The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, commonly referred to as the Indy 500, is an annual race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is one of the most highly regarded and highly anticipated races in the world of automobile racing. Since its inaugural race in 1911, the Indy 500, considered “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” has become rich in tradition. Throughout its history, there have many exciting moments at the race. The Indy 500 is typically held over Memorial Day weekend, and with the annual race right around the corner, take a look back at some of the most exciting moments in Indy 500 history.
Four Time Winner (1977)
It is hard enough to win the Indy 500 once, but in 1977, A.J. Foyt became the first driver to win the Indy 500 four times. He had previously won in1961, 1964, and 1967. When Hoyt won the Indy 500 in 1967, he was 32, and it wasn’t until a decade later when he won his fourth Indy 500. Throughout his highly successful career, Foyt also won the Dayton 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a record 67 IndyCar races.
First Female Driver (1977)
1977 was a milestone year for the Indy 500. In addition to its first four-time winner, the race also welcomed its first female racer. In 1977, Janet Guthrie became the first woman to qualify for and to compete in the Indy 500. She finished in 29th place, but following year in 1978, she finished in 9th place. In 1976, Guthrie was also the first woman to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup stock car race. She was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Best Female Finish (2005)
Prior to 2009, Jane Guthrie’s 9th place finish in 1978 was the best finish by a woman racing in the Indy 500, until Danica Patrick. During her 2005 Indy 500 debut, Patrick finished in fourth place, the highest ever finish for a female driver. She led for 19 laps, also making her the first woman to ever lead the Indy 500. That same year, she also won her first pole position at Kansas Speedway, becoming only the second woman to ever do so.
Close Finish (2006)
The finish of the 2006 Indy 500 was one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the annual race. Sam Hornish Jr. passed Marco Andretti with less than 200 yards before the checkered flag in order to win the race. The win was the second smallest margin of all time – 0.0635 seconds.
The Indy 500 is all about speed, and in 1977, Tom Sneva became the first driver to surpass the speed of 200 miles per hour during a qualifying lap for the Indy 500. Prior to his feat, people were astounded when Parnelli Jones surpassed 150 miles per hour, and it is hard to fathom that Ray Harroun, the winner of the first Indy 500 averaged a mere 74.6 miles per hour.