April 16 in Motorsports History: A controversial win at Long Beach


While the Long Beach Grand Prix has been incredibly kind to the Andretti family, the 1989 edition of the race is one that Mario Andretti likely does not remember too fondly.

By the late 1980s, Andretti had won a Formula One race at the famed street course in 1977, and three of the first four CART-sanctioned events at Long Beach in 1984, ’85 and ’87. His son Michael won his first race there in ’86.

But on April 16, 1989, Mario’s bid for “King of the Beach” unofficially was snatched away by defending Long Beach winner Al Unser Jr.

Starting from the pole position, Unser dominated early and seemed on track for his second-consecutive victory in the event.

Meanwhile, Andretti qualified fifth and slowly worked his way to the front. While Unser clearly had the faster car, he had to slow his pace to save fuel. By then, Andretti had reached second, and with the help of a quick pit stop, he emerged from the pit cycle just ahead of Unser.

As they entered Turn 3 on Lap 84, they approached the lapped car of Tom Sneva. Unser drove under Andretti for the lead but made contact and caused Andretti to spin.

While Andretti’s day was done, Unser’s car continued to run without a front wing through the checkered flag. Unser’s victory was his second in a four-race win streak at Long Beach that dubbed him “King of the Beach.”

Andretti finished 18th and confronted Unser in victory lane.

“I find it very difficult to congratulate him of course,” Andretti told ABC Sports. “He blatantly just spun me out of the way. If that’s the way he wants to play, it’s pretty sorry. It’s a pretty sorry drive, really.”

Unser said he had ‘mixed emotions’ about the incident.

“I ain’t putting the blame on anybody,” Unser said. “It’s my fault because I did the hitting, but goddang it, they all stopped in front of me and couldn’t help it.”

Also on this date:

2000: Paul Tracy started Long Beach from 17th but worked his way to first place by Lap 62 to win the race for the second time in his career. Tracy would win twice more at Long Beach in 2003-04.

2016: A daring inside pass for the lead in the first corner was all Ricky Taylor needed to set the tone for IMSA’s Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach. He and his younger brother, Jordan, cruised to an overall win in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, leading all but two laps.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports