News & Multimedia

No. 6: Four-Time Indy 500 Winners Gather for Historic Shoot

Note: The editorial staff at IMS.com is taking a look back at the 10 biggest moments of 2021 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in this year-end series, with one installment appearing on the site per day in countdown fashion from Dec. 22-31.

On May 30, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears welcomed Helio Castroneves to the historic four-time Indy 500 winners club. On July 21, the four legends gathered for one of the most significant moments in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history for a photo shoot that will be remembered forever.

Shortly after Castroneves won the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, IMS President J. Douglas Boles had the idea to take a photo of the four-time winners together. Foyt, Unser and Mears have appeared in photo shoots together, but it had been years. Plus, they had a new member of “The Club.”

Boles didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity, but unfortunately, Unser ducked out of the race with 10 laps to go to beat traffic. So, Boles was hard at work to bring the four together to capture this significant moment.

IMS photographer Chris Owens said he took thousands of photographs of the four drivers in Indianapolis on July 21, which included a sit-down meeting in the Pagoda and a photo shoot with media on the Yard of Bricks. That’s more than Owens takes on Indianapolis 500 Race Day.

It was debated whether IMS should just wait until May 2022 to gather the four-time winners, but with the age of the three elder statesmen (Foyt 86, Unser 82 and Mears now 70), Boles felt it was necessary to capture this moment while the opportunity was still there.

It proved to be an important move, as Unser passed away Dec. 9. Had IMS waited until next May to have the three legendary INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis 500 drivers welcome Castroneves to this club, this already iconic photo would not exist.

Thanks to that photoshoot in July, the four-timer’s club was able to gather one last time for a photo that will define the history of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for decades to come.

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