1966 Indianapolis 500

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50th Indianapolis 500
Lola-Ford T90 "Red Ball Special" - Flickr - andrewbasterfield.jpg
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyUSAC
Season1966 USAC season
DateMay 30, 1966
WinnerGraham Hill
Winning teamJohn Mecom, Jr.
Average speed144.317 mph (232.256 km/h)
Pole positionMario Andretti
Pole speed165.899 mph (266.989 km/h)
Fastest qualifierMario Andretti
Rookie of the YearJackie Stewart
Most laps ledLloyd Ruby (68)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemPurdue Band
"Back Home Again in Indiana"Ed Ames
Starting CommandTony Hulman
Pace carMercury Comet Cyclone GT
Pace car driverBenson Ford
Attendance250,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
NetworkABC's Wide World of Sports
AnnouncersChris Schenkel Rodger Ward
Chronology
PreviousNext
19651967
 
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50th Indianapolis 500
Lola-Ford T90 "Red Ball Special" - Flickr - andrewbasterfield.jpg
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyUSAC
Season1966 USAC season
DateMay 30, 1966
WinnerGraham Hill
Winning teamJohn Mecom, Jr.
Average speed144.317 mph (232.256 km/h)
Pole positionMario Andretti
Pole speed165.899 mph (266.989 km/h)
Fastest qualifierMario Andretti
Rookie of the YearJackie Stewart
Most laps ledLloyd Ruby (68)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemPurdue Band
"Back Home Again in Indiana"Ed Ames
Starting CommandTony Hulman
Pace carMercury Comet Cyclone GT
Pace car driverBenson Ford
Attendance250,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
NetworkABC's Wide World of Sports
AnnouncersChris Schenkel Rodger Ward
Chronology
PreviousNext
19651967

The 50th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 30, 1966.

Eleven of the 33 starters, a third of the field, were eliminated in a first-lap accident right after receiving the green flag on the mainstretch. No drivers were injured, except for A. J. Foyt, who hurt his hand scaling the catch fence trying to escape the wreck scene. Only seven cars, the fewest finishers ever, were still running by the end of the race.

First-time starter Jackie Stewart led by over a lap late in the race in John Mecom's Lola T90-Ford.[1] However, inside ten laps to go, his oil pressure dropped too low due to a broken scavenge pump. Stewart parked the car, and walked back to the pits. Fellow "rookie" Graham Hill inherited the lead and led a total of 10 laps to win, the first rookie winner since 1927. Despite parking the car, Stewart was voted the rookie of the year over Hill.

Defending race winner Jimmy Clark spun twice during the race, and finished second. For the second year in a row, the Wood Brothers from the NASCAR Grand National circuit were invited to work pit stops, this time for Dan Gurney. However, the car dropped out of the race in the crash on the opening lap.[2]

Practice and Time trials[edit]

Three-year veteran Johnny Rutherford was injured in a serious crash on April 3 at Eldora, and was forced to sit out the 1966 race.[3]

Practice for the "Golden Anniversary 500" opened on Saturday April 30,[4] but cold temperatures and rainy weather for the first few days kept most cars off the track. Chuck Hulse (149.8 mph) was the fastest car over the first weekend.[5] On Monday May 2, Art Pollard became the first rookie to pass the 145 mph rookie test.[6] Jackie Stewart also passed his rookie test.

On Tuesday May 10, Mario Andretti turned a practice lap of 164.5 mph during practice, establishing himself as an early favorite for the pole position.[4] Among the others over the 160 mph mark were A. J. Foyt, George Snider, and Dan Gurney.

Rain washed out practice on Wednesday May 11.[7]

On Friday May 13, the final day of practice before time trials, Mario Andretti shattered the unofficial track record by more than 5 mph, running a lap of 167.411 mph. Rain hampered most of the day, but Andretti put together additional laps of 166 mph, and 164 mph. The next-fastest car was Jim Clark, whose best lap was 165.7 mph.[8]

Saturday May 14 - Pole Day time trials[edit]

Mario Andretti won the pole position with a four-lap track record of 165.889 mph. His best single lap was a record 166.328 mph.[9]

Chuck Rodee was killed in a crash. On his second warmup lap in turn one, Rodee backed into the outside wall, and he died of his injuries at the hospital.

A total of 18 cars completed qualifying runs on a chilly pole day.

Sunday May 15 - Second Day Time trials[edit]

After crashing on pole day, A. J. Foyt qualified at 161.355 mph, the fourth-fastest car in the field.

Saturday May 21 - Third Day Time trials[edit]

Unser brothers Bobby and Al qualified, with rookie Al (162.272 mph) leading the speeds for the day.[10] Bobby Grim qualified his turbo Offy front-engined roadster at 158.367 mph, the only such car in the field.

Sunday May 22 - Bump Day Time trials[edit]

Two drivers managed to bump their way into the field, Ronnie Duman and Larry Dickson.[11] Greg Weld wrecked two cars (one of which was a popular Granatelli-Novi), but was uninjured. Bobby Grim, the slowest qualifier, holds on to the make the field in his front-engined roadster.

Race schedule[edit]

Race schedule — April/May 1966
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
24
Trenton
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
Practice
1
Practice
2
Practice
3
Practice
4
Practice
5
Practice
6
Practice
7
Practice
8
Practice
9
Practice
10
Practice
11
Practice
12
Practice
13
Practice
14
Time Trials
15
Time Trials
16
Practice
17
Practice
18
Practice
19
Practice
20
Practice
21
Time Trials
22
Bump Day
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
Carb Day
28
 
29
 
30
Indy 500
31
 
    
ColorNotes
GreenPractice
Dark BlueTime trials
SilverRace day
RedRained out
BlankNo track activity

* Includes days where track activity
was significantly limited due to rain

Starting grid[edit]

RowInsideMiddleOutside
1United States Mario AndrettiUnited Kingdom Jim Clark (W)United States George Snider
2United States Parnelli Jones (W)United States Lloyd RubyUnited States Gordon Johncock
3United States Jim McElreathUnited States Chuck HulseUnited States Don Branson
4United States Jerry GrantUnited Kingdom Jackie Stewart (R)Canada Billy Foster
5United States Rodger Ward (W)United States Johnny BoydUnited Kingdom Graham Hill (R)
6United States Gary Congdon (R)United States Mel Kenyon (R)United States A.J. Foyt (W)
7United States Dan GurneyUnited States Joe LeonardUnited States Roger McCluskey
8United States Jim HurtubiseUnited States Al UnserUnited States Cale Yarborough (R)
9United States Carl Williams (R)United States Arnie KnepperUnited States Bud Tingelstad
10United States Bobby UnserUnited States Eddie JohnsonUnited States Al Miller II
11United States Bobby GrimUnited States Larry Dickson (R)United States Ronnie Duman
     Yellow indicates the driver was eliminated in the first lap accident.
     Tan indicated the driver was involved in the first lap accident, but was able to restart the race.

Race recap[edit]

Start[edit]

As the field came down the mainstretch for the start, Billy Foster was among those jockeying for position. As the green flag fell, he nearly touched wheels with Gordon Johncock and lost control. He spun directly into the outside wall, just beyond the start/finish line, and triggered a huge pileup. Fourteen cars were involved, with debris and loose wheels bouncing all over the racing surface.

As the drivers instinctively scurried out of their machines to avoid possible flames (although no significant fires had broke out), A. J. Foyt became the only driver casualty of the incident. He injured his hand climbing over the catch fence on the outside of the track. He was checked out at the infield hospital, and cleared to drive relief if needed. One spectator was taken to the hospital with a back injury.

Of the fourteen cars, eleven were damaged beyond repair. The red flag came out, and after the cleanup, the race lined up for a restart with only 22 cars. The red flag delay was about 1 hour and 24 minutes.

When the race was restarted, the field took several warm up laps, and restarted single file. The yellow light came back on almost immediately when Johnny Boyd crashed in turn 1 on the first green lap.

Controversy[edit]

After the race, some confusion in the scoring led to a controversy, wherein second place Jim Clark's team thought they were the rightful winner.[12] Clark had spun on two separate occasions during the race, but did not make serious contact during either incident. He did not stall his engine either time, and was able to drive to the pits for the crew to inspect the car quickly both times. Clark's team contended that he did not lose a significant amount of time, and figured that they were still one lap ahead of Hill at the finish.[13] The scoring pylon, which was manually controlled and unofficial, changed somewhat frequently as the scoring was ironed out, to the dismay of Clark's crew in particular. The unofficial results at the conclusion of the race showed Graham Hill winning by 41.13 seconds over Clark.

The morning after the race, USAC released the official results, and the standings were unchanged. Colin Chapman and Andy Granatelli, the entrants of Clark's Lotus team, declined to file an official protest. A possible explanation given was that the Lotus crew did not see Hill pass by Clark during the aftermath of the second spin.[14]

Race winner Graham Hill admitted to being "puzzled" and "surprised" to be the winner, while other unsatisfied competitors quipped that he had "never passed a car all day long."[15] The IMS Radio Network, which scored the race independently from the USAC officials, also came up with Hill as the first place car.[16] The apparent controversy died out quickly, and no official action was ever taken. Years later the subject is still mildly debated in racing circles.

A theory emerged that scorers accidentally omitted one lap from Jim Clark's official tally. Therefore, he was effectively placed behind Hill at the finish. The car of Al Unser, Sr. was painted nearly identical to Clark's. The theory is that when Al Unser crashed out of the race on lap 161, scorers mistakenly thought it was Clark, and as Clark drove by in the immediate aftermath, they credited that lap to Unser by mistake.[16] Another version of the theory suggests an opposite situation - one of Unser, Sr.'s laps was erroneously credited to Clark's tally early on, and when the scoring was settled later in the race, the extra lap was correctly deleted.

Box score[edit]

FinishStartNoNameQualRankLapsLedStatus
11524[17]United Kingdom Graham Hill (R)159.2432320010Running
2219United Kingdom Jim Clark (W)164.114220066Running
373United States Jim McElreath160.90892000Running
4672United States Gordon Johncock161.05982000Running
51794United States Mel Kenyon (R)158.555321980Flagged
61143United Kingdom Jackie Stewart (R)159.9721419040Oil Pressure
72954United States Eddie Johnson158.898281750Stalled
82811United States Bobby Unser159.109271710Flagged
9206United States Joe Leonard159.560171700Stalled
101088United States Jerry Grant160.335131670Flagged
11514United States Lloyd Ruby162.433516668Cam Stud
122318United States Al Unser162.37261610Crash T4
13218United States Roger McCluskey159.271221290Oil Leak
14498United States Parnelli Jones (W)162.4844870Wheel Bearing
151326United States Rodger Ward (W)159.46819740Handling
162577United States Carl Williams (R)159.64516380Valve
172256United States Jim Hurtubise159.20824290Oil line
1811United States Mario Andretti165.84912716Valve
19382United States George Snider162.5213220Crash T2
20812United States Chuck Hulse160.84410220Crash T2
212722United States Bud Tingelstad159.14426160Overheating
221428United States Johnny Boyd159.3842150Crash T1
2394United States Don Branson160.3851200Crash FS
241227Canada Billy Foster159.4901800Crash FS
251653United States Gary Congdon (R)158.6882900Crash FS
26182United States A.J. Foyt (W)161.355700Crash FS
271931United States Dan Gurney160.4991100Crash FS
282466United States Cale Yarborough (R)159.7941500Crash FS
292637United States Arnie Knepper159.4402000Crash FS
303075United States Al Miller II158.6813000Crash FS
313139United States Bobby Grim158.3673300Crash FS
323234United States Larry Dickson (R)159.1442500Crash FS
333396United States Ronnie Duman158.6463100Crash FS

Alternates[edit]

Tire participation chart
SupplierNo. of starters
Goodyear16 
Firestone17*
* - Denotes race winner

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. Len Sutton joined the crew, serving as "driver expert," replacing Fred Agabashian. The network had gained sponsorship from Autolite, but Agabashian worked for Champion, and he considered it a conflict of interest, so he stepped aside.[19] He would eventually return to the network in 1973-1977. At the conclusion of the race, Lou Palmer reported from victory lane. The broadcast was scheduled for four and a half hours (including a 30-minute pre-race), but the red flag delay at the start extended it.

The broadcast was carried on over 725 affiliates in all 50 states, and 850 stations worldwide including shortwave transmissions from New York and Los Angeles, and XEVIP in Mexico City. Through Armed Forces Network, the broadcast reached worldwide to locations including Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Saigon, Okinowa, Philippines, England, Spain, the Azores, Italy, France, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Pakistan, Morocco, Libya, Newfoundland, Iceland, Labrador, Greenland, and both the North and South poles. In the Indianapolis area, nearly every major radio station simulcast the broadcast. The race was heard by an estimated 100 million listeners.

Bill Frosh, who had reported from turn one for over a decade, left the on-air crew, working instead in production. Mike Ahern took over the prestigious turn one position. Newcomer Doug Zink took the backstretch location, while second-year member Ron Carrell moved to turn three.

For 1967, the flagship station changed from WIBC to WTHI in Terre Haute. Guests in the booth during the red flag delay included Peter DePaolo, Cesar Romero, Johnnie Parsons, Wally Parks, Lucy Foyt, Phil Harris, General Howdy Wilcox, and Larry Bisceglia. During the race, guests that stopped by included Walt Arfons, Frank Borman, Al Bloemker, Louis Meyer, Mickey Thompson, J. C. Agajanian, and Duke Nalon. Senator Birch Bayh visited the booth, accompanied by Wyoming Senator Gale W. McGee and Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman.

As a gesture celebrating the network's 15th anniversary, as well as the 50th running of the 500, guests were presented with a commemorative gold filled Zippo lighter. One station, KXO in California, was noted as one of the few original affiliates to carry the race all fifteen years since the network's inception.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network
Booth AnnouncersTurn ReportersPit/garage reporters

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Driver expert: Len Sutton
Statistician: John DeCamp
Historian: Donald Davidson

Turn 1: Mike Ahern
Turn 2: Howdy Bell
Backstretch: Doug Zink
Turn 3: Ron Carrell
Turn 4: Jim Shelton

Chuck Marlowe (north)
Luke Walton (center)
Lou Palmer (south)

Television[edit]

The race was carried in the United States on ABC's Wide World of Sports. The broadcast aired on Saturday June 10. Chris Schenkel anchored the telecast for the first time, with analysts Rodger Ward, Ward did double duty driving the 500 and calling the 500. It was the first time the race was broadcast in color, and the first time the entire hour-long program was devoted entirely to the 500. The opening featured a brief recap of time trials in the first half, and race coverage in the second half.

The race was shown live on MCA closed-circuit television in various theaters across the United States. Charlie Brockman served as anchor.

ABC Television
Booth Announcers

Announcer/Pit reporter:Chris Schenkel
Color: Rodger Ward

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Works cited[edit]


1965 Indianapolis 500
Jim Clark
1966 Indianapolis 500
Graham Hill
1967 Indianapolis 500
A. J. Foyt