Hall of Fame Inductees

Over the years the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race has been called by various names.  From 1911 through 1916, it was known as the International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race.  In 1919, the race was referred to as the Liberty Sweepstakes.  From 1920 through 1980, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway called the race the International 500-Mile Sweepstakes, with slight yearly variations.  Since 1981, the race has been officially named the ” __ (anniversary year) Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.”  Unofficially, fans have referred to it as “The 500,” “The 500-Mile Race,” “Indianapolis 500-Mile Race,” “Indianapolis 500,” or simply “The Indy 500.”  In these Hall of Fame biographies, the race is referred to as the Indianapolis 500 or Indianapolis 500 race.

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Agabashian_FredFRED AGABASHIAN played a role in one of racing’s biggest upsets by winning the pole for the 1952 Indianapolis 500 with a revolutionary Cummins Diesel-powered car, boosted by racing’s first turbocharger.  An outstanding spokesperson for the sport, the articulate Agabashian was noted for his ability to set up a race car and was in great demand each May for the purpose of “test-hopping” cars for other teams.  He qualified for either the first or second row five times during his 11 consecutive Indianapolis 500 starts from 1947 through 1957 and finished fourth in 1953.  A four-time Bay Cities Racing Association midget car champion (1945-1948), he won the 1949 100-mile American Automobile Association National Championship race at Sacramento, California. During the years 1959 through 1965 and 1970 through 1977, his distinctive voice could be heard around the world as the “driver expert” analyst on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network broadcasts.

Agajanian_JCJ.C. AGAJANIAN promoted hundreds of automobile races on the west coast for a half-century and was considered to be dean of the car owners throughout much of the 1950s and 1960s.  He twice won the Indianapolis 500, in 1952 with Troy Ruttman and in 1963 with Parnelli Jones.  In 1962, while driving for Agajanian, Jones was the first driver to officially lap the Speedway at more than 150 miles per hour.  The flamboyant Agajanian entered cars continuously from 1948 through 1972 with his drivers establishing the fastest qualifying speeds (each time with new track records) in no less than four different years: in 1950 and 1951 with Walt Faulkner, and in 1962 and 1963 with Jones.  His winning drivers in National Championship races included Jones (four), Ruttman and Faulkner (two each), plus Bill Vukovich and Chuck Stevenson (two each), Johnny Mantz, Fred Agabashian and Dick Atkins. He was also very successful in late 1940s and early 1950s short-track sprint car races with drivers Ruttman, Mantz, and Duane Carter.

Aitken_JohhnyJOHNNY AITKEN compiled an enviable driving record of his own and, as team strategist, contributed to the Indianapolis 500 victories of Joe Dawson in 1912 and Jules Goux in 1913. He also played an important role in the success of the National and Stutz teams during the early years.  During the pre-Indianapolis 500 years of 1909 and 1910, Aitken was the most successful driver at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning no less than 12 races.  By leading the first four laps in 1911, he made history as the first driver ever to lead the Indianapolis 500.  In 1916, when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway formed its own racing team of Premiers and Peugeots, Aitken won the pole and was an early leader of that year’s 300-mile race.  In September, he won all three races comprising the Harvest Day classic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  He also was runner-up to Dario Resta for the 1916 American Automobile Association National Championship, winning seven of 13 races, including sharing the winning Peugeot with Howdy Wilcox in the American Grand Prize at Santa Monica, California.  Aitken was a vice-president of Allison Engineering in its very early months.  He died at an early age as a victim of the 1918 influenza epidemic.

Allison_JamesJAMES A. ALLISON, one of the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was a major contributor to the track’s successful operation.  He succeeded his longtime associate and business partner Carl G. Fisher as Speedway president in June 1923, and assumed complete charge of the Indianapolis 500 as Fisher became more and more involved in the development of Miami Beach as a winter resort after World War I.  Allison and Fisher were partners in many ventures, the most successful being the one that produced Prest-O-Lite carbide gas-fueled headlights (and later batteries).  Founded in 1904 for approximately $5,000, it was sold in 1917 to Union Carbide for $9 million.  Allison also was intensely interested in engine development and formed the Allison Experimental Company, which quickly became Allison Engineering Company, eventually spinning off, among others, Allison Transmission and Allison Gas Turbine. The latter is now owned by the Rolls-Royce Corporation.

Anderson_GilGIL ANDERSON played a key role in the Stutz Motor Company, gaining recognition as the builder of “the car that made good in a day” by finishing 11th with a prototype of the future passenger car in the 1911 inaugural Indianapolis 500 race. The Norwegian-born driver (his original surname was spelled Andersen, with an “e”) drove in the next five Indianapolis races, leading the field for several laps in 1913 and 1915 and finishing third in 1915.  During a four-year period starting in 1912, he won three major championship races and placed fifth or better on six other occasions, including a very close second in a grueling 500-mile race on the concrete oval at Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1915.  After Stutz withdrew from racing at the end of that year, Anderson and several of his colleagues from the engineering department joined the Carl Fisher/Jim Allison team of locally built Premier racing cars.  Anderson qualified third at Indianapolis in 1916.  He later worked for the ReVere firm in Logansport, Indiana, but by the early 1920s had returned to Stutz.

Andretti_MarioMARIO ANDRETTI compiled an outstanding record on his way to becoming one of the sport’s best known drivers.  He drove in 29 Indianapolis 500 races, winning in 1969 and placing second twice.  He set new one-lap qualifying records five times and new four-lap records on four occasions.  Andretti led 556 laps during his Indianapolis 500 racing career, the third-highest total through 2015.  Venturing into Formula One, he won 12 Grand Prix races (one for Ferrari and 11 for Lotus), winning the world title in 1978.  He won 52 United States Auto Club National Championship races and captured the National Driving title four times (1965, 1966, 1969, and 1984).  One of the most diversified drivers, he frequently tried to compete in several series of completely different disciplines during the same season.  He won such events as the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) 1967 Daytona 500 Stock Car race, the Sebring 12-Hours endurance race three times (1967, 1970, and 1972), World Sports Car championship races at Watkins Glen (New York), Brands Hatch (England), and Monza (Italy), and the 1974 United States Auto Club Dirt Track Championship.

 

1989DTA-226-22-Michael-Andretti-hsMICHAEL ANDRETTI won a record 42 races sanctioned by Championship Auto Racing Teams from 1985 through 2002, capturing the season’s title in 1991 and ranking second five times.  Teammate to Ayrton Senna at Team McLaren in 1993, Michael finished third in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.  Runner-up at Indianapolis in 1991 (his best finish in 16 starts), the second-generation driver finally entered Victory Circle as co-partner in Andretti Green Racing’s entry of Dan Wheldon’s winning car in 2005.  He came out of retirement briefly to finish third in the 2006 Indianapolis 500, increasing his total Indianapolis 500 laps led to 431.  This is by far the most total laps led by any driver who has never won, exceeding the total laps led by Rick Mears, who won four times.  In 2007, Dario Franchitti gave the Andretti team its second Indianapolis 500 win in three years; a third win came with Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014.   Andretti-led teams won 51 races from 2003 through 2014; team members Tony Kanaan (2004), Wheldon (2005), Franchitti (2007), and Hunter-Reay (2012) also won IndyCar championship titles.

Arnold_BillyBILLY ARNOLD was by far the most outstanding driver of the early 1930s.  He started the decade by winning the Indianapolis 500 and the American Automobile Association National Championship in 1930.  During a three-year period from 1930 to 1932, he led almost every lap he completed at Indianapolis.  Starting from the pole in 1930, he took over on the third lap and was never challenged during the final 198, winning by a large margin.  The fastest qualifier in 1931, Arnold was forced to start in 18th position after his original run was disallowed.  However, he gained the lead on lap seven and was far ahead when eliminated by an accident at lap 162.  Starting second in 1932, he led all but the first lap and was leading comfortably when he hit the wall trying to avoid a spinning car on lap 62.  During that three-year period, he led almost 98 percent of the laps he completed (410 out of a possible 420).  Arnold also won three out of eight National Championship races in 1930 with a pair on the Altoona, Pennsylvania, board track bolstering his Indianapolis 500 win.  During World War II, he served as Chief of Maintenance for the Eighth Air Force at Burtonwood Air Base in England, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.  He later became a prominent building contractor in Oklahoma City.

Baker_EGE.G. “CANNONBALL” BAKER gained fame from 1915 to 1935 by setting hundreds of point-to-point and coast-to-coast records on motorcycles and in stock passenger cars.  He drove a Stutz motorcar for his first coast-to-coast record of 11 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes in 1915.  He reduced his time almost every year, driving various makes of cars, to eventually attain a time of 2 days, 21 hours, and 31 minutes with a Franklin air-cooled car in 1929.  On the first day of motorized competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he won event number seven, a four-lap, 10-mile dash for amateur motorcycle racers on August 14, 1909.  In 1922, he accepted an invitation by the Chevrolet Brothers to drive one of their Frontenac racing cars in the Indianapolis 500, completing all 200 laps without the aid of a relief driver and finishing 11th.

Banks_HenryHENRY BANKS was the second driver to win the National Championship title without the benefit of any points earned at Indianapolis, accomplishing that feat in 1950 with an unusual display of consistency.  He finished fifth or higher in seven out of ten races, including a victory in the 100-mile race at Detroit.  A steady driver, who performed much of his own mechanical work, Banks scored ten finishes of sixth or higher the following year, finishing second in points to Tony Bettenhausen.  An outstanding midget car driver, Banks won the 1941 American Racing Drivers Club Eastern title and finished second to Bill Vukovich for the 1950 American Automobile Association National Midget crown.  After retiring as a driver, Banks served as the United States Auto Club’s director of competition from 1959 until 1973.  He was instrumental in mandating the use of numerous safety features to protect drivers, including roll bars, fire retardant uniforms, fuel cells, mandatory use of seat belts and shoulder harnesses, and much more.  In 1973, he was named Vice-President, United States Auto Club Properties, in charge of testing and certification, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.  Banks’s duties included overseeing the timing of world land-speed-record runs and a series of tests for various companies, the results of which were featured in national advertising campaigns and television commercials.

Bergere_CliffCLIFF BERGERE participated in 16 Indianapolis 500 races and had driven more miles (6,142.5) in competition at Indianapolis than any other driver until A.J. Foyt surpassed that mark in 1975.  Bergere led the Indianapolis 500 in three different years (1941, 1946, and 1947), won the pole position in 1946, and eight times finished among the first ten, including third-place finishes in 1932 and 1939.  After leading the early stages of the 1947 race with a V8 supercharged Novi, he took over the team car started by Herb Ardinger and finished fourth.  This was one of the few times that these crowd-pleasing cars were able to finish the race.  In 1941, he was the second driver to go the entire distance without making a single pit stop (the first was Dave Evans with a Cummins Diesel in 1931) when he finished fifth. During World War II, Bergere served in the United States Army, rising to the rank of major.  For about 30 years, Bergere enjoyed a colorful second career as a Hollywood stunt man. He appeared in several hundred films from the “silent” days until after World War II.

Bettenhausen_TonyTONY BETTENHAUSEN scored victories in 21 National Championship races from 1946 through 1959, winning the national title in 1951 (with eight wins from 14 starts) and 1958.  He also was runner-up in 1959 and ranked within the top ten in seven other years.  An outstanding midget car driver who also excelled in stock car races, Bettenhausen was runner-up in the 1941 Midwest Championship for what later became known as sprint cars.  He was runner-up for the American Automobile Association Stock Car title in 1951 and third, under United States Auto Club sanction, in 1960.  He participated in 14 Indianapolis 500 races, his best showing being second (shared with Paul Russo) in 1955.  When Indianapolis cars took part in the international 500-mile race at Monza, Italy, in 1957, Bettenhausen was the fastest qualifier with one of the V8 supercharged Novi cars, turning a single lap at 176 miles per hour, an incredible speed at that time.  He lost his life the day before the first day of Indianapolis 500 qualifications in 1961 while testing a car for fellow driver Russo.  In his assigned car, he had been practicing at speeds in the range of 149.8 miles per hour and was strongly favored to be the first to officially top 150 miles per hour on the following day.

Bignotti_GeorgeGEORGE BIGNOTTI came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a crew member for the first time in 1954 after winning four championships as a mechanic in midget car racing in the San Francisco area.  He accrued more National Championship victories than any other chief mechanic, including a record seven in the Indianapolis 500.  He won 85 such events, including ten in 500-mile races.  His seven Indianapolis wins were scored by A.J. Foyt in 1961 and 1964, Graham Hill in 1966, Al Unser in 1970 and 1971, Gordon Johncock in 1973, and Tom Sneva in 1983.  Bignotti was a co-owner of the cars in two of those wins, partnering with Bob Bowes in 1961 and with Dan Cotter in 1983.  Joe Leonard (1971) and Wally Dallenbach (1973) won the Ontario 500 (Ontario, California) in Bignotti-prepared cars, as did Leonard at Pocono, Pennsylvania, in 1972.  A total of nine United States Auto Club National Championships (four by Foyt, two by Leonard, and one each by Unser, Johncock, and Sneva) were also won in Bignotti-prepared cars.

Binford_TomTHOMAS W. BINFORD retired as Chief Steward for the Indianapolis 500 following the 1995 race after serving in that capacity for 23 consecutive years.  As President of the D-A Lubricant Company, he had sponsored several Indianapolis 500 cars from 1954 through 1958 with drivers Bob Sweikert and Johnny Thomson among others.  Although D-A Lubricant Company remained heavily involved in racing after that, Binford no longer sponsored cars because he had been named President of the fledgling United States Auto Club, and with the D-A Lubricant Special capturing the 1958 United States Auto Club National Champion Car Owner’s title, he felt this might be construed as a conflict of interest.  He continued as United States Auto Club president until 1969 and remained on the board through 1998.  A moving force behind the creation of Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1960 and a long time director of both the Automobile Competition Committee of the United States and the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile, Tom Binford was recognized around the world as one of motorsport’s finest ambassadors.

Boyer_JoeJOE BOYER, co-winner of the 1924 Indianapolis 500, was one of the wealthy young sportsmen prominent in racing during the period immediately following World War I.  He is listed as a co-winner because he took the checkered flag at the wheel of a car started by another driver, L.L. Corum.  Driving one of the brand new, supercharged Duesenberg Specials, Boyer led the first lap but almost immediately ran into mechanical trouble.  After handing over his race car to other drivers, he took over teammate Corum’s car on the 109th lap.  He took the car from fourth to first, winning at a record 98.23 miles per hour.  Boyer’s unusual day resulted from his having led both the first lap and the last lap in different cars.  In addition, this was the first Indianapolis 500 victory for an engine boosted by a supercharger.  Although Boyer led many of his races, including 93 laps of the 1920 Indianapolis 500 with a Chevrolet Brothers Frontenac, he often failed to finish because of mechanical trouble.  As a member of the Duesenberg team in the 1921 French Grand Prix, he ran second to Jimmy Murphy late in the race, but failed to finish when a rock punctured his radiator.  He was lost his life in an accident on the board track at Altoona, Pennsylvania, in September 1924.

Brabham_JackJACK BRABHAM began his racing career in 1946 in his native Australia where he drove midgets on short oval tracks to four championships.  In the 1950s, he broadened his racing activities to include road races, hill climbs, and his first European Formula One race in 1955.  Joining the Cooper “works” team in 1957, he won the Formula One World Championship in 1959 and 1960, and after forming his own team, added a third title in 1966.  In 1967, Denis Hulme of New Zealand won the World Championship for Brabham’s team.  In all, Brabham won 15 Grand Prix races from 1959 through 1970.  While his focus was on Formula One races, in 1961 he took an under-powered rear-engine Cooper-Climax to Indianapolis and astounded the racing fraternity by qualifying at 145.144 miles per hour and finishing ninth.  That was the first time a rear-engine car had completed more than 47 laps of an Indianapolis 500.  He drove a car of his own make in the 1964 Indianapolis 500, which was the basis for the very successful Brawner Hawk chassis, driven by Mario Andretti to many successful finishes.  In 1970, Brabham also briefly led the Indianapolis 500 in his final start in Indianapolis.  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II later knighted Brabham for his contributions to motorsports.

Brawner_ClintCLINT BRAWNER was one of racing’s most successful chief mechanics, winning 51 races in the National Championship race series from 1953 through 1969, including the 1969 Indianapolis 500 with Mario Andretti.  Brawner-prepared cars owned by Al Dean won the first four Hoosier Hundreds (at the Indiana State Fairgrounds) with drivers Bob Sweikert in 1953 and Jimmy Bryan in 1954-56.  Bryan won 19 races for Brawner and Dean from 1954 through 1957, capturing the National title in 1954, 1956, and 1957 and finishing as runner-up in 1955. In 1957, the trio earned international attention by winning the invitational 500-mile Race of Two Worlds at Monza, Italy.  After two seasons with a young A.J. Foyt (1958-59), Brawner and Dean teamed with Eddie Sachs for three years, winning three National Championship races and earning the pole at Indianapolis in 1960 and 1961.  Three more National Championship titles came with Andretti in 1965, 1966, and 1969, with second-place rankings (in both cases the title slipped away in the very last race) in 1967 and 1968.  Brawner’s top finishes at Indianapolis came with Bryan (second in 1954 and third in 1957), Sachs (second in 1961 and third in 1962), and Andretti (third as a rookie in 1965).

Bruce-Brown_DavidDAVID BRUCE-BROWN first attracted attention in 1908, while attending Yale University, by winning several free-for-all hill-climb events.  His short career continued with his domination of important hill climbs in 1910 and new records in speed trials at Jamaica, New York, and Ormond Beach, Florida.  Bruce-Brown also defeated the outstanding drivers of the United States and Europe in the 415-mile International Grand Prix at Savannah, Georgia.  He won the Savannah Grand Prix again in 1911 (breaking his own record) and finished third in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 race after leading the field for 81 laps.  In the 1912 French Grand Prix, he led the nearest of his 46 rivals by two minutes at the completion of the first day of the two-day event and was the early leader the following day, but was disqualified when he replenished his fuel supply from an unauthorized source.  He suffered fatal injuries during practice for the American Grand Prize road race in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in October 1912.

Bryan_JimmyJIMMY BRYAN, universally recognized as one of the greatest dirt track drivers, won the National Driving Championship three times, in 1954, 1956, and 1957, and was second in the final standings for 1955.  He won a total of 19 National Championship races from 1953 through 1958, and at one stage he won seven consecutive races on dirt tracks.  He won the 1958 Indianapolis 500, after finishing second in 1954 and third in 1957.  One month after the 1957 race, the colorful Bryan endeared himself to European fans by winning the first Monza, Italy, 500-mile invitational (run in three stages) in his usual style, chewing on an unlit cigar and then raising both hands to take the checkered flag.  He placed second in the same event the following year.  Bryan won 17 American Automobile Association sprint car races from 1951 through 1955, ranking third in the East Coast standings in 1952.  In one remarkable weekend in September 1956, he won the Hoosier Hundred on a Saturday afternoon and a 250-mile United States Auto Club stock car race at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds the following day.  He was fatally injured on the opening lap of the National Championship race at Langhorne, Pennsylvania, on June 19, 1960.

Burman_BobBOB BURMAN tested cars for Buick as early as 1903 and ranked among the nation’s top drivers from 1906 until his death in a 1916 accident at Corona, California.  He competed successfully in most of the major championship events on all types of race courses, including the board tracks at Chicago, Illinois, and Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York.  However, he gained his greatest fame in a series of record runs, 24-hour events, match races, and exhibition appearances against such rivals as Barney Oldfield, Ralph DePalma, Earl Cooper, and Louis Disbrow.  In April 1911, on the sands at Daytona Beach, Florida, Burman shattered Oldfield’s land speed record by more than ten miles an hour by averaging 141.732 for the measured mile at the wheel of the same Benz racecar Oldfield had driven to set a record a year earlier.  He drove in the first five Indianapolis 500 races, leading 41 laps of the 1913 race and finishing sixth in 1915.  In 1910, he finished third in the American Grand Prize race at Savannah, Georgia.

Cagle_ClarenceCLARENCE CAGLE served as superintendent of the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1948 through 1977, overseeing the extraordinary construction and renovation programs undertaken by the Hulman family following the purchase of the track in 1945.  A self-described “handyman and troubleshooter” for Hulman-owned businesses since the mid-1930s, Cagle assisted Jack Fortner in readying the sadly neglected facility in time for the 1946 race.  He became superintendent two years later and was named Vice-President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation in 1952.  Although he retired after more than 30 years at the track and moved to Ormond Beach, Florida, in August 1977, Cagle remained active in racing circles and served as a consultant on the construction of more than a dozen race tracks.

Carnegie_TomTOM CARNEGIE was the legendary Chief Announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address system for 60 consecutive Indianapolis 500 races from 1947 through 2006.  Blessed with a booming baritone voice and a strong sense of the dramatic, he coined and popularized such now famous phrases as “Heeeee’s on it!” and “It’s a neeeeew track record!”  He was Sports Director for WIRE radio in Indianapolis from 1945 to 1953, and later Sports Director for WRTV from 1953 to 1985.  Carnegie also was one of the founders of the Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Club in 1961, serving as its president from 1977 through 1979.  In the early 1970s, he broadcast from such tracks as Ontario, California, and Pocono, Pennsylvania.  His 1987 book Indy 500:  More than a Race was well received by race fans, requiring a second printing shortly after publication.  Also well known in the world of Indiana high school basketball, he had a small speaking part in the movie “Hoosiers.”

Carter_DuaneDUANE CARTER, one of racing’s great spokespersons, took a leave of absence from his successful driving career to serve as the first Director of Competition for the United States Auto Club from the fall of 1955 until January 1959.  During that time, he pushed for numerous safety advancements, while also overseeing the Monza, Italy, 500-mile races of 1957 and 1958, and creating the United States Auto Club’s landmark road racing series (1958 thru 1962), the first series ever to offer prize money for road racing events.  As a driver, Carter was a specialist on half-mile banked tracks, winning the 1950 American Automobile Association Midwest Sprint Car Championship title and placing second in 1951.  He won 17 sprint car events from 1950 through 1955.  He had 11 starts at the Indianapolis 500 from 1948 through 1963, with his best finish being fourth in 1952.   As a relief driver, he also shared third place with Sam Hanks in 1953 and fourth place with Troy Ruttman in 1954.

PHIL CASEY had been a chief mechanic for 35 years and was a nine-time winner in United States Auto Club National Championship competition when he took on the role of technical director for the newly formed Indy Racing League in 1996.  Heading up Fred Gerhardt’s team from 1965 through 1972, Casey had a major hand in the construction of numerous cigar–shaped and wedge-shaped versions of the much sought after Gerhardt chassis. Casey’s nine championship-level wins were earned for Gerhardt’s team with Gary Bettenhausen (two), Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing with Al Unser (two), and Interscope Racing with Danny Ongais (five).  In 1983, Casey was the winning chief mechanic when John Paul, Jr. edged Rick Mears for the win on the final lap of the Michigan 500 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  Other key assignments came with Roberto Guerrero in 1985 and 1986 and A.J. Foyt in 1990.  When Janet Guthrie made history as the first female to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1977, Casey was her crew chief. He is credited with making major contributions during the formation of the Indy Racing League.

Chapman_ColinCOLIN CHAPMAN introduced European Formula One technology to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the early 1960s and almost won the Indianapolis 500 on his first attempt.  Inspired while a spectator at the 1962 race, Chapman returned in 1963 with light-weight, rear-engine Lotus cars powered by Ford engines; he placed second with Scotland’s World Champion-to-be, Jim Clark.  This combination snared the pole position a year later. In 1965, they led 190 of 200 laps to score the first Indianapolis 500 win by a rear-engine car.  Chapman’s influence was far-reaching.  In addition to numerous class wins in the 24-Hours of Le Mans, Team Lotus drivers won no less than 74 World Championship Grand Prix races;  six world titles, with Clark (1963 and 1965), Graham Hill (1968), Jochen Rindt (1970), Emerson Fittipaldi (1972), and Mario Andretti (1978); and the constructor’s title seven times.

Chevrolet_GastonGASTON CHEVROLET left France as a young man to join his two older brothers, Louis and Arthur, in the United States.  He began to attract attention by finishing well in four auto races in 1917, including a 250-mile race on the board track at Cincinnati, Ohio.  He drove in his first Indianapolis 500 race in 1919, finishing tenth in a Frontenac built by his brothers.  Later in the season, he scored three important board track victories, two at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, and one at Uniontown, Pennsylvania.  He won the 1920 Indianapolis race in a Monroe Special, also built by his brothers, and was at the peak of his career when he suffered fatal injuries in an accident on the Beverly Hills, California, board track in November of the same year.  He was declared the 1920 American Automobile Association National Champion posthumously.

Chevrolet_LouisLOUIS CHEVROLET, born in Switzerland in 1878 and raised in France, beat Barney Oldfield and Walter Christie in a three-mile sprint with a Fiat soon after his arrival in the United States in 1905.  However, his career was interrupted several times when employers such as David Dunbar Buick felt he was too valuable as an engineer to risk injury on the track.  Nevertheless, Louis Chevrolet won ten National Championship races from 1909 through 1919, perhaps the most notable being the 395-mile Cobe Cup race in Lowell, Indiana, in 1909.  He and his brother Arthur joined with General Motors founder W. C. “Billy” Durant in the formation of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in 1911. However, in 1915 they left over a disagreement and sold all their stock. The brothers moved to Indianapolis and started building their own racing cars, but could not use the Chevrolet name.  They were the first to win the Indianapolis 500 in consecutive years with a Monroe Special in 1920 driven by their younger brother, Gaston, and a Frontenac Special in 1921 driven by Tommy Milton.  In 1922, they formed the Chevrolet Brothers Manufacturing Company, which produced a large number of single-seat “Fronty Ford” dirt track racers, which were basically a stripped-down Ford Model T outfitted with a Frontenac head.

Christie_JWalterWALTER CHRISTIE, the father of front-wheel-drive race cars, proved his automotive theories in competition. He also gained international recognition for his development of mechanized warfare armaments that contributed to the Allies’ victory in World War I. His racing accomplishments from 1904 through 1910 included record-breaking runs and victories in match races at Ormond Beach, Florida, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, as well as on such closed courses as Morris Park, Pennsylvania; Empire, New York; Readville, Massachusetts; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Detroit, Michigan.  His competition included Louis Chevrolet, Ralph DePalma, Barney Oldfield, and other formidable drivers.  He also raced his front-wheel-drive cars in the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup and the 1907 French Grand Prix.  On December 17, 1909, he was clocked at more than 100 miles per hour on the main straightaway of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s new brick surface.  Prior to America’s involvement in World War I, he designed armored tanks for England and later designed movable gun turrets for the United States Navy.

Clark_JimJIM CLARK, the 1965 Indianapolis 500 race winner and Grand Prix World driving champion in 1963 and 1965, scored 25 Formula I Grand Prix victories during his short career.  His Indianapolis triumph came on the third of his five appearances in the Indianapolis 500; he also finished second in 1963 and 1966.  He set new one-lap and four-lap qualifying records on two occasions and in all but one of his Indianapolis races he led the field at some stage for a total of 298 leading laps.  Although his activities in United States Auto Club races were limited by his heavy Grand Prix schedule, he also set one-lap qualifying records at the Trenton, New Jersey, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, race tracks in 1963 and led every lap of the Milwaukee 200-mile race that year.  Many of his Grand Prix victories were “flag-to-flag” affairs, and it is quite notable that while having won 25 Grand Prix races, he took second place only once, in the 1963 German Grand Prix.   He was fatally injured on April 7, 1968, during the Formula II race at Hockenheim, Germany.

JOSEPH R. Cloutier_Joe played a key role in all of Anton Hulman, Jr.’s various enterprises, beginning well before his association with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in October 1926.  In 1945, his survey of the Speedway’s potential for steady development was an important factor in Hulman’s decision to purchase the track from Captain Eddie Rickenbacker in November 1945.  Cloutier was named Executive Vice President and Treasurer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation in 1945, and shortly after Hulman’s death was named President of the Speedway on November 9, 1977, a position he held for about nine and one-half years during two terms in the following 12 years.  He was a constant advocate of Speedway improvements in keeping with the traditions established under Hulman’s leadership.  His direction had a major influence on such areas as network television and radio coverage, corporate sponsorship, track management, and grounds expansion and improvements.

Collins_SidSID COLLINS was universally recognized as “The Voice of the 500” in his role as chief announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network broadcasts.  Prior to the formation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Network in 1952, broadcasts consisted only of five-minute updates every 15 minutes.  They were heard over the Mutual Radio Network and were originated by WIBC, the local radio station for which Collins worked.  After “working a turn” for the first time in 1948, Collins co-anchored the Indianapolis 500 race coverage for the Mutual Radio Network in 1950 and 1951.  The first “flag-to-flag” coverage of the 500 was in 1953.  By 1954, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s history-making four and one-half hour marathon broadcast could be heard over the United States Armed Forces Radio Network in Germany and it was not long before more than 1,000 stations were carrying Collins’s eloquent “word picture.”   His local broadcasts from the track numbered in the hundreds over a period of more than 30 years and for several years he was master of ceremonies for the Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet.

1956-10326-Frank-CoonsFRANK COON and JIM TRAVERS are listed together because, professionally, one could hardly be mentioned without the other.  Known variously as “The Keck Kids” and “The Rich Kids,” they jointly ran the ultra-successful racing team of sportsman Howard Keck.  Already a powerhouse in West Coast midget racing, they arrived at Indianapolis in 1948 with an Emil Diedt-built front-drive car that used several revolutionary innovations such as magnesium wheels (Halibrand) and fuel injection (developed by crew member Stu Hilborn).  After top-ten finishes with Jimmy Jackson in 1948 and 1949, the car placed third in the rain-shortened 1950 Indianapolis 500 with Mauri Rose.  Ever the innovators, they collaborated with Frank Kurtis on the building of the first of the so-called “roadster,” a nickname given this low-slung creation with an offset engine by its driver, Bill Vukovich.  After dropping out with a steering failure while leading the 1952 Indianapolis 500 with nine laps to go, Vukovich bounced back to win in 1953 and 1954.  In 1957, two years after the untimely death of Vukovich, the pair formed Traco Engineering, a very successful business that “hopped up” Chevrolets for sprint cars and sports car racing.

Cooper_EarlEARL COOPER, a driver long associated with Stutz automobiles, was particularly outstanding in road course races during the early part of his career, winning races of more than 300 miles at Santa Monica, Corona, and Point Loma in California and Elgin, Illinois.  He later enjoyed success on the board tracks with Miller racing cars, scoring major victories as late as 1926 during a driving career interrupted twice by decisions to retire.  He was declared the American Automobile Association National Champion in 1913, 1915, and 1917 and was credited with 20 National Championship race wins from 1912 through 1926, including the only running of a 500-mile race on a two-mile concrete track at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, with a “factory” Stutz in 1915.  He finished second in the Indianapolis 500 in 1924 and started from the pole position in 1926.  In 1927, he oversaw the construction of a three-car team of front-drive cars that ran both as Cooper Specials and Marmon Specials from 1927 through 1929.  At least one of these race cars continued to race under various owners through 1949.

Cummings_BillBILL CUMMINGS, was born and raised in Indianapolis and lived within earshot of the track as a child.  In 1930, he moved up from half-mile dirt tracks to American Automobile Association championship competition and thereafter compiled an enviable record until his untimely death in a highway accident in February 1939.  He drove in nine consecutive Indianapolis 500 races, setting a new record of 104.863 miles per hour to win the 1934 race.  Cummings finished sixth or higher in three other years and started from the pole position in 1933 and 1937.  He won six National Championship races during the severely depleted scheduling of the Depression years from 1930 through 1935, winning the title in 1934 and finishing as runner-up in 1935 and third in 1930.  The jovial Cummings was a regular winner at the Legion Ascot track in Los Angeles, California, during the winters of 1931 and 1932 and he placed seventh in the international road race at Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island, New York, in 1936.  In February 1937, he rode a Harley-Davidson in the very first 200-mile motorcycle race on the beach course at Daytona Beach, Florida, finishing 27th out of 86 starters.

1992-Donald-DavidsonDONALD DAVIDSON developed a passionate interest in the Indianapolis 500 as a teenager in England. Arriving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1964, he delighted the racing community with his ability to rattle off year-by-year recitations of participants’ careers.  Returning permanently in 1965, he was invited by Sid Collins to join the worldwide Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network and was hired by Henry Banks as a United States Auto Club statistician.  He remained with the United States Auto Club for almost 32 years, serving in a variety of capacities.  In 1998, he joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation as track historian.  Along with numerous television and radio assignments, since 1971 raconteur Davidson has hosted the popular call-in radio show “The Talk of Gasoline Alley” on 1070-AM (formerly WIBC) during the month of May.  His writing credits include a myriad of historical articles and columns, a pair of Indianapolis 500 annuals in 1974 and 1975, a book on the A.J. Watson ”roadster” that won the 1964 Indianapolis 500, and co-authorship (with Rick Shaffer) of the acclaimed “Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500,” published in 2006 and updated in 2013.

Dawson_JoeJOE DAWSON is remembered best for winning the 1912 Indianapolis 500 in a National Motor Vehicle Company car. Only 22 at the time, he was actually on loan to the National Motor Vehicle Company from Nordyke & Marmon, which had withdrawn from racing after winning the 1911 Indianapolis 500 with driver/engineer Ray Harroun and the Marmon “Wasp.”  Dawson, who had finished fifth with a “stock” Marmon in the 1911 race, was also an engineer with the firm, as were several members of his family, including his father.  He began racing under Harroun’s leadership in 1910 and won the 200-mile Wheeler-Schebler trophy race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4, 1910.  Later in the year, he finished second in the Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island, New York.  Other than for several record runs for the Chalmers Company, he retired from competition after a serious accident in the 1914 Indianapolis 500, later moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a management role for Marmon.  He became a highly respected motor racing official who was appointed to the American Automobile Association Contest Board and served as the Eastern States supervisor until his death on June 18, 1946.

Dean_AlAL DEAN was by far the most successful American Automobile Association/United States Auto Club championship car owner of the 1950s and 1960s.  A self-made transit company magnate, Dean also was renowned for having given Indianapolis 500 rookie tests to both Mario Andretti (1965) and A.J. Foyt (1958).  His first win came in the inaugural Hoosier Hundred of 1953, with Bob Sweikert.  His Clint Brawner-wrenched Dean Van Lines Specials won an amazing 38 National Championship races from 1953 through 1967 in the hands of Jimmy Bryan and Mario Andretti (17 each), Eddie Sachs (three), and Bob Sweikert (one).  Bryan won the national title in 1954, 1956, and 1957, and was runner-up in 1955.  He also won the non-points Monza (Italy) 500 in 1957.  Andretti won the National Championship title in 1965 and 1966 and was runner-up in 1967.  Dean was never able to win the Indianapolis 500 with his race team, but he did have five top-three finishes, including seconds with Bryan in 1954 and Sachs in 1961.  Dean also had four Indianapolis 500 poles with Sachs (1960 and 1961) and Andretti (1966 and 1967).

Depalma_RalphRALPH DePALMA came to the United States from Italy in 1893 as a ten year old and started his racing career in 1903.  Generally considered to be the most successful driver in the United States during the pioneer racing years, he scored one or more victories on almost every major race course sanctioned by the American Automobile Association Contest Board and was declared National champion in 1912 and 1914.  He drove in ten Indianapolis races and led for a then record number of laps.  In 1912, he led all but four of the 200 laps before a snapped connecting rod sidelined him only two laps from the finish while he was in the lead.  He won in 1915 and led 132 laps of that race.  In 1920 he was within 16 laps of a victory when forced to make a lengthy stop, and in 1921 he led 108 of the 112 laps he completed before being forced out yet again.  His grand total of 612 laps led from 1911 through 1921 was not surpassed until 1987.  He helped design and build the Packard V-12, which he drove to a new land speed record of 149.87 miles per hour on the measured mile at Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1919.  Two years later, he drove a race car produced by Etablissements Ballot of Paris to second in the 1921 French Grand Prix.

DePaolo_PeterPETER DePAOLO joined his uncle, Ralph DePalma, as a riding mechanic immediately after World War I, sitting on the pole and leading the Indianapolis 500 with his uncle in 1920 and 1921 for 187 laps.  He also rode to second place in the 1921 French Grand Prix at Le Mans.  The following year DePaolo drove in the Indianapolis 500, becoming the first (and only) person to lead the Indianapolis 500 both as a riding mechanic and as a driver.  He joined Duesenberg’s “factory” team in 1924 and the following year became the first Indianapolis winner to exceed 100 miles per hour by averaging 101.13 miles per hour. He won ten National Championship races from 1925 through 1927, principally on board tracks, winning the season’s championship in 1925 and 1927 and placing third in 1926.  In 1925, he was invited to drive for Alfa Romeo in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, where he ended up fifth after running second late in the contest.  An outstanding ambassador for racing and an entertaining after-dinner speaker well into his 80s, he served in the United States Army with distinction during World War II, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Dingley_BertBERT DINGLEY earned a national recognition as early as 1905 as a member of the Pope Toledo team by defeating all rivals for the right to represent the United States in the second Vanderbilt Cup race.  Over the next eight years, he compiled an enviable record until he suffered serious injuries in a 1914 race at Tacoma, Washington.  In 1909, he was hailed by the media as the American Automobile Association’s National Champion as the result of a consistent performance that included victories (for Chalmers) in the San Francisco-to-Portland road race and the 202-mile Santa Monica road race.  In six other major starts that season he also placed second twice, third once, and fourth once.  He relocated to Indianapolis after retiring from competition and after a brief stint as vice-president of Stutz Motor Company, he served for many years as vice-president of Marmon-Herrington Company.

Donohue_MarkMARK DONOHUE was one of America’s leading road racers.  Linked throughout his career to Roger Penske whose team he joined in 1966, the Brown University-educated Donohue frequently competed in several different major series at the same time during the 1970s.  His driving successes included the 1973 Sports Car Club of America Canadian-American championship; the Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-Am title in 1968, 1969, and 1971; the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) 1973 Riverside 500 (in an America Motors Corp. Matador); and several United States Auto Club races including the 1972 Indianapolis 500 and 1971 Pocono 500 (Pennsylvania), all for Team Penske.  The Penske/Donohue combination also finished third with a McLaren in the 1971 Canadian Grand Prix Formula One race.  As Penske’s very first Indianapolis 500 driver in 1969, Donohue won the Rookie of the Year award after running third for many laps until ignition problems knocked him back to seventh.  After finishing second in the 1970 Indianapolis 500, he was the first to unofficially break 180 miles per hour during practice in 1971, while his race-winning average speed of 162.962 miles per hour in 1972 remained an unbroken record for 12 years.  He retired after the 1973 season, but came back at the end of 1974 to drive Penske’s Formula One car. His 1975 season ended tragically with a fatal accident in final warmups for the Grand Prix of Austria.

Drake_DaleDALE DRAKE was one of the sons of J.A. Drake & Sons, manufacturers of Jadson valves.  Drake arranged for Jadson to sponsor Louis Meyer’s Miller race car in 1931, which finished fourth after it was started by Myron Stevens and later taken over by Meyer when his original car dropped out of the race.  In 1932, Drake was riding mechanic for Meyer in Alden Sampson’s twin-engine Miller.  A member of Meyer’s winning pit crews in 1933 and 1936, Drake later developed the Drake engine for midget racing.  In 1945, he and Meyer purchased the Offenhauser engine business. Meyer-Drake Engineering proceeded to win every Indianapolis 500 race from 1947 through 1964, plus countless National Championship races.  In 1965, Meyer sold his interest to Drake when he took over distributorship of Ford’s Indianapolis 500 race engines.  Drake Engineering’s Offenhauser engine remained a formidable competitor, however; it won the Indianapolis 500 in its turbocharged form in 1968 and from 1972 through 1976.

Duesenberg_AugieAUGUST “AUGIE” DUESENBERG remained in the shadow of his older brother, Fred, for most of his career, but contributed his full share of ideas and effort to the development of the early Mason race cars.  He also helped guide the splendid Duesenberg race cars to repeated victories for more than 20 years beginning in 1914.  He was particularly interested in developing smaller racing engines and he ultimately assumed complete responsibility for Duesenberg’s racing activities as Fred devoted increasing attention to corporate affairs.  Augie also designed and built the Duesenberg chassis into which a Cummins Diesel engine was installed by the Cummins Engine Company for the 1931 Indianapolis 500.  Driver Dave Evans finished 13th in the Duesenberg/Cummins entry, becoming the first person to complete the 500 miles without a single pit stop.

Duesenberg_FredFRED DUESENBERG was a German-born engineer who enjoyed much success in racing before 1920, when he and his brother Augie formed the company that crafted some of the finest automobiles ever produced in the United States.  They continued to field racing cars that provided the principal opposition for the Miller Specials in the National Championship races of the 1920s.  Duesenberg racing cars won the Indianapolis 500 in 1924, 1925, and 1927 while finishing second or third in four of the other seven years of that decade.  The 1925 victory by Peter DePaolo marked the first time the race was won in under five hours, at an average speed of 101.127 miles per hour.  In 1920, Tommy Milton helped finance and oversee construction of the Duesenberg that he drove to a new land speed record of 156.046 miles per hour over the measured mile at Daytona Beach, Florida.  In 1921, Duesenberg gained international attention by sending four cars to the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.  Jimmy Murphy caused a major upset by defeating the mighty Ballot team for the win.  Fred had turned the competition side of Duesenberg over to brother Augie to concentrate on their classic passenger cars when he was fatally injured in a traffic accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 1932.

Durant_CliffCLIFF DURANT, the wealthy sportsman son of General Motors founder W.C. ”Billy” Durant, entered eight cars in the 1923 Indianapolis 500 race (all Millers), of which  five finished among the top seven.  Durant drove in the Indianapolis 500 six times, leading briefly in 1923.  A staunch supporter of auto racing for many years, Durant was one of the principal shareholders in the renowned board track speedway at Beverly Hills, California, that operated from 1920 until it was sold to make way for the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in 1924.  Durant-entered cars finished second in the Indianapolis 500 three times and scored frequent victories elsewhere, especially on board tracks.  Eddie Hearne, who won the 1923 National Championship for Durant, finished second in the 1919 Indianapolis 500 in a Durant-entered Stutz, while Dave Lewis and Bennett Hill shared the second-place car in 1925.  The 1925 race entry, commissioned by the late Jimmy Murphy, was the first front-drive car in the Indianapolis 500.

Economaki_ChrisCHRIS ECONOMAKI reported on motorsports, both in print and over the air waves, for virtually his entire life.  He frequented Ho-Ho-Kus (New Jersey) Speedway as a pre-teenager and made excellent pocket money selling copies of the Bergen Herald, the paper that later became National Auto Racing News and eventually National Speed Sport News (NSSN).  His column, Gas-O-Lines, first appeared in 1936, and in 1950 he was hired as NSSN’s editor, a position he held until his death on September 28, 2012.  From the 1940s through the 1960s, he announced hundreds of East Coast races for promoter Sam Nunis. In the early 1960s he became a motorsports commentator for ABC-TV during the early days of Wide World of Sports.  His news-packed weekly column in NSSN, “The Editor’s Notebook,” was required reading for anyone in the motorsports industry.

Edenburn_WDW.D. “EDDIE” EDENBURN, known for his dynamic personality, played a key role in officiating early automobile races and powerboat races.  For 16 years, from 1919 through 1934, he served as a no-nonsense Chief Steward for the Indianapolis 500.  A journalist by profession, after working for the Indianapolis Star prior to World War I, he relocated to Michigan where he became one of the nation’s foremost sports writers of the 1920s and 1930s at the Detroit News.  He represented the American Automobile Association Contest Board at many major events and became prominent in the automobile industry as a lobbyist, event organizer, and public relations specialist, representing the interests of the Michigan Automotive Trade Association and the National Automotive Dealers Association.  After his death in September 1934, the prestigious Eddie Edenburn award was created in his memory to honor motorsports racing officials and was much cherished by the auto racing fraternity.

EpperlyHeadshotQUINCY D. EPPERLY enjoyed considerable success as a race car builder.  After several years with Frank Kurtis and a brief partnership with Lujie Lesovsky, he formed his own company.  In 1957, Jim Rathmann drove an “Epperly” to a second place finish in the Indianapolis 500, directly behind Sam Hanks who drove George Salih’s revolutionary chassis “layover” design for which Quin had crafted the bodywork.  George Amick and Tony Bettenhausen finished second and fourth, respectively, in brand-new Epperly “laydowns” in 1958.   A third-place finish by Paul Goldsmith in 1960 in an Epperly race car was followed by front-row starts in an Epperly for Don Branson and Jim Hurtubise in 1961 and for Bobby Marshman in 1962.  Epperly even crafted the bodywork for Craig Breedlove’s jet-powered “Spirit of American Sonic I,” which exceeded 600 miles per hour for the flying mile over the Bonneville (Utah) Salt Flats in 1965.

Fengler_HarlanHARLAN FENGLER was considered the “boy wonder” of the board tracks during the early 1920s, scoring his most important victories in 250-mile races at Kansas City, Missouri, in 1923 and at Beverly Hills, California, in 1924.  He started out, as did many others, as a riding mechanic, most notably accompanying his mentor, Harry Hartz, to second place in the 1922 Indianapolis 500.  He also built race cars, served as technical director on several motion pictures about racing, and after World War II served as referee for the Indianapolis 500 before becoming the race’s Chief Steward for 16 straight races from 1958 through 1973.  For a brief period in the late 1950s, he promoted United States Auto Club sprint car races at the Dayton, Ohio, Speedway, and in 1961 was one of the founding members of the Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Club.

Firestone_HarveyHARVEY FIRESTONE, SR. was quick to recognize auto racing, almost from the time of its inception, as a virtual outdoor laboratory and proving ground for automotive products.  He welcomed competition and risked the future of his young company on its ability to build better and safer tires.  Firestone tires were on Ray Harroun’s Marmon “Wasp,” which won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 race in 1911.  Firestone tires continued to be used on the majority of winners of National Championship races, including the Indianapolis 500, until the company withdrew from racing in 1974.  Twenty years later Firestone returned to racing after it was purchased by Bridgestone.  Even during the many periods when no other tire company was involved in open-wheel racing, Firestone conducted vigorous tire tests at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other tracks on a regular basis throughout the year.  In much of the company’s national advertising, particularly during the 1950s, Firestone proudly reported its successes on the nation’s race tracks.

Fisher_CarlCARL G. FISHER was the driving force behind the creation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a testing facility for the automobile industry.  He served as the track’s president from 1909 until turning the duties over to his principal partner, James Allison, in 1923.  An early bicycle racer who briefly raced cars, Fisher was a significant advocate for the development of automobiles, aviation, and transportation in general. In addition to leading the Lincoln Highway Commission, which built the first drivable highway across the United States, Fisher also transformed Miami Beach from swamplands into a major city. Other ventures included the Dixie Highway and, with James Allison and engineer P. C. Avery, creation of the hugely successful Prest-O-Lite Company, which solved the problem of safe night driving by producing carbide-gas-fired head lights.  Not only was Fisher very likely the originator of the idea of a 500-mile race, but his decision to use a rolling start for the 1911 inaugural race at Indianapolis may have been the first mass rolling start for any automobile race anywhere in the world.  It also may have represented the first use of a passenger vehicle as a pace car.

Fittipaldi_EmersonEMERSON FITTIPALDI raced in 144 Formula One Grand Prix races from 1970 through 1980 for Team Lotus, McLaren, and his own team, winning 14 times and earning “podium” finishes in 21 others.  He finished in the top two places in the Formula One World Championship standings from 1972 through 1975 (first, second, first, and then second).  After a four-year hiatus starting in 1980, he spent 13 race seasons in the United States.  He led a total of 505 laps at Indianapolis, winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 and 1993, and placing second in 1988 and third in 1990.  In the 1990 race, he led the first 92 laps, breaking a record Frank Lockhart had set in 1927.   From 1984 through 1996, he started in 195 races sanctioned by the Championship Auto Racing Teams, winning 22 of the races and the series championship in 1989 and finishing second in both 1993 and 1994.

Flaherty_PatPAT FLAHERTY competed in six Indianapolis 500 races (once as a relief driver) and won the 1956 race at an average speed of 128.490 miles per hour.  He broke the one- and four-lap qualifying records to win the pole in 1956, delighting the fans by lifting the front left wheel from the track surface as he negotiated the turns in his lightweight A.J. Watson-built John Zink Special.  His marks were 146.056 miles per hour for one lap and 145.596 miles per hour for four laps.  Flaherty became the second driver after World War II to win the Indianapolis 500 from the pole starting position.  During his career, he also won two championship races at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, a 250-mile race in August 1955 and a 100-mile race two weeks after his 1956 Indianapolis 500 win.  These amounted to three consecutive championship wins on paved tracks.  He suffered a severe arm injury in an accident on the dirt track at Springfield, Illinois, in August 1956, but returned after almost two years of recuperation to win his first time out in a 200-mile United States Auto Club stock car race at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in 1958. He also led for 11 laps in the 1959 Indianapolis 500, but then raced only occasionally after that and retired in 1963.

Ford_HenryHENRY FORD, as well known as anyone in the history of the automobile industry, was briefly an auto racing competitor as a young man.  He was, in fact, the first American to claim a land speed record, although it was not accepted by European authorities because he had travelled in one direction only.  International recognition was based on the average speed of runs in opposite directions completed within a prescribed amount of time.  Ford’s flying mile in 39.4 seconds (average speed of 91.370 miles per hour) with his “999” on January 12, 1904, was made in less than ideal conditions over the most unlikely of surfaces, the frozen Lake St. Clair near Detroit.  He soon turned his attention to the business of his newly founded Ford Motor Co., and his friend Barry Oldfield took over the job of racing the “999.”  Although Ford attended many early Indianapolis 500 races, usually serving in honorary official capacities, he did not allow his firm to take part as a competitor.  The less-than-successful Ford V8 Miller effort in 1935 occurred under the direction of his son, Edsel Ford.  After Ford’s death in April 1947, the company had considerable success at Indianapolis, in competition sanctioned by the United States Auto Club and NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), in sports car racing, and most notably in the 24-Hours of Le Mans.

Foyt_AJA.J. FOYT, JR. was still active as a driver at the time of his election to the Hall of Fame in May 1978.  He earned the top ranking in his profession with an all-time record unequaled by any American contender.  The first to win the Indianapolis 500 four times (1961, 1964, 1967, and 1977), he earned the United States Auto Club National Championship title a record seven times, in 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1975, and 1979.  In addition to his record 67 triumphs in the championship division, he scored 41 victories in United States Auto Club stock cars, 28 in sprint cars, and 20 in midgets while winning consistently on road courses as well as on the dirt and paved oval tracks.  In 1967, just three weeks after winning at Indianapolis, he shared the winning Ford GT 40 Mk IV in the 24-Hours of Le Mans with Dan Gurney.  Still a leading driver sixteen years later, he shared the winning car in the 24-Hours of Daytona in 1983 and 1985 and in the Sebring-12 Hours in 1985.  He made a number of starts in NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) competition, winning seven times, including the 1972 Daytona 500.  He made his 35th consecutive Indianapolis 500 start in 1992 and announced his retirement just before qualifications began on May 15, 1993.  He continued as a team owner, with Kenny Brack winning the 1999 Indianapolis 500 while driving for Foyt.

Frame_FredFRED FRAME won the 1932 Indianapolis 500 at a record average speed of 104.144 miles per hour in a Harry Hartz-owned Miller.  This followed a second place finish in 1931 with a Hartz-owned Duesenberg.  Other impressive driving results include leading 11 laps of the Indianapolis 500 in 1929, 58 laps in 1932, and 37 laps in 1933 (after starting on the front row) for a career total of 106 laps led.  He ranked second in the American Automobile Association National Championship standings in 1931 and 1932 during the Great Depression years when many fewer such events were scheduled.  The majority of his wins came in short-track sprint car races on the East Coast, many of them on the steeply banked, half-mile wooden board-track at Woodbridge, New Jersey, where he enjoyed one streak of five successive wins.  He was so successful in 1930 that he passed up the Indianapolis 500 in order to remain in the East.  Had the American Automobile Association awarded points for East Coast races in 1931 (which they did from 1932 on), Frame would undoubtedly have been the champion.  One of his more notable victories came during the height of the Depression with a Ford V-8 in a 203-mile stock car race on the road course at Elgin, Illinois, in 1933.

DARIO FRANCHITTI, a Scotsman of Italian heritage, won the Indianapolis 500 three times and came within a single point of claiming the Indy Car championship five times. Prior to his first title in 2007, plus the three which followed in the consecutive years, 2009-11, he had suffered the crushing blow in 1999 of having equaled the point score of Juan Pablo Montoya, only to be awarded second ranking after a tie-breaker based on the number of wins during that season. He backed up his Indianapolis 500 victories of 2007 and 2010, with another in 2012, making him only the tenth person ever to have won the “500” at least three times. He amassed a total of 89 podium finishes in Indy Car events between 1998 and 2013, including 31 wins, of which 16 were recorded on oval tracks and 15 on road courses. He shared the winning car in the 2008 Daytona 24-Hours with Montoya, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, and shared second overall, plus the LMP2 class victory in the 2007 Sebring 12-Hours with Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta. Following serious injuries in an accident at Houston in the next to last Indy Car race of 2013, he heeded the advice from doctors and announced his retirement. He currently serves in an advisory capacity for Chip Ganassi’s racing teams. In 2009, he was awarded a British Racing Drivers Club Gold Star, and in 2013 received one of the United Kingdom’s highest honors by being named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

CHIP GANASSI drove in five Indianapolis 500 races (1982-86) and scored three Indy Car “podium” finishes ― including runner-up to Danny Sullivan at the Cleveland road course in 1984 ― prior to creating a multi-faceted, open-wheel racing team.  Chip Ganassi Racing has become one of the most successful teams in the history of the sport.  Partnering with U.E. “Pat” Patrick to win both the 1989 Indianapolis 500 and championship titles under Championship Auto Racing Teams with Emerson Fittipaldi, Ganassi took over the team completely in 1990.  His drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 four more times, with Juan Pablo Montoya (2000), Scott Dixon (2008), and Dario Franchitti (2010 and 2012).  His team also has won eleven Indy Car titles through the end of 2015 with Jimmy Vasser (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997-98), Montoya (1999), Dixon (2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015), and Franchitti (2009-11).  Ganassi also has been successful in NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) and long distance sports car racing.   Chip Ganassi Racing won the 24-Hours of Daytona six times through 2015. A highlight in 2011 was a 24-Hours of Daytona victory following wins in the 2010 Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, and Brickyard 400 ― all four wins occurring within a 12-month period.

MARI HULMAN GEORGE has been best known for her role as a board member and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hulman & Company. The only child of the late Anton “Tony” Hulman, Jr. and Mary Fendrich Hulman, who purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November 1945, George has been a tireless supporter of auto racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Long before her 21st birthday, she joined with longtime family friend Roger Wolcott to form the HOW racing team, which fielded sprint cars for several drivers including Jerry Hoyt, Eddie Sachs, Tony Bettenhausen, Roger McCluskey, and Elmer George, whom she married in April 1957.   Elmer George won the Midwest Sprint Car Championship title in 1957 and finished third in both 1956 and 1958.  Sachs was runner-up in the Midwest Sprint Car rankings in 1954.  HOW Racing also fielded a National Championship car for several years, with wins in the Syracuse, New York, 100-miler and other top finishes through 1962.  Carrying on the extraordinary philanthropy of her parents, George has been a significant supporter of the arts, heath care, and, in particular, animal welfare.

Gilmore_EarlEARL GILMORE made many important contributions to automobile racing during the ten-year period prior to World War II.  He owned and operated Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles, which gained national attention as perhaps the nation’s finest venue for midget car racing from 1934 to 1950 when it was closed to make way for television studios for CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System).  As president of the Gilmore Oil Company, he originated the Gilmore Economy Run (for production cars), which   Mobil Oil eventually sponsored through 1968.  Gilmore also sponsored many first-rate cars in Indianapolis 500 races, including Kelly Petillo’s 1935 winner, Wilbur Shaw’s 1937 winner, and other prominent drivers such as Rex Mays, Mauri Rose, Doc MacKenzie, Al Gordon, Stubby Stubblefield, and 1932 runner-up Howdy Wilcox II.  He provided financial support for land speed record runs by Sir Malcolm Campbell at Daytona Beach, Florida, and John Cobb on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.  In addition, Ab Jenkins drove a Gilmore-sponsored Mormon Meteor to 21 land speed and endurance records at Bonneville.

PAUL GOLDSMITH enjoyed a career so diversified that references to him having won at Milwaukee, Langhorne or Daytona Beach require clarification as to whether the event in question was for two wheels or four. After finishing second to his protégé, and fellow Hall of Famer Joe Leonard in the 1954 AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) championship, Goldsmith made a transition to driving NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) stock cars for Smokey Yunick. Later teaming up with Ray Nichels, Goldsmith finished second in the 1960 USAC (United States Auto Club) stock car championship, and then won the title in 1961 and 1962, amassing 18 wins in 39 starts during that period. He rarely took part in open-wheel competition but did compete in the Indianapolis 500 six times, finishing third in 1960.

Goossen_LeoLEO GOOSSEN is considered by most racing historians to be the nation’s outstanding designer of racing engines from the early 1920s through the mid-1970s.  The mild-mannered Goossen, who evidently was perfectly happy working behind a desk and reportedly never went to any race tracks to see the results of his work, had a hand in just about every major American racing engine for five decades.  One of his first major projects for Harry Miller was the design and construction of six complete race cars with 122-cubic-inch, eight-cylinder engines for the 1923 season.  He remained with the company as chief engineer when it was acquired by Fred Offenhauser in 1933.  Goossen designed the 220-cubic-inch and 255-cubic-inch four-cylinder Offenhausers, and continued his engine design work after World War II when Offenhauser sold the engine business to Louis Meyer and Dale Drake.  He worked with Bud Winfield on the V8 supercharged Novi, and with Art Sparks on the supercharged Sparks “six,” which broke several qualifying records and won the 1946 Indianapolis 500 race.  He designed the Meyer-Drake-Scarab power plant used for Lance Reventlow’s short-lived 1960 Formula One effort.  In the mid-1970s, he also was involved with the successful “Drake-Goossen-Sparks” modification of the Drake Engineering “Offy” with Patrick Racing Team drivers Gordon Johncock and Wally Dallenbach.

Goux_JulesJULES GOUX, a Frenchman, was the first foreign driver to win the Indianapolis 500.  In a “factory” Peugeot, he beat the second-place finisher to the checkered flag in 1913 by a margin of 13 minutes and eight seconds, a record that undoubtedly will stand forever.  Shortly before leaving for Indianapolis, he had set speed records for up to 100 miles at the Brooklands track in England.  Six weeks after the win, he finished second behind teammate Georges Boillot in the French Grand Prix, and the following year placed fourth in that event behind a stunning one-two-three finish by the Mercedes team.  He drove in the Indianapolis 500 five times from 1913 through 1922, finishing fourth in 1914 and third in 1919.  In 1921, he drove a Ballot to third in the French Grand Prix and then won the Italian Grand Prix later in the year.  Shortly before his retirement in 1926, he drove a Bugatti to victory in the French Grand Prix and later was runner-up in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Granatelli_AndyANDY GRANATELLI gained considerable notoriety for his innovative approach to motorsports in the 1960s.  Already the owner of numerous Indianapolis 500 race cars that ran from 1946 through 1954, including Jim Rathmann’s second-place finisher in 1952, he returned after a seven-year hiatus in 1961, having acquired the Novi race cars from Lew Welch.  The Novis were updated and three qualified for each of the 1963 and 1964 Indianapolis 500 races.  No sooner was Granatelli named president of the STP Corporation in 1963 than he began investing heavily in the sport as a sponsor.  Mario Andretti (1969) and Gordon Johncock (1973) both won the Indianapolis 500 under STP sponsorship, while Parnelli Jones (1967) and Joe Leonard (1968) each came within a handful of laps of winning with controversial Granatelli-entered turbine-powered cars.  Other outstanding drivers he retained or sponsored included Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Dan Gurney, Jochen Rindt, Jimmy McElreath, Pat Flaherty, Jim Hurtubise, and Freddie Agabashian.

Grant_HarryHARRY GRANT, who first attracted attention as a driver in 1907, won the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island, New York, in 1909 and 1910, driving a six-cylinder Alco “60.”  An “agent” for Alco in Boston, Grant previously had won approximately 20 hill climb events in New England, while also enjoying success in road racing at Readville, Pennsylvania.  He competed in three races in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s July 4th weekend program in 1910, winning two intermediate distance races and finishing fourth in the 200-mile race for the Cobe Trophy.  Returning the following May with the Vanderbilt Cup-winning Alco, he was one of the 40 starters in the inaugural Indianapolis 500.  In 1913 he drove an Italian Isotta-Fraschini and in 1914 and 1915 an English Sunbeam, placing seventh in 1914.  He was fatally injured while practicing for the Astor Cup race on the wooden-board track at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, on October 8, 1915.

Gurney_DanDAN GURNEY, an outstanding international driver and car builder, gained much of his early fame on the Formula One Grand Prix circuit with victories in France (1962 and 1964), Mexico (1964), and Belgium (1967).  In 1967, he won the “race of champions” at Brands Hatch in England and teamed with A.J. Foyt, Jr. for victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race with a Ford GT40 Mark IV.  His winning car in Belgium was an All American Eagle he built in Santa Ana, California, making that race only the second occasion an American driver in an American car won a Grand Prix and the only one since the introduction of the World Championship in 1950.   The victory in Belgium came exactly one week after the glorious triumph at Le Mans.  He later finished second in the 1968 and 1969 Indianapolis 500 races and third in the 1970 race.  Bobby Unser won the Indianapolis 500 with Gurney Eagles in 1968 and 1975, as did Gordon Johncock in 1973.  For four straight years, starting in 1973, approximately half of the 33-car starting lineups at the Indianapolis 500 race were Eagles.  Gurney also won five out of six 500-mile NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) races at Riverside from 1963 through 1968, including four in succession.

1965-359-19-Jim-HallJIM HALL was a leading American sports car driver whose revolutionary Chaparral sports cars made him internationally famous in the 1960s.  His innovations included elevated rear wings on vertical struts; a rear wing, the angle of which could be adjusted from the cockpit; automatic transmission; and the controversial J2 “vacuum cleaner,” featuring two rear-mounted fans designed to create suction beneath the car for superior cornering.  As a driver, Hall won the 1962 Road America 500 race at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin; the 1964 United States Road Racing championship; and the 1965 Sebring 12-Hours race in which he co-drove with his longtime partner Hap Sharp.  In international sports car racing, Chaparrals won the 1966 Nürburgring (Germany) 1000-Kilometers (Phil Hill and Joakim Bonnier), and the 1967 BOAC Six-Hours at England’s Brands Hatch (Mike Spence and Phil Hill). Hall’s initial entry at the Indianapolis 500 in 1978 resulted in victory the first time out with Al Unser driving a Lola/Cosworth. The same combination also won that year’s 500-mile races at Pocono (Pennsylvania) and Ontario (California).  Two years later, Johnny Rutherford won the Indianapolis 500 race for Hall with a John Barnard-designed Chaparral/Cosworth, the first car at an Indianapolis 500 race to have “ground effects” built into its design.

Hanks_SamSAM HANKS was an outstanding driver in three divisions of racing over a period of many years.  He won the American Automobile Association National Driving title in 1953 and placed among the top ten in the final driving title standings on four other occasions.  During his 1953 championship season, he started in 11 races, won at DuQuoin, Illinois, and Springfield, Illinois, and finished fifth or better in all but two of the other nine races.  He drove in 12 Indianapolis 500 races, finishing second once (1956) and third twice (1952 and 1953) before leading the field home in 1957.  The National Midget Champion in 1949, Hanks also won the Pacific Coast Stock Car title in 1956.  Hanks won seven major races from 1953 through 1957, was runner-up for the National Stock Car title in 1954, and finished third in 1957.  He announced his planned retirement as an active driver in Victory Lane at Indianapolis immediately after winning the 1957 Indianapolis 500 race at a record speed of 135.601 miles per hour (an increase of almost five miles per hour over previous winning speeds).  He finished the race season with a series of stock car races before fully retiring at the end of the season.  Extending his career in motorsports, he became a respected spokesman for the sport.  He served as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Director of Racing for several years and drove the pace car at Indianapolis 500 races from 1958 through 1963.

Harroun_RayRAY HARROUN always thought of himself more as an engineer than as a driver;  he was on Nordyke & Marmon’s engineering staff when he drove a special six-cylinder Marmon to victory in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911.  After complaints from other teams during practice that his single-seat race car represented a safety hazard because it did not carry a riding mechanic, he devised what is believed to have been the first rearview mirror used on an automobile.  He based the design on something he had seen several years earlier on a horse-drawn taxi cab in Chicago.  Prior to the 1911 Indianapolis International Sweepstakes, he won two races on the Playa del Rey board track in California in 1910 and had additional triumphs of major importance in 200-mile races at Atlanta, Georgia, and on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  After retiring as a driver, Harroun led the Maxwell team, for which Eddie Rickenbacker was the lead driver in 1915.  His ambitious Harroun Motor Company in Wayne, Michigan, failed when the company was forced to fill government contracts at a loss during World War I, but his fertile mind continued to invent.  A bomb carrier he designed was still being used in Vietnam shortly before he died in 1968.

Hartz_HarryHARRY HARTZ ranks among the most consistent Indianapolis 500 race participants of all time.  He finished second as a riding mechanic for Eddie Hearne in the 1919 Indianapolis 500.  Starting as a driver in 1922, he scored three seconds and two fourth-place finishes, never qualifying worse than fourth in five consecutive years.  Hartz won the National Championship as a driver in 1926 and scored major victories on the board tracks at Fresno and Culver City, California, and Atlantic City, New Jersey.  He also participated in many stock car speed and endurance runs.  After retiring as a driver, he enjoyed exceptional success as a car owner, fielding the Miller-Hartz Specials that Billy Arnold and Fred Frame drove to their impressive Indianapolis 500 victories in 1930 and 1932, respectively.  This was followed by Ted Horn’s second-, third-, and fourth-place finishes from 1936 through 1938.  For many years thereafter, Hartz served as a vice-chairman of the American Automobile Association technical committee, a role he also held with the United States Auto Club.

Hearne_EddieEDDIE HEARNE ranked among the stars of racing’s pioneer days and was a consistent winner as late as 1923.  Prior to the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911, Hearne participated in seven free-for-all races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ranging in distance up to 100 miles, and won five of them.  He won a 200-mile road race at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1911 and finished second in the American Grand Prize at Savannah, Georgia, the same year. After participating in the first two Indianapolis International 500-mile Sweepstakes races, Hearne was semi-retired from the sport, but he returned to active competition following World War I and finished second to Howdy Wilcox in the 1919 Indianapolis 500 race.  He also placed third in 1922 and fourth in 1923, the year in which he won the national title by scoring important victories on the board tracks at Kansas City, Missouri, and Altoona, Pennsylvania. He made the last of his nine Indianapolis 500 starts in 1927.

Henning_HarryHARRY “COTTON” HENNING served as crew chief for four Indianapolis 500 winners, his first being with Peter DePaolo and his 500 record run of 101.13 miles per hour for Fred and Augie Duesenberg in 1925.  He also was crew chief for all three wins by car owner Mike Boyle in 1934, 1939, and 1940.  The drivers were Bill Cummings in 1934 and Wilbur Shaw driving the famed Boyle Maserati in 1939 and 1940.  For many years, Henning was the full-time general manager for the Chicago-owned Boyle Racing team, which was headquartered in Indianapolis.  By far the most dominant team from the late 1920s through the mid-1940s, Boyle typically fielded three or four cars under Henning’s watch for drivers who included Ted Horn, Billy Arnold, Louis Meyer, Mauri Rose, Lou Moore, Babe Stapp, Chet Miller, Shaw, Cummings, and DePaolo.  Henning-prepared cars won the Indianapolis 500 pole position in 1932 with Moore, in 1933 with Cummings, and in 1947 with Horn.  After winning in 1939 and 1940 with Shaw, he almost won again in 1941 until Shaw was eliminated by an accident while leading at the three-quarter mark.  After World War II, Henning-prepared cars had two third-place finishes and a fourth-place finish with Ted Horn driving the Maserati from 1946 through 1948.

Hepburn_RalphRALPH HEPBURN, the man who obliterated the Indianapolis qualifying track records with the supercharged V8 Novi in 1946, was one of America’s leading motorcycle racers before turning to four wheels in 1924.  A member of the dominant Harley-Davidson factory team in the early and mid-1920s, perhaps his greatest victory came in the 300-mile marathon on the one-and-a-half-mile dirt track at Dodge City, Kansas, on July 4, 1921.  He also won a 200-mile race at Ascot Park, Los Angeles, California, in 1919 and a 300-mile race at Wichita, Kansas, in 1922.  Competing in the Indianapolis 500 a total of 15 times from 1925 through 1946, he led three of them, each in a different decade: 1925, 1937, and 1946.  He finished in third-place in 1931, and in 1937 he shared the wheel with Bob Swanson, placing second to Wilbur Shaw.  Shaw’s 2.16-second margin of victory remained the closest finish for 45 years, until 1982.  Hepburn’s four-lap qualifying mark of 133.944 miles per hour and single lap of 134.449 miles per hour with the Novi in 1946 broke the existing records by almost four miles per hour.  He died as a result of an accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway while practicing with the Novi on May 16, 1948.

1967-hill_smallGRAHAM HILL remains the only driver to have won the Indianapolis 500 (1966), the Formula One World Championship (1962 and 1968), and the Le Mans 24-Hours (1972).  A mechanic at Lotus before he became a full-time professional driver, Hill won numerous international road racing events during a distinguished career spanning 20 years.  He started in 176 Grand Prix races from 1958 through 1975, winning 14 of them and finishing second in 15 others.  He won the Monaco Grand Prix five times in seven starts from 1963 through 1969, and won the Grand Prix of the United States at Watkins Glen, New York, three times in succession (1963-65).  His Indianapolis 500 victory came in his first of only three starts there, and in addition to his 1966 win, he was a front-row qualifier in 1968.  He retired as a driver in order to concentrate on running the Formula One team that bore his name, but died shortly thereafter in a private plane crash near his home in London, England, in November 1975.

Hirashima_TakeoTAKEO “CHICKIE” HIRASHIMA had the distinction of being the riding mechanic for the fastest qualifier at Indianapolis in each of the last three years riding mechanics were required ― 1935, 1936, and 1937.  He sat on the pole with Rex Mays in 1935 and 1936, and then rode with Jimmy Snyder to new records in qualifying a year later, one lap being the first in excess of 130 miles per hour.  An integral member of George Robson’s winning crew in 1946, Hirashima probably had his greatest triumph in 1960.  Not only was he crew chief for winner Jim Rathmann, but he also prepared the engine that powered Rodger Ward to second position after the greatest two-man dual in history.  Hirashima had another one-two finish as engine man for the 1962 Leader Card team of Ward and Len Sutton; plus, he was Sutton’s chief mechanic.  Retiring from chief mechanic duties in 1964, he became a field representative for Autolite Spark Plugs and finished his career as an engineer for the Champion Spark Plug Company.

Holland-BillBILL HOLLAND compiled a phenomenal record in his first four Indianapolis 500 starts, never finishing lower than second.  Driving a Lou Moore, front-drive Blue Crown Special in his 1947 debut, he led the greater part of the race, only to heed an “EZY” signal from his pit and unknowingly gave up the lead to teammate Mauri Rose with just seven laps remaining.  He took second to Rose again in 1948, and won the Indianapolis 500 in his third attempt in 1949.  Another second in the rain-shortened race of 1950 was followed by a stiff two-year suspension from the American Automobile Association for an apparent rules violation, after which he bounced back in 1953 to record the second-fastest qualifying speed.  He was an exceptional dirt track driver, and from 1937 through 1953 he won an astonishing 53 sprint car feature races, including 16 in 1946 alone.  He was second in the 1940 American Automobile Association East Coast standings, won the title in 1941, and was runner-up again in 1947.  He also was runner-up for the 1947 American Automobile Association National Championship, scoring wins at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds and Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania.  The son of a turn-of-the-century major league baseball player, Holland excelled at roller skating and ice skating and tried out for the 1932 Olympic Games.  He operated several skating rinks at various times and also briefly operated an auto thrill show.

Hopkins_LindseyLINDSEY HOPKINS was the consummate sportsman car owner who continued entering cars at Indianapolis 500 races even when he could not obtain sponsorships.  A regular from 1951 through 1982, fielding as many as four cars in some years, he won 13 American Automobile Association or United States Auto Club National Championship races.  His first Indianapolis 500 car was a dirt track machine obtained from Lou Moore in June 1950.  Henry Banks drove it to that year’s American Automobile Association National title as well as to second place in 1951.  Longtime Hopkins driver Roger McCluskey won the 1972 Ontario 500 in Ontario, California, and the United States Auto Club National Championship in 1973.  Hopkins’s illustrious team of drivers included Jim Rathmann (second at Indianapolis in 1957 and 1959), Bill Vukovich, A.J. Foyt, Lloyd Ruby, Bobby Marshman, Don Branson, Tony Bettenhausen, Sr., Gary Bettenhausen, Wally Dallenbach, Pat O’Connor, and George Amick, among numerous others.

Horn_TedTED HORN won important races on almost every track in operation during his career, except at Indianapolis.  However, his Indianapolis 500 record is unequaled for consistency.  He finished fourth or better in nine straight races beginning in 1936, placing second once, third four times, and fourth four times.  He also was the pole position winner in 1947 and led the race in three different years for a total of 94 laps.  He had virtually no equal on half-mile dirt tracks, winning more than 80 American Automobile Association sprint car races from 1936 through 1948, including 23 in 1948 alone.  He also won the Central States Racing Association title for sprint cars in 1941 and 1945.  He won five American Automobile Association National Championship races on one-mile dirt tracks in 1947 and 1948, and through a number of consistent finishes, scored enough points to win the American Automobile Association National Championship in 1946, 1947, and 1948.  He had already won the title for the third consecutive year when he lost his life in an accident in the final race of the year at DuQuoin, Illinois, on October 10, 1948.

Hulman_AntonANTON HULMAN, Jr., commonly known as Tony, was the grandson of German immigrants who established a wholesale grocery firm in Terre Haute, Indiana.  Hulman was a star athlete at Yale University in both football and track and field.  He joined the family business after graduating with a degree in business and is given much credit for the eventual success of Hulman & Company’s Clabber Girl Baking Powder.  By 1945, the Speedway had suffered four years of total neglect during World War II, and was slated to become a housing development.  Hulman saved the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by purchasing it from Eddie Rickenbacker on November 14, 1945.  With three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Wilbur Shaw installed as President and General Manager, Hulman immediately began the enormous task of resurrecting the beloved facility for a revival of the Indianapolis 500 race in 1946.  From the outset, he pledged that any annual profits would be reinvested in the track for renovation and improvements.  He assumed the presidency of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after Shaw died in a plane crash in 1954. Hulman helped form the United States Auto Club to replace the departing American Automobile Association Contest Board as an auto racing sanctioning body in the fall of 1955, and established the Speedway Museum on a non-profit basis in 1956.  He also revived the Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1962, bringing it to Indianapolis from Detroit, Michigan.  Indianapolis 500 prize money, which for many years was a basic $60,000 plus lap and accessory prizes, ballooned under Hulman’s stewardship from $115,450 in 1946, to almost $2 million by the time he passed away on October 27, 1977.

Hulman_MaryMARY FENDRICH HULMAN, matriarch of the Hulman-George family, was the wife of Anton “Tony” Hulman, Jr., who purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Eddie Rickenbacker in November 1945.  Born into the prominent LaFendrich cigar family in Evansville, Indiana,   Mary Fendrich married Tony Hulman in 1926.  They bought the Speedway 20 years later, and she played an active role in the track’s immediate post-war years, serving as the consummate hostess at race time.  In addition to being a great supporter of art galleries, museums, and education in general, she was both an avid golfer and a proficient, competitive skeet shooter.  Elected Chairman of the boards of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hulman & Co. following the death of her husband in October 1977, Hulman also assumed his duty of starting the race, stirring the crowd almost every year until 1996 with either “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines” or, whenever appropriate, “Lady and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.”  She passed away on April 10, 1998.

Johncock_GordonGORDON JOHNCOCK competed in 24 Indianapolis 500 races, winning in 1973 and 1982 and finishing sixth or higher ten times.  He might have added two more wins to his record had a crankshaft not broken while he was in the lead with 16 laps to go in 1977, or had an engine not blown while he was running in second place with seven laps remaining in 1981.  He led Indianapolis 500 races for a total of 339 laps, and from 1992 until 2007 ranked third behind A.J. Foyt and Al Unser in terms of career laps completed (3,158).  Johncock’s margin of victory over Rick Mears in 1982 ― only .16 seconds ― was the closest in Speedway history until surpassed by the margin of .043 seconds in 1992.  The 1976 National Champion, Johncock won 25 such events from 1965 through 1983, with 51 additional finishes of either second or third.  A leading super-modified short-track driver in the early 1960s, Johncock briefly participated in United States Auto Club sprint cars, setting a single-lap record of 17.18 seconds (104.773 miles per hour) at the half-mile Winchester, Indiana, Speedway in 1964. He also participated in occasional United States Auto Club stock car races, winning twice in 1973, at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds and at Texas World Speedway.

Jones_ParnelliPARNELLI JONES, winner of the 1963 Indianapolis 500 race, was the first to break the 150 mile per hour “barrier” in qualifications in 1962 with one-lap and four-lap qualifying speeds of 150.729 and 150.370 miles per hour, respectively.  He broke both records the following year and led the field for 167 laps on his way to an impressive victory at a record average speed of 143.137 miles per hour.  He had only seven starts in the Indianapolis 500, but led five of them for a total of 492 laps.  He finished second in 1965 and never started worse than sixth.  He led 171 of 196 laps in 1967 before he was eliminated by a mechanical failure within sight of the finish with Andy Granatelli’s controversial STP-sponsored gas-turbine-powered car.  He is the only driver to have led for more than 400 miles of an Indianapolis 500 twice.  In United States Auto Club competition, he won six National Championship races, 13 national stock car races, 25 sprint car races, and another 25 midget races, earning the United States Auto Club sprint car title in 1961 and 1962, and the stock car title in 1964.  Other notable victories included NASCAR’s (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) Riverside 500 in 1967 and numerous off-road racing events.  In 1967, he joined forces with sportsman Vel Miletich to field cars in United States Auto Club competition, winning the Indianapolis 500 with Al Unser in 1970 and 1971, plus the season’s title with Unser in 1970 and with Joe Leonard in 1971 and 1972.  The team also won the United States Auto Club Dirt Car title with Unser in 1973 and Mario Andretti in 1974; the latter was the driver for the team’s ambitious, but short-lived Formula One effort in 1975.

Keech_RayRAY KEECH flashed into international prominence by setting a new world land speed record at Daytona Beach on April 22, 1928.  Driving J.W. White’s unique Triplex Special, which was powered by three V-16 Aero Liberty aircraft engines, he averaged 207.552 miles per hour for the two-way run to erase the former mark established by Malcolm Campbell of England.  Keech’s performance led to an opportunity to drive in the Indianapolis 500 race for the first time in May 1928, in which he finished fourth with Wilbur Shaw serving as a relief driver.  Later in the same season, Keech won the championship races at Rockingham, New Hampshire, Detroit, Michigan, and Syracuse, New York.  In 1929, he returned to the Indianapolis 500 to score an impressive victory over Louis Meyer by a margin of more than six minutes. He was runner-up in the American Automobile Association National Championship in 1928 and then again posthumously in 1929.  His racing career was cut short by a fatal accident at Altoona, Pennsylvania, on June 15, 1929.

Kurtis_FrankFRANK KURTIS ranks among the outstanding race car builders of all time. Turning out his first Indianapolis-type car in 1941, he produced a breath-taking, low-slung chassis for the front-drive Novi Special in 1946.  Orders for more cars quickly followed.  A pair of revolutionary chassis came from his shops in 1952. One of them was that year’s Indianapolis 500 pole winner, constructed for Cummins Engine Company, with a six-cylinder turbocharged diesel truck engine mounted on its side.  The other 1952 chassis was the first of the so-called “roadsters,” built in collaboration with Frank Coon and Jim Travers for car owner Howard Keck and driver Bill Vukovich.  Vukovich led a substantial portion of the 1952 Indianapolis 500 race and then won with the car in 1953 and 1954.  From 1946 through 1959, Kurtis-Kraft chassis (both “roadsters” and “uprights”) won no less than 55 National Championship races, including 43 from 1949 through 1953 alone.  From 1952 through 1957, his cars dominated the Indianapolis 500 lineups, the first 13 finishers in 1953 all being Kurtis-Krafts.  In addition to a number of sprint cars and sports cars, Kurtis also built several hundred midgets, both as complete cars and in kit form.

Kuzma_EddieEDDIE KUZMA quietly turned out an outstanding series of American Automobile Association and United States Auto Club Championship cars, which combined to claim 60 major wins from 1951 through 1969.   Driving Kuzma-built cars, Troy Ruttman won the Indianapolis 500 in 1952 and Mario Andretti won it in 1969.  Kuzma race cars won the Hoosier 100 dirt-track race in Indianapolis eight times.   Elsewhere, Jimmy Bryan won three National Championship titles and all but two of his 19 Championship victories, plus the 1957 Monza (Italy) 500, in cars from Kuzma’s shop. Other drivers who won with Kuzma race cars included Walt Faulkner, Bill Vukovich, Chuck Stevenson, Bob Sweikert, Manny Ayulo, Johnny Thomson, George Amick, Tony Bettenhausen, Pat O’Connor, Len Sutton, Art Bisch, Eddie Sachs, Jim Hurtubise, and Parnelli Jones.

1967-674-Joe-LeonardJOE LEONARD made the successful transition from two wheels to four as a three-time American Motorcycle Association National Champion in 1954, 1956, and 1957 (as well as a three time runner up) who went on to drive in nine Indianapolis 500 races.  During a brief run with a Ray Nichels Dodge in the United States Auto Club stock car series, Leonard finished fifth in the 1964 point standings, winning at DuQuoin, Illinois, and scoring eight finishes of seventh or higher.  Three years later, he placed third in the Indianapolis 500 in 1967 and won the pole position for the 1968 Indianapolis 500 with new track records (171.953 miles per hour for one lap and 171.559 for four) driving one of Andy Granatelli’s turbine-powered four-wheel-drive Lotus “wedge” cars.  He was leading that race when forced out with nine laps to go.  Four years later, in 1972, he again placed third in the Indianapolis 500. In 1971 and 1972, he won the United States Auto Club National Championship over his high-profile Vel’s Parnelli Jones teammates, Al Unser and Mario Andretti.  Leonard’s United States Auto Club successes included wins in the 1971 Ontario 500 (Ontario, California) and the 1972 Pocono 500 (Pennsylvania), plus three at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.

Lockhart_FrankFRANK LOCKHART flashed into prominence with an impressive victory at the 1926 Indianapolis 500 race, which was shortened to 400 miles by rain.  The following year, he led the field for the first 81 laps after setting a new qualifying record of 120.1 miles per hour in a supercharged Miller Special with the help of a patented intercooler he had developed.  He also scored important triumphs on the board tracks at Fresno, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; Altoona, Pennsylvania; and Rockingham, New Hampshire, establishing an amazing one-lap record of 147.7 miles per hour on the Atlantic City, New Jersey, board speedway.  He ranked second in the American Automobile Association National Championship point standings in 1926 and 1927.  Attempting to break the World Land Speed Record at Daytona Beach, Florida, on April 25, 1928, with a Miller-powered Stutz Blackhawk Special of distinctive design and constructed under his direction, he averaged 207.552 miles per hour for the measured mile in one direction.  However, he crashed and lost his life after a tire failure on the obligatory return run shortly thereafter.

15-3-198932713aLuyendyk_smallARIE LUYENDYK competed in 17 Indianapolis 500 races from 1985 through 2002, winning twice (1990 and 1997), capturing the pole position three times (1993, 1997, and 1999), and establishing a number of long-lasting records.  His winning average speed of 185.961 miles per hour in 1990 held the record for more than 20 years until Tony Kanaan exceeded it in 2013.  The Dutch-born Luyendyk continues to hold the all-time one- and four-lap qualifying records of 237.498 and 236.986 miles per hour, plus the unofficial single-lap record of 239.260 miles per hour, all set in 1996.  He was the Indianapolis 500 runner-up in 1993 and the third-place finisher in 1991. His career earnings of $6,110,859 at Indianapolis stood for several years as the highest of any driver.  He won a total of seven National Championship races from 1990 through 1998, with a pair at Phoenix (Arizona) International Raceway and one each at Texas Motor Speedway (Fort Worth, Texas), Las Vegas (Nevada) Motor Speedway, and Nazareth (Pennsylvania) Speedway, in addition to the two at Indianapolis.  The Sports Car Club of America’s Super-Vee champion in 1984, Luyendyk went on to share the winning Nissan in the 1989 Sebring 12-Hours and the winning Ferrari in the 24-Hours of Daytona in 1998.

McCluskey_RogerROGER McCLUSKEY won United States Auto Club (USAC) National Championship titles in three divisions of racing and later served with distinction as a prominent race official.  He won the USAC National Sprint Car title twice (1963 and 1966), the National Stock Car crown twice (1969 and 1970), and the USAC National Championship in 1973.  He won five National Championship races, including the 1972 Ontario (California) 500, and finished either second or third in 25 other races.  He also won 23 USAC stock car races, 23 USAC sprint car races, and four USAC midget races.  He drove in every Indianapolis 500 from 1961 through 1979, with the exception of 1964 when he was sidelined because of a broken arm sustained in a sprint car accident.  His best finish in an Indianapolis 500 race was third in 1973.  He retired after winning the 1979 Milwaukee “200” and became Vice-President and Director of Competition for USAC, where he was universally respected by participants and race promotors for his involvement in so many aspects of the sport, even building a successful sprint car during his California Racing Association days.

1971-46-22-Jim-McElreath_bwJIM McELREATH had been racing locally in Texas over a period of 15 years before venturing north to run International Motor Contest Association sprint cars in August 1960.  He won the prestigious Little 500 at Anderson, Indiana, in 1961 and added five International Motor Contest Association feature wins before switching to United States Auto Club sanctioned races during the summer of 1961.  McElreath won the first two races at Langhorne, Pennsylvania, after it was paved in 1965, as well as the spring races at the Trenton Speedway (New Jersey) in 1965 and Phoenix International Raceway (Arizona) in 1966.  In his 15 starts at the Indianapolis 500, he won the Rookie of the Year title with a sixth-place finish in 1962 (he ran as high as second), placed third in 1966, and had four other finishes of sixth or higher.  He was runner-up to Mario Andretti for the 1966 United States Auto Club National Championship and was its third ranking driver in 1963, 1965, and 1970.  McElreath made history in 1970 by winning the first-ever Ontario 500 in Ontario, California.  In 1971, the first year 100-mile dirt track races were removed from the United States Auto Club National Championship circuit and placed into a separate series, McElreath won the opener at the Nazareth Speedway (Pennsylvania), and was runner-up for the inaugural season’s championship.  He had 16 other finishes of either second or third, including second in the 1979 Pocono 500 (Pennsylvania).  He ranked eighth or higher in the final championship standings seven times.

1970-Jim-McGeeJIM McGEE probably has been involved in more major United States open-wheel victories than any other individual, with at least 90 to his credit, including four Indianapolis 500 races.  Coming into the sport as a protégé of Clint Brawner on the Dean Van Lines team in 1960, Brawner later promoted him to co-chief, making him an integral part of many of Mario Andretti’s wins in the late 1960s.  McGee was chief mechanic for Andretti at Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing and served in that capacity for Roger Penske’s team.  He has performed two tours of duty each with Patrick Racing and with Newman–Haas and has planned race strategy for many of the sport’s most outstanding drivers, including Tom Sneva, Bobby Unser, Rick Mears, Al Unser, Nigel Mansell, Gordon Johncock, Emerson Fittipaldi, and Danny Sullivan.

McGrath_JackJACK McGRATH, who did much of the mechanical work on his own cars, was one of the nation’s outstanding drivers in American Automobile Association Contest Board championship races from 1948 through 1955.  He participated in 67 races during that time, winning four and placing fifth or better 21 times for a total of 6,196 championship points ― more than any driver at that time except Johnnie Parsons and Tony Bettenhausen.  In eight races at Indianapolis, he set new one-lap and four-lap qualifying records on two occasions, earned front row starting positions six times, and led the field in four Indianapolis 500 races for a total of 70 laps.  He ranked third in the 1952 American Automobile Association Stock Car Championship and was fifth in 1953 and 1955.  He won seven races both years, including a 200-mile race at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in September 1955, the last American Automobile Association stock car race held.  As part of the official Lincoln-Mercury team in 1953, he placed third overall in the “heavy” stock car class of the grueling eight-day Carrera Pan-Americana.  He lost his life in the final stages of the Phoenix 100 (Arizona) in November 1955, the last American Automobile Association National Championship race held.

BRUCE McLAREN, victorious as a driver in a variety of racing disciplines, and the first New Zealander to win a Formula One Grand Prix, later formed the team bearing his own name, which almost half a century after his untimely passing continues to prosper as one of the most prestigious racing organizations in the world. Only 22 when he won the 1959 season-closing United States Grand Prix at Sebring, Florida for the British Cooper team, the innovative and design-conscious McLaren formed Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, Ltd., in 1966. Team McLaren would completely dominate the Sports Car Club of America’s Can-Am series with several drivers between 1967 and 1972, McLaren himself claiming the driver’s title in 1967 and 1969. Already the winner of three Grand Prix events and runner up for the 1960 World Championship, as well as third in 1962, all for Cooper, McLaren went on to win a fourth Grand Prix, the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and place third in the 1969 World Championship while driving for his own team. He scored 27 podium finishes in Formula One, and in major sports car competition, shared the winning Ford in the 1966 24-Hours of Le Mans with fellow New Zealander, Chris Amon, and the winning car in the 1967 12-Hours of Sebring with Mario Andretti. He lost his life while testing the latest Can-Am car at Goodwood in the south of England on June 2, 1970, but the team he founded continued to flourish and produce multiple winners in Formula One, Can-Am, and the Indianapolis 500.

Marcenac_JeanJEAN MARCENAC came to the United States from Europe as a riding mechanic soon after World War I and quickly established himself as one of the most respected and successful individuals in his field.  His career spanned more than 40 years.  During one six-year period beginning in 1927, Marcenac prepared cars that won the Indianapolis 500 four times: with George Souders in 1927, Ray Keech in 1929, Billy Arnold in 1930, and Fred Frame in 1932.  He is perhaps best known for becoming the chief mechanic of the colorful Novi Specials after the death of Bud Winfield in an automobile accident in 1950.  Under his direction, Duke Nalon won the pole in 1951 and Chet Miller set one- and four-lap qualifying records in 1952.  When several Indianapolis 500 cars and drivers went to Monza, Italy, for an invitational 500 mile race in 1957, Tony Bettenhausen amazed the Europeans with a lap of 176 miles per hour in a Novi prepared by Marcenac.  After Lew Welch sold the Novi cars to Andy Granatelli, Marcenac returned briefly to work on the cars in 1963 and saw three of them qualify – Jim Hurtubise qualified one Novi on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 and was an early leader of that race.

Mays_RexREX MAYS was the third person to win two consecutive National Championships, accomplishing that feat in 1940 and 1941.  He was only 20 years old when he finished second in the American Automobile Association Pacific Coast Championship in 1933, going on to win the title in 1934 and 1935.  He also won the Midwest Championship in 1936 and 1937. By winning the pole at Indianapolis in 1935 at the age of 22, Mays remains the youngest pole winner 80 years later.  Although he never won an Indianapolis 500 race, the very popular Mays led the field in nine of his twelve Indianapolis 500 starts for a total of 266 laps.  He started from the front row seven times and was the first driver to win the pole position four times.  He finished second to Wilbur Shaw in the 1940 Indianapolis 500 and second again to the Floyd Davis/Mauri Rose combination in 1941.  He gained considerable notoriety in 1937 when he drove an Alfa Romeo against leading European drivers in the Vanderbilt Cup race at Roosevelt Raceway, Long Island, New York, and finished third. He lost his life in the final American Automobile Association National Championship race of the 1949 season at Del Mar, California.

 

Mears_Rick1RICK MEARS compiled a phenomenal record in championship auto racing, especially at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where, in 1991, he became the third person to win the Indianapolis 500 four times.  A successful off-road racer early in his career, Mears made his National Championship debut with an eighth-place finish for Bill Simpson in the 1976 Ontario 500 in Ontario, California, and was signed just over a year later by Roger Penske.  Mears spent his entire 15-year Indianapolis 500 career with Penske.  He won Indianapolis 500 races in 1979, 1984, 1988, and 1991, sat on the pole a record six times, and was a front-row starter in 11 of his 15 starts from 1978 through 1992.  In 1982, he came within 16 one-hundredths of a second of winning, edged by Gordon Johncock in a never-to-be-forgotten finish that, at the time, was the closest ever.  In 1991, he astonished many by grabbing his record sixth pole less than 24 hours after hitting the wall and landing upside down during a practice run.  He won the 1991 race by taking the lead for the final time with a daring outside pass of Michael Andretti just 12 laps from the end.  He won a total of 29 Indianapolis car races and captured the National Championship sanctioned by Championship Auto Racing Teams in 1979, 1981, and 1982.  He also ranked sixth or higher in the Championship Auto Racing Team’s point standings in eight other years, including second in 1989.  In 1991, he became the first driver to top $10 million in career earnings from IndyCar races.  Retiring after the end of the 1992 race season, Mears remains an integral member of the Penske team, providing invaluable input as a driver-coach and consultant.

1981-208-5-Leo-Mehl_bwLEO MEHL spent 37 years with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (17 as the Worldwide Director of Racing) before retiring and then being pressed back into service by Tony George for three seasons (1997–99) as Executive Director of the Indy Racing League.  Among the first to be assigned to Goodyear’s brand-new Competition Department in 1963, he later served four years in Europe as head of its Formula One program.  He was named Director of Racing (United States) in 1973 and given the worldwide responsibility in 1978.  His pleasant, homespun, diplomatic approach to dealing with such politically charged and diversified forms of international motorsports as Formula One, NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), United States Auto Club, Championship Auto Racing Teams, Sports Car Club of America, International Motor Sports Association, European motorcycle racing, American Motorcycle Association, and drag racing, to name but a few, led to him being universally respected in the sport.

Meyer_LouisLOUIS MEYER competed successfully in major races for 12 full seasons, beginning in 1927.  He earned the enviable distinction of being the first three-time Indianapolis 500 race winner with victories in 1928, 1933, and 1936.  He also captured the National driving title in 1928, 1929, and 1933.  His record includes victories in three 200-mile races on the board tracks at Altoona, Pennsylvania, and several on the nation’s one-mile dirt tracks.  He unwittingly started a famous Indianapolis 500 tradition in the 1930s when he was filmed drinking buttermilk after winning the Indianapolis 500 on a hot day.  He retired from driving in 1939.  After World War II, he went into partnership with Dale Drake to purchase the Offenhauser engine business, whose engines were in every Indianapolis 500 winning car from 1947 through 1964.  Meyer sold his interest in the company to Drake in 1964, and from then until 1970 was the distributor for the Ford racing engines used in Indianapolis 500 races and in United States Auto Club National Championship races.

Sonny-Meyer-hsLOUIS “SONNY” MEYER, JR. joined Meyer & Drake Engineering shortly after Dale Drake and Sonny’s father, Louis Meyer, purchased the “Offy” engine business from Fred Offenhauser in early 1946.  In addition to his engineering duties, Sonny also served as an Indianapolis 500 crew member, becoming a chief mechanic for the first time in 1958 when Tony Bettenhausen finished fourth after leading the first Indianapolis 500 laps of his storied career.  When Louis Meyer sold out to Dale Drake in 1964 to become a distributor for Ford’s double-overhead-camshaft V8 racing engine, Sonny relocated to Indianapolis where he mentored many future chief mechanics during the next five years.  In 1973, he was the engine man for Gordon Johncock’s Indianapolis 500 winning car at Patrick Racing, led by Sonny’s then brother-in-law George Bignotti.  It is estimated that Sonny directly prepared 15 winning Indianapolis 500 engines.  His tenure at Patrick Racing was followed by a stint at Vince Granatelli Racing and then several more years as development engineer on John Menard’s potent V6 turbocharged Buicks.

Miller_ChetCHET MILLER drove in the Indianapolis 500 for the 16th time in 1952, tying Cliff Bergere’s longevity record that stood until beaten by A.J. Foyt in 1974.  Third-place finisher in 1938 and a top-ten finisher on four other occasions, Miller set one-lap and four-lap records of 139.600 miles per hour and 139.034 miles per hour while qualifying one of the famed Novis for the 1952 race.  The run was unique in that he qualified on the final day and is the only person to have set track records as the last qualifier to successfully enter the field in a particular year.  He also was the third-fastest qualifier with a Novi in 1951.  A specialist with front-drive cars, Miller was almost the runner-up in the 1938 race but had to give up that position for a fuel stop with only two laps remaining.  He was just two months shy of his 51st birthday when he lost his life in practice on the day before the opening of qualifications for the 1953 Indianapolis 500, after driving a Novi and turning the track’s first unofficial 140 mile per hour laps.

Miller_HarryHARRY MILLER, considered a genius by many racing historians, was one of the most successful developers of American racing cars, particularly during the mid- and late-1920s, a period often referred to as “The Golden Age of the American Racing Car.”  After starting a carburetor manufacturing company in Los Angeles, California, around 1907, Miller began taking on additional work repairing and overhauling race cars.  Legend has it that he developed his first racing engine after studying a Bob Burman-owned Peugeot that had blown up.  Miller collaborated with Barney Oldfield to produce the famed streamlined “Golden Submarine” with which Oldfield “barnstormed” for years.  The first Miller engine appeared at an Indianapolis 500 race in 1921.  The following year, Jimmy Murphy won the Indianapolis 500 from the pole in the Duesenberg with which he had won the 1921 French Grand Prix, but which was modified to include a 183-cubic-inch “straight-eight” Miller engine.  Miller began producing complete race cars that dominated auto racing for years, in both front-drive and rear-drive forms.  Race cars Miller designed won the Indianapolis 500 in 1923 and 1926, and then every year from 1928 through 1934.  By 1934 the four-cylinder Miller marine engine was replacing the straight-eight.  Miller filed for bankruptcy in 1933, but his company was acquired by longtime associate Fred Offenhauser and the dynasty continued.  In 1935, Miller produced ten Ford V8-powered cars for Edsel Ford and Preston Tucker that were not successful in the Indianapolis 500, with only four qualifying and none finishing.  Miller’s final effort was a Gulf Oil-sponsored team of futuristic V6 supercharged four-wheel-drive rear-engine cars.  In 1939, George Bailey started in the sixth position, marking the first occasion on which a rear-engine car qualified for a “500.”

Milton_TommyTOMMY MILTON was the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 twice; his 1921 win with a Chevrolet Brothers-built Frontenac Special was followed two years later with an HCS-sponsored Miller entered by Harry Stutz.  Milton is credited with 23 National Championship race wins from 1917 through 1925.  In addition to winning the American Automobile Association National title in 1921, he also was runner-up in 1920, 1922, and 1925.  He helped design, finance, and build a twin-engine Duesenberg, which he drove to a new record of 156.046 miles per hour for the measured mile over the sands of Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1920.  He also developed the Detroit front-drive special that raced at Indianapolis and was the basis for the Miller-Hartz Special that Fred Frame drove to victory in the 1932 Indianapolis 500.  During his later years as an engineer for Packard, Milton was invited to drive the Packard pace car at Indianapolis in 1936 and agreed with the suggestion that the car should be presented to the winning driver after the race.  That tradition, with some slight modifications, continues today.  From 1949 through 1952, Milton served as Chief Steward for the “500.”

Moore_LouLOU MOORE was the most successful car owner at Indianapolis until the arrival of Roger Penske decades later.  Moore’s cars were victorious in five Indianapolis 500 races from 1938 through 1949.  He had previously driven in nine Indianapolis 500 races, winning the pole in 1932 and leading laps in 1929 and 1932.  He finished second in 1928 and was third in 1933 and 1934.  He owned the car driven by Floyd Roberts that won in 1938.  After World War II, Moore campaigned with the Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials in which Mauri Rose and Bill Holland dominated the Indianapolis 500 for three straight years beginning in 1947.  Rose won in 1947 and 1948 with Holland second both times; Holland won in 1949 and finished second again in 1950.  The Blue Crown team eventually expanded to four cars in 1950, which was very unusual at that time.  Moore was a master strategist who chose to run his cars on aviation fuel (AV-gas) rather than alcohol, giving up speed for better mileage in an attempt to get his drivers through to 500 miles on one pit stop.

Mulford_RalphRALPH MULFORD raced from 1907 through 1925 and, despite his reluctance to compete on Sunday, compiled an impressive list of victories in all types of competition.  Most major races in the early 20th century were held on Saturday.  He dominated the early 24-hour races for Lozier (alternating at the wheel with another driver) and excelled in the longer road races of his time.  He won the 1910 Elgin, Illinois, race and the 1911 Vanderbilt Cup race at Savannah, Georgia.  Mulford placed second in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in his first of ten consecutive Indianapolis 500 starts, and was later declared the 1911 National Champion.  He is credited with 17 championship wins, one of which was in the 1915 300-mile inaugural race at the Des Moines, Iowa, board tracks, which he won in a Duesenberg.  Mulford continued to win on the board tracks after World War I while also setting new stock car records for Hudson and Chandler.

Murphy_JimmyJIMMY MURPHY was the first of only two Americans to win a European Grand Prix race while driving an American car.  He won the 1921 French Grand Prix in a Duesenberg.  He also won the Indianapolis 500 the following year as the first driver to win from the pole position and at a record breaking average speed of 94.48 miles per hour.  After serving as an apprentice and riding mechanic for Tommy Milton, Murphy went on to master the steeply-banked wooden-board tracks that comprised the National Championship circuit during the 1920s.  Murphy was the National Champion in 1922 and 1924.  He scored major victories during the five-year period beginning in 1920, including three at Beverly Hills, California, three at Altoona, Pennsylvania, two at Fresno, California, one at Cotati, California, and one at Kansas City, Missouri.  In 1923, two years after his win at the French Grand Prix, he drove a Miller in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and finished third behind two Fiats.  At Indianapolis, he was victorious in 1922 and also finished third twice and fourth once. He was fatally injured at Syracuse, New York, shortly after securing his second National Championship.

Myers_TETHEODORE E. “POP” MYERS earned an important niche in the history and tradition of automobile racing by devoting the last 40-plus years of his life to improving the sport in general and the Indianapolis 500 race in particular.  He joined the staff of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1910, prior to the first Indianapolis 500, and served with distinction as Vice-President as well as General Manager under the regimes of all three track owners.  For much of the time during those four decades Myers ran the day-to-day affairs along with his secretary, Miss Eloise “Dolly” Dallenbach.  He made three trips to Europe as a “Good Will Ambassador” for the American racing fraternity and served for many years as a member of the American Automobile Association Contest Board.  Myers was still working for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he passed away in February 1954.

Nalon_DennisDENNIS “DUKE” NALON was the Eastern Dirt Track Champion in 1938 and the Midwest Champion in 1941, winning 28 sprint car races from 1937 through 1941.  He gained his greatest fame, however, as driver of the famous Novi Specials in the Indianapolis 500.  Although handicapped repeatedly by mechanical trouble, he led the field on two occasions (1948 and 1949).  Nalon won the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 in 1949 at 132.939 miles per hour and again in 1951 with a four-lap record speed of 136.498 miles per hour.  His third-place finish in the 1948 Indianapolis 500 was the best ever for a Novi.  Inducted into both the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and the Midget Hall of Fame, Nalon was an outstanding representative of the sport, always a consummate, elegant gentleman.,  After retiring from competition, he served for several years as Assistant Highway Commissioner for the State of Arizona.

Offenhauser_FredFRED OFFENHAUSER, an outstanding machinist and toolmaker, joined Harry Miller’s staff as a designer in 1913 and rapidly gained a reputation for his ability to repair or rebuild any part of any race car, both foreign and domestic.  In addition to his other projects, he rebuilt Bob Burman’s wrecked 1913 Grand Prix Peugeot for the 1914 season and designed and helped build Barney Oldfield’s 1917 “Golden Submarine.”  With the addition of Leo Goossen as designer in 1919, Offenhauser became Miller’s plant superintendent.  He purchased the company from Miller in 1933 and operated it for 14 years before selling it to Louis Meyer and Dale Drake in 1946.  He quickly began producing the famous four-cylinder Offenhauser racing engines that, starting in 1934, powered 24 of the next 27 winning cars in Indianapolis 500 races.

Oldfield_BarneyBARNEY OLDFIELD began the work that eventually made his name synonymous with automobile racing as early as 1902, becoming one of the most famous and colorful figures of the pioneer era with such cars as Ford’s “999,” the Winton Bullet, the Peerless Green Dragon, the Blitzen Benz, and the front-wheel-drive Christie.  Although devoting most of his time to a series of barn-storming appearances on the nation’s smaller dirt tracks, the flamboyant Oldfield also drove in several major championship races for Fiat, Mercer, Maxwell, Stutz, and other manufacturers with considerable success.  Early in 1910 he averaged 131.724 miles per hour with as Benz on the sand at Daytona Beach, Florida, surpassing the world’s land speed record for a measured mile by more than four miles per hour.  In 1914, Oldfield drove a Mercer to second place behind Ralph DePalma in the Vanderbilt Cup road race at Santa Monica, California.  He retired from driving in 1918.

Parsons_JohnnieJOHNNIE PARSONS was a successful midget car driver who won the 1949 American Automobile Association National Championship title during his first full season on the Championship “trail.”  He finished second as a rookie in the Indianapolis 500 that year and scored five victories at other tracks.  Parsons won the rain-shortened 1950 Indianapolis 500 race and also led laps in 1956.  He won a total of 11 championship races from 1948 through 1952 and was in the Indianapolis 500 starting lineup ten times.  He won the 1948 American Automobile Association Midwest Midget title and ranked third in the 1951 American Automobile Association Eastern Sprint Car standings, running a full schedule between National Championship races.  In 1957, Parsons finished third in the invitational 500-Mile Race of Two Worlds at Monza, Italy.  Born into a show business family and participating in his parents’ song-and-dance act by the age of four, he had a flair for showmanship that made him a great favorite with the fans.  In 1976, he was part of a team that drove Pontiac passenger cars on a three-and-a-half-month goodwill tour “around the world,” through 32 countries.

U.E. “PAT” PATRICK enjoyed 45 victories in either USAC or CART competition, winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1973 and 1982, and the 1976 USAC National Championship with driver Gordon Johncock, and the 1989 “500” and CART title with former two-time World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Patrick’s team enjoyed many successes between 1973 and 1980 with chief mechanic George Bignotti, and his roster of notable drivers in addition to Johncock and Fittipaldi included Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Danny Sullivan, Wally Dallenbach, Roberto Guerrero, Kevin Cogan, Chip Ganassi and Jimmy Vasser.

Penske_Roger1ROGER PENSKE is by far the most successful owner/entrant in the history of the Indianapolis 500 with 16 victories through 2015, thus more than tripling Lou Moore’s record of five established from 1938 through 1949.  Following his first win in 1972 with Mark Donohue, Penske won four times with Rick Mears (1979, 1984, 1988, and 1991), three times with Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, and 2009), and once each with Bobby Unser (1981), Danny Sullivan (1985), Al Unser (1987), Emerson Fittipaldi (1993), Al Unser, Jr., (1994), Gil DeFerran (2003), Sam Hornish, Jr. (2006), and Juan Pablo Montoya (2015).  A successful sports car driver, Penske won the 1962 L.A. Times Grand Prix at Riverside and finished the year as the United States Auto Club Road Racing champion.  After competing in the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York, in 1961 and 1962 and winning all three Nassau Trophy races in the Bahamas in 1964, Penske retired from driving to pursue business interests.  The scope of successes by Team Penske since the mid-1960s includes race wins and championships (28 total through August 2015) in such diversified racing disciplines as United States Auto Club and Championship Auto Racing Team National Championship racing, Sports Car Club of America’s Can-Am series, Trans-Am, NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), and long distance endurance races, typically competing for several different championships at the same time.  Penske entries have won such marquee races as the 24-Hours of Daytona, 12-Hours of Sebring, and the Daytona 500, as well as the 1976 Grand Prix of Austria with Irishman John Watson during a brief run in Formula One racing.

JUD PHILLIPS compiled an enviable record of mechanical reliability in American Automobile Association and United States Auto Club Championship racing over a 30-year period.  He scored 18 Championship wins with drivers Bobby Unser, Don Branson, Mike Mosely, Billy Vukovich (Jr.), and Tom Sneva, including the 1968 Indianapolis 500 with Unser.  Often with less well financed teams, cars prepared by Phillips finished 12th or higher in 21 Indianapolis 500s from 1952 through 1981, including 12 top-five and six top-three finishes. Unlike many of his colleagues, he apparently had little difficulty adapting to each of racing’s many changes, from dirt cars to “roadsters,” to rear-engine cars, to bolt-on rear wings, and even ground effects.  Equally successful in sprint car racing, first as mechanic for car owner Bob Estes and later for his own team, Phillips won championships with Pat O’Connor and Don Branson.  During his illustrious career, he also worked with such standout drivers as Mario Andretti, Eddie Sachs, Jimmy Bryan, and Al Unser.

Pillsbury_ArtART PILLSBURY exerted tremendous influence for the good of racing during his entire career.  With Jack Prince, he was  involved in the construction of most of the nation’s steeply banked board tracks in the 1920s and also figured prominently in the creation of the Roosevelt Raceway, Long Island, New York, in 1936.  He founded the Gilmore Economy Run, later known as the Mobil Economy Run, but his greatest recognition was gained as a race official of the highest integrity.  Pillsbury supervised all of the important land speed record runs on the Bonneville (Utah) Salt Flats, from the long distance runs of Ab Jenkins, to the out-and-out assaults on the world land speed records by Malcolm Campbell, George Eyston, and John Cobb.  He was a dominant figure on the American Automobile Association Contest Board for 25 years.

Porter_HerbHERB PORTER, a great proponent of supercharging (and later of turbocharging), was an Indianapolis 500 chief mechanic from 1951 through 1966.  Andy Linden qualified for the front row of the 1952 Indianapolis 500 race driving a supercharged, Offenhauser-powered entry Porter set up.  He was chief mechanic for Rodger Ward’s five United States Auto Club National Championship race wins in 1957 and 1958.  Porter was the first to experiment with turbocharger units on Offenhauser engines (in 1966) and Bobby Unser won the 1968 Indianapolis 500 with a Porter-prepared, turbocharged Offy.  It was not long before the entire starting field had turbocharged engines.  He joined Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company as its engine development engineer and later formed his own business, as a result of which virtually every track speed record for the next three decades would carry his stamp.

1986-200-3-Bobby-Rahal-bwBOBBY RAHAL belongs to a very select group of individuals who have won the Indianapolis 500 both as a driver and as an owner/entrant.  Victorious as a driver for Truesports in 1986, he also was co-entrant (with David Letterman) of Buddy Rice’s winning car in 2004.  From 1982 through 1992, Rahal drove to 24 National Championship wins, landing Championship Auto Racing Teams’ seasonal title in 1986, 1987, and 1992.  He is primarily thought of as a road racer, having won several Sports Car Club of America titles, competed in the Can–Am series and European Formula Two, and shared the winning car in the 24-Hours of Daytona (1981) and the 12-Hours of Sebring (1987).  Nevertheless, eight of his wins came on oval racetracks.  His Indianapolis 500 victory was followed by a second place finish in 1990 and third place finishes in 1994 and 1995.  An owner/entrant since 1992, Rahal was President and Chief Executive Officer of Championship Auto Racing Teams in 2000 and served briefly in 2001 as team principal for the Ford-backed Jaguar Formula One team.  Rahal-Letterman gained considerable “mainstream” notoriety in 2005 when fourth-place-finishing rookie Danica Patrick became the first female to lead in an Indianapolis 500 race.

Rathmann_Jim1JIM RATHMANN, who started his racing career in hot rods, gained his greatest fame at Indianapolis and Monza, Italy.  He drove in 14 Indianapolis 500 races and led the field at some point in six of them, including the 1960 race, which he won after a sensational battle with Rodger Ward.  Rathmann also finished second at Indianapolis in 1952, 1957, and 1959, and set new one-lap and four-lap qualifying records in 1960.  His other accomplishments included runner-up honors for the 1957 National Championship and victory in the 1958 Monza 500 (run in three segments) at an overall average speed of 166.722 miles per hour.  In 1959, he scored an impressive triumph in the 100-mile United States Auto Club Championship race on the brand new 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway where he completed the distance in only 35 minutes and averaged a phenomenal 170.261 miles per hour.  Rathmann also drove stock cars from time to time and was the third-ranking driver in the 1955 American Automobile Association point standings.

Resta_DarioDARIO RESTA, raised in England by Italian parents, brought a French Peugeot to the United States in 1915 after competing successfully in European races since 1909.  In the United States, he scored an impressive number of victories for two straight seasons against America’s best cars and drivers.  Resta’s 1915 record included triumphs in the American Grand Prize and the Vanderbilt Cup race as well as in featured board track races at Chicago, Illinois, and Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York.  During the following season he won the Vanderbilt Cup race again, the annual Indianapolis race (cut by management to 300 miles that year), and other major races on board speedways to capture the American Automobile Association National Championship.  In 1923, after an absence of several years, Resta was invited by Ralph DePalma to be part of a three-car entry of Packards for the Indianapolis 500, and he qualified in the third position for the outside of the front row.  Resta was fatally injured at the Brooklands track, south west of London, in September 1924 while attempting to break long distance records for the English Sunbeam company.

Rickenbacker_EddieEDWARD “EDDIE” V. RICKENBACKER, America’s World War I flying ace, was an Indianapolis 500 driver before he ever learned how to fly a plane.  He started his auto racing career in 1910, participating as a relief driver in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.  Rickenbacker attracted national attention in 1914 with a series of dirt track victories, followed by additional triumphs on the new wooden board speedways.  He started from the front row for the 1916 Indianapolis race and led the first nine laps before dropping out with mechanical trouble.  This was the first year in which points were officially offered for certain American Automobile Association Championship races, and Rickenbacker won three races and placed third in the final standings.  After returning from World War I, he started the Rickenbacker Motor Company, which in spite of building excellent automobiles, failed in 1926.  In the summer of 1927, he led a group of investors who purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and elected him its president.  Rickenbacker guided the Indianapolis 500 through the economic difficulties of the 1930s and also served as chairman of the American Automobile Association Contest Board for several years before selling the track to Anton Hulman, Jr. in November 1945.  He made many improvements during those difficult times, adding a golf course in 1929, removing the dangerous outer banking in the turns in 1935, and beginning the process of paving over the bricks.  The head of Eastern Airlines for many years, Rickenbacker was the only Indianapolis 500 driver who has been awarded the United States Congressional Medal of Honor.

Ricker_ChesterCHESTER S. RICKER was an avid follower of automobile races on Eastern tracks prior to the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911.  He started his illustrious career as a nationally known timer and scorer in 1909 with the factory teams of Chalmers, Stoddard-Dayton, Isotta-Fraschini, Alco, and Apperson.  Ricker’s records were instrumental in certifying Harry Grant as winner of the 1909 Vanderbilt Cup race when official data were inconclusive.  A.R. Pardington, referee of that race, then served in a similar capacity for the first six Indianapolis 500 races with Ricker as a prominent member of his official staff.  In 1916, Ricker was chairman of the technical committee as well as director of timing and scoring, a position he retained for 35 years. He created and perfected the basic scoring system at Indianapolis and also timed many of the nation’s premier speed contests on water and in the air.

Roberts_FloydFLOYD ROBERTS, who gained his early racing experience on the smaller tracks of California, made his first appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1935.  Prior to his Indianapolis start, he finished as runner-up to Rex Mays for the 1934 American Automobile Association Pacific Coast championship with several impressive wins at the famed Legion Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles, California.  He finished fourth in his Indianapolis 500 debut and was one of the contenders for premier honors the following year until he ran out of fuel (the limit was 37.5 gallons) with 17 laps to go.  After driving an ill-handling car to 13th place in 1937 (and supposedly secretly nursing a broken arm), Roberts dominated the 1938 race.  He won the pole position with a speed of 125.681 miles per hour, led the race for 92 of the 200 laps, and won by more than two laps with an average speed of 117.200 miles per hour, setting a race record that stood for ten years.  A driver who performed much of his own mechanic work, Roberts also won the 1938 American Automobile Association National Championship.  His career was cut short when he was injured fatally in an accident during the 1939 Indianapolis 500 race.

Robertson_GeorgeGEORGE ROBERTSON was one of America’s most versatile competitors, compiling a tremendous record during a three-year period starting in 1908.  His major 1908 victories were in the 200-mile Fairmount Park (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) inaugural race, the 258-mile Vanderbilt Cup race run at a record speed of 64.4 miles per hour, and the Brighton Beach, New York, 24-hour race (with Lescault).  In 1909, Robertson repeated his Fairmount Park triumph, won another 24-hour Brighton Beach race (with Al Poole), won the 318-mile Lowell Trophy, finished second for the 232-mile Indiana Trophy, placed third for the 395-mile Cobe Trophy, and was recognized as the National Champion.  In 1910 he won two, one-hour Brighton Beach races and two match races with Ralph DePalma before winning another Vanderbilt Cup.  Robertson also was the captain of the Benz team in 1910, but was injured while showing a newspaper reporter the Vanderbilt Cup course and was forced to retire from driving.  He continued to be active in racing, however, managing the Duesenberg team for Jimmy Murphy’s 322-mile victory in the 1921 French Grand Prix.  He played a very important role in the creation of Roosevelt Raceway, Long Island, New York, for the revival of Vanderbilt Cup competition in the 1930s for which he served as managing director.

Rose_MauriMAURI ROSE scored victories both before and after the four-year break in racing activity caused by World War II.  Runner-up in the 1934 Indianapolis 500 and winner of the American Automobile Association National driving title in 1936, he won his first Indianapolis 500 in 1941.  After starting on the pole with a Lou Moore-owned Maserati, which developed mechanical trouble, Rose took over a team car started by Floyd Davis and came from far behind to win, thus winning both the pole and the race, but with two different cars.  In fact, he was more than familiar with Davis’s car, having driven it to third place the year before.  Rose drove a Moore-owned Blue Crown Spark Plug-sponsored front-drive car to victory without relief in both 1947 and 1948 and finished third (driving for Howard Keck) in the rain-shortened race of 1950.  As an engineer, he worked at various times for Allison Engineering, Studebaker, Lockheed Aircraft, and Chrysler Corporation.  Rose spent little time at the track, and while working for Allison Engineering in Speedway, Indiana, in 1941, claimed he was able to practice, qualify for, and win the race without taking any time off from work.

Ruby_Lloyd1LLOYD RUBY, one of the United States Auto Club’s most versatile drivers, compiled enviable records in midget and stock car competition as well as in championship races and on road courses.  He qualified for 18 consecutive Indianapolis 500 races (1960 through 1977) and led the field in five of them for a total of 126 laps.  Ruby’s best finish was third in 1964.  In National Championship races at other tracks he won three times at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, twice at the Phoenix International Raceway (Arizona), and once each at Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and the Trenton Speedway (New Jersey).  He won the pole position for the inaugural 1970 Ontario 500 in Ontario, California, and placed second in both of the 150-mile races in Rafaela, Argentina, in 1971.  An outstanding road racer, Ruby was runner-up for the 1959 United States Auto Club Road Racing Championship and later became a member of the Ford Motor Company’s “factory” team.  He was paired with Ken Miles to win the 1965 Daytona Continental and the 1966 Daytona 24-hour race, plus the 1966 Sebring 12-hour race, while taking second in the 1967 Sebring 12-hour race with A.J. Foyt.

Rutherford_Johnny1JOHNNY RUTHERFORD’s outstanding record includes three Indianapolis 500 triumphs (1974, 1976, and 1980) and victories in 24 additional championship races on other tracks, including the 1974 Pocono 500 (Pennsylvania) and the 1986 Michigan 500 (Brooklyn, Michigan).  He started in 24 Indianapolis races, is a three-time pole position winner, and has won the event twice (1976 and 1980) from the pole position. Rutherford also earned the pole position in 1973 with a four-lap qualifying record of 198.413 miles per hour, narrowly missing the first official 200 miles per hour lap with a one-lap record of 199.071 miles per hour.  He drove 2,792 laps in competition and led the field for a total of 296 laps.  In 1984, he set a new speed record for championship cars by qualifying for the Michigan 200 at 215.189 miles per hour.  In addition to being the 1980 National Driving Champion as well as the 1965 United States Auto Club Sprint Car Champion, Rutherford gained notoriety before starting in his first Indianapolis 500 when he was assigned, as a virtual unknown, to a Smokey Yunick Chevrolet for the 1963 Daytona 500.  Rutherford turned in the fastest qualifying lap and survived a spin to finish ninth.

Ruttman_TroyTROY RUTTMAN won the 1952 Indianapolis 500 at a record 128.922 miles per hour and remains to this day the youngest winner, at age 22 at the time of his win.  He began his career in hot rods at the tender age of 15 and had already won the California Roadster Association (now known as California Racing Association) title twice and the 1948 United Racing Association “Blue” circuit midget title (for Offenhauser-powered cars only) when he made his debut at Indianapolis in 1949.  Ruttman drew international attention in 1951 when he drove a Mercury stock car to fourth overall in the Carrera Panamericana (Mexico) behind two Ferraris and a Chrysler.  The Midwest Sprint Car Champion in 1951 after ranking second in 1949 and third in 1950, Ruttman won an astonishing 37 main event races from 1949 until a serious arm injury in August 1952 sidelined him for 18 months.  He led laps at the Indianapolis 500 in 1952, 1957, 1960, and 1961, and dropped out of the 1962 race after climbing from 30th starting position to second.  In 1957, he finished second overall in the three-stage Monza (Italy) 500-mile invitational Race of Two Worlds.

Sachs_EddieEDDIE SACHS, a front-row qualifier in four out of his first five Indianapolis 500 race starts, came tantalizingly close to winning the race in 1961.  Starting from the pole position for the second consecutive year, the colorful, crowd-pleasing Sachs was leading when he was forced in for a tire change with only three laps remaining, dropping him to an eventual second-place finish behind A.J. Foyt.  Also the third-place finisher in the 1962 Indianapolis 500, Sachs won eight National Championship races, including the 1958 Hoosier Hundred, plus three in succession at the Trenton Speedway (New Jersey).  He was a three-time runner-up in the Midwest Sprint Car Championship (1954, 1955, and 1956) before winning that title in 1958.  He placed second in the Eastern Sprint Car series in 1959.  Sachs also won 16 sprint car main event races from 1952 through 1959, and in 1961 won two major United States Auto Club stock car races at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds (Milwaukee).  He died in an accident shortly after the start of the 1964 Indianapolis 500.

Salih_GeorgeGEORGE SALIH was the winning crew chief of three Indianapolis 500 races, the last two with a revolutionary creation he designed and built.  A plant supervisor with Meyer & Drake Engineering (then owner of the Offenhauser racing engine), Salih was also crew chief on the Belanger Special which won both the 1951 Indianapolis 500 (driven by Lee Wallard) and the 1951 American Automobile Association National Championship (driven by Tony Bettenhausen).  After scoring second with Sam Hanks in the 1956 Indianapolis 500, Salih built a low-slung car that would accept an Offy engine laid on its side to obtain a lower center of gravity.  Unable to find a buyer for something so radical, Salih reluctantly entered the car himself.  Built in the garage next to Salih’s Whittier, California, home, it was driven by Hanks to a stunning victory in the 1957 Indianapolis 500.  Declining a sudden barrage of offers for purchase, Salih hired Jimmy Bryan to replace the retired Hanks for the 1958 Indianapolis 500 and won it again.

Shaw_WilburWILBUR SHAW is one of the most important people in the history of American auto racing, not only for his accomplishments on the race track, but also because he convinced Terre Haute businessman Anton Hulman, Jr. to purchase the severely dilapidated Indianapolis Motor Speedway and save it from extinction.  Shaw won Indianapolis 500 races in 1937, 1939, and 1940, duplicating Louis Meyer’s three Indianapolis 500 triumphs, and becoming the first driver to win consecutive Indianapolis races.  He also finished second three times (1933, 1935, and 1938) and was the race leader at some stage of seven of the 14 Indianapolis 500 races in which he participated.  Shaw appeared on his way to a fourth win (and third in succession) in 1941 when a wire wheel collapsed while he was leading at the three-quarter distance.  His career total of 508 laps led at Indianapolis remains fifth on the all-time list through 2015.  He was the National Driving Champion twice, in 1937 and 1939.  After convincing Anton Hulman Jr. to purchase the track, Shaw served as its President and General Manager until his death in a private aircraft accident near Decatur, Indiana, on October 30, 1954.

BILL SIMPSON has spent his entire career striving for greater safety in motorsports, developing more than 200 innovative race track and driver equipment safety products through his two extremely successful businesses, Simpson Safety Equipment and Impact Racing.  Starting as a teenage drag racer in California in 1958, Simpson is generally credited with pioneering the use of a rear-mounted parachute to slow a dragster at the conclusion of a run.  His first parachute customer reportedly was the legendary Don Garlits.  While designing and developing umbilical cords for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Simpson met astronaut and amateur race driver Pete Conrad who made Simpson aware of a DuPont product named Nomex.  Simpson soon was offering a line of fire retardant driving suits using Nomex.  A competitor in 52 United States Auto Club National Championship races from 1968 through 1977 (with a best finish of sixth in the 1970 Milwaukee 200), in 1974 Simpson realized a long-time ambition by driving in the Indianapolis 500.  He finished 13th.  Credited with assisting many young drivers, Simpson hired off-road racer Rick Mears to drive in the 1976 Ontario 500 in Ontario, California; Mears, a rookie, finished eighth.

Sneva_Tom1TOM SNEVA was the first person to officially lap the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in excess of 200 miles per hour (1977) and 210 miles per hour (1984).  After having been a three-time runner up (1977, 1978, and 1980), he won the Indianapolis 500 in 1983.  Sneva was a three-time pole sitter (1977, 1978, and 1984) and came within the blink of an eye of earning what would have been an unprecedented third consecutive pole in 1979.  He was also the fastest qualifier on a fourth occasion in 1981, but was required to start 25th by virtue of having been a second weekend qualifier.  United States Auto Club National Champion in 1977 and 1978, Sneva had more than 200 starts in Indianapolis cars sanctioned by either Championship Auto Racing Teams or the United States Auto Club from 1971 through 1992, winning 13 races and finishing either second or third in 37 others.

Snyder_JimmyJIMMY SNYDER gained recognition as one of the nation’s best drivers during the 1930s, when economic conditions caused a sharp curtailment in the number of championship races in the American Automobile Association schedule.  After winning consistently in sprint car races on half-mile tracks in the Midwest, he drove in five consecutive Indianapolis 500 races.  Snyder was the fastest qualifier in 1937 with an average four-lap speed of 125.287 miles per hour after topping the first official 130 mile per hour lap on one memorable run.  In 1939, he became the first Indianapolis driver to earn the pole at more than 130 miles per hour, averaging 130.138.  Snyder finished second that year and was also runner-up to Wilbur Shaw for the National Driving title although it was awarded posthumously because he died in a midget car accident in East St. Louis, Illinois, in June 1939.  He led the Indianapolis 500 for a total of 181 laps in three straight races in 1937, 1938, and 1939.

Sparks_ArtART SPARKS, with Paul Weirick as his partner, first attracted attention by building cars and engines that won consistently on Southern California tracks in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  Sparks had performed movie stunts, which led him to auto racing, and he had taught machine shop at Glendale High School in California.  He was a self-taught engineer who during the 1920s drove in many races in Southern California in a Model T-based racing special.    After Rex Mays had qualified a Sparks-Weirick car on the pole at Indianapolis in 1935 and 1936, Sparks signed a “lifetime” contract as chief engineer of the Thorne Engineering Company.  He designed six-cylinder engines that set qualifying records at Indianapolis for three straight years: Jimmy Snyder, 125.287 miles per hour in 1937; Ronney Householder, 125.769 miles per hour in 1938; and Snyder, 130.138 miles per hour in 1939.  During those three years, Snyder led the field for a total of 181 laps.  Financial difficulties ended the Sparks-Thorne association after George Robson drove their car to victory at Indianapolis in 1946.  Sparks then developed Forged-True pistons, which were used in many Indianapolis-winning cars.

Stevens_MyronMYRON STEVENS, who is recognized by many racing historians as one of auto racing’s outstanding car builders, shared fourth place as a driver with Louis Meyer at the 1931 Indianapolis 500 and was a riding mechanic with Wilbur Shaw (1935-36) and Bob Swanson (1937).  He built the frames, fuel tanks, and bodies for almost all of the Harry Miller Specials from 1922 through 1926.  Stevens then accepted Frank Lockhart’s invitation to help construct the Stutz Black Hawk for Lockhart’s ill-fated land speed record attempt.  Following Lockhart’s fatal accident at Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1928, Stevens opened his own shop and continued to build cars for such champions as Louis Meyer, Wilbur Shaw, and Rex Mays.  He continued building Indianapolis 500 cars until the early 1950s, and in 1955 a car he constructed won the Indianapolis 500 pole with Jerry Hoyt driving.

1966-Jackie-Stewart-in-cockpitJACKIE STEWART stands as one of the major figures in all of motorsports.  World Champion in 1969, 1971, and 1973, as well as runner-up in 1968 and 1972, he has been a tireless and outspoken advocate for greater safety in racing.  In 2001, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II knighted the self-proclaimed “Wee Scot” for his numerous accomplishments.  Stewart won 27 Formula One Grand Prix races from 1965 through 1973, thus succeeding fellow Scot Jim Clark as Formula One’s most prolific winner at that time.  He also scored 11 seconds and five thirds, realizing an astonishing 43 top-three finishes in only 99 career starts.  Stewart drove in only two Indianapolis 500s, but came within just a few laps of finishing first and second, dropping out while leading with only nine laps to go in 1966 (as Rookie of the Year), and running just behind Parnelli Jones and eventual winner A.J. Foyt when his engine failed at 168 laps in 1967.  From 1997 through 1999, Stewart was the principal of the start-up Stewart F1 team, which subsequently became Jaguar.

Strang_LewisLEWIS STRANG, who later became manager of the Case team, set several track records in 1907 at Birmingham, Alabama, and Nashville, Tennessee.  He also served as riding mechanic for Walter Christie in the French Grand Prix.  During the following season, Strang drove in the French Grand Prix, set additional records at Savannah, Georgia, shared the winning car in a 24-hour race at Brighton Beach, New York, and scored major victories in the 342-mile Savannah, Georgia, road race, the 240-mile Briarcliff, New York, road race, and the 254-mile Lowell, Massachusetts, road race to earn unofficial recognition as the National Driving Champion.  In 1909, he won important 100-mile races at tracks in Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas.  Two months after driving in the 1911 inaugural Indianapolis 500 race (for which he was awarded the pole position as the first entrant), Strang was fatally injured during an endurance (reliability) test run in Wisconsin.

Stutz_HarryHARRY STUTZ became associated with racing by organizing the Marion team and, beginning in 1911, he designed and built the Stutz cars that competed successfully in the nation’s outstanding races for a period of eight years.  With Earl Cooper and Gil Anderson doing most of the driving, Stutz scored repeated victories in the Elgin, Illinois, road races and won important races on the California road courses at Santa Monica, Corona, and Point Loma.  Stutz cars won the 1915 Minneapolis 500 mile race (Minnesota) and major races on the board tracks at Sheepshead Bay, New York, and Chicago, Illinois, while also finishing well in the first five Indianapolis 500 races.  While other owners/entrants were going more and more to specialized racing cars, Stutz always tried to remain as close to “stock” as possible.  After being ousted from the company he founded in a stock deal, he set up another passenger car firm, using his initials H.C.S.  Although he entered two H.C.S. Specials in the 1923 Indianapolis 500, both were one-hundred percent Miller racing cars that he sponsored.  One of them, driven by Tommy Milton, won the race, with relief from teammate Howdy Wilcox.

Sweikert_bobBOB SWEIKERT won not only the Indianapolis 500 and the National Championship in 1955, but the Midwest Sprint Car title as well.  Remarkably, he performed much of his own mechanical work, maintaining not only his own sprint car in 1955, but another driven by Jerry Hoyt.  After Sweikert qualified for the 1955 Indianapolis 500 race, chief mechanic A.J. Watson was called away on a family emergency and it was Sweikert who tore down and meticulously prepared the race-winning engine, a fact Watson revealed at the Victory Banquet.  A product of post-war hot rod and midget racing in Northern California, Sweikert was runner up in the 1953 Midwest Sprint Car standings before winning the title in 1955.  He earned 15 wins from 1953 through the spring of 1956.  He won the first Hoosier Hundred in 1953 and was a two-time winner at Syracuse, New York.  Broadening his horizons, Sweikert drove in the 1956 Sebring, Florida, 12-Hours, and after being offered some friendly tips (through an interpreter) from the great Juan Manuel Fangio, co-drove Jack Ensley’s D-type Jaguar to a very impressive third place finish behind two factory Ferraris.  He aspired to race in Europe, but lost his life in a sprint car accident at Salem, Indiana, in June 1956.

JIM TRAVERS and FRANK COON, see “Frank Coon and Jim Travers” above.

unser1AL UNSER was the second driver to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, in 1970, 1971, 1978, and 1987.  In addition to being runner-up in 1967, 1972, and 1983, he also placed third in 1977, 1984, 1988, and 1992.  He led the field at some point in 11 of his 27 Indianapolis starts, and in 1987 he surpassed Ralph DePalma with the most laps led in a career, a record DePalma had held since 1921.  Unser even led laps in his final start in 1993, closing out his total at 644.  During his career, he amassed 39 victories in National Championship races, including all three 500-mile races on the schedule in 1978 (Indianapolis, Pocono, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, California), and national titles in 1970, 1983, and 1985.  Two-time winner of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb (1964 and 1965), Unser won the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in four straight years (1970 through 1973) and captured the United States Auto Club Dirt Track title in 1973.  In other forms of motorsports, he finished fourth in the 1967 Daytona 500 (his only start), was runner-up for the 1976 United States Auto Club/Sports Car Club of America Formula-5000 road racing series title, and won the 1980 Can-Am race at Riverside, California.

Unser_Al1AL UNSER, JR. followed in the footsteps of his father and his uncle to become a repeat champion at Indianapolis, winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1992 and 1994.  A rookie in 1983, he was the first person to compete against his own father in the same Indianapolis 500.  Competing in his 19th Indianapolis 500 in 2007, and after logging seven finishes of fifth or higher, Unser moved into third place in the all-time “laps completed” standings (3,173) with only A.J. Foyt and his father having a greater number.  Can-Am Champion in 1982 at only 20 years of age, he ranked sixth or higher in Championship Auto Racing Teams points in 12 different seasons.  Winner of the Championship Auto Racing Teams series in 1990 and 1994, Unser won 34 races from 1984 through 1995. Only Michael Andretti (his boyhood friend), who had 42, won more.  Among his more remarkable achievements was winning the challenging Long Beach, California, road race no less than six times, including four years in succession, 1988 through 1991.

Unser_Bobby1BOBBY UNSER won the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975, and 1981 and scored 35 victories in National Championship races before retiring in 1983.  Eight of his triumphs came in 500-mile races, one at Pocono, Pennsylvania, three at Indianapolis, and four at Ontario, California.  Unser turned in multiple victories at Trenton, New Jersey; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Phoenix, Arizona, and dominated the Pikes Peak Hill Climb for more than a decade.  The United States Auto Club National Champion in 1968 and 1974, he was also runner-up in 1970, 1979, and 1980.  Moreover, he placed third three times, ranking eighth or higher in 14 out of 15 seasons from 1966 through 1980.  Unser’s Indianapolis 500 race record was particularly impressive as he qualified for 19 consecutive races, earning front row starting positions nine times and leading laps in ten races for a total of 440 laps.  He excelled at United States Auto Club sprint car racing, winning seven features and placing third in points in 1965 and 1966.  He also won six United States Auto Club stock car races.  After retiring from competition, Unser served as a driver-analyst for the American Broadcasting Company TV broadcast team for several years.

Vanderbilt_WilliamWILLIAM K. VANDERBILT tremendously stimulated the young automotive industry by sponsoring the famous series of Vanderbilt Cup races, beginning on Long Island, New York, in 1904.  Before the emergence of the Indianapolis 500, the Vanderbilt Cup race was the major motor race in the United States.  Vanderbilt first earned recognition as an outstanding driver of international caliber by scoring several noteworthy victories in European races and finishing third against top-flight European competition in the 318-mile International Circuit des Ardennes (France) in 1902.  At the wheel of a Mercedes, Vanderbilt also broke Henry Ford’s “999” land speed record for the measured mile by averaging 92.307 miles per hour on the sands of Daytona Beach, Florida, in January 1904.

1969-86-7a-Pat-VidanPAT VIDAN was one of auto racing’s most iconic figures of the 1960s and 1970s and one of the sport’s finest ambassadors.  He was Chief Starter for the Indianapolis 500 races from 1962 through 1979 (after being Bill Vandewater’s assistant from 1958-61), as well as for numerous other major United States Auto Club races.  The nattily dressed, white-dinner-jacketed Vidan flagged races with considerable flair, grace, and showmanship.  Until safety issues dictated otherwise, he worked from the actual track surface, dropping to one knee at the conclusion of an elaborate flag-twirling routine every time a competitor roared past his green or checkered flag.  The muscular, multi-talented Portland, Oregon, native resided for many years in the town of Speedway, Indiana, where he operated a health studio frequented by numerous Indianapolis 500 drivers, some of whom owned helmets painted by Vidan.  A one-time trapeze artist and motorcycle stuntman, he was much in demand as a speaker. His repertoire included a racing-related “lightning cartoon” act that delighted both children and adults.

Vukovich_BillBILL VUKOVICH, who concentrated most of his racing efforts on the Indianapolis 500 after winning the 1950 American Automobile Association National Midget Championship, was the fourth driver to score two consecutive victories at Indianapolis.  In 1952, he led most of the race before being eliminated by steering gear failure with only nine laps to go.  Success came in 1953 when he won the pole position with an average speed of 138.392 miles per hour and led the field for all but five laps on a terribly hot race day to win impressively.  One year later he started in 19th place but quickly moved to the front and won at a new race record of an average of 130.84 miles per hour.  In 1955, he was out in front again on his way to what would have been an unprecedented third straight victory when he died in an accident while lapping slower cars.  In spite of having only five starts in the Indianapolis 500, he led for almost 75 percent of the laps he completed from 1952 through 1955 ― 485 laps out of 647.  He won two other American Automobile Association National Championship races in addition to Indianapolis, substituting for an injured Troy Ruttman in the summer of 1952 to win 100-mile dirt track races at the Michigan State Fairgrounds at Detroit, Michigan, and Centennial Park Speedway in Denver Colorado.

Wagner_FredFRED WAGNER, perhaps better known as “Pop” Wagner, was as well known by the racing fans of his era as all but the most prominent drivers.  During a career that started in 1899 and spanned more than three decades, he served as official starter for most of the important championship races on all types of race courses, including the Indianapolis 500s of 1911 and 1912.  Through much of his early career, the starter was virtually the chief official; Wagner flagged according to his own observations rather than at the direction of others.  He set the standards for other officials to follow and his sportsmanship contributed to the steadily growing popularity of auto racing.  Promoters and participants alike sought his sound advice on all matters pertaining to racing.

Wallard_LeeLEE WALLARD, nicknamed “Cinderella Man” when he won the 1951 Indianapolis 500 at age 40, averaged a record 126.244 miles per hour; he was the first person to finish the race in less than four hours.  An East Coast sprint car driver since the mid-1930s, the jovial Wallard served with the United States Navy during World War II.  He was 37 years old when he made his debut at Indianapolis in 1948.  He caused a sensation by qualifying fifth-fastest with a converted sprint car, eventually to finish seventh after making several pit stops.  In 1949, he led the race for several laps with the ex-Wilbur Shaw, ex-Ted Horn Maserati.  Unfortunately, Wallard’s career ended only one week after his Indianapolis triumph as a result of burn injuries sustained in a sprint car accident at Reading Fairgrounds Speedway, Pennsylvania.  He attempted a comeback during practice at Indianapolis in 1954, but elected to retire, becoming an American Automobile Association official.

Ward_RodgerRODGER WARD, one of motor racing’s finest ambassadors and spokespersons, was a two-time winner of both the Indianapolis 500 and the United States Auto Club National Championship.  Winner of 26 championship races under either American Automobile Association or United States Auto Club sanctioning, he won the United States Auto Club title in 1959 and 1962.  He also was runner-up in 1960, 1963, and 1964, edged in all three years by A.J. Foyt, whom he had, in turn, bested in 1962.  A master tactician in his later years, Ward compiled an amazing record in Indianapolis 500 races from 1959 through 1964 while driving A.J. Watson-wrenched Leader Card entries.  His finishes during those six straight years were first, second, third, first, fourth, and second.  The versatile Ward won the 1951 American Automobile Association Stock Car Championship and twice participated in the United States Grand Prix, driving an outclassed Kurtis/Offy midget in the inaugural at Sebring, Florida, in 1959 and a BRM (British Racing Motors) at Watkins Glen, New York, in 1963.  In November 1961, Ward was one of six drivers who shared a pair of Nichels Engineering Pontiacs in a long distance record run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, covering almost 2,587 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 107.787 miles per hour.  A founding partner of Indianapolis Raceway Park, Clermont, Indiana, he designed both the road course and the oval track.

Watson_AJ1A.J. WATSON was the preeminent constructor of Indianapolis 500 cars in the late 1950s and 1960s as well as the winning crew chief four times.  An extraordinarily modest man, Watson strived for simplicity with the cars he built, reasoning there would be fewer things that could go wrong.  In addition to building cars for the teams for which he was chief mechanic, he also sold cars to independent customers.  During the winter of 1962-63, he built eight Watson “roadsters” in a tiny shop in Glendale, California, the most completed during a single year.  Watson-built cars won the Indianapolis 500 with Pat Flaherty (1956), Rodger Ward (1959 and 1962), Jim Rathmann (1960), Parnelli Jones (1963), and A.J. Foyt (1964).  He was the winning crew chief in 1955 with Bob Sweikert in a John Zink-owned Kurtis-Kraft, in 1956 with Flaherty for Zink, and in 1959 and 1962 with Ward for Leader Cards, Inc.  Watson won 29 National Championship races as a crew chief, plus numerous American Automobile Association and United States Auto Club sprint car feature races.  His car won the 1960 Midwest championship with A.J. Foyt driving.

Welch_LewLEW WELCH financed and fielded the immensely powerful and crowd-pleasing V8 supercharged Novi racing cars immediately following World War II.  An industrialist who manufactured standard equipment for Ford Motor Company, Welch had already entered several cars in Indianapolis 500 races when the Novi was born.  Cliff Bergere finished third in 1939 with an Offenhauser-powered Welch entry.  Accidents and mechanical trouble seemed to haunt the Novis, limiting them to a single third-place finish with Duke Nalon in 1948 and two fourth-place finishes.  Nalon was the fastest qualifier in 1948, but was not on the pole for the race because he did not qualify on the first day of qualifications.  He set new four-lap qualifying records to win the pole position in 1949 and 1951.  Other veteran drivers who posted the fastest qualifying speeds with Novi entries were Ralph Hepburn (1946), Chet Miller (1952), and Paul Russo (1957).  Hepburn, Bergere, Nalon, and Russo each led the Indianapolis 500 on one or more occasions before Welch finally sold the team in the spring of 1961 to Andy Granatelli.

Wilcox_HowardHOWARD WILCOX, winner of the 1919 Indianapolis 500, participated in many of the pre-Indianapolis 500 races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the track’s first two years.  He won a 100-mile race for the National Motor Vehicle Company during the Indianapolis Labor Day meet in 1910.  He was the only driver to participate in every one of the first eleven 500-mile races, finishing in the top ten four times before winning the 1919 race with a French Peugeot owned by Carl Fisher and James Allison.  Wilcox also figured in a rarely credited second Indianapolis 500 win during his final year in 1923, driving 47 laps of relief for teammate and eventual winner Tommy Milton after his own car had dropped out.  By leading 41 laps in Milton’s car after ten laps with his own, he was one of the few drivers who have led the same race with two different cars.  Driving for the Stutz team in 1915, Wilcox won the pole with a single lap speed of 98.9 miles per hour, the first year in which speed determined the pole position.  He finished second for Stutz in the 1915 American Grand Prize at San Francisco, California, and shared the winning Peugeot with Johnnie Aitken at the Santa Monica, California, race in 1916.  He became one of the outstanding drivers on the steeply-banked board tracks, only to lose his life in a race at the Altoona Raceway in Pennsylvania in September 1923.

Wilke_BobBOB WILKE led one of racing’s most successful teams, Leader Card, Inc., a veritable dynasty that won three Indianapolis 500s and six United States Auto Club National Championship car owner titles from 1959 through 1968.  After many years as an occasional Indianapolis 500 race car sponsor and a distributor for Kurtis-Kraft midget cars, Wilke formed his own team shortly after partnering with Jim Rathmann and John Zink to win the 1958 Monza (Italy) 500.  With A.J. Watson as car builder/chief mechanic and Rodger Ward as driver, “The Flying Ws” won the Indianapolis 500 race in 1959 and scored a rare one-two finish in Indianapolis with Ward and Len Sutton in 1962.  For several years, Leader Cards operated as two teams within one, with Jud Phillips overseeing a second unit for Don Branson and Bobby Unser, who won the Indianapolis 500 and the United States Auto Club National Championship title in 1968.  Wilke’s son Ralph carried on the team’s legacy for many more years after Wilke died in December 1970.

Winfield_EdED WINFIELD, one of the pioneers of hot-rodding in California, is probably best known as the designer and producer of Winfield carburetors, which were installed in many championship race cars during the ten-year period prior to World War II.  They were also used by every winning car in the Indianapolis 500 races from 1933 through 1946, with the exception of Wilbur Shaw’s Italian Maserati in 1939 and 1940.  By the time he was 21, the rather eccentric and reclusive Winfield was already being recognized as the first of California’s great cam grinders.  Along with his more outgoing brother, W.C. “Bud” Winfield, in 1938 he created the Winfield straight-eight engine that powered the Bowes Seal Fast Special driven by Louis Meyer and Rex Mays.  It served as the basis for the Winfield V8 supercharged engine that eventually became the Novi.

Zink_JohnJOHN ZINK, one of the premier car owners and sponsors of the 1950s and 1960s, won the Indianapolis 500 race and the American Automobile Association National Championship in 1955 with Bob Sweikert, and the Indianapolis 500 again in 1956 with Pat Flaherty.  Zink’s cars won a total of 13 National Championship races from 1955 through 1966; four each with Jud Larson and Jim McElreath; two each with Sweikert and Flaherty, and one with Lloyd Ruby.  Zink also partnered with Bob Wilke (Leader Cards) in winning the 1958 Monza (Italy) 500 with Jim Rathmann, fielding the same car with which Troy Ruttman had finished second in the previous year’s race.  Other notable drivers for this Tulsa, Oklahoma, industrialist and sportsman included Tony Bettenhausen, Jimmy Reece, and World Champion Jack Brabham.  Zink’s 1964 chassis built and driven by Brabham inspired the series of Brawner Hawks that Mario Andretti drove with such success in the second half of the 1960s.