Every year the Indy 500 promises to bring plenty of action and excitement, but some moments will stand out in history forever. These five Indy 500 moments rate as the most amazing and exciting of all time.
Indy 500 1912-
Ralph De Palma and the Long Last Lap
Ralph De Palma was on a sure path to victory, taking the lead all the way from lap 3 to 196. Then the worst happened when his car suffered piston failure. He quickly lost the lead, passed up by Joe Dawson, who won by only two laps. But Ralph De Palma didn’t give up, exciting Indy 500 spectators as he and his riding mechanic pushed the the remaining 1 and 1/4 lap over the finish line anyways. Never the less, he came in an entire two laps behind first place, but it wasn’t counted because the rules stated that all entries must operate on their own power.
Indy 500 1989-
Emerson Fittipaldi & Al Unser Jr. Battle
It was just four laps from finish when Al Unser Jr. stole the lead from Emerson Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi stayed on Unser’s tail until he pulled up beside him on lap 199. Then, the unexpected happened in the most exciting moment of the race when the two cars touched tires, sending Unser’s car out of control and slamming it hard into the wall. Emerson’s vehicle was barely even effected by the collision, and continued to zoom across the finish line, claiming the winning title of the 73rd Indy 500.
Indy 500 2007-
One Action Packed Race
The rain wreaked havoc on the 2007 Indy 500 race, and it was halted at only 113 laps. When the race restarts the driving becomes more aggressive. Everyone is packed on the same curve when Marco Andretti and Dan Wheldon’s cars made contact in lap 162. In the horrific looking crash, Andretti’s car flips and skids across the track. Andretti sustained only minor injuries and brought out the yellow flag, and Dario Franchitti claimed the victory. A combination of the rain, aggressive driving, and the shocking accident made this one of the most exciting Indy 500 races in all of history.
Indy 500 2011-
J. R Hildebrand’s Last Minute Crash
All that stands between rookie J. R. Hildebrand and victory at the Indy 500 is one turn and the stalled car of Charlie Kimball. It seems the win is in the bag when the completely unexpected happens, leading to what is one of the most exciting finishes in Indy 500 history. On the very last lap, just a mile and half from the finish line, his car skidded on bits of broken tire as he tried to pass Charlie Kimball, and he crashed into the wall. Dan Wheldon zoomed past Hildebrand and stole the victory. Hildebrand still drove his mangled car past the checkered flag though, coming in second about 3 seconds behind Wheldon.
Indy 500 2005-
Danica Patrick’s Big Debut
With all of the press coverage she received before the race even started, everyone was waiting to see how female rookie Danica Patrick would place in her Indy 500 debut. She did not disappoint as she battled her way the front of the pack for 19 laps, becoming the first female to ever lead an Indy 500 lap in all of history. She went on to take fourth place in the exciting race, and won the hearts of hundreds new fans.
Sources: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis 500 History