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One hundred tidbits for the Indianapolis 500 centennial

The Indianapolis 500 is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. To commemorate the occasion we give you the fan-nominated top 33 drivers ever at the Brickyard, and 67 other tidbits about the Memorial Day classic.

11 coolest names (10 by decade, plus one bonus)

1910s: Howdy Wilcox

1920s: Prince de Cysteria

1930s: Baconin Borzacchini

1940s: Duke Nalon

1950s: Travis "Spider" Webb

1960s: Gene Force

1970s: Larry "Boom Boom" Cannon

1980s: Steve Chassey

1990s: Racin Gardner

2000s: Airton Dare

And the coolest name ever at the Brickyard: Count Louis Zborowski (1923)

10 countries where winners were born

Australia: Scott Dixon (he grew up in New Zealand)

Brazil: Emerson Fittipaldi, Helio Castroneves

Canada: Jacques Villeneuve

Colombia: Juan Montoya

France: Jules Goux, Rene Thomas, Gaston Chevrolet, Gil de Ferran (he grew up in Brazil)

Great Britain: George Robson, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Dan Wheldon, Dario Franchitti

Italy: Ralph DePalma, Dario Resta, Mario Andretti

Netherlands: Arie Luyendyk

Sweden: Kenny Brack

United States: The other 48 winners, hailing from 20 states

Three top car numbers

3 (11 wins); 2 (eight); 1 (seven)

Nine odds and ends

Longest time to enjoy a victory: Louis Meyer, 1928. He won the race twice more and died Oct. 7, 1995.

Shortest time to enjoy a victory: Ray Keech, 1929. He died in a racing accident in Tipton, Pa., just 16 days later.

Most career laps led without a win: Michael Andretti, 431.

Fewest career laps led by a winner: Joe Dawson, two.

Most starts without a win: George Snider, 22.

Drivers whose last names begin with U: Six — all of them named Unser (Al, Al Jr., Bobby, Jerry, Johnny, Robby).

Fast speed endures: Arie Luyendyk's four-lap qualification run of 236.986 mph has stood since 1996, the longest that mark has ever stood.

First 500 run on a Sunday: 1974 — for decades the race was on May 30, whichever day of the week that fell on, unless May 30 was Sunday, in which case the race would run on Monday.

Width of the remaining brick portion of the track: A yard.

Five prerace traditions

Multiday qualifying, Saturday parade, Purdue marching band, Jim Nabors singing Back Home Again in Indiana, Balloon release

Four iconic moments

1912: The push. Ralph DePalma led 196 of 200 laps but had a mechanical failure. He and riding mechanic Rupert Jeffkins get out and push the car across the finish line as Joe Dawson leads the final two laps to win.

1947: The "EZY" sign. Team owner Lou Moore holds up the sign to tell leader Bill Holland to preserve his equipment. Holland slows and, thinking second-place teammate Mauri Rose is a lap down, lets Rose past. Rose goes on to victory, Holland is second.

1982: The duel. Rick Mears closes in on leader Gordon Johncock rapidly in the dwindling laps. The two race side-by-side entering the final lap. Johncock closes the door on Mears entering Turn 1 and wins by 0.16 seconds, then a record.

1989: The thumbs-up. Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi are battling for the win with a couple of laps left. Contact between the two sends Unser into the wall and out of the race as Fittipaldi continues on to the win. Unser, unhurt, walks to the side of the track to give Fittipaldi the congratulatory gesture as he passes by.


Drivers named Smith, the most common surname in America, to qualify for the 500.

17 multiple winners

4 wins A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Al Unser Sr.

3 Louis Meyer, Mauri Rose, Wilbur Shaw, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser, Helio Castroneves

2 Tommy Milton, Bill Vukovich, Rodger Ward, Gordon Johncock, Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser Jr., Arie Luyendyk, Dario Franchitti

The Greatest 33

Last week, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway released its "Greatest 33" after fan voting to pick an all-time greatest field at the Indy 500. Voters chose from 100 nominees to construct a mythical grid of 11 rows. Here are the drivers chosen in order of votes received:

Row 1

1. A.J. Foyt, four wins (35 starts, 1958-92)

2. Rick Mears, four (15, 1978-92)

3. Al Unser Sr., four (27, 1965-93)

Row 2

4. Bobby Unser, three (19, 1963-81)

5. Helio Castroneves, three (10, 2001-present)

6. Johnny Rutherford, three (24, 1963-88)

Row 3

7. Mario Andretti, one (29, 1965-94)

8. Wilbur Shaw, three (13, 1927-41)

9. Bill Vukovich, two (five, 1951-55)

Row 4

10. Emerson Fittipaldi, two (11, 1984-94)

11. Al Unser Jr., two (19, 1983-2007)

12. Louis Meyer, three (12, 1928-39)

Row 5

13. Mauri Rose, three (16, 1933-51)

14. Parnelli Jones, one (seven, 1961-67)

15. Gordon Johncock, two (24, 1965-92)

Row 6

16. Arie Luyendyk, two (17, 1985-2002)

17. Rodger Ward, two (15, 1951-66)

18. Jim Clark, one (five, 1963-67)

Row 7

19. Dario Franchitti, two (seven, 2002-present)

20. Tom Sneva, one (18, 1974-92)

21. Bobby Rahal, one (13, 1982-95)

Row 8

22. Mark Donohue, one (five, 1969-73)

23. Michael Andretti, zero (16, 1984-2007)

24. Ralph DePalma, one (10, 1911-25)

Row 9

25. Ray Harroun, one (one, 1911)

26. Tommy Milton, two (eight, 1919-27)

27. Danny Sullivan, one (12, 1982-95)

Row 10

28. Graham Hill, one (three, 1966-68)

29. Dan Gurney, zero (nine, 1962-70)

30. Jim Rathmann, one (14, 1949-63)

Row 11

31. Juan Montoya, one (one, 2000)

32. Tony Bettenhausen, zero (14, 1946-60)

33. Scott Dixon, one (eight, 2003-present)

Seven female drivers ranked

1. Danica Patrick: She holds a slew of records for women and is the only woman to lead the 500.

2. Janet Guthrie: Only three starts, 1977-79, but status as a pioneer casts her in a great role.

3. Lyn St. James: She won Indy rookie of the year in 1992, the first woman to do so.

4. Sarah Fisher: Most starts (nine) among women but mostly with underfunded teams.

5. Simona de Silvestro: Last year she followed St. James and Patrick as rookie of the year.

6. Milka Duno: Made three starts, in 2007-09.

7. Ana Beatriz: Started and finished 21st last year in her debut.

One hundred tidbits for the Indianapolis 500 centennial 05/27/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2011 9:28pm]
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