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IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 34: Which Indy 500 Anniversary in 2022?

Today’s question: Which anniversary do you think should be placed into the spotlight next May at the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge?

Curt Cavin: Easy selection. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of Mark Donohue’s 1972 victory, which officially put in motion Roger Penske’s dominance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It might not be the highlight reel of the 40th anniversary of the Johncock-Mears battle in 1982 or the 30th anniversary of the Al Unser Jr.-Scott Goodyear shootout in 1992, but historically it is massively important.

Zach Horrall: I have two that come to mind that I think we need to celebrate because we might not have many more opportunities to do so. First, 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of Troy Ruttman’s Indy 500 victory in which he became the youngest winner of the race at 22 years, 80 days. Colton Herta is actively trying to break that record, with next year being his last shot. Rinus VeeKay also can break it next year, as well as any other young star that rises to the Indianapolis 500. Second on my list is the 30th anniversary of Lyn St. James becoming the first female Indy 500 Rookie of the Year in 1992. She blazed an incredible path for women in motorsports, and it’s only a matter of time before another woman matches her feat, at the least, and leapfrogs her by becoming the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500. These are the kinds of things we need to honor before it’s too late.

Paul Kelly: You guys emptied the cupboard of good choices. Well done! There are so many memorable “500” moments celebrating anniversaries next May that it will be really tough to elevate one to the highest pedestal. But I have to side with Curt simply because Donohue’s win was more than just a snapshot in time, like the spellbinding 1982 and 1992 finishes or Ruttman’s performance in 1952 or Lyn’s drive into history in 1992. That first win for Team Penske started the greatest dynasty this race – and perhaps this sport – has ever seen. As an aside, I doubt the 20th anniversary of the controversial finish of the 2002 Indianapolis 500 finish will be feted in any way, but I sure hope NBC features a sit-down interview or conversation between 2002 runner-up and current booth analyst Paul Tracy and 2002 and reigning “500” winner Helio Castroneves about that race. Now that would be must-see TV.

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