News & Multimedia

Memory Lane: The Greatest Finish, 1992

The closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history, between Al Unser Jr. and Scott Goodyear in 1992, almost didn’t happen for a reason often forgotten – Goodyear didn’t qualify for the race.

Ted Prappas bumped Goodyear from the field of 33 drivers by .089 of a second with six minutes remaining in qualifying on Bump Day. But Walker Racing announced during Race Week that Goodyear, the team’s primary driver, would replace Mike Groff in the starting field. Goodyear was forced to start last in the field.

The 1992 race always will be remembered for its heart-stopping finish, but the rest of the race comprised one of the roughest Race Days in “500” history. Sunday, May 24 dawned unseasonably cold, and the high temperature of 58 degrees remains the coldest Race Day in Indianapolis 500 history.

Those brisk temperatures and gusty, cold wind caused numerous accidents, including pole sitter Roberto Guerrero crashing out on the backstretch while warming his tires on the pace laps. Other drivers who crashed or were collected in the numerous accidents included past winners Rick Mears (in his final “500” start), Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk and Tom Sneva, and Stan Fox, Phillippe Gache, Jim Crawford, Jimmy Vasser, Brian Bonner, Jeff Andretti and Gary Bettenhausen.

Michael Andretti had the field covered with his dominant Newman-Haas Lola/Ford Cosworth, leading 160 of the first 188 laps. Only five cars were on the lead lap at Lap 150.

The prospect of Andretti’s first Indy victory after years of heartbreak – and the end of the Andretti drought at Indy since Mario Andretti earned his only “500” victory in 1969 – appeared to add a bright spot to an otherwise forgettable race, which also included serious foot and leg injuries to Michael Andretti’s brother, Jeff, in one of the many crashes.

Michael Andretti led Goodyear by 28 seconds with 12 laps to go. A lap later, Unser passed Goodyear for second but was lapped by Andretti in Turn 2.

Then heartbreak struck when Andretti’s invincible car slowed on the backstretch, halted in the short chute between Turns 3 and 4 by fuel pump failure.

That triggered the final caution of the race, from Laps 190-193, and began perhaps the most unlikely and stirring two-man duel for victory in the history of the race.

Unser led by three-tenths of a second with four laps remaining, parrying Goodyear through the final lap.

Goodyear continued to draft Unser on the final lap, staying within two car lengths. But Unser’s Galles Racing Galmer/Chevrolet got slightly loose in Turn 4 on the final lap, and Goodyear pounced.

He pulled up to Unser’s gearbox on the front straight, with the checkered flag in the air. Goodyear darted out of the draft and to the inside but fell just a few feet short of Unser at the Yard of Bricks start-finish line.

The official margin of victory was .043 of a second – almost exactly half of the time span that bumped Scott Goodyear from the field just a week earlier – in the closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history.

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Al Unser Jr.
Memory Lane: The Greatest Finish, 1992
The closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history, between Al Unser Jr. and Scott Goodyear in 1992, almost didn’t happen for a reason often forgotten – Goodyear didn’t qualify for the race.
Read More
Related Media
Willy T. Ribbs
Ribbs Looks on Bright Side despite Losing Probable Pro-Am Victory to Gear Gremlins
Amid the expected disappointment, Willy T. Ribbs reiterated his message will persevere despite having a car break Saturday while leading for a second consecutive year in the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational’s Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am Presented by RACER Magazine.
Read More
Johnny Rutherford
'Lone Star JR' Never Tires of Visiting Hallowed Ground at IMS, Enjoys SVRA Role
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winners Johnny Rutherford and Bobby Unser always are eager to return to this famous track, which played such an integral part in creating their legacies. These 80-something racers are always at IMS in May. This visit, for the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational, was a bonus.
Read More
Geoff Brabham
Family Affair: Brabhams Lock Down Top Two Spots for Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am at Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational
Matt Brabham won the pole for the Saturday feature race of the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational, turning a top lap of 1 minute, 37.652 seconds on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course at IMS. 2016 Indianapolis 500 starter Brabham will share the No. 33 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster with amateur driver Michael Donohue in the race.
Read More
Dick Simon
Energetic Simon Content to Hang Up Helmet after One Last Dash at Indy
Dick Simon is finally approaching the end of his racing road as a driver, although the 84-year-old competitor still has too much spunk to accept the assertion it’s time to take it easy.
Read More
Ron Fellows
Legendary Driver Fellows Fulfills Lifelong Dream by Finally Racing at Brickyard
Fellows, the legendary 58-year-old Canadian road racer, emerged today from a No. 2 1969 Chevrolet Camaro with a rather satisfied smile after his first practice session for the Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am Presented by RACER Magazine on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course at IMS. The race, at 1 p.m. Saturday, is one of the feature events during the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational this weekend.
Read More
Items 5 - 9 of 3,094