Inc. in which he won the first of his Indy 500 titles in 1968. “It’s great to see all the people; it does a lot for us, too.”

Unser led 127 of the 200 laps in ’68 and recorded an average speed of 152.882 mph. The car was the first with a turbocharged engine to win.

“It brings back a lot of memories; it was a good little race car,” Unser said. “It was my first win, which in English means I didn’t know if I could win. I knew I was fast, but the chance of finishing 500 miles and going fast the whole race is not very likely. A lot of people dropped out. I was exceptionally lucky because the car did run all day (he started third).

“We did have some problems with the transmission; I only ended up with fourth gear that would work, which was killing me getting out of the pits. The good part about that was the car held 75 gallons of fuel and I could go a long way between pit stops.”

He also won the 500-Mile Race in 1975 from the third starting position and added a victory from the pole in 1981. He completed 2,611 laps in 19 starts at the Speedway, with two poles, 10 top-10 finishes and 440 laps led over 10 races.

Rutherford was positioned near the distinctive yellow Pennzoil Chaparral 2K/V8 Cosworth entered by Jim Hall in which he won the 1980 race from the pole. He led 118 of 200 laps at an average speed of 142.862 mph. Nicknamed The Yellow Submarine, the car (plus a twin with which Al Unser dominated the first half of the 1979 race) were the first to have “ground effects” incorporated into the John Barnhard-designed chassis.

“It was a whole new realm. The car let you do so much more than what you could do with the other cars that didn’t have ground effects,” said Rutherford, who is the pace car driver for INDYCAR events. “It was a chore because it so stuck so tight to the track that it put a lot on you – lateral G (forces) – and it wasn’t as easy as everyone might think because of the design. But it was a lot of fun to drive and we accomplished a lot with it.”

Rutherford drove the 2K to four Indy car victories during the 1980 season and won both the USAC and CART National championships.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, it changed the direction of Indy car racing with ground effects,” he added. “That was quite a stroke because cars were doing OK the way they were and then along comes the Chaparral. It opened up a whole new garage.”

Rutherford also won the '500' in 1974 (from the 25th starting position) and 1976 from the pole. His line at the Speedway includes 24 starts, three poles, eight top-10 finishes and 296 laps led over five races.

Tickets to the 2013 Indianapolis 500 are on sale CLICK HERE. Three-time winners Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti will seek to join an even more select group.

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
IMS
 
Hundreds share in fun of Fan Appreciation Night
Sixty-seven years to the date that Tony Hulman purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Eddie Rickenbacker for $750,000 and began its restoration, two of the premier drivers in Indy car racing history returned to share anecdotes...
Read More
Related Media
Will Power
 
Power Wins Honda Indy Toronto to Continue Charge
It was never a certainty for Team Penske’s Will Power, but speed, strategy and a nail-biting one-lap dash at the Honda Indy Toronto culminated in the Australian scoring his third win of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season – all in the past four races – and climbing one step higher on the all-time victory list.
Read More
Graham Rahal
 
Pruett's Preview: Honda Indy Toronto
On the surface, this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto race is part of the Verizon IndyCar Series 16-round championship, and while that kernel of information is undoubtedly true, it paints a false picture of how many teams perceive the event.
Read More
Josef Newgarden
 
Newgarden Dominates to Win Iowa Corn 300
Driving the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet, Newgarden cruised from a front-row start to his third career win. Newgarden, who sustained a fractured clavicle and right hand in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway last month, showed no signs of struggle from the injury as he led a record 282 laps en route to his first oval win by 4.2828 seconds over Will Power.
Read More
Ryan Hunter-Reay
 
Pruett's Preview: Iowa Corn 300
Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 Honda and Josef Newgarden’s No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy produced an unforgettable finish to Iowa’s 2015 race as they pitted for fresh tires during a late yellow and charged to the front. But with the shift from night to day, and the same downforce guidelines used by the series on the 1-mile Phoenix oval, the 2014 Indy 500 winner says it’s hard to predict how the 300-lap race will play out.
Read More
Carl Haas
 
IMS Statement on the Passing of Carl Haas
Carl Haas, one of the most influential men in motorsports for nearly a half-century and a frequent competitor at the Indianapolis 500 as a car owner, died June 29 at the age of 86.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 1,202
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at lwyman@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
Catch all of the #Brickyard400 action again next year! Renew here: https://t.co/fSIleMmgX8 https://t.co/CqUQWl3vvp
about 12 hours ago