1961 Indianapolis 500

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45th Indianapolis 500
Indy500winningcar1961.JPG
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyUSAC
Season1961 USAC season
DateMay 30, 1961
WinnerA. J. Foyt
Winning teamBignotti-Bowes Racing Associates
Average speed139.130 mph (223.908 km/h)
Pole positionEddie Sachs
Pole speed147.481 mph (237.348 km/h)
Fastest qualifierEddie Sachs
Rookie of the YearBobby Marshman & Parnelli Jones (co-winners)
Most laps ledA. J. Foyt (71)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemPurdue Band
Back Home Again in IndianaMel Torme
Starting CommandTony Hulman
Pace carFord Thunderbird
Pace car driverSam Hanks
Honorary starterN/A
Attendance300,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
NetworkN/A
AnnouncersN/A
Nielsen RatingsN/A / N/A
Chronology
PreviousNext
19601962
 
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45th Indianapolis 500
Indy500winningcar1961.JPG
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyUSAC
Season1961 USAC season
DateMay 30, 1961
WinnerA. J. Foyt
Winning teamBignotti-Bowes Racing Associates
Average speed139.130 mph (223.908 km/h)
Pole positionEddie Sachs
Pole speed147.481 mph (237.348 km/h)
Fastest qualifierEddie Sachs
Rookie of the YearBobby Marshman & Parnelli Jones (co-winners)
Most laps ledA. J. Foyt (71)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemPurdue Band
Back Home Again in IndianaMel Torme
Starting CommandTony Hulman
Pace carFord Thunderbird
Pace car driverSam Hanks
Honorary starterN/A
Attendance300,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
NetworkN/A
AnnouncersN/A
Nielsen RatingsN/A / N/A
Chronology
PreviousNext
19601962

The 45th Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, May 30, 1961. For the first time since 1949, the Indianapolis 500 was not recognized on the World Championship calendar. The race celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Indy 500 in 1911.

Eddie Sachs and A. J. Foyt were battling for 1st-2nd in the latter stages of the race. On Foyt's final scheduled pit stop, his crew is unable to properly engage the fuel mechanism, and his car does not take on a full load of fuel. Foyt returns to the track, and is pulling away from Sachs. Foyt's car is running faster due to the light fuel load, but his crew signals him that he will be unable to make it to the finish without another pit stop. The crew borrowed a fuel tank from Len Sutton's team, and signaled Foyt to the pits.

Foyt gives up the lead on lap 184 for a splash-and-go. That hands the lead to Sachs, who is now leading by 25 seconds. With three laps to go, the warning tread shows through on Sachs' rear tire and Sachs decides to play it safe. Rather than nurse the car around, he pits to replace the worn tire on lap 197. Foyt takes the lead with three laps to go and wins his first (of four) Indy 500 victories by a margin of 8.28 seconds.

Other notable stories include two-time defending World Champion Jack Brabham, who drives the race in a low-slung, rear-engined Cooper-Climax. Dubbed the "British Invasion," it would be the first notable post-war appearance of a rear-engined car, and within five years, the rear-engined revolution would take over the Speedway. The venerable front-engined roadsters are much faster down the long straights, but the superior handling of Brabham's Cooper-Climax in the flat corners keep the car competitive. Brabham drives the car to a respectable 9th place finish.

In October 1961, the mainstrech of the track is paved over in asphalt, and thus the entire track is now paved in asphalt. A single yard of bricks at the start/finish line is left exposed from the original 1909 brick surface. The remainder of the original 3,200,000 bricks now lie underneath the asphalt surface.

Practice and time trials[edit]

The man the called the "Tinley Park Express" Tony Bettenhausen, Sr. was killed in a crash during a practice run on May 12. He was testing a car for Paul Russo. It was determined that an anchor bolt fell off the front radius rod support, permitting the front axle to twist and mis-align the front wheels when the brakes were applied. The car plunged into the outside wall, then rode along the top, snapping fence poles and tearing segments of the catch fence. The car came to rest upside-down on top of the outside wall, and Bettenhausen was killed instantly. Before the time trials Bettenhausen had been the favorite to become the first driver to break the 150 mph barrier at the Speedway.[1]

Time trials was scheduled for four days:

Eddie Sachs sat on the pole with an average speed of 147.481 mph (237.348 km/h).

Box score[edit]

FinishStartNoNameQualRankLapsLedStatus
171United States A. J. Foyt145.903920071Running
2112United States Eddie Sachs147.481120044Running
342United States Rodger Ward146.18752007Running
4187United States Shorty Templeman144.341272000Running
52619United States Al Keller146.15762000Running
62818United States Chuck Stevenson145.191162000Running
73331United States Bobby Marshman144.293292000Running
8255United States Lloyd Ruby146.90922000Running
91317Australia Jack Brabham145.144172000Running
103234United States Norm Hall144.555262000Running
111528United States Gene Hartley144.817221980Flagged
12598United States Parnelli Jones146.080719227Flagged
13697United States Dick Rathmann146.03381640Fuel Pump
141710United States Paul Goldsmith144.741251600Connecting Rod
151215United States Wayne Weiler145.349141470Wheel Bearing
163135United States Dempsey Wilson144.202311450Fuel Pump
171632United States Bob Christie144.782241320Piston
181033United States Eddie Johnson145.843121270Crash T4
1988United States Len Sutton145.897101100Clutch
202252United States Troy Ruttman144.7992310510Clutch
212041United States Johnny Boyd144.092321050Clutch
22399United States Jim Hurtubise146.306410235Piston
231986United States Ebb Rose144.33828930Rod
243026United States Cliff Griffith145.03819550Piston
252145United States Jack Turner144.90421520Crash FS
261473United States A. J. Shepherd144.95420510Crash FS
272922United States Roger McCluskey145.06818510Crash FS
28914United States Bill Cheesbourg145.87311500Crash FS
292783United States Don Davis145.34915490Crash FS
30114United States Jim Rathmann145.41313486Magneto
312355United States Jimmy Daywalt144.21930270Brake Line
322416United States Bobby Grim144.02933260Piston
3323United States Don Branson146.843320Bent Valves

Alternates[edit]

Tire participation chart
SupplierNo. of starters
Firestone32*
Dunlop1 
* - Denotes race winner

Track worker fatality[edit]

John Masariu, 38, of Danville, Indiana was serving as a member of the fire/safety crew. On the 127th lap of the race, driver Eddie Johnson spun out in turn 4, but did not suffer significant damage and he was not injured. A small fire broke out on the car. A safety fire truck went to his aid. John Masariu, who was a basketball coach at nearby Ben Davis High School and was serving as a safety worker, fell or jumped off the back of the fire truck. A moment later, the truck driven by James Williams accidentally backed over him, and he was injured fatally.[3]

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer with Fred Agabashian serving as "driver expert" The broadcast represented the 10th anniversary of the network, which was formed in 1952.

The broadcast was heard on over 450 affiliates, including Armed Forces Radio. The broadcast reached all 50 U.S. states. The race reached approximately 100 million listeners worldwide.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network
Booth AnnouncersTurn ReportersPit/garage reporters

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Driver expert: Fred Agabashian
Statistician: Charlie Brockman

Turn 1: Bill Frosh
Turn 2: Mike Ahern
Backstretch: Bernie Herman
Turn 3: Lou Palmer
Turn 4: Jim Shelton

Jack Shapiro (north pits)
Luke Walton (center pits)
Johny Peterson (south pits)

Television[edit]

The race itself was not televised, however, ABC Sports showed highlights of time trials on Wide World of Sports.[4]

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Works cited[edit]


1960 Indianapolis 500
Jim Rathmann
1961 Indianapolis 500
A.J. Foyt
1962 Indianapolis 500
Rodger Ward