It has had thrills, spills, and all sorts of things in between, a race filled with grandeur and allure like none other; the Indianapolis 500 is one of those races that common folk, astute Shakespearean scholars, old people, talk radio hosts, and many other people all know about it. Frankly, it is so famous that it transforms the sport and gets people who would typically never mention it, talking about it.
There have been some bad moments and some really great moments throughout the coveted record of the race. Here are five of the top moments in the long history of the Indianapolis 500.
Danica Patrick nearly wins in her Indianapolis 500 debut
She was the first female racer to lead the coveted race, and during her debut at the 89th Indianapolis 500, she nearly did win. The late, Dan Wheldon, ultimately won the race, but not before an intense battle with Patrick. Danica finished fourth in the 2005 race and made history in doing so.
Sam Hornish Jr. clutch at the finish
With just a couple of hundred yards to go, Sam Hornish Jr. passed the 19 year-old Marco Andretti to win his first Indianapolis 500. The race was decided by a mere .0635 seconds, a time that made the 2006 race one to remember.
An emotional win for Bobby Rahal
Bobby Rahal saved his best Indianapolis 500 for the 1986 race. With his owner’s health detraining due to cancer, Bobby Rahal wanted to give it all he had for his owner. And he did.
Rahal passed Kevin Cogan with just two laps to go to claim the 70th Indianapolis 500. His owner, Jim Trueman, celebrated with him in victory lane: an emotional scene indeed. Eleven short days later, Jim Trueman succumbed to cancer.
Last turn crash for the rookie
Just when it looked like J.R. Hildebrand was going to become the first rookie in ten years to win the Indianapolis 500, it was all taken away at the last turn. In the final turn of the final lap, Hildebrand lost control and crashed into the wall. This allowed Dan Wheldon to garnish his second Indianapolis 500 crown; it was also the last win of his career, as he was tragically killed in a crash later that year in a 2011 race in Las Vegas.
Jim Rathmann and Rodger Ward battle in 1960
With 14 lead changes in the second half of the race alone, the two battled in a thrilling race. Rathmann eventually got the victory, the only Indianapolis 500 win of his career.