scorecardresearch
juan

juanGoing into Sunday's 100th Indianapolis 500, the two teammates that put on a dandy duel for the victory last year have almost been forgotten.

Juan Montoya, who beat Will Power by an eyelash (0.1046 seconds) after storming back from 30th following an early altercation, only qualified 17th last weekend, while Power led Team Penske by putting his Verizon Chevy in the sixth slot.

But be aware: The most successful team in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway history is lurking.

"I feel better, honestly, than even last year," said Power, who's racked up 22 of his 25 wins driving for Roger Penske. "This has felt like the most low-key month I've had and really haven't thought about it being the 100th.

power tight"The only thing I've thought about is getting the car right in the practice sessions. And I feel my set-up is right there in the window."

Montoya struggled in qualifying and in Monday's lengthy practice period before finding the sweet spot on his Verizon Chevy.

"Eighty percent of the practice was awful but the last 20 percent was good," the two-time Indy champion said. "I ran 12-15 laps in a row without saying a word on the radio and I think that's a good indication."

Power led 23 laps in 2015 to Montoya's nine and thought he was in the perfect position after being passed on Lap 197.

"I was sitting there [in second] thinking this is the best spot," he recalled. "That I would pass him on the backstretch just like I'd done all day. I kind of lifted [in Turn 3] but still had a shot and if I could have run flat I would have been a lot closer to him at the line. It was frustrating."

Montoya isn't one of the pre-race favorites, but that hardly ruffles his 40-year-old feathers.

"I think my chances are good," he said. "I'm not going to come here and say that I'm going to win the race but just give me a shot."

Of course, teammates Simon Pagenaud (starting eighth in his Menard's Special) and Helio Castroneves (ninth in the Pennzoil Special) also figure to be right in the mix.

Pagenaud has reeled off three consecutive wins and was one of the fastest cars at Indy last year – leading 35 laps – but finished 10th after breaking his front wing.

"I don't see why we shouldn't be contending for the win," the winner of this month's Angie's List Grand Prix said. "We've got a lot of momentum."

Castroneves came close to joining A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears two years ago as the only four-time Indy 500 winners before being edged by Ryan Hunter-Reay in the closing laps.

"I love this place," Castroneves said. "And I like our chances."

bett bookBETTENHAUSEN BOOK

Gordon Kirby and Joe Freeman's Racemaker Press have delivered another winner with Tony Bettenhausen & Sons: An American Racing Family Album.

With some classic, never-before-seen pictures of spread over 216 pages, it's the history of this star-crossed family told through the eyes of the only remaining son, Merle.

Using his memories and anecdotes, the middle brother of Gary and Tony Jr. narrates what it was like growing up with and watching his father – the "The Tinley Park Express" – win races and championships but always get denied at Indianapolis.

And there was equal heartbreak for Gary as well, followed by an amazing comeback while Tony Jr. went from also-ran in USAC to a solid Indianapolis 500 veteran before moving into team ownership.

Merle, who lost his right arm in his IndyCar debut at Michigan in 1972, also gets some historical perspective from sister Susie.

Kirby and Bettenhausen will be signing books Friday night at the IMS Museum beginning at 5 p.m.

1965DaleRobertson65923 9643

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s photo archives are filled with tens of thousands of photos from the 1900s to 2016, and some are simply bizarre, or funny, or a mixture of the two. Take the one above of actor Dale Robertson, best known for his roles in westerns like "Tales of Wells Fargo," who joined Andy Granatelli's pajama-clad team for a photo opportunity at the 1965 Indy 500.

We've all seen the iconic shots from 99 running of the Indy 500; here's a look at Part 1 of the lighter side culled from the IMS archives:

1910 C 362 Ray Harroun in plane

Ray Harroun, winner of the first Indy 500 in 1911, is shown here in one of two single-seater airplanes he built on his own. Shown here in 1910, the renowned engineer/driver is believed to be on the grounds of IMS.

***

1938AbjenkinsandMarmonMeteor47507 5403

Indianapolis was a great attraction for unique vehicles built for other disciplines. Here we have the Mormon Meteor II, built by Duesenberg with a V12 airplane engine as a land speed record car, at the Speedway in 1938. The strange vehicle was successful in setting multiple records, and was also reportedly driven for more than 20,000 miles on the street!

***

1946 clean up no chain gang after WWII

Groundskeepers work to clean up the derelict Speedway infield after the 500 went on hiatus during World War II and the great track fell into disrepair. 

***

1965 Neg 3 1965 356

That definitely isn’t an Indy car. More than 50 years before the Brickyard held its first sports car race, Jim Hall went to the Speedway to conduct a tire test with his Chaparral 2 sports car in 1965, and was said to be impressively fast around the 2.5-mile oval.

***

1968BobbyUnserinpits 526

imsc0277 1968 Paul Newman Winning

Bobby Unser or Frank Capua? Frank Capua or Paul Newman? Rislone or Crawford? Newman’s role as Indy 500 driver Capua in 1969’s "Winning" was filmed in 1968, the year Unser won his first 500, and with light sponsor and driver name modifications to the car, it isn’t hard to pick the wrong Unser photo thumbnail from the archives.

***

1972 bathroom day after race

Men’s bathroom the day after the 1972 Indy 500. This might be the most disgusting photo ever taken at the Speedway.


1973GordonJohncockAircycle73480 5116

Above: A puzzled-looking Gordon Johncock sits atop one of the gifts he received after winning the 1973 Indy 500: an “air cycle” personal hovercraft.

Here's more from the IMS Archives:

Vault Foyt 1961 unicycle 

If winning his first Indy 500 wasn’t enough of an accomplishment in 1961, A.J. Foyt also felt the need to prove he could ride a unicycle.

***

1963 Denny Sutton 63914

Denny Dutton, a member of the Gordon Pipers, was responsible for the song "Speedway Romance," which is featured on a poster to the right below an autographed portrait of IMS owner Tony Hulman. The kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing Gordon troop are still in existence today and remain and Indy 500 staple. To date, they've yet to top the minimal sales produced by Dutton's "Speedway Romance" 45 rpm record.

***

1970 DT 9 1 Bill Simpson312

Racer-turned-safety apparel manufacturer Bill Simpson sets himself alight on the Speedway grounds in 1971 while wearing one of his firesuits to prove the value of his product.

***

1967youngAndrettis 1933

The young Andretti clan, circa 1967, with three future Indy 500 starters, including the three on the right: Michael, John, and Jeff. 

***

1966 684 Parnelli Jones

1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones is on his knees surrounded by a fairy godmother and other actors during filming in 1966.

***

Snake Pit 1980

Woodstock had nothing on Indy’s infamous Snake Pit.

***

MarshallPruettArchives 1977Indy500 001

If ever a driver was born for Indy...and its Snake Pit. 1976 Formula 1 world champion James Hunt rocked up at Indy in 1977 out of the blue, drew great interest from fans who wanted to know if he was there to race, professed his interest, then retired before he could attempt to add his name to the likes of F1 champions Jim Clark and Graham Hill as winners of the Indy 500.

Stayed tuned for more bizarre photos in Part 2.

sato ledeOver 99 runnings, the Indianapolis 500 has become the most famous event in motorsport. That iconic status is built on a bedrock of hundreds of small stories, and to celebrate the centennial race, RACER.com has asked some of the people who are part of Indy's fabric to share a few of those stories with us. Check back every day between now and race day for a new 'Indy Diary' entry.

Dario Franchitti reminisces on went through his mind when he saw a hard-charging Takuma Sato on the final lap of the 2012 race – and how some people blamed him for the end result.

"Takuma and I have history. He crashed into me at Loudon before the green flag on a restart; we came together here and my career ended on the back of his car (after a violent crash on the streets of Houston in October 2013).

"That day he was clearly fast and fearless, but if you watch the race, he made a series of half-passes and if it wasn't for the person on the outside getting the hell out of the way there was going to be a crash like that beforehand.

"He came from a long way back and I saw him coming, and I thought about blocking and I knew it wasn't gonna happen. And so I left him the required lane plus and inch or whatever, but I left him about a lane and a half and he went down in there and I thought, my mindset going in the corner is I'm not giving him more room than he needs that I have to give him, but I'm not lifting. ... I was like, I'm either gonna crash or get through here, but I'm not lifting.

dario inline"And I was able to widen out my line and continue to find grip, and as this is happening he's spinning on the inside and Scott Harner, whose in my ear and his voice was getting higher and higher pitched the closer Sato got as he spun – and he hit me, with his back pod against mine, and I think we had 100 and, 170-something degrees of opposite, and then I'm starting to pull gears because I want to get down the box because Dixon's coming on like a train, but that was that.

"Dixon's face in Victory Lane, he came up and gave me a hug, but I could see what it meant to lose it because he had driven a great race that day. He and his team had done nothing wrong. We'd come from last [after EJ Viso spun him on pit lane] right back through in I think 30 or 40 laps. So I felt I'd driven a bloody good race that day, the team had been exceptional.

"I remember going around in the parade lap afterwards ... there was a lovely reaction from the fans and I come to Turn 1 and some of them are booing, and I literally wanted to stand up and flip them off. I'd done absolutely nothing wrong, I've just driven one of the best races I'd ever driven, it was a hell of a finish to the race, I didn't squeeze Sato in the grass. ... that upset me. But as far as races go that was one of our better days.

Fernando Alonso believes his McLaren teammate Jenson Button's near-miss with a drain cover during Monaco Grand Prix practice strengthens the case for improving cockpit protection in Formula 1.

Thursday morning's first F1 practice session was red-flagged with three minutes remaining after a drain cover on the exit of Ste Devote worked its way loose, puncturing the left-rear tire of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes, then hitting Button's front-right corner.

Related Stories

{loadposition legends}

The scene was inspected by FIA race director Charlie Whiting shortly afterward, and it was welded back into place before the following GP2 practice session.

With the FIA to settle on a course of action for cockpit protection between the Mercedes-developed halo and Red Bull's aeroscreen in July, Alonso believes the freak incident only adds to the case for additional measures.

"It's never acceptable when there is an incident like this," Alonso said. "And it's something that we didn't take enough care of before the practice in terms of circuit checks and the FIA and everyone has to go into the details of the circuit just to make sure everything is safe to run.

"On the other hand, it's true that this is motorsport and maybe sometimes there's a drain that comes away, sometimes it's a bird, sometimes it's a mechanical part from another car that can hit you. So this is another reason to come back to the canopy idea.

"Let's make sure that between all of us and in the sport in general we minimize the risk that will always be there."

When asked if a canopy would have been unsuited to his accident in Australia's season opener, when his McLaren ended up upside down, Alonso replied: "Maybe, yes. There are some incidents where it will probably make your way out a little bit more difficult. But at the same time when I was rolling the car if something hit my head I was not protected at all.

"I would still prefer to have the accident in Australia with a canopy even if it's a little bit more difficult to get out.

"I would make sure that when I'm flying nothing will hit my head."

BUTTON: DRAIN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS

Jenson Button damage after drain incident, Monaco GP 2016

While Button praised the work officials do on the Monaco street circuit each year, he said the situation – which damaged the front wing, front suspension, brake intake and floor of his MP4-31 – should not have happened.

"We were lucky in a way that we just damaged the car, it stayed quite low on the ground, which is good. It's very difficult to change everything from the night before to the Thursday. But today we had the drain cover that moved that obviously we can't have.

"I heard it was welded down, so I don't really know how much more there is you can do. But they have to stay down, we have enough dangers in this controlled environment normally and it's fine, but a drain cover lifting in the air for an open-top car is extremely dangerous."

Originally on Autosport.com

Twenty years ago, the Indy Racing League and CART held dueling 500-mile open-wheel races on the same day in May. Some of those drivers – 60 all totaled – have gone onto bigger and better things, while others have not. And some have all but disappeared. Whatever happened to the entire Indy 500 and US500 fields? Here's what we've learned ...

Finish Start Name Race Info
27 2 Adrián Fernández
US 500 The popular Mexican driver continued his career in CART and eventually formed his own team which migrated to the IRL by 2004. Fernandez turned his attention to sports cars as his team tackled Grand-Am before moving to the ALMS in 2007 as a factory Acura program. Shuttering the team after Acura downsized its efforts in 2009, Fernandez brought his sponsorship to Aston Martin where he joined the British marque's Le Mans and European sports car squad. In recent years, Fernandez has moved into management, looking after Mexican F1 driver Sergio Perez and other national racing interests.
8 5 Al Unser Jr.
US 500 The two-time Indy 500 winner found a new lease on life in 2000 after being dropped by Roger Penske in CART then landing in the IRL. He'd race through 2007, acknowledge ongoing battles with alcohol abuse, find work with the unified IndyCar Series as a driver coach and observer, lose his job after being arrested for a DUI, and after finding sobriety, eventually make his return to racing in 2013 at a 25-hour Pro-Am endurance event in Northern California, where he continues to compete every December.
4 7 Alessandro Zampedri
Indy 500 The Italian's ghastly injuries marred the run to the checkered flag in 1996, but he was still credited with fourth. He made a gutsy return to compete at the 500 in 1997, then made a shift to sports cars, where he spent more than a decade racing in the Porsche Super Cup series.
17 4 Alex Zanardi (R)
US 500 The Italian CART rookie took the series by storm in 1996, claiming two consecutive titles in 1997-98 before leaving for Formula 1. He returned to CART in 2001 and lost his legs in a horrific crash at the Lausitzring oval in Germany. He returned in 2003 to finish the last 13 laps missed in 2001, and eventually moved to racing sedans in the World Touring Car Championship using hand controls. Zanardi has become a global inspiration as a Paralympics athlete this decade, earning gold medals in cycling.
4 6 André Ribeiro
US 500 Part of CART's strong Brazilian wave in the mid-1990s, Ribeiro had a brief career where the road racer found his greatest success on ovals. Fourth at the US 500, he returned later in 1996 for the regular CART event at Michigan and won. Signed by Roger Penske in 1998, Andre retired at the end of the season. Odd Fact: With Penske's help, Ribeiro has become a successful auto dealership owner in Brazil.
16 20 Arie Luyendyk (W)
Indy 500 Another ex-CART driver whose reputation and talent was perfectly placed in the IRL. His 1996 Indy qualifying record still stands, and he'd add a second 500 win in 1997 under the IRL's first all-new formula. A crash and withdrawal from the 2003 Indy 500 served as the Dutchman's last, and he currently holds the position of IndyCar race steward as part of the series' race control operation.
19 15 Bobby Rahal
US 500 The 1986 Indy 500 winner retired after the 1998 CART season, briefly led CART after it parted way with CEO Andrew Craig and then briefly ran the Jaguar F1 team before returning home to look after his Champ Car and IRL/IndyCar Series programs. His son Graham currently leads the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda team and has matured into one of the series' top drivers.
23 26 Brad Murphey (R)
Indy 500 "Bronco" Brad Murphey continues to draw the ire of Australians who question why the Arizona product is credited as a driver from Down Under. Decidedly decent in the early days of Indy Lights, Murphey was less than spectacular in an Indy car but joined the throngs of rookies who got a chance to race at the 500 with CART out of the picture. We aren't sure what he's up to these days, but he is alive, based on an interview that appeared online a few months ago. (http://www.oldracingcars.com/drivers/interview/Brad-Murphey/)
15 3 Bryan Herta
US 500 "High Speed" Herta eased from CART to the IRL in 2003 with Andretti Green Racing, moved to AGR's Acura ALMS program in 2007, was fired midway through the 2008 season, formed his own team in 2009 in the Indy Lights series, made his first Indy 500 start as an owner in 2010, won the 2011 Indy 500 with Dan Wheldon, and merged his team with former boss Michael Andretti in 2016 to continue after a sponsor defaulted on a sizeable payment. His son Colton is winning races and impressing on Europe's open-wheel ladder. Odd Fact: Father and son Herta celebrate by eating "victory tacos" after Colton's wins.
1 5 Buddy Lazier
Indy 500 The first winner of the mockingly-named "IRL 500" is still racing today in the Lazier-Burns Chevy Dallara DW12 and will make his 19th Indy start on Sunday from 24 attempts. Odd Fact: Lazier's Wikipedia page contains almost 9,000 words about his career.
17 9 Buzz Calkins (R)
Indy 500 This son of a Colorado grocery story magnate went from obscurity in Indy Lights to a winner of the first IRL race and the series' first co-champion with Scott Sharp in 1996. Often cited as the definition of the IRL's talent deficit, Calkins won IRL Race 1, then went winless in the next 52 and quit at the end of 2001 as his family-run team closed down. Other than an unexpected appearance in the news last year when his family-owned Bradley Petroleum company (of which Calkins is the CEO) was accused of mistreating employees, he has been silent on the racing front.
12 12 Christian Fittipaldi
US 500 One of the few active drivers who took part in either 1996 race, Fittipaldi moved from CART to Grand-Am in 2003, where he races today (under the IMSA banner) and serves as the two-time defending Prototype champion with Portugal's Joao Barbosa.
7 33 Danny Ongais
Indy 500 The "Flyin Hawaiian" impressed under tough circumstances as he replaced polesitter Scott Brayton, who was killed in practice. He started from 33rd and drove to seventh, then made a final and unsuccessful attempt to make the show in 1998, and has since retired to a quiet life on his native island.
12 10 Davey Hamilton (R)
Indy 500 After failing to qualify three times, Hamilton finally made the 500 with A.J. Foyt in 1996 and started a streak that made him the IRL's all-time leader in starts until his terrible accident at Texas in 2001. The Idahoan competed at Indy through 2011 and became a team co-owner; he now runs a super modified series and lends commentary to IMS Radio.
2 2 Davy Jones
Indy 500 Jones took his fantastic second at Indy in May and turned it into a win a few weeks later at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A testing crash in 1997 all but ended Jones' days as a top driver; a failed attempt to qualify for the 500 in 2000 closed a long and distinguished open-wheel career. Today he keeps busy working with Jaguar at private driving events.
11 4 Eddie Cheever
Indy 500 Forming his own team in 1997, the 1998 Indy 500 winner competed in the IRL through 2006, took on sports cars in Grand-Am's Daytona Prototype ranks, and has graced the sport with his commentary as an analyst without interruption ever since ...
6 18 Eddie Lawson (R)
US 500 The four-time Motorcycle Grand Prix champion earned his best finish at the US 500 in his lone season of CART competition. He continued driving after 1996 in karting events, and has become a regular presence at vintage events driving sports prototypes and historic F1 cars.
6 3 Eliseo Salazar
Indy 500 Salazar spent many years in motor racing's wilderness before returning to drive sports cars in 1994, and then secured sponsorship from his native Chile to embark on a full-season CART campaign in 1995. The IRL presented Salazar with a perfect home to ply his trade at a more economical rate, and, to his surprise, a kind of racing that fit the Formula 1 veteran's style. He'd take his sixth-place finish in 1996 and bounce from team to team until he landed with the most unlikely owner in the IRL: A.J. Foyt. After three years with the Texan, Salazar moved on from the IRL and tried a variety of racing disciplines. His most recent endeavors include bringing new racing series to Chile and, on occasion, running in IMSA's endurance races in the GT Daytona class.
10 8 Emerson Fittipaldi
US 500 1996 marked the Brazilian legend's final season as a driver. A bad crash at CART's return to Michigan later in the year proved to be his curtain call, and since then, he's held a variety of business interests at home. Recent news of unpaid bills and property seizure have added a sad chapter to the life of a man credited with opening the door to Indy car for his countrymen.
21 28 Fermín Velez (R)
Indy 500 A renowned sports car ace prior to his IRL debut, the plucky Spaniard made one more Indy 500 start in 1997 and continued in sports cars afterward. He died after a prolonged fight with cancer in 2003.
25 23 Fredrik Ekblom (R)
US 500 The Swede showed great promise in limited Indy Lights outings and didn't have much to work with in limited CART apprarances. His brief run at the US 500 was his last in IndyCar. Now 45, Ekblom has spent the intervening years in sports cars, where he made three starts at Le Mans and spent more than a decade in the Swedish Touring Car Championship. He presently races in the World Touring Car Championship.
21 27 Gary Bettenhausen
US 500 Bettenhausen made a one-off return to drive in the US 500 for the family-owned team. He coached and mentored young drivers after his final outing and died at age 72 in 2014.
9 13 Gil de Ferran
US 500 The France-born, Brazil-bred star reached his peak as Team Penske's team leader from 2000-03, where he won two CART championships, set the closed-course lap record at 241mph, won the 2003 Indy 500, and then dropped the mic. His addictive personality led to a return in 2008 as a team owner in the ALMS, where he saved an unemployed Simon Pagenaud from the Champ Car/IndyCar unification sideline. With the demise of his ALMS program, de Ferran turned to IndyCar, partnered with team owners, withdrew as finances went awry, and made a final return to the cockpit as a guest driver in 2011 in the V8 Supercars series' Gold Coast 600 event. De Ferran currently holds a senior position with Honda Performance Development.
13 17 Greg Moore (R)
US 500 The Canadian rookie entered CART the year of the split and raced in his first 500-miler at Michigan. As his record would show, Moore's aptitude on superspeedways suggested he would have been a ringer at Indianapolis. Moore died on Halloween 1999 at Fontana before he could try his hand at the Indy 500.
8 30 Hideshi Matsuda
Indy 500 The Japanese journalist-turned-racecar driver was a fun addition to the Indy 500 in the mid-1990s and scored his best finish in 1996. He'd make one more start in 1999, fail to qualify in 2000, then turn his full attention to sports cars at home in the JGTC series, retiring at the end of the 2012 season.
14 25 Hiro Matsushita
US 500 The heir to Matsushita Electric called time on his CART career at the end of 1998 and made one start at Le Mans the following year. He has spent the years since then living in southern California, where he looks after Swift Engineering – the famed racecar manufacturer and aerospace firm.
18 24 Jeff Krosnoff (R)
US 500 A CART rookie in 1996, the Californian was part of Toyota's first foray into the series and persevered through its rough development phase. Krosnoff was killed less than two months after the US 500 in a multi-car crash on the streets of Toronto on July 14. Corner worker Gary Avrin was also killed in the crash that claimed Krosnoff. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary since his death.
18 19 Jim Guthrie (R)
Indy 500 The IRL's rags-to-rags poster boy will always have his 1997 win at Phoenix to remember, and why shouldn't he? It was done on pennies and stands as one of the greatest upsets in modern open-wheel history. Guthrie flirted with a quality ride in 1998 with ISM, failed to qualify for his last two Indy 500s, started an Indy Lights team for his son and ran a mix of drivers through the late 2000s. He returned to driving – make that drifting – earlier this decade, runs an automotive business in New Mexico and has apparently taken up triathlons.
1 1 Jimmy Vasser
US 500 The winner of the first – and only – US 500 at Michigan continued racing through 2008 and was smart enough to form his own team in the latter stages of his career. Through multiple iterations and multiple business partners, Vasser's KVSH Racing team serves as one of Chevy's four Verizon IndyCar Series programs today. JV Fact: Away from the track, Vasser has a successful vineyard and, after taking business advice from his former Atlantic team owner Angelo Ferro, he also has car dealerships in the northern Bay Area near Sonoma Raceway.
22 31 Joe Gosek (R)
Indy 500 New York's "Double O" Joe Gosek is still racing Modifieds in his native Oswego. Hailed as one of the true short trackers who got their break in the first "IRL 500," he was also lampooned by CART's elite as an unknown who quickly came and went from Indy car racing.
31 17 John Paul Jr.
Indy 500 Blessed with immense natural talent, Paul's career benefitted from the advent of the IRL, where he rekindled the open-wheel career that was lost after his stay in prison for drug charges stemming from his father's marijuana operation. His last Indy 500 in 1998 was his best – a finish of seventh – and after two failures to qualify, his other aptitude, sports car racing, provided income through 2001. Since retiring from the cockpit, Paul Jr has focused his energies on living with Huntington's disease, a degenerative muscle disorder.
29 29 Johnny O'Connell (R)
Indy 500 Overlooked by CART teams after a distinguished rise up the 1980s open-wheel ladder, O'Connell burned up IMSA's sports car scene until he got a chance in the IRL. One of a few to be knocked out cold after a backward hit with the IRL's 1997 Indy car package, the New Yorker returned to sports cars, where he earned multiple class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He's the defending SCCA World Challenge GT series champion, having won four consecutive titles from 2012-15 ... the latest coming at the age of 53.
28 27 Johnny Parsons
Indy 500 The relentless Californian attempted to make his first Indy 500 in 1969, race at Indy in the 1970s and '80s, then failed to make the show from 1987-95, but didn't give up and added the 1996 event to his résumé. An avid short track racer, Parsons finally retired and keeps busy as a school teacher and bus driver. He's a regular figure at the Speedway every May.
33 16 Johnny Unser (R)
Indy 500 The IRL stalwart gained some traction after sporadic CART outings. Rarely blessed with top-flight equipment, Unser made his last 500 start in 2000, moved to officiating a few years later on the open-wheel ladder, and of late, has been a member of IndyCar's race control team.
22 26 Juan Manuel Fangio II
US 500 A frustrating debut season in CART with the new and unreliable Toyota engine and somewhat dated AAR chassis accelerated the IMSA champion's timeline for retirement. Calling it quits after the 1997 season, Fangio returned to his native Argentina. Other than a brief return to race at Sebring in 1999, Fangio was rather quiet on the driving front until he returned to race everything from semis to Fiat 500s as recently as 2014. Bicycle racing, marriage and a new daughter have been the most recent highlights reported from JMF II.
14 18 Lyn St. James
Indy 500 The standard bearer for women at the Indy 500 in the 1990s made seven starts – her last in 2000 – before dedicating her time to supporting women in motor racing through a foundation that provides annual grants to finalists selected by a panel of industry insiders.
26 22 Marco Greco
Indy 500 For a series founder who professed his interest in promoting more American talent – unlike the Euro-loving CART people – Greco, Brazil's rent-a-ride all-star, let the air out of Tony George's little balloon. Driving for Super Tex of all people, Greco resuscitated a flagging CART career into a few years of decent IRL finishes before a one-off drive in 1999 signaled the end. Other than obsessively posting images from his racing career almost every day on Facebook, Greco's life – beyond being a husband and father – has remained private.
5 19 Mark Blundell (R)
US 500 A TV commentator and driver manager today, the Brit raced in CART through 2000, joined two Le Mans programs with MG and Bentley through 2003 and made occasional starts in recent years with United Autosports, including at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in a Daytona Prototype.
19 14 Mark Dismore (R)
Indy 500 The karting champ kicked ass in Atlantics and IMSA, but was relegated to poor rides in CART before John Menard gave Dismore a shot in 1996. He'd lead Tom Kelley's new team and become an IRL staple through 2001, complete a partial schedule in 2002 and then focus on the family's karting business. The new kart track he's built outside Indy also hosts the annual Dan Wheldon memorial event.
2 14 Maurício Gugelmin
US 500 "Big Mo" retired at the end of the 2001 CART season and returned to his native Brazil to concentrate on business and family; he currently resides in Miami. Odd Fact: Gugelmin is an avid fisherman.
23 11 Michael Andretti
US 500 Andretti went from driver to team co-owner to outright team owner in the IRL, winning multiple Indy 500s and championships in his new career through the 2014 season. His Andretti Autosport team has five entries in the 100th Indy 500, including one for his son, Marco.
13 8 Michel Jourdain Jr. (R)
Indy 500 The young Mexican got his start in the IRL in 1996 which sparked a sufficiently long CART and Champ Car career that concluded in 2004. Jourdain dabbled in the WRC, WTCC, NASCAR and other series after Champ Car, but he got the Indy bug again in 2012 and partnered with former boss Bobby Rahal. Jourdain failed to qualify for the 500 in 2013, and has taken to racing semis in South America as a follow-up.
30 12 Michele Alboreto (R)
Indy 500 The Formula 1 veteran found a new and unexpected challenge in the IRL. As a member of Andy Evans' powerhouse team Scandia Racing, the Italian shined at Indy on his first attempt. He'd remain in the series with Scandia before shifting to sports cars. A win at Le Mans in 1997 was a crowning achievement for Alboreto, which made his death in a testing accident with Audi in 2001 particularly sad.
20 11 Mike Groff
Indy 500 Dripping in California cool, Groff revived his CART career after Honda's dismal introduction to the series in 1994 by relocating to the budding IRL. Smooth and measured, Groff's driving style was perfect for the all-oval series, where he featured in 1996 and 1997. After failing to make the 500 in 1999, Groff left the sport behind to focus on business. He now has a son in college who seems bound for a Major League Baseball career.
11 16 Parker Johnstone
US 500 Honda's sports car champion-turned-Indy car racer is often forgotten as the first Team Kool Green driver who spent one year with the program in 1997 before Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy were hired. 1997 was Johnstone's last in open-wheel, and he soon appeared as a broadcaster for CART events and in the NHRA. His ties to Honda led to starting a dealership in Oregon, and he recently piloted the Comptech Acura GTP Lights car that propelled him into Indy car at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion after it underwent a full restoration.
32 24 Paul Durant (R)
Indy 500 Yet another short track driver who was welcomed during the first couple of IRL seasons. Durant, from California, lives in Colodaro and owns Junk King Denver, where, he says, "In a nutshell, we remove unwanted items from homes and businesses with a recycling model that attempts to recycle up to 60% of what is picked up." 
7 7 Paul Tracy
US 500 The punchy Canadian never left Indy car racing. Today, he's a commentator for NBCSN on its IndyCar broadcasts. He made his last start at the 2011 Indy 500, and to some, the 2003 Champ Car title winner is also the rightful winner of the 2002 Indy 500.
25 25 Racin Gardner (R)
Indy 500 An actual person, Slick Racin Gardner became an instant punchline when his name was seen on the Indy 500 entry list. The stock car driver made one start, disappeared from Indy car, then reappeared in 2004 when the Los Angeles Times wrote he was charged for "felony charges of animal cruelty and grand theft" in "probably the largest seizure of neglected horses ever in the United States."
24 10 Raul Boesel
US 500 Boesel was a veteran by the time The Split arrived, and with his CART career winding down, he eventually migrated to the IRL, where he drove for a half-dozen teams through 2002. Odd Fact: Boesel now makes a living as a fairly popular EDM (electronic dance music) DJ who travels the globe spinning wheels of steel.
3 15 Richie Hearn (R)
Indy 500 The Californian was one of a few drivers who openly moved between CART and the IRL in its early days, and earned his best 500 finish as rookie in 1996. An undistinguished run in the 2007 500 was his last, and he currently works as a driving instructor at a road course in Nevada and runs a karting team.
9 23 Robbie Buhl (R)
Indy 500 Buhl was one of a few IRL drivers who came up through CART's informal open-wheel ladder, gained experience with a small outfit, and found better opportunities in Tony George's series. Forming his own team in 2000 with Dennis Reinbold, Buhl raced through the early part of 2004 before hanging up his helmet. He continued to own and run the team and was a co-host of IndyCar broadcasts during the early days of the new OLN/Versus TV package; he recently split with Reinbold and now operates his own Global Rallycross program.
20 21 Robby Gordon
US 500 The untamed Gordon found his strength as a team owner a few years into the CART/IRL split, and went onto form his own team, which ran in NASCAR, made sporadic Indy 500 appearances, and has found great success recently in the Super Stadium Trucks series which runs as a support race for IndyCar, V8 Supercars and other forms of racing.
5 6 Roberto Guerrero
Indy 500 The CART veteran extended his career in the IRL, and after finishing second at the 1987 500, placed fifth in 1996 before returning five more times to Indy and failing to qualify on the final two attempts. A brief and unsuccessful foray into NASCAR cemented Guerrero's decision to retire in 2003. Since then, he's done racing commentary and helped guide some of the young Colombians in the Mazda Road To Indy ladder and IndyCar.
3 20 Roberto Moreno
US 500 The ever-present Brazilian is never far from IndyCar. He raced in Champ Car through 2007, added some sports car racing and even Brazilian touring cars as recently as 2014. The "Super sub" is also a regular coach and adviser to young drivers.
15 32 Scott Harrington (R)
Indy 500 Star-crossed Harrington would come to epitomize the talented open-wheel cast-offs who got their break in the IRL. His self-destructive ways also squandered those chances, as alcohol and run-ins with the law ensured his only options would be found with small teams. 1996 was a watershed moment for Harrington, who'd try to make the show five more times and fail on each attempt. Outside the car, Scott has built a successful driver coaching business and has appeared on occasion behind the wheel of vintage cars.
26 9 Scott Pruett
US 500 In the twilight of his open-wheel career by 1996, Pruett would continue to race through 1999 before sampling NASCAR and its new sports car series, Grand-Am. "Scooter" would extend his career with Chip Ganassi in stock cars and sports cars through the 2015 season, adding multiple Rolex 24 at Daytona wins, before moving to the new Lexus GT program in 2016. At 56, Pruett shows no signs of slowing.
10 21 Scott Sharp
Indy 500 Sharp's steady approach would help him become the IRL's first co-champion, along with Buzz Calkins, and to become one of its earlier and most enduring stars. He'd race full-time through the 2007 season before migrating to the ALMS with Tequila Patron and Acura. A champion in 2009 with the Highcroft Acura program, Sharp and Patron CEO Ed Brown formed their own team in 2010 and continue to race in IMSA, the WEC, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
16 22 Stefan Johansson
US 500 The versatile ex-Formula 1 driver moved on from Indy car racing at the end of 1996 to focus on sports cars in 1997, where he won his first 24 Hours of Le Mans. He soon took to team ownership in Indy Lights, CART, and the ALMS. He also continued racing at Le Mans, in the ALMS and in IMSA, making his last start in 2014 at Monterey for Scuderia Corsa, where he holds the post of sporting director. Johansson has also served as four-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon's manager since the Kiwi won the 2000 Lights title in one of Stefan's cars.
27 13 Stéphan Grégoire
Indy 500 The Frenchman latched onto an open-wheel career in America with the IRL after limited success at the 500 in CART. The converted road racer had a decent spell in the IRL – he even had the financial backing from Mari Hulman George at one point – and drove for a number of small operations before failing to qualify in 2007 and switching to sports cars, where Le Mans and Grand-Am starts followed. He's found a new calling as a driving instructor in Indiana.
24 1 Tony Stewart (R)
Indy 500 Stewart's fate after the 1996 Indy 500 remains one of the sport's great unsolved mysteries. Kidding aside, Smoke's set to retire from a long IRL and NASCAR career at the end of the season.

1996a copyTwenty years ago the political pendulum cut a swath through open-wheel racing that divided fans, fractured friendships, angered sponsors, confused the media and left the month of May bleeding all over Indianapolis.

Then Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George and his upstart Indy Racing League played a costly game of chicken with Championship Auto Racing Teams that resulted in two races on May 26, 1996 and one, eventual, overall winner: NASCAR.

Unhappy with the direction of open-wheel racing under CART's leadership, George formed his own series around the Indianapolis 500 and shocked the establishment by guaranteeing IRL members 25 of the 33 starting spots for the '96 race.

1996WDWstart 5169Rather than show up at George's opening races at Orlando (left) and Phoenix and destroy the IRL before it got started, CART chose to stage its own 500-miler at Michigan International Speedway on the same day as the 80th running of Indy.

And, just to make sure the IRL had enough equipment to succeed, CART's teams sold them their old Reynards and Lolas while Ford (battling Honda and Mercedes in CART) supplied engines for 22 of the 33 qualifiers.

Kinda like selling ammunition to your enemy so they can kill you.

But, despite the daily shilling from Indy's media that everything was the same at 16th & Georgetown, it was the beginning of an unthinkable slide over the next few years that saw the Brickyard 400 become more popular than the Indy 500.

Since most of the tickets were sold before CART announced its U.S. 500 at MIS, the Indy fans had no idea they would be watching Racin Gardner, 'Bronco' Brad Murphey, Fermin Velez and Paul Durant instead of Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Bobby Rahal and Emerson Fittipaldi.

When the incomparable Jim Murray of the L.A. Times showed up, he walked around Gasoline Alley for an hour, came into the media center and typed:

"Like to see a burro win the Kentucky Derby? How about replacement players in a World Series in Yankee uniforms? Nuns in a chorus line? A U.S. Open for only guys with a handicap of 5 or over? What about an Indianapolis 500 contested by stock Edsels? How about one where no Andretti, Rahal or Fittipaldi can drive? The most venerable auto race in history has become minor league. It's like going to Yankee Stadium to watch Elmira play Binghampton."

racer 1996Murray's column infuriated the IMS staff but rang true with the general public. Attendance plummeted. Practice days were empty and nobody showed for qualifying either. Instead of the 40,000 that turned out for Bump Day in 1995 to watch Team Penske miss the show, it might have been 4,000 total for that second weekend. The whole month seemed like a glorified tire test and lacked its usual intensity.

"I'll admit I was a lot more relaxed than usual during May and I didn't feel that daily pressure like I always had in the past," said Buddy Lazier, a three-time Indy starter prior to '96. "But part of that may have been because I had one of the best cars."

That lack of atmosphere resonated through the city. Hotel rooms, usually expensive with 4-night minimums and tough to get, were available everywhere with no minimums or price gouging.

A Penthouse Paddock ticket scalped for $1,000 in '95 was offered for $60 and had no takers until race morning when it dropped to $20. A current employee of IndyCar tried to trade a pair of $90 Tower Terrace tickets for two tenderloins, fries and two Cokes on Georgetown Road but the vendor opted for the money.

Despite the lack of star power in Indianapolis, the inaugural IRL 500 did have its usual throng on race day and featured some good racers who never had a top-notch ride in CART like Mark Dismore and Davey Hamilton. Of the 17 rookies in the show, Tony Stewart was a star in the making and easily the best storyline of the month.

"It meant the world to me because I'd been beaten up so badly a few years earlier trying to make an old car go fast," said Dismore, a prolific winner in Formula Atlantic who had suffered massive injuries in a 1991 practice accident at Indy. "I was driving for John Menard and teammates with Scott Brayton and Tony (Stewart).

"I didn't care about IRL vs. CART and all that but one good thing about Tony's (George) series in those early years was that it gave some deserving short-track guys an opportunity we would have never received. And gave me a second chance."


levitt somethingUp in Brooklyn, Mich. the CART contingent put on a happy face but deep down they were gutted to miss Indy – as were their sponsors – yet thanks to lots of freebies they had 110,000 for the inaugural U.S. 500.

"Everyone wanted to be at Indy but we weren't," said Jimmy Vasser, who drove for Target/Ganassi (above). "We were hired drivers being paid big money, so we raced at MIS."

Advertised as the "Stars & Cars," their chance to thumb noses at the IRL vanished as they accelerated to take the green flag with an embarrassing pileup triggered by the front row.
Before it was known if anyone was hurt, the IRL media staff exploded into clapping and cheering but thankfully it turned out the only injury was to CART's pride.

While the red flag fell at MIS, Indy got started with a rookie rocketing away. After polesitter Brayton lost his life while testing, teammate Stewart assumed the catbird seat for the race and took off – leading the first 31 laps and 44 of the first 54 before his engine broke.

1996 Buddy Lazier Victory CircleRoberto Guerrero, Davy Jones and Lazier then took turns at the front until the second-generation journeyman passed Jones with eight laps left to take the checkered flag (right).

"For a long time I'd about given up hope for this event, so obviously it was really gratifying," said Lazier, who suffered a broken back the month before in a crash at Phoenix. "I'm not a quitter and a lot of people didn't think I should risk running with my back, but it was the best shot I ever had and everything clicked."

Up north, Vasser (left) captured the U.S. 500 and famously pissed off the Indy loyalists by chiding "who needs milk?" in victory lane to his crew, but the experiment to go up against Indianapolis was one and done.

montoya 2000CART raced in Madison, Ill. and Nazareth, Pa. the day before Indy for the next few years before Ganassi crossed the picket line in 2000, followed by Roger Penske in 2001. By 2003, the IRL owned all the big teams except for Newman/Haas and Forsythe Racing as CART folded, Champ Car took its place and open-wheel slogged along – divided – until George put things back together in 2008.

"I never believed it was going to happen, that there was going to be another series but I never felt cheated," said Vasser, who along with Greg Moore, Alex Zanardi, Andretti and Unser missed prime years at Indy before going back in 2000 with Juan Montoya (left). "And I finally won Indy with T.K. (Tony Kanaan in 2013).

Indianapolis has never regained the practice and qualifying crowds it had prior to 1996, but this month, for the first time in 20 years, the race is sold out and extra suites have been added.

As for some of the old players, Lazier is still driving, Vasser is now a car owner, Dismore operates a badass go-kart track in New Castle and three-time NASCAR champ Stewart is in his final year on the Sprint Cup circuit.

Twenty years after The Split, IndyCar is still struggling to regain fans, sponsors, traction and relevance in the American sporting scene. But the damage inflicted in 1996 seems irreparable.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's first-lap crash in the Spanish Grand Prix has left everyone within the Mercedes Formula 1 team scarred, according to motorsport boss Toto Wolff. Both drivers have been keen to move on, and Hamilton said the pair have gotten over it faster than previous flashpoints, but Wolff recognizes there remains a degree of healing that needs to be done.

Ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, Wolff told Autosport: "Every major incident, and I would quantify Barcelona as a major incident, leaves scars. Barcelona has left scars, certainly on the drivers, within the team, and the people involved within Mercedes in Formula 1.

Related Stories

{loadposition legends}

"It was an incident that was not supposed to happen, but I look at things philosophically," he said. "Scars are bad because it means something has hurt, but they can also be good because you try and avoid more in the future.

"That's what I would like to take out of it. Yes, we had a complete wipeout, but I would like to think it is something that can be avoided in the future."

Despite suggestions that there is no way back for Hamilton and Rosberg's relationship – which goes back to their childhood days in karting – Wolff is adamant that is far from the case.

"Somebody who says that doesn't have a clue about their relationship," said Wolff. "I would say their relationship oscillates. It varies upon the circumstances. In the winter, the moment the pressure is off, it changes, and you can say it is always pretty relaxed. But then the pressure builds up again over testing, and in particular once the racing starts, it becomes a relationship between competitors.

"If you were to look through a magnifying glass, or from a media perspective seeking headlines, you will see at times it is better, at times worse; they talk to each other and then they don't, depending on what is happening on track. I wouldn't want to generalize a very complex, long-lasting relationship by saying it has gone from good to bad, and back to good. It is much more complicated than that."

Although this is the second high-profile racing incident between the duo, the previous collision at Spa in 2014, Wolff insists he is happy for them to continue racing because they clash so infrequently, with team orders only serving as a last resort.

"We are in Formula 1 for many reasons, and one of them is to promote our brand," said Wolff. "The brand stands for racing, the right mindset, sportsmanship, among many other things. Team orders would bring the result in the end, but it would be to the detriment of the image of Mercedes-Benz. We haven't done it, and we certainly have no plans to do so at this stage.

"Having said that, if we were to slide into a situation that becomes complicated, I wouldn't want to rule it out."

Originally on Autosport.com

rogers house 2Indianapolis Motor Speedway is to Penske what Monza is to Ferrari, defining and challenging the team and its legacy.


He started out with one car, one sponsor, one special driver and one specific goal. “I told the Sun Oil Company it would take us three years to win the Indianapolis 500,” recalls Roger Penske, breaking into a smile. “But we didn’t win it until the fourth try.”

Since that victory for Mark Donohue in the Sunoco McLaren-Offy in 1972, “The Captain” has re shaped how people go Indy car racing, become the yardstick for greatness, and made the Indianapolis Motor Speedway his personal proving ground.

In the 42 times Penske has competed in the Indy 500, his cars have racked up 16 wins – an astounding 38 percent hit rate.

rogers house 1He’s given unknowns like Rick Mears (left) and Helio Castroneves a chance to shine, provided stars like Juan Pablo Montoya with a second chance, and employed the entire Unser family at various times.

From polishing the wheels on that first Lola, to dressing his mechanics in identical collared shirts, to cultivating longtime sponsorships, to mixing business with the pleasure of auto racing, Penske put in place a formula for success at Indianapolis that has flourished for five decades.

And today, aged 79, Roger S. Penske continues to monitor his billion-dollar business empire with one eye on the racetrack and his heart still in the driver’s seat.

“He told me once he’ll have a car at Indianapolis until they drag him out of the place, and I’ve not seen his desire waiver one bit,” says Mears, who earned four of Penske’s baby Borg-Warner Trophies during 15 years driving for his team. “He loves competing and he loves winning, but Indy means everything to him.”

To think that a college kid who took out a GMAC loan in order to race a Corvette with SCCA would become the gold standard at the rough, tough Brickyard might seem like a bit of miscasting.

“First time I saw Indianapolis with my dad, in ’51, it got in my blood and I set my sights on it,” says Penske. “It was the Holy Grail.”

It didn’t take Roger’s road-racing renegades long to figure out ovals, as Donohue started fifth and finished second to Al Unser in his sophomore IMS run in 1970. Then, in only his 16th Indy car start (and seventh on an oval), he won the ’71 Pocono 500. His learning curve was made easier that year because Penske commissioned an innovative McLaren that borrowed heavily from Formula 1 thinking – his first example of being out ahead of the pack.

rogers house 3“With Roger, it’s always about the team; it’s never about you,” offers Penske’s three-time Indy 500 king Castroneves (right). “There’s a lot of selfishness in racing, but there’s none at Team Penske.

“When I joined, Gil hadn’t won a title and I hadn’t led a lap, so I knew I had to get along with him and learn as much as I could, and it was fantastic. It’s the spirit of the team and you want to make Roger happy – and it’s contagious.”

Get the complete version of this story in the Great Teams III Issue of RACER, on sale now. Take a video tour of the issue...

{youtube}hw8FFzON2ls{/youtube}

To subscribe now at a special discount rate, click here, or to buy The Great Teams III Issue online, click here. To learn where to buy RACER in your area, click here.

RACER is also available digitally for Apple, Android and Kindle Fire devices. RACER Digital has the complete content of the magazine's print edition formatted for mobile viewing. With RACER Digital, you'll have access to your RACER content all the time, wherever you are.

The RACER app can be found by searching for "RACER Magazine" in the Apple, Android or Amazon App stores. The app is free and includes issue previews and the RACER.com newsfeed. Individual issues can be purchased for $1.99 and an 8-issue annual subscription is $9.99. Back issues are also available.

Follow Racer

Subscribe to Racer

The RACER Poll

What should be the first priority for new IndyCar venues?
  • Votes: (0%)
  • Votes: (0%)
  • Votes: (0%)
  • Votes: (0%)
Total Votes:
First Vote:
Last Vote:

Video: The Great Teams III Issue

The Great Teams III Issue is on sale now. Click here for more information.

Race Cars For Sale

FROM THE RACER CHANNEL ON YOUTUBE

Ryan Millen on going faster than ever.

 

See more than 50 On Board videos.

Honda Racing / HPD Videos

Honda's all-new rallycross Civic makes its debut.

close icon
Mobile Advertisement