1958 | Treacherous Turn
This is an article from the May 30, 2011 issue
• As front-row drivers Dick Rathmann and Ed Elisian battled for position on the opening lap, Elisian drove under Rathmann and lost control, sliding up the banking into Rathmann and triggering a 15-car pileup. A half-dozen drivers were injured, and popular Pat O'Connor, who had been featured on the cover of SI less than a week earlier, was killed after his car rolled end over end.
1987 | At the End of His Rope
• For 170 laps, Mario Andretti had led the race, but on Lap 177, ahead by more than two miles, his engine sputtered and he ducked into the pits. Back on the track, Andretti stalled with eight laps to go, bringing the caution flag out. Roberto Guerrero briefly took the lead before Al Unser overtook him on the way to his fourth Indy win. "There was no one who could challenge us today," said a disappointed Andretti, who would win Indy only once in 29 tries. "No one."
1967 | Man of Vision
• A.J. Foyt avoided a last-lap five-car crash, driving through the smoke unscathed to take his third win. "When I peeked around the number 4 turn and saw all that smoke, I said, 'Oh, God!'" Foyt told SI. "I popped her into low and pulled down to the inside of the track. And as soon as I could see where everybody was spinning to, I stood on it again and drove her on through to the finish line."
1964 | A Black Day
• The last crash to claim multiple drivers' lives occurred on the second lap, when Dave MacDonald spun and hit the inside wall. His car exploded, and Eddie Sachs plowed directly into MacDonald's car, dying instantly. MacDonald died several hours later. A.J. Foyt would take his second checkered flag in a race that was delayed for one hour and 45 minutes.
1924 | Two to Go
• Leading after the first lap, Joe Boyer's Duesenberg Special gave out on the second, and he parked it. L.L. Corum's car of the same make was struggling in fourth place halfway through the race. On Lap 111, Fred Duesenberg called Corum to the pits to let the more experienced Boyer finish the job. Boyer took the lead for good on Lap 177, and he and Corum were declared cowinners.
1911 | First Champ
• Ray Harroun drove the only single-seater in the field, a Marmon Wasp, to a win in the inaugural race, which took 6:42:08 to complete. (All other entrants had riding mechanics.) Several days later, in his syndicated column, racing pioneer Barney Oldfield wrote that Harroun "simply played with the others as a cat does with a mouse.... He mixes brains with his gasoline. A rare mixture, believe me."
2006 | Sudden Sam Steals One
• Sam Hornish Jr. had led twice for a total of 18 laps, but with two to go, 19-year-old Marco Andretti (who had just taken the lead from his father, Michael) seemed to have the victory sewn up. Even so, Hornish kept his foot on the accelerator, passing the younger Andretti, who would earn Rookie of the Year honors, just before the yard of bricks that marks the finish line. The .0635 of a second margin of victory was the second closest ever, and it was the first time a driver had made a last-lap pass to win.
2005 | She's the One
• Rookie Danica Patrick made history on Lap 56, when she became the first woman to lead the 500, but after a spin on Lap 155, she looked to be out of contention. After getting back on the lead lap, she moved to the front again on Lap 172 (for 14 laps), then passed Dan Wheldon here with only 10 to go. Wheldon reclaimed the lead for good three laps later, but Patrick would earn Rookie of the Year honors for her fourth-place finish, highest ever by a woman.
1991 | Chute to Thrill
• Just after a restart, with 14 laps remaining, Michael Andretti passed leader Rick Mears with a gutsy move on the outside in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2. One lap later Mears returned the favor, pulling the same move on Andretti despite having crashed into the wall in that very spot during practice 16 days earlier. Mears's steely maneuver put him back into the lead, and he held on to become one of three drivers (along with A.J. Foyt and Al Unser) to win the Indy 500 four times.
1985 | Spin 'n' Win
• On Lap 120, Danny Sullivan lost control while passing Mario Andretti. Sullivan's car spun all the way around but miraculously hit nothing. He worked his way back into the lead 20 laps later and took the checkered flag nearly 2½ seconds ahead of Andretti. Said Sullivan's car owner Roger Penske: "When it's your day, it's your day."
1947 | Stuck by a Rose
• Rookie Bill Holland, who had led 143 laps, thought he was a lap ahead of teammate Mauri Rose and slowed when owner Lou Moore signaled for both drivers to ease off. When Rose passed Holland on the backstretch with seven to go, Holland waved, thinking Rose was still two miles behind. Rose (left) took the win. "The lousiest deal I ever got," Holland called it.
1909 | Up, Up and Away
• On June 5, two years before the first Indy 500, six hot-air balloons lifted off from the infield for the U.S. National Balloon Championships, one carrying track founder Carl Fisher. Two days later his balloon landed 230 miles away, near Ashland City, Tenn., but the winning airship landed 382 miles from Indy, in Fort Payne, Ala. "We are safe thanks to the poor marksmanship of a number of farmers," Fisher told a reporter. "It has been a regular fusillade down here."
THE SHAPE OF SPEED
A look at auto evolution over 100 years of racing at the hallowed Brickyard
1911 Marmon Wasp
Driver: Ray Harroun
1925 Miller Junior Eight
1928 Miller Special
1941 Noc-Out Hose Clamp
Floyd Davis and Mauri Rose
1957 Belond Exhaust Special
1963 Agajanian Willard Battery
1977 Gilmore Racing
1980 Pennzoil Chaparral
1990 Douglas Shierson Racing
2005 Rahal Letterman Racing