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The history of the Indianapolis 500

It started as 3.2 million bricks

May 28, 2011|From staff and wire reports
  • Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911.
Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 1911. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway )

1909: Street paving bricks — 3.2 million of them — are laid over the entire 21/2 -mile track.

1911: Ray Harroun and his Marmon Wasp win the first 500 in 6 hours 42 minutes.

1912: Ralph DePalma leads 196 of the first 198 laps and is ahead by 51/2 laps when his car breaks down.

1917-18: No race because of World War I.

1919: Howdy Wilcox is the first driver to qualify at more than 100 mph.

1925: Peter DePaolo needs 21 laps of relief to have his blistered hands bandaged, but he gets back in the car and wins the race.

1930: Billy Arnold leads 198 laps, finishes five laps in front and is the first to average more than 100 mph.

1936: Louis Meyer is the first three-time winner; the Borg-Warner Trophy is introduced.

1939: George Bailey is the first to qualify a car that has its engine behind the driver.

1940: Wilbur Shaw is the first driver to win back-to-back 500s.

1941: Mauri Rose, his own car forced out, replaces teammate Floyd Davis and races to a victory — they are named co-winners.

1942-45: No race because of World War II.

1946: The Indy 500 is back — with Tony Hulman as the new owner of the Speedway.

1948: Billy Devore qualifies a car with six wheels, but it is black-flagged after 190 laps.

1961: The bricks on the main straightaway are covered with asphalt, leaving only a three-foot section of brick at the start-finish line.

1965: Jim Clark leads 190 laps and gives a rear-engine car its first victory; only methanol fuel is permitted; first "Wide World of Sports" taped coverage on ABC.

1967: The turbine-powered "whooshmobile" driven by Parnelli Jones leads all but 25 of the first 196 laps before quietly coasting to a stop on the track.

1970: The race has its first $1-million purse ($1,000,002); winner Al Unser Sr. gets $271,698.

1977: A.J. Foyt becomes the first four-time winner; Janet Guthrie is the first female to qualify for the race.

1979: USAC tries to keep top CART teams from entering, but a court injunction lets CART back in; Penske Racing's Rick Mears wins the first of his four 500s.

1987: Al Unser Sr.'s fourth win comes in a car that had been a show car.

1989: Emerson Fittipaldi is the first winner to get more than $1 million ($1,001,604).

1991: Willy T. Ribbs is the first African-American to qualify for the race.

1992: Al Unser Jr. wins by just .043 of a second over Scott Goodyear — the closest finish ever.

1996: The CART-IRL split results in many top teams not competing at Indy.

2000: Chip Ganassi Racing breaks from CART and competes at Indy — and Juan Pablo Montoya wins. It is Montoya's first — and, until now, last — Indy start.

2001: Penske Racing and Team Green join the CART return to Indy, and CART drivers take the top six spots.

2005: Danica Patrick becomes the first female to lead the race.

2009: Helio Castroneves' third win is the first to pay more than $3 million ($3,048,005).

Sources include the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Media Guide.

Compiled by Paul Reinhard, Allentown Morning Call

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