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
Zach Veach
 
Small Stature, Big Talent: Rookie Veach Ready To Fulfill Dream Sunday in Indy 500
Zach Veach is from the small, southern Ohio town of Stockdale, an unincorporated rural area that doesn’t have a single traffic light. “We have a stop sign,” he said, smiling. “Hopefully eventually, if it keeps growing, we’ll get that traffic light.
Read More
2018 Indy Car Rendering
 
New Images of 'NEXT' Car for Verizon IndyCar Series Unveiled
INDYCAR has released the “NEXT” concept images of the car that will be used by all Verizon IndyCar Series competitors in 2018.
Read More
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
 
Fans Encouraged To Arrive Early, Plan Ahead for 101st Indianapolis 500
Just like last year, race fans are encouraged to arrive as early as possible for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday, May 28. With one of the largest crowds in decades expected to fill the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Race Day, the easiest way to ensure a stress-free day at the track is to arrive by the time all gates open at 6 a.m. (ET).
Read More
Max Chilton
 
Chilton Moving Closer to Center of Victory Contenders' Radar Screen
Can a driver who has been consistently quick fly under the proverbial radar before the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil this Sunday? Maybe Max Chilton could — until Monday.
Read More
James Davison
 
Davison Heads Straight To Rush Hour after Answering Late Call from Coyne
James Davison was about 350 miles away, taking part in the SVRA Spring Vintage Festival Weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, while also watching a live online stream of qualifying Saturday for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Then he saw Sebastien Bourdais and the No. 18 GEICO Dale Coyne Racing Honda slam into the Turn 2 wall.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 1,427
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 IMS Sales Department at (317) 492-8739 or email at hospitalitysales@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
It's Pole day on @CrownRoyal Armed Forces Weekend & we can't wait to see you! Check out details on the day: https://t.co/yKQ6Db3YRK
May 21