IndyCar Christmas gift to fans: Classic race replays

IndyCar Christmas classic race
ISC Archives via Getty Images

On Christmas Day, the IndyCar series announced a Christmas gift to fans; they will replay a classic IndyCar race each day this week on their Facebook page with the 1980 Indianapolis 500 as the first offering.

In a race that featured 22 lead changes and 13 caution periods for 64 laps, the winner beat the field to the line by nearly 30 seconds. And in case you forgot which icon won, you can have the satisfaction of reliving the experience by clicking on the link in the tweet embedded below.

Johnny Rutherford led the field to green in 1980 with a pole speed of 192.256 mph. By comparison, the pole in 2020 was earned with speed of 231.068 mph.

Rutherford led the first 15 laps that afternoon before handing the lead over to Roger Rager. Rutherford would not retake the lead for the next 25 laps.

Johnny Rutherford won the pole for the 1980 Indy 500
Johnny Rutherford won the pole for the 1980 Indy 500, nearly 40 miles per hour slower than the pole in 2020. Getty Images

In 1980, The Indy 500 was the second race of the season. Rutherford was on a roll after winning the season-opener at Ontario Motor Speedway. He was the only driver on the lead lap.

Rutherford went on to win the 1980 title on the strength of five wins. Bobby Unser won four races that season, including the next race after the Indy 500 that was held at the Milwaukee Mile. Unser finished second in the championship race.

Three other drivers won one race each in 1980.

Don’t get overly excited for some of your favorites, however, as only four cars finished on the lead lap that year and 12 were running at the end.

Larry Cannon, who made 46 starts in the IndyCar series was the first driver out on Lap 2 with a broken camshaft. The first accident came just seven laps later and eliminated Bill Whittington and Dick Ferguson.

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