This Day in History - May 12, 1957, legendary driver AJ Foyt won the midget stock car championship. This win set off his career, leading him to win 4 Indy-500 championships. To find out more about the great formula-1 driver, check out this clip.
Mario Andretti Reacts To Historic Indianapolis 500 Result
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Helio Castroneves made history over the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by becoming just the fourth driver to win four times at the Indianapolis 500.
At this year&rsquos event on Sunday, nearly 135,000 fans took in the &ldquoGreatest Spectacle in Racing&rdquo, setting a record for the largest crowd since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Castroneves added to the environment by overtaking Alex Palou down the final stretch to earn his first win at the race since 2009.
With the victory, the 46-year-old driver joined an elite group of four-time winners alongside A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. On Monday, he received perhaps the most meaningful congratulations from racing legend Mario Andretti.
Andretti was on hand to watch Castroneves make history over the weekend. He took to social media the day after the race to share his congratulations publicly.
&ldquoI couldn&rsquot be happier for Helio Castroneves . I mean top level of happy. Much respect my friend,&rdquo Andretti tweeted on Monday.
I couldn't be happier for Helio Castroneves @h3lio. I mean top level of happy. Much respect my friend 💪💪💪 https://t.co/03DwRtjVeZ
&mdash Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) May 31, 2021
Andretti, 81, raced at the Indianapolis 500 29 times over the course of his illustrious career. However, due to his fair share of bad luck and misfortune, he only won the event once in 1969.
Despite his disappointments at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Andretti retired from professional racing as one of the best to ever do it. To this day, he remains one of just two drivers to ever win a race in the NASCAR Cup Series, Formula One, and an Indianapolis 500.
Castroneves may never be able to fully reach the legendary status of Andretti but he still has many racing days ahead of him. Next year, he&rsquoll try to defend his title at the Indy 500 and become the first driver ever to win the event five times.
The first motorcycle and automobile races and demonstration runs are held the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August 1909. After a series of accidents, the original surface of crushed stone and tar is deemed unsuitable for racing. In the fall of 1909, the entire track is paved in brick, immediately giving the track the nickname "The Brickyard." An exhibition meet is held in December 1909, and racing meets are held throughout the summer of 1910.
1911: A historic event in the history of American automobile racing. After two years hosting multiple race meets, the Speedway management decided from 1911 onward to conduct one major racing event per year. With the then-fantastic marathon distance of 500 miles, and a substantial purse, 40 cars qualify. Ray Harroun, an engineer for the Marmon Co. receives the checkered flag at an average speed of just over 74 mph. The inaugural "International 500-Mile Sweepstakes" is a rousing success, and becomes an annual Memorial Day tradition, and eventually grows to become one of the most important automobile races in the world.
1912: Ralph DePalma's Mercedes breaks its connecting rod after leading 196 laps. Joe Dawson, in a National, wins after leading the only 2 laps of his Indy career. No driver has ever matched DePalma's 196 fruitless laps in the lead, (only not being in the lead for the first two and the last two laps) and only Billy Arnold's 198 lap domination of the 1930 race tops DePalma's time at the front Dawson's 2 laps led by a winner would be the fewest recorded by a winner until 2011.
1913: A five-story, wooden pagoda-style timing and scoring tower on the inside of the main straightaway gives the Speedway an enduring landmark the style reflects Speedway President Carl Fisher's apparent interest in Oriental architecture. French born Jules Goux drinks six bottles of champagne on his way to a record 13-minute, 8-second victory over second place Spencer Wishart. He averages approximately 10 miles per gallon of fuel – and an unknown quantity of champagne per stop. Goux's victory is the first race, excluding the first, won by a rookie driver.
1914: France takes its second consecutive 500 victory, this time with René Thomas, the first occasion for consecutive rookie winners. Also, in a technological breakthrough, inaugural race winner Ray Harroun, in charge of the United States Motor Company team, develops a fuel-sipping carburetor that runs on kerosene. Driver Willie Carlson's Maxwell chassis proceeds to run the race to an eventual ninth-place finish on a mere 30 gallons with the price at .06 a gallon, Carlson's total $1.80 fuel bill stands as the most economical performance in motor racing history.
1915: Ralph DePalma's Mercedes again begins to slow with connecting rod problems late in the race. This time though he makes it to the finish to win.
1916: Dario Resta wins the race, which was shortened to 300 miles (500 km) due to the ongoing war in Europe. The field of 21 cars is the smallest ever. Later in the year, the Harvest Auto Racing Classic is also held.
1917–1918: Race is not held on account of World War I. Other tracks continue to host smaller events, but Indianapolis voluntarily suspends the race. Though closed to racing, the Speedway is used as an airstrip, serving as a fuel stop between Air Force bases in Dayton, Ohio and Rantoul, Illinois.
1919: With the track reopened after the war, local Indiana-born driver Howdy Wilcox breaks a four-race winning streak by Europeans. There are 19 rookies who start this year's race, the most newcomers in one Indy 500 field (if one discounts the "all-rookie" field of 1911).
1920: Ralph DePalma suffers another heartbreaking mishap when his magneto fails with 14 laps to go while leading. Gaston Chevrolet takes over the lead and goes on to win. Six months later, Chevrolet is fatally injured in a race at Beverly Hills. He becomes the first '500' winner to die.
1921: Tommy Milton, Gaston Chevrolet's replacement on the Frontenac team, drives through the field from 20th starting position to win his first '500'. Ralph DePalma again dominates the first half of the race, only to suffer mechanical failure. DePalma's career record total of 612 laps led will stand for the next 66 years.
1922: Jimmy Murphy is the first driver to win the race from the pole position.
1923: Despite suffering loss of circulation and blistering in his hands due to shrinkage of his tight-fitting, 'White Kid' gloves, Tommy Milton becomes the first driver to win the race twice (Milton was relieved by Howdy Wilcox for laps 103–151).
1924: Lora L. Corum's car is taken over by Joe Boyer, who goes on to win. Corum wins without leading a single lap in his racing career at Indianapolis, the first driver to do so.
1925: The race is won by Ralph DePalma's nephew, and former riding mechanic, Peter DePaolo. Depaolo was the first to average over 100 mph (160 km/h) on his way to victory. The race was part of the 1925 World Manufacturers' Championship.
1926: Twenty-three-year-old racing sensation Frank Lockhart wins the race as a rookie. He is the first winner born in the 20th century. Rain hampered the race, and it was called at the 400-mile mark. The race was part of the 1926 World Manufacturers' Championship.
1927: Rookie George Souders wins by eight laps, the largest margin since 1913 consecutive rookie winners occurs for the second time. Many racing pundits view Souders' race as the most surprising, 'longest-shot' 500-Mile Race win in history until 1987. Souders becomes the first driver to win the full-500-mile race solo, with neither any relief help, nor a riding mechanic. The race was part of the 1927 World Manufacturers' Championship.
1928: Jimmy Gleason has a good lead when he stops for water for the radiator on lap 195. A crew member misses the radiator and douses the car's magneto. Gleason is out and Louis Meyer wins. The race was part of the 1928 World Manufacturers' Championship.
1929: Louis Meyer stalls on his final pitstop, handing the race to Ray Keech, who is killed in a racing crash just two weeks after the '500'.
1930: Billy Arnold takes the lead on lap three and is never challenged again. Arnold's 198 laps led in a race has never been bettered.
1931: 1930 winner Billy Arnold is 5 laps ahead on lap 162 when his rear axle breaks and Arnold crashes. His wheel flies over a fence and hits and kills 12-year-old Wilbur C. Brink, who is sitting in his garden on Georgetown Road. Arnold and his mechanic are injured. Louis Schneider leads the remaining laps.
1932: Fred Frame wins the race from 27th starting position, and is the eighth different leader of the race, a record at the time.
1933: The largest field to date with 42 starters. Louis Meyer wins after one of the most violent races ever, with five drivers or mechanics killed and several others seriously injured. The standard Victory Banquet after the race is not held, and the predominance of safety as chief concern for race organizers begins 'in force'. Prior to the 1933 race, Howdy Wilcox II (no relation to the 1919 winner) was disqualified when officials found out that he was a diabetic.
1934: Bill Cummings wins by 27 seconds from Mauri Rose, the closest ever finish at the time.
1935: The newly introduced yellow 'caution' light, requiring drivers to slow and hold position, makes its first appearance in race, to eventual race winner Kelly Petillo's advantage as many of the late laps are disrupted by rain, neutralising Petillo's race long battle with Rex Mays and Wilbur Shaw.
1936: Louis Meyer becomes the first driver to win a third time, drink milk (in actuality buttermilk) in Victory Lane, receive the Borg-Warner Trophy, and also receive the pace car as one of his prizes.
1937: Wilbur Shaw leads most of the way but must slow late on to conserve engine oil. Ralph Hepburn catches Shaw in turn 4 on the final lap, but Shaw steps on the gas and pulls away to win by 2.16 seconds – the closest finish at that time.
1938: Floyd Roberts, driving the ill-fated Burd Piston Ring Special, dominates to win by three laps.
1939: Defending winner Floyd Roberts, driving the same car he drove into victory circle in 1938, dies in a crash coming off the second turn onto the backstretch on lap 107. Wilbur Shaw wins his second 500, driving a Maserati. Interesting fact: The Maserati used by Wilbur Shaw was also used by Bill Vukovich to accomplish his rookie test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. George Bailey became the first driver to compete with a rear-engined car in the Indianapolis 500 when he contested the 1939 race in a Gulf-Miller. 
1940: Wilbur Shaw becomes the second three-time winner and the first to win two in a row in the same Maserati he drove to victory the previous year. The last quarter of the distance is run under the caution flag due to rain.
1941: A fire on race morning destroys part of the garage area and one of the qualified cars. The start is delayed by one hour because of the fire. Wilbur Shaw dominates again, but on lap 152, a wheel collapses, sending Shaw's car into the first turn wall. The wheel is believed to have been one Shaw identified before the race as faulty, and had marked it as not to be used. Water from the hoses battling the garage fire apparently washed off the markings and the wheel was put on during the last pit stop. Mauri Rose, whose pole-winning Maserati dropped out early, took over teammate Floyd Davis's car on lap 72 and drove up through the pack to win. This was the second and last time to date that there were co-winners.
1942–1945: The Speedway is shut down for the duration of World War II—almost. Sometime in late autumn of 1944, Wilbur Shaw participates in a special tire test for Firestone at the track. He is dismayed by the condition of the facility, and, after talking to track owner Eddie Rickenbacker, sets out single-handedly to find a buyer to rejuvenate the speedway. On November 14, 1945, Tony Hulman purchases the track and begins a six-month crash renovation program to revive the 500-mile race in 1946.
1946: The first post-war '500' is a box-office smash, with massive traffic jams of spectators still entering the gates long after the race starts. Most of the race cars show the effects of sitting unused for almost five years, and mechanical attrition is extremely heavy. George Robson, driving a nine-year-old Thorne Engineering Special Sparks, survives the attrition to win by 44 seconds over rookie Jimmy Jackson.
1947: Mauri Rose and rookie teammate Bill Holland dominate the race in their twin Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials. Holland, who is well ahead in the late stages, obeys a pit signal to slow down and preserve the car for the finish. Rose gets the same signal, but continues to charge ahead and overtakes Holland with seven laps to go. Rose goes on to win, to the dismay of Holland, who thought he had been a lap ahead. A pre-race dispute between track management and a drivers association results in only 30 cars lining up on race day, instead of the usual 33.
1948: Rose and Holland repeat their one-two performance of the previous year, this time without the controversy. Ted Horn finishes fourth in Wilbur Shaw's old Maserati, completing a run of nine consecutive races in which he is fourth or better, although he never wins.
1949: After pole-sitter Duke Nalon crashes out spectacularly in the Novi, the race settles down to a repeat of 1947, only this time Bill Holland won't be caught napping. Mauri Rose tries to catch him anyway, but a broken magneto strap takes him out of second place with eight laps remaining. Holland cruises home the winner. It's the last victory for a front-wheel drive car at Indianapolis.
1950: The Indianapolis 500 was part of the Formula 1 World Championship calendar from 1950–1960. A rumor circulated at race morning, that Johnnie Parsons' engine had an irreparable crack. During the race, his hard charging performance sees him leading, and picking up lap leader prizes. At 345 miles (555 km) the rain comes, and Parsons is declared the winner as the race is called at lap 138. Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck film scenes from the movie To Please a Lady during the race.
1951: Four days after winning the 500 (and becoming the first to do so in less than four hours) Lee Wallard is severely burned in a sprint car race and lives the rest of his life unable to perspire properly and without the strength to drive a car.
1952: Bill Vukovich leads 150 laps until his steering pin breaks on lap 192. He stopped the car by brushing it against the outside wall, a move which prevented other cars from becoming involved in the sudden incident. Twenty-two-year-old Troy Ruttman takes the checkered flag, the youngest-ever winner. On the pole for the '52 race was Fred Agabashian's Diesel-powered racer that succumbed to supercharger trouble on lap 71.
1953: On one of the hottest days on record for the running of the 500, Bill Vukovich leads 195 laps and cruises to a win by nearly three laps over 1952 rookie of the year Art Cross. Vukovich wins without relief help in a race that sees one entry being driven by as many as five separate drivers, and suffers the death of driver Carl Scarborough due to heat prostration.
1954: Picking up where he left off, Bill Vukovich wins again by one lap over Jimmy Bryan, after taking the lead for the final time just past the halfway point. Incredibly, for the second straight year one entry on race day is driven by five separate drivers, in temperatures only just below the previous year's record.
1955: After two wins and 485 laps led of a possible 656 (74%), Bill Vukovich is killed on lap 57 after crashing out of the lead. Rodger Ward broke a rear axle and a back marker tangled with him in front of Vukovich, whose car hits them and vaults over the backstretch wall into a car park. Bob Sweikert wins after Art Cross blows his engine on lap 169 and Don Freeland loses drive on lap 179. Sweikert dies in a sprint car race a year later. Interesting fact: Sweikert built the Offenhauser engine that brought him the victory, while his car owner (AJ Watson) was at his wife's bedside while she was in labor.
1956: AAA drops out of sanctioning racing after the 1955 Vukovich crash and public outcry that briefly followed, and the tragedy at Le Mans that same year, so USAC is formed to sanction Indianapolis style racing. Torrential rains flood the facility the week of the race and threaten to postpone, or outright cancel the race. Track superintendent Clarence Cagle pulls off what becomes known as "Cagle's miracle" and has the track cleaned up in time for race morning. Pat Flaherty wins.
1957: After thirteen years of trying, Sam Hanks finally wins the 500, and then, amidst tears, becomes the second winner, after Ray Harroun in 1911, to announce his retirement in victory lane. Hanks' win comes in a radical "lay-down" roadster chassis design created by engineer George Salih that, with the engine tilting 72-degrees to the right, gives the car a profile of a mere 21 inches (530 mm) off the ground. Salih builds the car next to his California home, and is rewarded with victory as both designer and owner after stepping out on a financial limb in entering the car himself.
1958: A huge wreck in turn three on the opening lap wipes out several cars, and driver Pat O'Connor is fatally injured. Jimmy Bryan goes on to win in the same car Sam Hanks drove to victory the previous year. Little-known rookie A. J. Foyt spins out and finishes 16th.
1959: A record sixteen cars finish the entire 500 miles (800 km) as Rodger Ward holds off Jim Rathmann for the win.
1960: Jim Rathmann and Rodger Ward resume their duel from last year, trading the lead fourteen times in the last 200 miles. After three-second-place finishes, Rathmann finally prevails when Ward has to slow down to save his tires with three laps to go. There are 29 lead changes in all, a record that will stand for over 50 years. Rookie Jim Hurtubise shatters the track record in qualifying at over 149 miles per hour, coming within 16/100ths of a second of turning the first 150 mph lap at the Speedway.
1961: The Golden Anniversary of the first '500' starts with 82-year-old Ray Harroun taking a parade lap in his winning Marmon Wasp of 1911. After several different drivers, including newcomer Parnelli Jones, take turns leading, the race comes down a battle between A. J. Foyt and Eddie Sachs, which goes to Foyt when Sachs pits for a right rear tire with only three laps to go. Formula 1 champion Jack Brabham finishes ninth in a rear-engine Cooper-Climax, a prelude of things to come.
1962: Parnelli Jones breaks the 150 mph barrier to win the pole, and dominates the first 300 miles on race day. However, his brakes fail and he has to slow down. Rodger Ward takes over the lead and wins his second '500' by 11 seconds over teammate Len Sutton.
1963: Parnelli Jones finishes the job he started last year, leading 167 of the 200 laps to win in his front-engine roadster "Old Calhoun", in spite of a late-race oil leak which almost gets him the black flag. Formula 1 champion-to-be Jim Clark comes in second in a rear-engine Lotus-Ford, heralding the British Invasion of the 500 and Indy-car racing in general.
1964: Rear-engine, Ford-powered cars sweep the front row, with Jim Clark raising the track record by over seven miles an hour. Tragedy strikes on Lap 2 when Dave MacDonald hits the wall coming out of Turn 4 and his car explodes in a huge fireball. Eddie Sachs and several others pile into the accident, which stops the race for nearly two hours. Both Sachs and MacDonald are killed. When the race resumes, the fast but fragile rear-engine cars fall apart, leaving A. J. Foyt to pick up the pieces, as he becomes a two-time winner. Foyt's roadster is the last front-engine machine to win the Indianapolis 500.
1965: Scotland's Jim Clark leads 190 of 200 laps to become the first non-American winner since 1916. His Lotus-Ford is the first rear-engine winning car, and the first to average more than 150 miles per hour for the entire distance (150.686), just three years after the first single lap was turned at 150. Parnelli Jones finishes second and rookie Mario Andretti is third.
1966: A huge pile-up at the start takes out 11 cars, including those of A. J. Foyt and Dan Gurney, but, thankfully, there are no serious injuries. Only seven cars are left running in the end, with Graham Hill edging out Jim Clark by 41 seconds in a Battle of Britains. Some people think there was a scoring error and that Clark had actually won, but Clark's team does not protest.
1967: Andy Granatelli and his brothers bring a radical new turbine-powered car to the Speedway this year. Parnelli Jones absolutely dominates the field in it, and leads by almost a lap when a bearing in the gearbox fails with just three and a half laps to go. A. J. Foyt weaves his way through a multi-car accident on the final straightaway to win his third '500'. The race is a two-day affair for the first time when rain postpones the event after only 18 laps on May 30. Shortly after the race, USAC officials change the rules regarding turbines to reduce the Granatellis' advantage.
1968: The Granatellis return with even more turbines this year, in new wedge-shaped Lotus chassis. They take the first two starting spots with record speeds of over 170 mph. However, on race day, Bobby Unser in a turbocharged Offenhauser-powered car, is able to take their measure, leading 127 laps. Unser's path to victory is cleared when Joe Leonard's turbine breaks its fuel pump shaft with just nine laps to go while leading. USAC then issues further restrictions on turbines, rendering any future such engines uncompetitive.
1969: Andy Granatelli abandons the turbines and joins forces with Mario Andretti in a new four-wheel drive Lotus with a turbocharged Ford engine. But after the car is destroyed in a practice crash, the team qualifies a conventional two-wheel drive Hawk built by crew chief Clint Brawner. For the only time in Andretti's Indy career, all the breaks finally go his way, as he wins by nearly two laps over Dan Gurney. The long-suffering Granatelli plants a kiss on Mario's cheek in Victory Lane.
Q: After Ford won in 1966, did you feel pressure coming back in 1967?
Foyt: “At the time, I was supposed to go over in 1966 with the Holman Moody bunch, but I got hurt at Milwaukee, burnt real bad. Ford lost three or four of their drivers before Le Mans that year: Walt Hansgen - the boy from the East Coast, was killed testing in the rain [at Le Mans], and Lloyd Ruby was supposed to drive and he crashed his airplane taking off from Indy. I can’t remember who else. [Note: The fourth driver was Jackie Stewart who suffered an horrific crash in the Belgian Grand Prix the same weekend as Foyt’s crash.] We went over there to blow Ferrari off. That’s what Ford wanted us to do and that’s what Dan and I did.”
Q: Fifty years later, you’re still the only All-American team to win Le Mans, car, engine and drivers. Are you surprised at that? How do you feel about it?
Foyt: “I feel great about it, mostly because a few of my races were overseas and I was fortunate enough to win some of them, but most of them were in the U.S. I’m an American so it means a lot. I was invited to go back more than once but I said I went over as a rookie and won, so I have no reason to go back. It was great.”
Gurney: “Does it surprise me? Yes, it sure does. But all those wimps haven’t come back (laughs), I don’t know what’s stopping them. For us, Ford said they were going for it and they went for it. I’m very proud to have been part of it, just like A.J. is.”
Dan Gurney, A.J. Foyt, Shelby American
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Q: You both participated in a very special time in American racing, probably never equaled. A.J., you won the Indy 500, then went over and won Le Mans. Dan, you won at Le Mans and then won the F1 race at Spa in a car you built, the first and only time an American has done that. How do you feel about that time of your life, in terms of where you were in your careers?
Foyt: “I don’t think the boys [today] realize what they’ve missed. When Dan come up, and when I come up, it was altogether different racing. It was a great time in your life. Back then when I raced, I loved racing the midgets and sprints and stock cars and everything, like Dan loved to go over there and run [Formula 1] and he did a great job, and I respect him highly for it, and for picking up a little Texan like me to go over and run the 24-hour, I give him a lot of respect. I know at that time, a lot of them thought I was kind of wild, so Dan had faith in me, and I knew if he got the car set up, I thought I could hang onto it for him.”
Gurney: “Of course, looking backwards, that was a pretty high peak in my career. I think racing drivers, a lot of people, want to have bragging rights and certainly A.J. and I have them now and that’s a fabulous feeling.”
#1 Ford GT40 Mk4: A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Q: Did you feel there was competition between the Shelby and Holman Moody teams?
Foyt: “There was a lot of friction. Ford wanted to win, regardless of which Ford won. He [Gurney] wanted to win. I damn sure wanted to win, but regardless of how Ford had to get there, we were going to get there some way. Like I said, there were two different teams. There was no love between either team.”
Gurney: “We wouldn’t tell them the time of day. But they were prepared, so they were going to do very well.”
Foyt: “Ford had two great teams, but they weren’t really one team. Shelby’s team was there, Holman Moody’s team was there, and we wanted to beat them. It was a race between Ford teams, to be honest. There was no love.”
#1 Ford GT40 Mk4: A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Q: Was it similar among the drivers?
Foyt: “They had some good drivers and we were all friends. It was just that when the green flag came down, there was no love between none of us, right Dan?”
Gurney: “They were all good drivers and we were friends until they became even better. Then we didn’t like them anymore. [Both laughing]. Typical thing.”
#1 Ford GT40 Mk4: A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Q: Let’s talk about Henry Ford II. Did he chat with all of you before the race? Do you remember his reaction to the win?
Foyt: “I think Dan [and I] had the same idea. We knew we couldn’t tear the car all to pieces. We knew we had to take care of it and I think Dan felt the same way I did. We had to nurse it, then when we had to run hard, we could run hard. I think that’s how we won the race.”
Gurney: “We were up there celebrating, and everyone was up there, Michael Parkes from Ferrari and all the Ford people. We didn’t call him Henry II, we called him ‘Hank the Deuce.’ He was an imposing figure and if he looked at you the wrong way, you kind of shriveled up and tried to disappear. He was there with a new bride, I think, on their honeymoon and when I started spraying him, I’m not sure he liked it or not, but he was a good sport about it and we had a wonderful time spraying champagne, A.J. and I both.”
Q: The champagne. It was a spontaneous thing, right?
Foyt: “That’s true. I think Dan was as happy as I was. Now you see all the Formula 1 drivers doing the same thing, but we did it 50 years ago. It was just a great victory, I think, for both of us.”
Dan Gurney celebrates victory at Le Mans
Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch
That April evening in Long Beach in 2017, Edsel Ford II presented Foyt with the Spirit of Ford award, the racing division’s highest honor, which Gurney had received in 1999. The award recognizes lifetime achievement and contribution to the industry both on and off the race track.
Sitting with Gurney and Ford, Foyt entertained the idea of returning to Le Mans for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the victory. Two months later, he did return as a guest of Ford and was amazed at the changes in the venerable venue.
Foyt was even driven around the track just before the race by Sebastien Bourdais’s father, Patrick, who is a longtime competitor at Le Mans.
This Day in History: 05/12/1957 - Foyt's First Pro Victory - HISTORY
The same way people respect Foyt, a man with as much true grit as the Duke. Foyt was the man when it came to the Indianapolis 500, which for generations was the most significant auto race in the United States. The tough Texan is an Indy legend, the first driver to win the race four times.
He is the only person to have driven in the race for 35 consecutive years. He did 4,909 laps around the oval for a total of 12,272½ miles (or about five trips from New York to San Francisco). He earned $2,637,963 competing in the Indy 500.
His seven national Indy car championships remain a record. So do his 67 Indy car victories, which are 15 more than the No. 2 driver, Mario Andretti. One year, Foyt won an astounding 10 of 13 races.
He succeeded in other forms of racing as well. He is the only driver to achieve this triple: victories in the Indy 500, NASCAR's Daytona 500 (in 1972) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans international sports car race (with Dan Gurney in 1967). And no other driver has at least 20 victories in USAC's four major categories: Indy cars, stock cars (41), sprint cars (28) and midgets (20). In the 1980s, with his career in Indy car racing on the down side, he won the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona twice.
Foyt was born Jan. 16, 1935 in Houston. He won his first race when he was 18, capturing a midget race at Playland Park, a quarter-mile dirt bullring in his hometown. That victory launched one of the most exceptional careers in auto racing, remarkable in its dominance and longevity.
He joined USAC in 1957 and competed in his first Indy 500 the next year, finishing 16th after spinning in the south chute after 148 laps. In 1960, he not only won his first Indy car race, but also his first national championship. He won four races that year.
In 1961, Foyt became the first driver to successfully defend his points championship and win the Indy 500. He won the race with a then-record speed of 139.13 mph, surviving a late pit stop for fuel when Eddie Sachs was forced to pit because of a blistered tire.
Besides winning his fourth national title that season, another big accomplishment for Foyt in 1964 was his victory in the Firecracker 400 stock car race on July 4.
Foyt won his fifth national championship in 1967, coming in 80 points ahead of Andretti. He romped to his third Indy 500 victory, with a then-record speed of 151.207 mph. Narrowly missing a last-lap pileup on the main straight, Foyt finished more than two laps ahead of Unser, the second-place driver.
It would be another decade before Foyt won again at Indy. At age 42, he raced around the Brickyard at 161.331 mph. With prize money of $259,791, Foyt became the first to top $1 million in Speedway history. Foyt's four victories at the Indy 500 haven't been surpassed, though Rick Mears and Unser have tied his record.
Foyt's final two Indy car national championships came in 1975 and 1979. In the latter year, he also won the USAC stock car championship, becoming the only driver to win both titles in the same year.
He won his last Indy car race in 1981, taking the Pocono 500 and registering his record ninth victory in 500-mile Indy car races. His last race at the Brickyard was in 1992, when he qualified at 222.798 mph for the 23rd starting spot. He worked his way into the top 10 300 miles in and finished ninth, five laps off the pace.
Foyt, who was the inaugural inductee into the Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, practiced at Indy in 1993 but retired on the first qualifying day.
Historical Events on May 29
- French King Philip VI of Valois crowned at the Cathedral in Reims, France Pope John XXIII [Baldassare Cossa] formally deposed as Pope at the Conference of Constance, Germany, after he had fled the town in disguise
Event of Interest
1453 Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire falls to the Turks under Mehmed II ends the Byzantine Empire
- French banker Jacques Coeur's possessions confiscated Spanish army under Cristóbal de Mondragón conquers Zierik sea Battle of Sacheon: Korean navy led by Admiral Yi Sun Shin repels a Japanese fleet - first use of Korean Turtle ship
Event of Interest
- Battle of Goodwin Sands, off Folkestone, Kent: English 'General at Sea' Robert Blake drives out Dutch fleet under Lieutenant Admiral Maarten Tromp
Event of Interest
1660 On his 30th birthday Charles II returns to London from exile in the Netherlands to claim the English throne after the Puritan Commonwealth comes to an end
- Treaty of Middle Plantation establishes peace between the Virginia colonists and local Native Americans Battle at La Hogue: English and Dutch fleet beat France
Event of Interest
1765 Patrick Henry's historic speech against the Stamp Act, answering a cry of "Treason!" with, "If this be treason, make the most of it!"
- Battle of Waxhaw Creek: alleged massacre of 113 of Colonel Abraham Buford's continentals by Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton's troops after the continentals raised a white flag
Event of Interest
1787 "Virginia Plan" by Thomas Jefferson proposed to the Constitutional Convention advocating for a national government with three branches - legislative, executive, and judicial
Constitution of the United States
1790 Rhode Island becomes last of original 13 colonies ratifying US Constitution
- Battle at Curtazone: Austrians beat Sardinia-Piemonte Wisconsin becomes 30th US state Lincoln says "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
Conference of Interest
1851 Sojourner Truth addresses 1st Black Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio
Event of Interest
1861 Dorothea Dix offers help in setting up hospitals for the Union Army
- Mexican Emperor Maximilian arrives at Vera Cruz Michael Obrenovich III, Prince of Serbia, is assassinated in Belgrade Present constitution of Switzerland takes effect Europe's first steam cable trams start in Highgate, London
Event of Interest
1886 American chemist John Pemberton begins to advertise Coca-Cola
1901 Ignacy Jan Paderewski's opera "Manru" has its world premiere in Dresden
- Dutch State Mine law forms May coup d'etat: Alexander Obrenovich, King of Serbia, and Queen Draga, are assassinated in Belgrade by the Black Hand (Crna Ruka) organization Pogrom against Jewish community in Brisk, Lithuania Frank "Home Run" Baker's 1st career home run for Philadelphia Athletics Pope Pius X's encyclical on Editae Saepe, against church reformers 15 young women are fired by Curtis Publishing in Philadelphia for dancing the "Turkey Trot" during their lunch break Ballets Russes premieres their ballet L'après-midi d'un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun) in Paris, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky
Event of Interest
1913 Igor Stravinsky's ballet score "Le Sacre du Printemps" (The Rite of Spring) premieres at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, provoking a riot
- Ship rams Canadian ship Empress of Ireland on St Lawrence River 1,024 die NY Giants win 17th consecutive road game Official flag of President of the United States adopted US forces invade Dominican Republic, stay until 1924 Charles Strite files patent for the pop-up toaster
1919 Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity, that when light passes a large body, gravity will bend the rays confirmed by Arthur Eddington's expedition to photograph a solar eclipse on the island of Principe, West Africa
- The Republic of Prekmurje founded - a short-lived, unrecognised state, which on June 6, 1919 was incorporated into the newly established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed "Yugoslavia" in 1929) US Supreme Court rules organized baseball is a sport and not a business and thus not subject to antitrust laws
Event of Interest
1942 Bing Crosby records "White Christmas", world's best-selling single (estimated 100 million copies sold)
1942 "Yankee Doodle Dandy", based on life of George M. Cohan, directed by Michael Curtiz, starring James Cagney and Joan Lesley, premieres in NYC (Academy Awards Best Actor 1943)
Conference of Interest
- Meat and cheese rationed in US British troops occupy Aprilia, Italy US 1st Marine division conquers Shuri Castle, Okinawa KVP wins Provincial National election in Netherlands French Championships Men's Tennis: Frank Parker wins 1st of 2 straight French titles beats Jaroslav Drobný 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 8-6 French Championships Women's Tennis: Belgium-born but representing France, Nelly Landry beats American Shirley Fry 6-2, 0-6, 6-0 for her lone major title Candid Camera, TV comedy show, moves to NBC 1st British Film and Television Awards (BAFTAS): "The Best Years of Our Lives" Best Film 2nd British Film and Television Awards (BAFTAS): "Hamlet" Best Film
Tenzing Norgay on the Summit of Mount Everest
1953 Edmund Hillary (NZ) and Tenzing Norgay (Nepal) are first to reach the summit of Mount Everest as part of a British Expedition
- 500th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire (to Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II)
Event of Interest
1954 Pope Pius XII issues holy declaration
- First of the annual Bilderberg conferences, fostering relations between Europe and North America held at Oosterbeek, Netherlands
French Open Men's Tennis
1954 French Championships Men's Tennis: Tony Trabert beats Art Larsen 6-4, 7-5, 6-1 for first of 2 straight French singles titles
- French Championships Women's Tennis: Maureen Connolly retains her title beats Ginette Bucaille of France 6-4, 6-1 British runner Diane Leather becomes first woman to run the mile in under 5 minutes 4:59.6 at Alexander Sports Ground in Birmingham, England Jordan government of Tewfik Abdul Huda resigns
Event of Interest
- WESH TV channel 2 in Daytona Beach-Orlando, FL (NBC) 1st broadcast Algerian rebels kill 336 collaborators Laos government of prince Suvanna Phuma resigns NYC Mayor Robert Wagner says he plans to confer with the Giants & Dodgers about the proposed move to the west coast
Event of Interest
#1 in the Charts
1960 Everly Brothers "Cathy's Clown" hits #1
TV Show Appearance
- 4th Grammy Awards: Moon River, Peter Nero win Phillies Dick Allen hits 529' HR out of Connie Mack Stadium
French Open Men's Tennis
1965 French Championships Men's Tennis: Fred Stolle beats fellow Australian Tony Roche 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 for his first Grand Slam singles title
- French Championships Women's Tennis: Australian Lesley Turner Bowrey wins her 2nd French singles crown upsets doubles partner Margaret Smith 6-3, 6-4 Australian Paul McManus water skis barefoot for 1:30:19 US Truth in Lending Act signed into law UN resolves sanctions on white-minority-ruled Rhodesia European Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London: Bobby Charlton scores twice as Manchester United beats Benfica, 4-1 first English club to win the trophy Britain's Trans-Arctic expedition makes 1st crossing of Arctic Sea ice General strike in Cordoba, Argentina, leading to the Cordobazo civil unrest USSR performs underground nuclear test "Court Room" by Clarence Carter hits #61 Indianapolis 500: Defending champion Al Unser Snr becomes first and only driver to win race on his birthday leads for final 83 laps LPGA Titleholders Championship Women's Golf, Southern Pines CC: Sandra Palmer wins first of 2 majors by a massive 10 strokes from Judy Rankin and Mickey Wright The Official IRA announce a ceasefire Thomas Bradley elected 1st African American mayor of Los Angeles, California Columbia Records fires president Clive Davis for misappropriating $100,000 in funds, Davis will start Arista records Northern Ireland is brought under direct rule from Westminster
Event of Interest
1976 "One Piece At A Time" by Johnny Cash hits #29
Foyt to be honored at Indy
The legendary first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, A.J. Foyt, will be honored Saturday, May 28 during "A.J. Foyt Day" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Foyt's first Indianapolis victory, in 1961. Foyt also won as a driver in 1964, 1967 and 1977 and as a team owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack driving.
Houston native Foyt has participated in the Indianapolis 500 as a driver or owner for an unprecedented 54 consecutive years. He made a record 35 consecutive starts as a driver from 1958-92.
Foyt will participate in a question-and-answer session from 11:30-11:45 a.m. on the Coca-Cola Stage in the Pagoda Plaza, followed by an exclusive autograph session from 11:55 a.m.-12:25 p.m. in the Plaza. One-hundred wristbands will be distributed for the autograph session at 9 a.m. in the Pages Plaza, with one per person.
Video highlights of Foyt's incredible career will air on the video boards located around IMS throughout the day.
The activities honoring Foyt are the highlight of a full day of fan-friendly fun at IMS the day before the 100
th Anniversary Indianapolis 500, with all of these events included in free gate admission:
â€¢The "World's Largest Autograph Session." Every living driver from the Indianapolis 500 has been invited to IMS to participate in this session, which consists of two signing groups, one from 9-10 a.m. in the Pagoda Plaza and another from noon-4 p.m. in the IMS infield.
The morning group will feature all 33 drivers in the starting field of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 plus most of the 27 living winners of the 蛄," while the afternoon group will feature veteran drivers, including "roadster" standouts from the 1950s and 1960s.
â€¢A full-scale memorabilia show from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the IMS infield already so popular that vendor space sold out within 48 hours.
â€¢A public question-and-answer session with Chase Rookie of the Year candidates on the Coca-Cola Stage in the Pagoda Plaza from 10-10:15 a.m.
â€¢The annual drivers' meeting from 10:40-11 a.m. on pit road adjacent to the Tower Terrace grandstand, which includes awards presentations and last-minute instructions to the starting field.
â€¢An all-day display of 19 vintage sprint and midget race cars in the IMS infield, with several driven by the greatest legends of the Brickyard: Foyt, Andretti, Rutherford and the Unsers.
The Red Bull Battle at the Brickyard will showcase top bicycle motocross riders from around the world competing on a concrete playground from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Flag Lot. The Flatland BMX competition is similar to break-dancing on a bicycle. A display of cars from the Mazda Road To Indy that is grooming the future stars of the Indianapolis 500. Cars from The Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and Firestone Indy Lights will be on display starting at 11 a.m. in the Pagoda Plaza.
â€¢Book signings featuring authors of new books about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its history.
AJ Foyt handpicked JR Hildebrand
Hildebrand knows his way around the famed Brickyard, having qualified for the Indy 500 for ten straight years. Foyt hired him to drive his fourth entry in the 500, and when he does, he will be wearing a solid white uniform, the same color Foyt wore. The only difference is Hildebrand’s firesuit will feature many more marketing partners who made the fourth entry possible.
AJ Foyt’s team has a long history with his sponsor. The ABC Supply crew will also wear uniforms modeled after the 1961 crew headed by legendary chief mechanic George Bignotti.
Al Unser’s Indianapolis History
The history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway is replete with the name Unser. Nine times among three members of the famed Albuquerque, N.M., racing clan, an Unser likeness appears on the Borg-Warner Trophy.
Fifty-five years ago this month, Al Unser, the Unser with the most Indianapolis 500 wins, made his initial appearance at the Brickyard. Forty-five years ago, he earned the first of four Indianapolis 500 victories, one more than his vociferous, older brother Bobby and two more than his son, Al Jr.
Al Unser’s racing career stands as nothing short of remarkable with numerous victories in sprint cars, midgets and sports cars, 39 Indy car wins and three national championships. But it’s his Indianapolis record of which he’s most proud. It gives him the deepest satisfaction and provides an enduring sense of accomplishment.
When he arrived at the speedway in 1965, few could have imagined the iconic status to which he would rise. His only concern was making the show. And he almost didn’t — save for the intervention of a superstar.
Unser struggled through his rookie test in an Arciero brothers-owned, Maserati-powered car. Try as he may, the car couldn’t be coaxed to qualifying speed. Desperate, Unser jumped into three other cars — all with equally questionable pedigrees. Still, success didn’t follow.
“I thought the world had came to an end,” Unser said. “I was sitting in the garage with my head hung between my legs. Then Foyt walked in.
“He asked me if I wanted to drive his backup car,” Unser continued. “He said, ‘Think about it.’ Well, I didn’t have to think about it. When A.J. headed out the garage door, I was right on him.
“Some of his people didn’t want me in the car because I was a rookie and I was never so scared in my life,” Unser said with a chuckle. “But A.J. sat me down and said, ‘Listen, you do what I tell you and you’ll make the race.’ That’s exactly what happened.”
In one of those tension-filled, final qualifying-day runs, Unser landed in 32nd spot. Race day brought a respectable ninth-place finish. To this day, Unser is grateful for Foyt’s help. “A.J. treated me so well with that deal,” Unser insisted. “It’s what got me to Indy and I’ll never forget it.”
With Unser’s solid performance, other owners took notice and driving offers came quickly. In 1966, Andy Granatelli called and Unser became a teammate to the legendary Jim Clark on the STP Lotus team.
It was a 500 to forget, he crashed three-quarters of the way through the race, but a life-changing event off the track made the month worthwhile.
“At the victory banquet,” Unser recalled, “Rodger Ward announced his retirement. The next morning I was on George Bignotti’s doorstep, begging for that ride.”
Unser got the ride, but team owner John Mecom fired him before he ever sat in the car. Mecom wanted Larry Dickson. Bignotti was so confident in Unser’s ability, however, he rehired him to drive the backup car.
That initiated an extraordinary driver/mechanic relationship that hit full stride when the duo joined the new Parnelli Jones/Vel Miletich team in 1969.
Unser’s first 500 with the team was memorable for all the wrong reasons. After qualifying, Unser was playing around on a dirt bike in Gasoline Alley with Parnelli Jones and took a spill that broke his ankle. He missed the 500 and suffered miserably while watching Bud Tingelstad drive his car.
The next year was as good as 1969 had been bad. Driving Jones’ new Colt, with its startling, metallic blue and yellow color scheme of toy manufacturer, Johnny Lightning, Unser dominated the month.
Inside the box score of the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500, main takeaways leaving Indy
INDIANAPOLIS — Helio Castroneves netted his fourth career Indianapolis 500 triumph in Sunday’s 105th Running. He ties AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears in that elusive four-win club. This was his 31st career NTT IndyCar Series victory which ties him with Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for 10th all-time too. He also becomes the first driver to win an Indy 500 for Team Penske and win again with another team in doing so for Meyer Shank Racing. In saying that, this was MSR’s first ever Indy Car victory too.
Castroneves, is the fourth-oldest winner in the race behind Al Unser (47 years, 360 days) in 1987, Bobby Unser (47 years, 93 days) in 1981 and Emerson Fittipaldi (46 years, 169 days) in 1993. Helio is 46 years, 20 days old on this day in history.
His trip to victory lane is the seventh for Brazilians with four by him, two by Emmo (1989, 1993) and one by Tony Kanaan (2013).
Also, this keeps the trend of one off winners winning as he did so in 2001, Dan Wheldon did it in 2011 and now Castroneves again in 2021.
Castroneves passed Alex Palou on Lap 198 for the win which ranks the second time in three years the leader crossing the yard of bricks on Lap 198 didn’t win. It’s the sixth time that feat has occurred and the 11th time in the last 12 years that the winner moved into the lead inside of 10 laps-to-go. He’s the first driver to win here and not have a number between 1-99 as he pulled his No. 06 Honda into victory lane on Sunday.
The race was the fastest in Indy 500 history with an average speed of 190.690 mph breaking the 2013 record of 187.433 mph. There were only two cautions for 18 laps all race, both race records too. The previous was in 1990 and 2019 with four yellows and the previous record for fewest cautions laps was 21 in 1976, 2013 and again in 2014.
The 12 year gap between wins was the second longest gap between victories in Indy 500 history. Juan Pablo Montoya has the record at 15 years between his first win in 2000 and second in 2015.
It’s the third time the winner started eighth. The last was Kenny Brack in 1999. The other was Danny Sullivan in 1985.
It’s the 14th win for Honda, second most ever as they trail Offenhauser (27) in the wins list for engines.
The race had 35 lead changes among 13 drivers. That’s the most since 2017 when there was also 35. Those are tied for fourth most ever with 68 (2013), 54 (2016) and 37 (2015) the only years better. Last year we only had 21. The year prior was just 29 with 30 in the first year of the UAK in 2018. This all comes after the race being the fastest qualifying field average (230.294 mph) last weekend and the third closest from quickest qualifier to slowest.
Castroneves also becomes the sixth different winner in as many races run in 2021. We’ve had five different teams win too (Ganassi, Andretti, Arrow McLaren SP, Ed Carpenter Racing and Meyer Shank Racing). Surprisingly, Penske is 0-for-6 this year after winning the final two races of 2020. In counting those two races, we’ve had eight straight races with a different winner now.
Speaking of points, the Ganassi boys are really starting to separate themselves while the Andretti group keeps digging their hole even deeper. Alex Palou leads his teammate Scott Dixon by 36 points heading to the doubleheader in Belle Isle in two weeks. Pato O’Ward (-37) is third while Simon Pagenaud (-47) and Rinus VeeKay (-57) are fourth and fifth respectively.
Between Palou, O’Ward and Pagenaud, they finished 2-3-4 on Sunday and sit 2-4-3 in points now. Herta leads the Andretti foursome in seventh, but he’s also 94 points arrears. Graham Rahal is 100 points out in eighth which is a lot to make up.
Alexander Rossi is -147 in 15th, Ryan Hunter-Reay is in 17th (-154) and James Hinchcliffe (-174) in 24th.
Will Power has slipped to 12th in points while his other Penske teammates are 4-6-9.
Three of the top seven finishers made their first start of the season. Castroneves (1st), Santino Ferrucci (6th) and Sage Karam (7th) all made their season debuts this weekend. For Ferrucci, he’s finished seventh, fourth and now sixth in his three Indy starts. Karam, netted his first top 10 since his rookie year in 2014.
Juan Pablo Montoya made his season debut at Indy two weeks ago and he finished ninth on Sunday for his fifth top 10 in six Indy starts.
VeeKay, has five top 10’s in six starts this season, which is as many as he had all of last year.