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INDY 500 - The Greatest Spectacle in Racing!

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  • INDY 500 - The Greatest Spectacle in Racing!

    Today is INDY 500 day, a race I've been a fan of for as long as I can remember. As a kid I'd go down in the basement and race slot cars all day on my Strombecker track while listening to the 500 on the radio. Tuning into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network was something I looked forward to every May.

    As I prepared for this years 500 I looked up pole winner speeds for past races. The first Indy 500 was run in 1911 but there was no qualifying, the starting grid was set based on the order entries were received. Also, the 500 was not run during WWII (1942-45). The Indy 500 has a somewhat complicated qualification process that's evolved over time, with the pole position going to the car & driver posting the fastest 4 lap speed on the first day of qualification. Drivers can, and have, posted faster speeds later in qualification when the pole position has already been claimed and have to start the race behind the day 1 qualifiers.

    The table below is merely meant to show how overall speeds have increased since 1912. The all-time fastest 1 lap speed of 237.498 mph was set by Arie Luyendyk in 1996.
    INDY 500 Pole Speeds
    Year MPH KPH
    1912 80.930 130.240
    1922 100.500 161.740
    1932 117.363 188.877
    1941 128.691 207.108
    1952 138.010 222.106
    1962 150.370 241.997
    1972 195.940 315.335
    1982 207.004 333.141
    1992 232.482 374.144
    2002 231.342 372.309
    2012 226.484 364.491
    2022 234.046 376.661

  • #2
    I remember back in the 60's the newspaper would always publish a full page list of the starting lineup for the race. My grandfather would always tune in to the radio broadcast for the race with the newspaper's list and cross off drivers as they wrecked or dropped out of the race. He also told me that the experts at that time calculated the fastest any car could possibly go around the track was 168 mph.
    Butch Dunaway
    Oxford, Ohio

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    • #3
      Always a cook out in the backyard with the 4 men my dad was lifelong friends with and their families. Back then, it was too hot to be in the house. Radio would play the race and the guys and kids would toss a baseball and listen, the men drinking their Fall City beer from long necks. Great memories of the biggest race in the world/US.
      Still a most enjoyable race and the pre-race is second to none. Nascar gave some good competition for awhile but they seem to be fading, just look at the stands.

      50's and 60's are my favorite era and I love those cars and have modeled a lot of them. I have a pretty extensive library of books about that era and drivers. Looking forward to a good and safe race. Sad that Robin Miller. Bob Jenkins and Big Al are gone this year. Aj and Mario will still be there, though.
      Click image for larger version

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      Matt B
      So. In
      Crashers

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      • 6666hotrod
        6666hotrod commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you for that !!!

    • #4
      Those were the busiest two months, (April and May) when I was growing up. Racing home to read the J&C sorts page about what had been going on at the track and watching channel thirteen out of Indy to see and hear the drivers talk. Then on Race day I was glued to the radio (we had the blackout rule) and the announcer would call out the race. But how about those speeds with Eddie Sachs, AJ, Parnelli , where the announcer would say the cars would slow down to 75 in the turns and then crank it on to 150 in the back straight. And my buddy and I even found time to set up an Oval with our two Eldon tracks and have our own Indy race with the Eldon Indy racers of the day with the skinny knobby tread tires and the motors with opposing magnets. Those cars may not been as high tech or fast but they sure pure some competitive smiles on our little faces.
      Last edited by ccobra; May 29, 2022, 11:38 PM. Reason: I just noticed it was the chassis for the Turbine cars that I modeled up and printed out which is four wheel drive.

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      • #5
        I would watch on television as a kid and later would go as a young adult, I would go watch practice with friends. Later, I would attend the race with my Mom and Dad who both worked for Borg Warner Automotive. After they retired, I would of course start my day grilling while watching Monaco, followed by Indy and would close out the day with the 600. As my kids got older we would attend every other year. Today my son is there with a few friends, some of which ran in the 500 in the past, 2 who are racing today, and many who hope to run there one day in the future.
        Click image for larger version  Name:	DB825FDB-4ACB-4FB3-AD36-F80E58C38659.jpg Views:	7 Size:	336.5 KB ID:	163201
        Last edited by Brumos RSR; May 29, 2022, 10:58 AM.
        The Jester
        of Da Lou (St. Louis) but from
        the Soxside (Chicago)

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        • 6666hotrod
          6666hotrod commented
          Editing a comment
          That is Great !!!

      • #6
        I've got a friend who is around 70 years old that until the pandemic hit had been to the Indy 500 more times than years he was old. His parents took him to his first 500 before he was even a year old.
        Butch Dunaway
        Oxford, Ohio

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        • Brumos RSR
          Brumos RSR commented
          Editing a comment
          Sounds like Mr. Butch Welch

        • Pappy
          Pappy commented
          Editing a comment
          Nope, his name is Steve Gruber. Steve flew fighter jets and then flew for Comair for years. He's retired and is fighting cancer so I don't if he's at the 500 this year. He's also a slot car racer.

        • Brumos RSR
          Brumos RSR commented
          Editing a comment
          We certainly wish him the best.

      • #7
        The race is about to resume after a red flag with 4 laps to go. Wow!

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        • #8
          Disappointing to see Dixon blow his chance, because he sure had a good car and is a better driver. It's also good to see somebody new win the race.
          Luckily a Ganassi car won, even though his top guys all had issues. Jimmy Johnson (back marker) is a Ganassi driver and his crash with 4 to go almost opened the door for Erickson to get beat. If Ganassis keeps JJ on, he will have to explain to him that when you are running in 30th place, and your team mate is leading with 4 laps to go, don't over drive your car and help another team beat your team. I am a fan of JJ, but he has embarrassed himself in Indy cars, much like Danica did when she tried Nascar.
          None of these drivers are AJ or Mario or Big Dan.
          Matt B
          So. In
          Crashers

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          • Pappy
            Pappy commented
            Editing a comment
            I like JJ too and was rooting for him at the start. But I don't think he's ever going to make it in Indy car racing. Time for him to retire and take up slot car racing.

          • Brumos RSR
            Brumos RSR commented
            Editing a comment
            He has funding from Carvana and he enjoys what he is doing so he will be there until he decides not to anymore plus he brings fans. It’s a huge learning curve going from many years of NASCAR to open wheel and the same with Danica going from open wheel to to NASCAR. The racecraft is also drastically different as well.

        • #9
          The biggest thing I noticed about the race coverage was the amount of time spent on commercials! It really ruins enjoyment of the race.

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          • #10
            This was my first big event on streaming TV. The signal broke up over and over, and finally I lost the last 4 laps and all that came after. In six months, the signal never broke up before. I almost never use the antennae feature, staying on the streaming thing, but boy was this a disappointment!

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            • #11
              Don't forget JJ is an Indy rookie. Just because he was a NASCAR champion doesn't mean Indy car racing is going to be easy, it's a whole new world. Remember when Kinser, the multi time sprint car champ came to NASCAR? Many people expected him to be an instant success, but he struggled and soon went back to sprint cars. Great drivers such as Donohue and Clark won at Indy but it took a few tries.

              An then there's the case of all-time basketball superstar Michael Jordon who tried baseball after numerous NBA championships and MVP titles. He was never able to achieve success on the field and after 2 years returned to pro basketball. Hitting a baseball is a unique skill as driving an Indy car seems to be that JJ might need years to master, and there are no guarantees.

              All the more respect for Mario Andretti who won an F1 championship, the Daytona 500, and the Indy 500. He the Man!

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              • #12
                All credit to JJ's career., but he isn't a rookie, he is in his second year. and has been a race driver for a long time. Fans really cheered him when he was intro'd. He is popular and a great stock car driver, but he isn't AJ, Mario or Big Dan. Like most current drivers, he probably will never excel in another type of racing. I think that's why I respect the guys from the 50's and 60's so much more than current drivers. Those old guys didn't have million dollar contracts and they drove anything they could get in. JJ has great sponsorship and I'm sure he is good for the sponsors, but in this era many drivers bring big sponsorship money even it they aren't big winners. Think of the sponsor dollars AJ or Mario could get today., those guys were winners in Nascar/USAC, Indy, dirt cars, midgets, Mario in F1. Nobody compares to those guys. I wish JJ good luck, but competing with 20 year olds that have driven open wheel all their lives is pretty hard for an old guy!!!
                Matt B
                So. In
                Crashers

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                • #13
                  Funny, that there has been no headline on AOL about who won Monaco, Indy or the 600. Nothing on the tv news that I have seen. I think it's' kind of funny that auto racing, especially the 500, isn't headline news anymore. I guess old guys like me just remember stuff being better in the old days than it is today. So I am going to finish watching the GP of Monaco, since I don't know who won!
                  Matt B
                  So. In
                  Crashers

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                  • #14
                    It's hard to compare the drivers from the 50's, 60's and 70's to the drivers today. Back then you run what you brung and A.J., Mario, Donahue, Big Al and a few others had the advantage over the also rans. Today all the cars are the same and the rules are a lot stricter. Much more even competition today.
                    Butch Dunaway
                    Oxford, Ohio

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                    • #15
                      Not happy Indy broke their own rule by letting a car in the race who did not qualify.

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