Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Dream Field Of 33 For The Indy 500

Over a year ago, smack in the middle of the Centennial era, I decided to pick my “Field of 33”, of the 33 drivers that made the Indianapolis 500 what it is. My choices weren’t made just in terms of wins and laps led, but also in terms of the heart and personality they added to the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. I agonized over my list, knowing I was leaving off some amazing, historical, one-of-a-kind drivers.

Looking For The Best To Ever Cross The Bricks
 Now with, this spring will see fans picking their choices for the 33 biggest legends of Indy out of a pool of 100 accomplished 500 drivers. I plan on going over to tweak my list again and again between now and then, but for now, you can view it below. Oh, and by the way, cheers to the 500 folks and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a great Centennial idea.

Zack’s Legendary 33
(In only the vaguest sort of order, so don’t get hung up on that)

1 AJ Foyt--4-time winner, and one of the most memorable personalities to ever grace IMS.
2 Al Unser, Sr.--4-time winner, oldest driver to win the 500.
3 Rick Mears--4-time winner, broke the 220mph barrier at Indy.

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, infamous Speedway legend, and part of the track's spirit.


  1. Very nice to see you included Jimmy Bryan on your list. Although he was 'before my time', I've always thought he was one of the true greats.

  2. Honestly, he was before my time, too, but I’ve tried to go back and learn as much as I could about the races of that era. He definitely stands out as one of the best.