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Among the IMS Radio Network's most dramatic moments ever take place following a huge accident which takes the life of the great defending two-time winner Bill Vukovich. Hear interviewer Charlie Brockman tactfully avoiding telling winner Bob Sweikert in Victory Lane that his friend succumbed in the accident. And hear chief announcer Sid Collins introduce a legendary phrase when he calls for each commercial break with the words, "Stay tuned for the greatest spectacle in racing."
1957 Indianapolis 500 - Qualifications
Rare recordings taken from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network’s four daily qualification “wrap up” programs. You’ll hear Chief Announcer Sid Collins summarize each day’s activities and hear him interview several drivers including the popular North Vernon, Indiana pole-winner Pat O’Connor, front-row starter Eddie Sachs, 1952 Indianapolis 500 winner Troy Ruttman, and eventual winner Sam Hanks.
1957 Monza Race of Two Worlds
There's a brand new, steeply-banked concrete oval at Monza, Italy, which can either be hooked in with the legendary road course or used separately for record-breaking purposes. Track organizers dream of holding a 500-mile race with ten leading Indianapolis 500 drivers facing ten counterparts from Formula One. Unfortunately, the road racers take a pass and the only foreign representation consists of three D-type Jaguar sports cars, two of which just finished first and second in the previous week's 24-Hours of Le Mans. For safety reasons, the race is conducted in three legs, Jimmy Bryan emerging as the overall winner by winning the first two and placing second in the final to overall runner-up Troy Ruttman. Surprisingly, the Jaguars end up 4th, 5th and 6th. Others in the lineup include Eddie Sachs, Pat O'Connor and Johnnie Parsons, plus in a Novi, Tony Bettenhausen, who turns a qualifying lap at 177 mph.
1958 Indianapolis 500 - Qualifications
Rare recordings taken from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network’s four daily qualification “wrap up” programs. You’ll hear Chief Announcer Sid Collins summarize each day’s activities and hear him interview a number of drivers including pole winner Dick Rathmann, front-row starter Jimmy Reece, Jud Larson and eventual winner Jimmy Bryan.
Jimmy Bryan’s great victory, driving the car with which Sam Hanks had won the previous year, is overshadowed by a tragic multi-car accident in the opening lap, which takes the life of the extremely popular Pat O’Connor from nearby North Vernon, Indiana. Hear the extraordinarily dramatic radio “call” by Lou Palmer, who, in his first year on the IMS Radio Network is assigned to turn three because “Nothing ever happens up there.”
1958 Monza Race of Two Worlds
Unlike the previous year, the Grand Prix drivers show up en masse for the second running of the Monza 500, and the Americans are amazed when a Ferrari driven by Luigi Musso grabs the pole at at 174.653 mph. Run again, for safety reasons, in three separate legs, Jim Rathmann wins all three and is the overall winner at an astonishing average speed of 166.722 mph. Jimmy Bryan, winner of both the 1957 Monza 500, and the most recent Indianapolis 500 is second overall, while the Ferrari is a rather surprise third, shared throughout the afternoon by Musso, Mike Hawthorn and American Phil Hill. Competitors include about-to-retire five-time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Eddie Sachs, Troy Ruttman, Rodger Ward, Masten Gregory and a 23-year old rookie named A.J. Foyt.
1959 Indianapolis 500 - Qualifications
Taken from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network’s four daily qualification “wrap up” programs, hear Chief Announcer Sid Collins summarize each day’s activities and hear him interview a number of drivers including Tony Bettenhausen, who escaped uninjured from an accident during practice, plus Johnny Thomson, who explains the reason why his record-breaking pole car has been painted shocking pink.
A brand new racing team formed by Milwaukee sportsman Bob Wilke, chief mechanic/car builder A.J. Watson and driver Rodger Ward scores the first time out with Ward averaging a record 135.857 mph to narrowly defeat his friend Jim Rathmann in a virtually identical Watson-built Offenhauser-powered “roadster.” There are 10 changes of lead between four drivers in the first 50 laps, one of whom is 1956 winner Pat Flaherty, who has been sidelined by injuries since shortly after his “500” win.
There are some truly classic radio "calls" as the greatest sustained two-man battle in the history of the "500" takes place. For the entire last 250 miles, Jim Rathmann and Rodger Ward are never any more than a few feet from each other, a worn tire finally forcing Ward to slow down and salvage second place behind Rathmann with three laps to go.
In one of the most exciting finishes ever, leader Eddie Sachs pits to change a wheel with only three laps remaining, allowing young A. J. Foyt to take over and record his first of four victories. Just a few minutes earlier, on lap 184, Foyt had been forced to stop for an emergency splash of fuel while leading. Hear Foyt's crew actually yelling "Go, Go, GO" in the background during the description from the pits.
1962 Indianapolis 500 - Qualifications
Several drivers flirt with the long-anticipated 150 mph "barrier" during the frantic pole day morning hot lap session before Parnelli Jones officially breaks it to win the pole. In addition to Parnelli, hear from former winners Jim Rathmann and Rodger Ward, along with the always entertaining Eddie Sachs, who was striving to become the first to win the pole for a third consecutive year. Other interviewees include American Grand Prix representative Dan Gurney, who makes his "500" debut driving a rear-engined car field by Mickey Thompson, plus three giants from the 1920s and 1930s, Louis Meyer, Harry Hartz and Cliff Bergere. First three days of coverage only.
Just days after having been the first ever to qualify in excess of 150 mph, the sensational Parnelli Jones appears to be well on his way to winning the "500" in only his second start. That is, until his brakes begin to fade. But even after they are completely gone, he still won't give up, slowing down and eventually salvaging seventh as 1959 winner Rodger Ward records his second win.
1963 Indianapolis 500 - Qualifications
IMS Radio Network's chief announcer Sid Collins, and driver expert Freddie Agabashian have plenty to talk about with the rear-engined "revolution" really gathering momentum. Lotus principal Colin Chapman is interviewed, as is American Mickey Thompson, who has no less than five rear-engined cars entered this time. Hear from front-engined drivers, and former room mates, Parnelli Jones and Jim Hurtubise, who end up qualifying one-two, "Herk" doing so with one of the V8 supercharged Novis. Brothers Joe and Andy Granatelli talk about fielding those crowd-pleasing cars. There's Bobby Unser, a rookie this year, plus Gene Hartley, a veteran who announces his retirement. There's conversation with Lloyd Ruby, plus two others who are usually men of few words, driver Paul Goldsmith and car builder/chief mechanic A.J. Watson. Others to be heard from are Sam Hanks, Duke Nalon, starter Pat Vidan, and perennial "first in line" Larry Bisceglia.
Parnelli Jones wins from the pole but it is Scotland's Jim Clark who draws most of the attention. Driving a stock-block V8 Ford–powered rear-engine Grand Prix–based Lotus, outfitted with carburetors and running on gasoline, Clark is challenging late when, for a few laps, traces of oil begin to seep from a tiny crack in an externally mounted oil tank on Parnelli's car. There is much controversy! Hear the sound of the fabulous Novi while Jim Hurtubise is a contender during the early laps.
The world is transfixed during a red-flag stoppage as Chief Announcer Sid Collins delivers a heartfelt eulogy for Eddie Sachs, who has perished in a terrible accident. After Jim Clark, Bobby Marshman and Parnelli Jones all lead, A.J. Foyt goes on to become the last driver to win in a front-engined car.
It makes for a long day (and broadcast) when the race is stopped right at the start due to of a huge accident. There are no injuries other than A.J. Foyt cutting his thumb as he scales the outer fence. First Lloyd Ruby, and then Scottish rookie Jackie Stewart, appear to have the race in the bag only to be sidelined as England's Graham Hill goes on to win over Jim Clark.
In a race that takes two days to run—rain halts the proceedings after 18 laps—the big story concerns Parnelli Jones dominating virtually the entire distance with Andy Granatelli's revolutionary turbine-powered car. Hear the dramatic closing minutes as first the turbine fails, and then, while heading for the checkered flag, new leader A.J. Foyt has to avoid a huge accident on the main straight.
Although Joe Leonard and Graham Hill are strongly favored with a pair of controversial Andy Granatelli–entered wedge-shaped Lotus four-wheel-drive cars powered by gas turbines, both encounter problems. Bobby Unser leads much of the race, is slowed by gearbox difficulties, then wins anyway when Leonard's car fails only eight laps from the finish.
Mario Andretti, A. J. Foyt, Wally Dallenbach and Lloyd Ruby each lead during the first half, with all but Andretti ultimately suffering either retirement or a setback. Hear the actual "calls" of the luckless Ruby's elimination as he inches away from his pit before the refueling mechanism is completely detached. Andretti goes on to win, much to the exuberant joy of car entrant Andy Granatelli.
Johnny Rutherford gets the jump at the start and leads into turn one from the second starting position, but pole sitter Al Unser is in front by the end of the lap. Al proceeds to lead 190 of the 200 laps, but there is plenty going on around him, including a four-car accident with less than 100 miles remaining. The total purse tops $1 million for the first time, and Al is the last winner to be interviewed in the old Victory Lane at the south end of the pits.
After early leader and strong pre-race favorite Mark Donohue drops out, there is a terrific back-and-forth battle at the midpoint between teammates Al Unser and Joe Leonard. There is also a really spectacular accident involving David Hobbs and Rick Muther, which takes place on the main straight right in front of the broadcast booth. Once strong challengers Leonard, Bobby Unser and Lloyd Ruby each have been eliminated, Al Unser holds off pole-sitter Peter Revson to secure back-to-back wins for only the fourth time in "500" history.
Huge new rear wings create phenomenal downforce, causing qualifying speeds to skyrocket, Bobby Unser raising the single-lap record from 179 mph to 196! Team Penske driver Gary Bettenhausen apparently has the race won, but then has to slow down and drop out, leaving teammate Mark Donohue to score Roger Penske's first "500" win.
Speeds are at an all-time high, as Johnny Rutherford just misses the Speedway's first "200" in qualifying with a single lap at 199.071 mph. But the race is a challenge for participants and fans alike as inclement weather forces the accident-marred event into a third day. Gordon Johncock, who leads more laps than anyone else, is out in front when rain halts the race for the final time at 133 laps.
After a blistering pair of opening laps by Wally Dallenbach, the race becomes a two-man struggle between pole-sitter A.J. Foyt and second-fastest qualifier Johnny Rutherford, whose late qualification run requires that he start all the way back in 25th. It takes "JR" only 11 laps to carve through the field to third. Once oil-leak problems eliminate Foyt near the three-quarter distance, the popular Rutherford has it in hand.
Wally Dallenbach leads for 96 of the first 161 laps until eliminated by piston failure. It comes down to Bobby Unser leading, with defending winner Johnny Rutherford eating away at his advantage and A.J. Foyt catching both of them. All of a sudden, a monsoon-like rainstorm sweeps across the track to halt the event permanently after 174 laps, with cars spinning in every direction and Unser sloshing his way to Victory Circle.
Six former winners are running within the top ten when rain stops the race at the halfway point. There is opportunity for numerous interviews while the track is being dried. Then it rains again, and Johnny Rutherford becomes the first winner ever to walk to the victory enclosure. This is the final race broadcast to be anchored by Sid Collins.
Some truly historic moments, including Tony Hulman amending his famous call of "Gentlemen, start your engines," to accommodate the inclusion in the field of Janet Guthrie as first female ever to qualify. Then, learn of Gordon Johncock's late-race mechanical failure, which leads to A. J. Foyt becoming the first driver ever to win the "500" for a fourth time.
It’s an all-200 mph front row for the first time ever with Tom Sneva earning the pole at 202.156 mph, but with second-starting Danny Ongais serving as “the rabbit,” leading 71 of the first 110 laps before blowing an engine at lap 145. Al Unser pretty much has the race in control from that point on and holds off a fast-closing Sneva at the finish to become a three-time winner of the “500.”
With Al Unser forced out after leading 85 of the first 94 laps, and brother Bobby slowed dramatically by loss of his top gears after leading a further 89 laps, Roger Penske’s relatively unknown sophomore driver, Rick Mears takes over for his first win. There is further drama in the final lap when second-place runner A. J. Foyt loses power, raising question as to whether or not his stricken car will even make it across the finish line.
Johnny Rutherford becomes a three-time winner, driving the revolutionary Jim Hall–entered car nicknamed "The Yellow Submarine." After taking the checkered flag, Rutherford stops in turn four, where charismatic young Rookie of the Year Tim Richmond has run out of fuel. Richmond climbs onto the side pod and, much to the delight of the crowd, Rutherford gives him a lift to his pit.
Despite inclement weather conditions threatening throughout the day, the race does run to completion, with Bobby Unser narrowly defeating Mario Andretti under controversial circumstances to win for his third time. There are 24 changes of lead among nine drivers. Gordon Johncock, who drops out of second place within sight of the finish, turns one lap at just under 197 mph.
Some of the IMS Radio Network's most famous "calls" ever are heard during the final laps, when pole-sitter Rick Mears is frantically trying to catch Gordon Johncock, whose pit crew saved him several seconds by giving him only the amount of fuel they knew he would need to finish. It is "play-by-play" radio at its very finest as the announcers excitedly report the epic closing laps.
A caution period ends at lap 175, with Al Unser running just ahead of Tom Sneva. While three-time runner-up Sneva is trying to win for the first time, Unser stands to join A.J. Foyt as a four-time winner. Suddenly, roaring past both of them is 21-year-old "rookie" Al Unser Jr., who is several laps down. He allows his father to pass, but makes it just a little tougher for Sneva, who finally gets by on lap 191 for a very popular win.
The potential for a terrific two-man battle for the win is shaping up with just over 30 laps to go. A caution period is about to end and defending winner Tom Sneva is lined up directly behind Rick Mears. Then Sneva breaks a half-shaft just before the green is displayed and Mears goes on to become a two-time winner.
Yet another classic moment as Danny Sullivan grabs the lead from Mario Andretti through turn one on the 120th lap and then proceeds to spin directly in front of him. Amazingly, no accident takes place, both drivers pit for tires, and 20 laps later, Sullivan tries exactly the same move in exactly the same place, this time with success. He holds on to win by 2½ seconds over Andretti.
Kevin Cogan passes both Rick Mears and Bobby Rahal in the closing laps and is leading under a late-race caution, but Rahal gets a better restart and beats Cogan into Turn 1. Mears chases both of them to the checkered flag and they cross the line only 1.27 seconds apart for by far the closest 1-2-3 finish ever. There is plenty of emotion among the racing community due to Rahal’s very popular car owner, Jim Trueman, being extremely ill. He sits on the scoring stand for the entire race but will succumb only 11 days later.
In a true storybook finish, Al Unser, who was not even on the original entry list, ends up winning with a year-old Penske team car which had to be retrieved from "show car" status in the lobby of a Pennsylvania hotel, and powered by a Cosworth engine the team had never intended to run. Pole-sitter Mario Andretti leads for 170 of the first 177 laps only to drop out, after which new leader Roberto Guerrero stalls twice on his final stop.
Springing from an all-Penske front row, 1985 winner Danny Sullivan appears well on his way to a repeat. He leads virtually the entire first half until a handling problem causes him to hit the wall, after which teammate Rick Mears leads most of the rest of the remaining distance to become a three-time winner.
Emerson Fittipaldi, who ducked in for a pit stop during a late-race caution, is directly behind Al Unser Jr., who did not stop. Flying down the backstretch with one and a half laps remaining, they come upon four slower cars. Unser moves to the inside to pass and Fittipaldi goes with him, drawing alongside Unser's left side at the apex of turn three. They touch, causing Unser to spin into the wall. A lap later, behind the pace car, Fittipaldi is happy to see Unser safe and giving him a double "thumbs-up."
Only three drivers lead during the entire race but they end up finishing one-two-three. Emerson Fittipaldi leads the first 91 laps in a row and Arie Luyendyk, the final 33 after overtaking Bobby Rahal. There are only four caution periods---all brief---and Luyendyk wins in only three hours and 41 minutes, breaking Rahal’s 1986 record by almost 15 minutes and averaging 185.981 mph. The record won’t be broken until 2013.
An outside pass in Turn 1 hasn’t been achieved in several years when Michael Andretti successfully out-drags race leader Rick Mears on a Lap-186 restart. The crowd has barely had time to recover from this incredible sight when on the very next lap, Rick pulls exactly the same maneuver on Michael! Rick holds on from there to make history in this 75th running of the “500” by joining A.J.Foyt and Al Unser as a four-time winner.
It's the coldest race day ever, the tires having a hard time finding grip with the freezing track surface. Some of the greatest names in racing are eliminated by accidents, including Mears, Sneva, Fittipaldi, Johncock, Luyendyk, Guerrero, Bettenhausen and Mario Andretti. There is a legendary radio "call" at the end when Scott Goodyear tries to beat Al Unser Jr. to the checker.
Much of the attention is focused on the unconventional "groove" used by British "rookie" Nigel Mansell, who just happens to be the defending Formula One World Champion. There are 23 changes of lead among 12 drivers, and there is a late-race sprint to the finish with Emerson Fittipaldi holding off Arie Luyendyk, Mansell, Raul Boesel and Mario Andretti.
A pair of Mercedes–Benz-badged push-rod engines—built in complete secrecy by Ilmor Engineering—lead for all but seven laps in the hands of Emerson Fittipaldi and Al Unser Jr. On the verge of lapping Unser with only 16 laps to go, Fittipaldi momentarily loses control through turn four and drifts into the outer retaining wall. It is one of the rare instances in which a seemingly certain winner is eliminated by an accident.
No fewer than 10 different drivers swap the lead 23 times between them, young Jacques Villeneuve finally grabbing the win after fellow Canadian Scott Goodyear's final five laps are disallowed following a rule infraction involving the pace car. Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser both are taken out by wall contacts while leading, as is Scott Pruett while running second.
For the first time ever, the final 12 laps are traded by three different drivers. Davy Jones passes Alessandro Zampedri and then, in a couple of breathtaking moves, Buddy Lazier passes both of them. This is the last year for turbochargers and Eddie Cheever records a race lap at over over 236 mph! The early laps are led by "rookie" Tony Stewart.
For the first time since 1962, teammates finish one-two as pole winner Arie Luyendyk holds off fellow Fred Treadway team driver Scott Goodyear by a narrow margin of just over half a second. Seven drivers lead at various stages, second-starting Tony Stewart out front for 64 laps. He ends up fifth. Motorcycle racing legend Jeff Ward makes an impressive “500” debut by leading for 49 laps and finishing third.
After Arie Luyendyk and Greg Ray both have been taken out by accidents while leading, and defending winner Eddie Cheever has been swapping the lead with Kenny Brack and Jeff Ward, a gamble by Robby Gordon almost pays off. Gordon stays out while the others pit, and for the final 30 laps he prays for a yellow which never comes. He is forced to pit with only one lap to go, dropping him to fourth as Brack scores a popular win for A.J. Foyt.
Juan Pablo Montoya makes about as impressive a "500" debut as any driver in history. Greg Ray leads the early laps from the pole and 1996 winner Buddy Lazier gives him a run for his money at the end, recording the fastest lap of the race at lap 198—but Montoya prevails.
Yet another Speedway "first" takes place when, to the delight of the huge crowd, effervescent Brazilian rookie winner Helio Castroneves breaks with protocol by stopping at the start/finish line, leaping from his car and then climbing up the outer safety fence. It is win number 11 for car entrant Roger Penske on a day which sees other race leaders include Robby Gordon, Greg Ray, Tony Stewart, Michael Andretti, Arie Luyendyk, Gil De Ferran and Mark Dismore.
First-time starters Tony Kanaan and Tomas Scheckter both are eliminated by accidents while leading, and there is plenty of controversy in the next-to-last lap when the yellow is flashed for an accident just as Paul Tracy is attempting to take the lead from Helio Castroneves. The exuberant Brazilian remains undefeated in his only two starts, and once again delights the crowd by leaping from his cockpit to scale the outer fence.
The big question is whether or not Helio Castroneves can become the first driver ever to win the “500” in three consecutive years. It will be even more remarkable if he pulls it off because he will have done so in only three starts! He can’t quite manage it, in spite of winning the pole and leading for 58 laps, but he does take second behind Penske teammate Gil de Ferran. The race’s impressive group of “rookies” includes three future winners, Buddy Rice, Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon.
Nine different drivers lead, but Buddy Rice, in only his third start, is out front for 91 of the 180 laps completed before rain prematurely ends the proceedings. He is the 17th driver to win from the pole. Locally raised David Letterman is the winning co-entrant along with 1986 race winner Bobby Rahal, and he is beside himself with joy.
There is a huge, roaring ovation just minutes from the end when, on a restart at lap 190 (following a late-race caution), the sensational female rookie driver Danica Patrick, running second, manages to overtake race leader Dan Wheldon. She holds on for four laps before being forced to slow down in order to conserve fuel. By salvaging fourth, she registers the highest-ever finish by a female, plus she is the first ever to have led, racking up 19 laps during the day.
It's the most amazing final 20 laps in history with no less than five different leaders. After leading for the majority of the first 182 laps, defending winner Dan Wheldon is passed by Tony Kanaan. Then it is Michael Andretti, out of retirement, taking over on lap 194. With less than three laps remaining, Michael is passed by a 19-year-old "rookie"—his own son, Marco—and just when it appears the "500" will have its youngest winner ever, Sam Hornish Jr. seemingly comes out of nowhere to snatch the win within the final 300 yards.
A very competitive "500" sees the lead change hands 15 times during the first half alone, before rain forces two stoppages. The first comes at lap 115 while Tony Kanaan is leading, with the second coming during lap 166, at a time when Kanaan's Scottish teammate Dario Franchitti is out in front. With the second red flag being permanent, an emotional Franchitti is able to join his idol, fellow countryman Jim Clark, as an Indianapolis 500 winner.
There are some tense moments following a pit-lane accident involving Ryan Briscoe and Danica Patrick, but cool heads prevail. After 18 lead changes between nine drivers, Australian-born New Zealander Scott Dixon becomes the first-ever driver from Down Under to win.
There is an all-time-record 19 cars still in the lead lap at the finish of an accident-filled event, which ends with Helio Castroneves holding off Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick to become the ninth driver to win the "500" for a third time. Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe each enjoy laps in front in addition to Castroneves, and all four of them are in the lead lap at the finish.
Although pole-sitter Helio Castroneves is strongly favored to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as a four-time winner of the "500," it is Dario Franchitti who scores a most convincing win. He leads early, avoids numerous accidents and, while eight different drivers do exchange the lead 13 times between them, it is the 2007 winner who spends most of the time in front, leading for 155 of the 200 laps.
It’s a topsy-turvy finish for the 100th anniversary “500” with drivers on several different fuel strategies, many hoping for a late-race yellow which never comes. Rookie J. R. Hildebrand inherits the lead with three laps to go and appears headed for victory over 2008 winner Scott Dixon when the unthinkable happens. He swerves around a slowing car on the very last turn and hits the outer wall within sight of the checker. He stays with it and drives the wrecked car across the line only to be narrowly beaten by 2005 winner Dan Wheldon, who also passes a fuel-starved Dixon to vault from third to first in the final lap.
The lead changed hands a record 34 times, nine of them taking place during the last 29 laps alone as Chip Ganassi teammates and former winners Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti battled with their friend Tony Kanaan. The lead group was taking the white flag with one lap to go when Franchitti edged past Dixon yet again, but this time with ex-Formula One driver Takuma Sato coming through as well. Determined to become the first Japanese driver ever to win the “500,” Sato attempted a daring inside pass of Franchitti as the pair negotiated Turn One but then he promptly lost adhesion, just missing Franchitti but spinning into the outer retaining barrier. The yellow flag and the checker flew simultaneously as Franchitti cruised home ahead of Dixon and Kannan to become a three-time winner of the “500.”
Scoring one of the most popular victories ever, both in the eyes of the legion of fans as well as fellow drivers who had come close to winning themselves, veteran Tony Kanaan finally triumphed in this, his 12th try. Arie Luyendyk’s 1990 record for the 500-mile distance of 185.981 mph was finally broken as Kanaan managed to average 187.433 mph. Remarkably enough, the race went absolutely caution-free for 133 laps consecutive laps at one point, raising the average speed by lap 194 to an astonishing 192.812 mph. Not only was the all-time record for lead changes broken, it was even doubled from 34 to 68. No less than 14 different drivers led at some point or another with 14 laps being the longest consecutive stretch led by anybody, while pole-sitter Ed Carpenter’s race total of 37 laps led was the most by any of the 14 leaders.
Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American winner since Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2006, his average speed for the distance of 186.563 mph just failing to beat the 187.433 mph posted by Tony Kanaan the year before. Hunter-Reay grabbed the lead for the final time in a daring inside pass of Helio Castroneves at the end of the backstretch on lap 199 and he was barely able to hold off a “slingshot” challenge at the checkered flag as Castroneves tried desperately but unsuccessfully to join A. J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as a four-time winner of the “500.” There were 34 changes of lead between nine drivers in an event which remained “green” from the very start until 150 of the 200 laps before the first caution period, by which time current leader Marco Andretti was averaging an amazing 212.45 mph.
Fifteen years after his first win, and in only his third start, Columbian driver Juan Pablo Montoya becomes a repeat winner of the Indianapolis 500, passing teammate Will Power for the final time only four laps from the finish. It is a record 16th victory for Team Penske as well as being Penske’s third one-two finish. There are 37 lead changes among 10 drivers, including four among three drivers in just the last 15 laps alone. Pole winner Scott Dixon leads for 84 laps, but is shuffled back to fourth in the final few minutes.
Alexander Rossi, a 24 year-old rookie from California, stretches his fuel mileage to the absolute limit and wins the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in front of one of the largest crowds in years. Rossi runs out of fuel after crossing the start/finish line and has to be towed to Victory Lane. He becomes the first rookie to win the Indianapolis 500 since Helio Castroneves in 2001.
History is made when Takuma Sato becomes the first driver from Japan to win the “500,” which he accomplishes by avoiding four major accidents along the way and holding off Helio Castroneves, who comes tantalizingly close to becoming a four-time winner. There are 35 exchanges of lead between a record 15 different drivers, one of whom is the highly touted former two-time World Champion Fernando Alonzo. There are plenty of excellent radio “calls” during this action-packed event.
No less than eight different drivers lead within the final 30 laps, culminating with Will Power becoming the first driver from Australia to win the “500,” while Roger Penske’s all-time winning car entrant total extends to an amazing 17. There are 30 lead changes between 15 drivers, topped by the popular locally-raised Ed Carpenter, who wins the pole for a third time and leads 65 laps on his way to a career-high second-place finish. Accident victims include former winners Tony Kannan, Helio Castroneves and Takuma Sato, plus Danica Patrick, who returns after a seven-year absence to make what is billed as her final auto race as a driver.
It is yet another “back and forth” classic Indianapolis 500 nail-biter in which the driver leading with two laps to go does NOT win. Frenchman Simon Pagenaud outduels 2016 winner Alexander Rossi to take the checkered flag by the narrow margin of only 0.208 seconds, while 2017 winner Takuma Sato is right behind the pair of them in third. Seventeen drivers complete the entire 200 laps. While Pagenaud is the first driver to win from the pole since 2009 and he leads a total of 116 laps---the most by any driver since 2010---there are 29 changes of lead between himself and nine other drivers.
It is a year like no other. No sooner has 18-time 500-winning car entrant Roger Penske purchased the track from the Hulman-George family, after 75 years of stewardship, than the COVID 19 pandemic forces postponement of the “500” from the end of May until August 23rd. Not only that but last-minute circumstances require it be conducted without a single fan permitted anywhere on the grounds. Emotions run high when third-generation driver Marco Andretti grabs the pole some 33 years after the last time it had been earned by grandfather Mario, and in the race, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato battle each other in their attempts at becoming a repeat winner. In spite of leading for 111 laps, Dixon comes up just a few feet short as the race ends under caution with Sato the victor.
History was made on May 30th, 2021. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the largest gathering of fans since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fastest Indy 500 in history was completed in 2:39:50 with only 2 yellow flag cautions and Helio Castroneves crossed the yard of bricks to join an elite club of drivers, joining Foyt, Unser Sr. and Mears as the only drivers to win 4 times at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Over 300,000 fans returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29th, 2022 to watch the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The month saw Scot Dixon capture the pole with the fastest 4 lap average in Indy 500 history with a speed of 234.046 mph. Starting side by side, Dixon, Alex Palou and Rinus Veekay together made up the fastest front row in Indy 500 history. But it was Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Marcus Ericsson who came out on top after a thrilling race and following a crash by Jimmie Johnson, led a 2-lap scramble to the yard of bricks to capture his first Indy 500 win.
After what turned out to be a near perfect month of May and two days of drama filled qualifying, 33 drivers raced into turn one for the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 28th. The record-breaking month saw the fastest female driver, the fastest field in history and the fastest pole winner. A last lap pass for the lead over 2022 winner Marcus Ericsson, led to the largest purse to date for Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden and a record 19 total Indy 500 wins for owner Roger Penske.