The Indianapolis 500 is hailed as the pinnacle of professional racing. From humble beginnings in 1911 to the event’s 100-year anniversary, the race has entertained and shocked millions of people in its illustrious history. After over a century of heart stopping moments, some still remain with us to this day. These moments are no longer mere memories… they are legendary.
In 1992, the race saw its closest finish ever as Scott Goodyear and Al Unser Jr. crossed the finish line 0.043 seconds apart. The two had battled for first place in the last seven laps of the 1992 race until Uncer crossed the finish line first. Had it not been for a broken belt on the car of Michael Andretti, who’d dominated the race until the last 11 laps, perhaps we’d never have seen this historic moment. Race fans may never see a finish so close, a battle so hard fought or a moment so historic.
Racing has always been considered a man’s sport. When the Indy 500 saw its beginnings, a female driver was not to be seen. In the year 1911, it’d have been impossible for a woman to earn a spot in the race. It wasn’t until over 60 years later that the race saw its first woman driver. In 1977 Janet Guthrie would become the pioneer for women in racing. Although she finished in 29th place, she would go down in history as the very first woman to race in the Indy 500. The very next year, she once again shocked the world as she finished in 9th place.
Over 30 years after Guthrie’s history breaking 8th place finish, another woman would take her place for best female finish in the race. In 2005, Danica Patrick would lead the race for almost 20 laps before dropping into 4th place and finishing there. This moment broke new ground for women in the sport. Four years later, she would shock the world again as she became the first woman to finish in the top three at the Indy 500. There are moments that can never be recaptured. This history making race will be in the minds of race fans for the rest of time.
One cannot discuss the Indy 500 without recognizing the humble beginnings of the race. It was 1911 when the very first Indy 500 took place. Ray Harroun would take 1st place thanks to his new tool (what is now called the rear-view mirror). Ray was able to keep an eye on upcoming cars without much effort. He would go down in history as the winner of the inaugural Indy 500. His average speed was just under 75 mph. At the time, the speed was insane for racing. Harroun would never win another Indy 500 as he retired just after his big win.
In 2011 the race itself celebrated its 100 year anniversary. The race became immortalized as the flag dropped for the 100th race. Dan Whedon would see the final win of his racing career that year, despite only leading one lap. While the winner is always important, the event itself is the milestone. The race had endured 100 years. For a century fans had enjoyed the race and witnessed history being created over and over again. The race would go down in history as a huge milestone in Indy 500 history.
As stated earlier, 100 years is quite a long time. From the days before rear-view mirrors to the day a woman finished in third place, the Indy 500 has seen its fair share of historic moments. It may be impossible to recall every major event in the race’s illustrious existence but ever race fan has more than a few that will stay with them forever. Each of these moments becomes immortalized in the hearts of fans everywhere. The Indy 500 will forever be the race where history is made.