The Centennial All-Time Indy 500 Grid
by, 05-10-2010 at 08:31 AM (1261 Views)
(I originally did this as a forum post, but wanted to put it down somewhere a bit more concrete).
With next year marking the centennial anniversary of the first Indy 500, it is inevitable we will see lists for the Centennial All-Time Indy 500 Grid or the like. The most influential, powerful, successful, or memorable drivers to be a part of the Indianapolis 500.
After a lot of deliberation (and paranoia that I'm leaving out a ton of deserving drivers), here's my All-Time Indy 500 grid. There are so many deserving drivers out there, this may have been the hardest project I've worked on in a long time. Keep in mind my criteria was not only
success at the 500, but how much the driver in question was a part of the spirit and legacy of the last 100 years of the Speedway.
Please realize the name below are not in any sort of ranking--I just placed them in this order as I filled out my list.
Without further ado, here's my list:
1 Rick Mears--4-time winner, broke the 220mph barrier at Indy.
2 Al Unser, Sr.--4-time winner, oldest driver to win the 500.
3 AJ Foyt--4-time winner, and one of the most memorable personalities to ever grace the Speedway.
4 Louis Meyer--3-time winner, started the milk tradition.
5 Wilbur Shaw--3-time winner, and savior of the track after WWII.
6 Mauri Rose--3-time winner, 6 Top 5 finishes.
7 Johnny Rutherford--3-time winner, Active 1963-1992.
8 Bobby Unser--3-time winner. Won in 3 different decades.
9 Helio Castroneves--3-time winner, only active driver on list.
10 Tommy Milton--First 2-time winner of the 500.
11 Bill Vukovich--2-time winner, killed in his prime during the 500.
12 Rodger Ward--2--time winner, 6 Top 5 finishes.
13 Gordon Johncock--2-time winner, part of one of the closest finishes in 500 history.
14 Al Unser, Jr.--2--time winner, part of the Unser dynasty.
15 Emmeron Fittipaldi--2-time winner, 3 other Top 10 finishes.
16 Arie Luyendyk--2-time winner, 3 other Top 5 finishes.
17 Parnelli Jones--1963 winner, driver of the famous 1967 Pratt & Whitney Turbine.
18 Jim Clark--represents the "British Invasion"; 1965 winner, runner-up twice; first rear-engine winner.
19 Mario Andretti--1969 winner, as famous for his failures as successes.
20 Eddie Sachs--beloved driver, the Clown Prince, 2 poles in 8 years, runner-up in 1961.
21 Rex Mays--4-time pole winner, best finish of second.
22 Ted Horn--1 pole start, 9 Top 5 finishes.
23 Lloyd Ruby--18 starts, two Top 5 finishes, 7 Top 10 finishes.
24 Michael Andretti--holds record for most laps won at Indy without winning the race.
25 Howdy Wilcox--1919 winner, Hoosier driver.
26 Tom Sneva--first driver to break 200 mph at Indy, 1983 winner.
27 Billy Arnold--1930 winner; led all but first two laps.
28 Jimmy Bryan--1958 winner; 3 Top 5 finishes in 9 starts.
29 Ray Harroun--First 500 winner, 1911, in the famous Marmon Wasp.
30 Ralph DePalma--known for heartbreaking 1912 loss; won in 1915; two poles.
31 Sam Hanks--won the 1957 500 on his 13th try, the most of any winner. 4 Top 5 finishes.
32 Duke Nalon--Forever linked with the Novi. Sat on the pole twice, high finish of third.
33 Jim Hurtubise--Failed to qualify often, highest finish was 14th, but forever a fan favorite, Speedway infamous legend, and part of the track's spirit.