Highlights from the the Indianapolis 500, Runnings 51-60

Donohue and Penske in 1972. Photo: IMS Archives
0 Comments

The Associated Press has compiled a list of highlights of all past Indianapolis 500 races, as the buildup to the 100th running presented by PennGrade Motor Oil takes place this May 29.

Here are runnings 51-60, from 1967 through 1976.

Past pieces:

RACE: 51st Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 30-31, 1967

WINNER: A.J. Foyt

AVERAGE SPEED: 151.207 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: It took two days to run the race after rain halted it 18 laps into its start on a Tuesday. The race resumed on Wednesday, with Foyt winning for the third time after Parnelli Jones, driving for Andy Granatelli, led 171 laps before a $6 ball bearing led to a broken transmission on lap 196.

NOTABLE: Mario Andretti won the pole and set single lap (169.779 mph) and four-lap track records (168.982 mph).

RACE: 52nd Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 30, 1968

WINNER: Bobby Unser

AVERAGE SPEED: 152.882 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Unser won the first of his three Indy 500s when he inherited the lead just eight laps from the finish when Joe Leonard’s engine expired.

NOTABLE: Pratt & Whitney’s turbine engine – the “Wedge Turbine” – was used in the Lotus 56 entries. Mike Spence was killed in a May 7 practice session when a tire broke off his Wedge Turbine and struck him in the head.

RACE: 53rd Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 30, 1969

WINNER: Mario Andretti

AVERAGE SPEED: 156.867 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Andretti led the final 194 laps to earn the only Indianapolis 500 for the Andretti family, a drought known today as “The Andretti Curse.”

NOTABLE: Al Unser Sr. crashed his motorcycle in the infield the night before qualifications. He missed the race with a broken leg.

RACE: 54th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 30, 1970

WINNER: Al Unser Sr.

AVERAGE SPEED: 155.749 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Unser dominated the race and led 190 laps from the pole to join older brother, Bobby, as the first pair of brothers to win the 500. The victory also made Parnelli Jones the second competitor to win the race as a driver (1963) and as a car owner.

NOTABLE: The prize fund topped $1 million for the first time in history (by $2). Unser was the final driver to celebrate in victory lane at the south end of the pits. Victory lane was relocated the next year.

RACE: 55th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 29, 1971

WINNER: Al Unser Sr.

AVERAGE SPEED: 157.735 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Unser won for the second consecutive year and became the only driver to win on his birthday. He was the first winner to celebrate in the relocated victory lane, which now sported black-and-white checkered ramps and was in the “horseshoe” area near the start/finish line.

NOTABLE: An Indianapolis-area car dealer was the driver of the pace car, but he lost control of the Dodge Challenger at the south end of the pits at the start of the race. The car crashed into a photographers’ stand, injuring 29 people.

RACE: 56th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 27, 1972

WINNER: Mark Donohue

AVERAGE SPEED: 162.962 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Gary Bettenhausen led 138 laps until his car suffered ignition trouble. His teammate, Donohue, led only the last 13 laps to win the first of team owner Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 victories.

NOTABLE: Tony Hulman asked Jim Nabors to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” during the pre-race ceremonies, and Nabors did so without rehearsal, beginning a 36-year tradition with Nabors performing nearly every year from 1972 to 2014. The 1972 race also was the first since 1962 to have an all-American lineup.

RACE: 57th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 28-29-30, 1973

WINNER: Gordon Johncock

AVERAGE SPEED: 159.036 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: An 11-car accident at the start left Salt Wather critically injured and caused lengthy track repairs. Rain then halted the event for the next two days. The race, run on Wednesday, was won by Johncock because he was the leader when rain resumed again after 133 laps. The race was marred by two deaths and when it stopped, only 11 cars were still on the track in what’s considered one of the worst Indy 500s in history.

NOTABLE: Art Pollard was killed during a practice session on pole day, and Wednesday’s race was plagued by two fatalities: driver Swede Savage and pit crew member Armando Teran.

RACE: 58th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 26, 1974

WINNER: Johnny Rutherford

AVERAGE SPEED: 158.589 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Rutherford won from the 25th starting position, the farthest back for any victor since Louis Meyer in 1936. Safety improvements following the 1973 debacle led to a clean 500-mile race, and A.J. Foyt set the all-time starts mark at 17. He went on to start 35 Indy 500s.

NOTABLE: The race was held on a Sunday for the first time in history, ending the “never on a Sunday” policy that held from 1911-73. It was also the earliest calendar date that the race had ever been held.

RACE: 59th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 25, 1975

WINNER: Bobby Unser

AVERAGE SPEED: 149.213 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Unser was leading when a heavy downpour ended the race 26 laps shy of the finish. It was Dan Gurney’s only Indy 500 victory as an owner.

NOTABLE: The Hulman family celebrated 30 years of ownership of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on race day. Tom Sneva walked away with only minor injuries after a crash sent his car into the catchfence and left him trapped in the cockpit during a flash fire.

RACE: 60th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 30, 1976

WINNER: Johnny Rutherford

AVERAGE SPEED: 188.957 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Pole-sitter Rutherford won his second Indy 500. He was the leader when rain stopped the race at lap 103. After a two-hour delay, it began to rain again and the race was called. Rutherford walked to victory lane and is credited with completing the shortest Indy 500 on record at just 255 miles.

NOTABLE: Janet Guthrie became the first female driver to enter the Indianapolis 500. Mechanical and engine problems during the month left her unable to make an attempt to qualify. Hours after the race, former driver Elmer George, the husband of Mari Hulman George, was shot and killed during a confrontation. The race was also the final Indy 500 for longtime radio anchor Sid Collins.

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

0 Comments

With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list