By: Tanner Watkins
October 27, 2018 | 2:58 PM
After last night’s 18-inning affair in game three of the 2018 World Series, we got to thinking: what are some of the Indianapolis 500’s most unique time-related records? Hopefully you like trivia answers, because that’s what we are serving up this afternoon!
The Indianapolis 500 is a motor race that has lasted generations, and just as the World Series has its history, the “Greatest Spectacle” carries quirks and tidbits all the same.
There have been more than a few Indy 500 marathons similar to the record-setting match-up between the Dodgers and Red Sox on Friday evening.
Who could forget the 1997 race? Completely rained out on Sunday, May 25, the event was postponed to Memorial Day on May 26 where race officials were only able to squeeze in 15 laps before even more rain pushed the proceedings to Tuesday, May 27. Arie Luyendyk eventually won the race which reached its full 500-mile distance that day, his second Indianapolis triumph.
The 1986 Indianapolis 500 was the first edition of the grand event to be completed in less than three hours, but that was only after the race was postponed from its originally scheduled day of Sunday, May 25, and then again on Monday, May 26 – coincidentally the same days that would be rained out in 1997.
Finally on May 31, a Saturday, the race ran without issue as Rahal streaked to victory. Incredibly, had rain intervened once again on May 31, we could have had our first laps of the Indianapolis 500 completed in June.
But rain hasn’t been the only factor in keeping people waiting at Indianapolis.
Back in 2000, Juan Pablo Montoya stunned the open-wheel world when he not only came over from CART to win the Indy 500 but dominated in the process, leading an incredible 167 laps. After forays into Formula One and NASCAR, Montoya wouldn’t return to the ‘500 again until 2014 when he joined Roger Penske’s fleet of drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
In 2015, Juan Pablo would once again taste milk at the Brickyard when he won his second Indianapolis 500. His 15-year span in between victories in open-wheel racing’s crown jewel event is the longest any driver has gone between multiple wins at IMS.
While Montoya’s 15 years between wins number one and two is a record, he doesn’t hold the title for time spent between “first” and “last” victories. Al Unser Sr. holds that distinction, winning his first Indianapolis 500 back in 1970 and his final (fourth) Indy win in 1987 – a span of 17 years.
A.J. Foyt ran a close second to “Big Al,” winning four times at the Speedway in a 16-year time period.
Unser and Foyt – two names synonymous with the Indianapolis 500 – are tied to other time-related records as well. When Unser won for the last time in 1987 as a fill-in for Roger Penske, he became the oldest winner of the ‘500 at 47 years and 360 days. In 1992, Foyt made the last of his record-setting 35 consecutive starts at the age of 57 years and 128 days.
And who had been on the earth for the shortest amount of time before making his first Indianapolis 500 start? That would be Big Tex’s grandson, A.J. Foyt IV, who made his first start at Indianapolis on his 19th birthday in 2003.
In a race that has endured two World Wars, a devastating split in American open-wheel racing and multiple recessions and even the Great Depression, here are a few more time-related records at the Indianapolis 500:
While it took fan favorite Tony Kanaan a record 12 tries to win his first Indianapolis 500 in 2013 with KV Racing, he doesn’t stand alone in holding that distinction. Sam Hanks also waited 12 years before placing his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy back in 1957.
Jules Goux made for one of the most boring Indianapolis 500 finishes in 1913 when the Frenchman won the 3rd running of the 500 Mile Race by 13 minutes and 8 seconds over Spencer Wishart!
You didn’t think Mario Andretti could miss out on an Indianapolis 500 record, did you? Mario holds the record of most races run in between pole awards at the Indianapolis 500, going 20 years between being the top qualifier in 1967 and then again in 1987.
The Marmon Wasp is regarded as one of the most recognizable cars in auto racing history, though it certainly isn’t the fastest. In fact, the top finishing car from the Indy 500’s first running completed the slowest 500 miles of any race winning-car. It took Ray Harroun 6 hours, 42 minutes and 8 seconds to log 200 laps around IMS in victory at a speed of 74.602 miles per hour.
And speaking of laps, Helio Castroneves has completed a lot of them at the historic 2.5-mile oval.
While the three-time winner hasn’t run the most laps at Indianapolis, he does hold the record of completing the most consecutive laps in the 500 Mile Race without falling out of contention as a result of a crash or mechanical failure.
Castroneves’ streak of 2,310 laps finished in the Indianapolis 500 came to a close just this past May when he lost control of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet on lap 145. The last time Castroneves wasn’t running at the race’s conclusion was 2006 when an accident on lap 109 cut his day short.
Header image courtesy of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.