It’s easy to say that auto racing history is made at the Indianapolis 500. But it’s probably more accurate to say auto racing history is the Indianapolis 500. Here are 5 exciting moments in Indy 500 history.
- Ray Harroun(1911): The winner of the very first Indianapolis 500 was Ray Harrounin. Driving a Marmon Wasp, Harroun averaged 74.602 miles per hour-which is probably what you average on family road trips-and finished in a whopping 6:42:08.039. The secret to Harroun’s success that year? He invented the rear-view mirror (seriously), which meant he didn’t need to have a “riding mechanic” sitting next to him to keep an eye on incoming traffic.
- The First Four-Time Winner(1977): By winning the Indy 500 in 1961, 1964, and 1967, racing legend A.J. Foyt became just the fourth driver (at the time) to win the event three times. And given the fact that he was just 32 years old in 1967, it looked like Foyt would certainly surpass those other drivers to become the winningest driver in the history of the race. However, Foyt would have to sweat that one out a bit-it took him a whole decade to become the first person to win the Indy 500 four times.
- The first female driver: Pioneering female race car driver Janet Guthrie was planning to attempt a qualification run for the 1976 Indy 500, but car troubles prevented that. Instead, she had to wait one more year to become the first woman to qualify for and compete in the historic race. That year, 1977, she would finish 29th. The next year, 1978, she would finish 8th. If you’re looking for a female sports role model for your daughter, you should definitely read up on Guthrie.
- The best female finish (2009) : Janet Guthrie’s 9th place finish in 1978 was the best ever by a woman until Danica Patrick came along. She led for 19 laps during her Indy 500 debut in 2005 before finishing a very solid 4th. Then, in 2011, Patrick led for 10 laps before becoming the first woman to crack the top three. So really, though Danica Patrick seems to take a lot of flak for being overrated, she’s a pretty damn good race car driver.
- The return of the Indy(1946) : The Indy 500 had to go on hiatus from 1942-45 as the United State focused all its attention on winning WWII. Unfortunately, during that time, the owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Eddie Rickenbauer, had taken charge of Eastern Airlines and lost interest in running both the track and its most famous event. As a result, by the time the war was over, it looked like the Indy 500 was over, too. Fortunately, three-time winner Wilbur Shaw was dedicated to saving it. He convinced Indiana businessman Tony Hulman to buy IMS from Rickenbauer and restore the track. Then, on May 30, 1946, the Indianaplis 500 made its return, and under Hulman’s leadership the race would become what it is today: the largest single-day sporting event in the world.
So there you have it. The top 5 most exciting moments in Indy 500 history. For me, this is all new stuff because I like NASCAR racing, but it’s not something I’ll be going to whenever in town. But it’s fun to learn about the history of it from time to time.