The race

The Indianapolis 500 is held every May around Memorial Day weekend (except for the WWI and WWII years when there was no race, and the COVID year 2020 when the race was delayed until August of that year).  It is the first and longest running 500 mile race.  The first race had an average speed of about 74 m.p.h. and took almost 7 hours to complete.  In comparison, the 2021 race had an average speed of 191 m.p.h. and took 2 hours and 37 minutes to complete.

The venue

The race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, IN, a suburb of Indianapolis.  A mammoth facility, it is well over a mile long; and with a seating capacity of 257,000 people it is the largest sporting venue, by capacity, in the world.  It contains a 2.5 mile oval racing track and a 2.6 mile road course (which uses part of the oval track).  It is on the National Registry of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

The drivers

Four drivers…A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr., Rick Mears, and Helio Castroneves have won the Indy 500 4 times.  6 drivers have won the race 3 times, while 10 drivers have won it twice.  Five drivers have won the race 2 years in a row, the last being Helio Castroneves in 2001-2002.  No driver has ever won the race 3 years in a row, however Al Unser Sr. and Helio Castroneves both came close, coming in 2nd after back to back wins.

The Winners, Pole Sitters, and Pole Speeds:

Year Winner Pole Sitter Pole Speed
1911 Ray Harroun Lewis Strang Awarded Pole
1912 Joe Dawson Gil Anderson Drew Pole
1913 Jules Goux Caleb Bragg Drew Pole
1914 Rene Thomas Jean Chassange Drew Pole
1915 Ralph DePalma Howard Wilcox 98.90
1916 Dario Resta John Aitkin 96.69
1917 No Race due to WWI    
1918 No Race due to WWI    
1919 Howard Wilcox Rene Thomas 104.78
1920 Gaston Chevrolet Ralph DePalma 99.15
1921 Tommy Milton Ralph DePalma 100.75
1922 Jimmy Murphy Jimmy Murphy 100.50
1923 Tommy Milton Tommy Milton 108.17
1924 L.L. Corum/Joe Boyer Jimmy Murphy 108.03
1925 Peter DePaolo Leon Duray 113.20
1926 Frank Lockhart Earl Cooper 111.735
1927 George Souders Frank Lockhart 120.100
1928 Louis Meyer Leon Duray 122.39
1929 Ray Keech Cliff Woodbury 120.599
1930 Billy Arnold Billy Arnold 113.268
1931 Louis Schneider Russ Snowberger 112.796
1932 Fred Frame Lou Moore 117.363
1933 Louis Meyer Bill Cummings 118.524
1934 William Cummings Kelly Petillo 119.329
1935 Kelly Petrillo Rex Mays 120.736
1936 Louis Meyer Rex Mays 119.664
1937 Wilbur Shaw Bill Cummings 123.343
1938 Floyd Roberts Floyd Roberts 125.681
1939 Wilbur Shaw Jimmy Snyder 130.138
1940 Wilbur Shaw Rex Mays 127.850
1941 Floyd Davis/Mauri Rose Mauri Rose 128.691
1942 No Race due to WWII    
1943 No Race due to WWII    
1944 No Race due to WWII    
1945 No Race due to WWII    
1946 George Robson Cliff Bergere 126.471
1947 Mauri Rose Ted Horn 126.564
1948 Mauri Rose Rex Mays 130.577
1949 Bill Holland Duke Nalon 132.939
1950 Johnnie Parsons Walt Faulkner 134.343
1951 Lee Wallard Duke Nalon 136.498
1952 Troy Ruttman Fred Agabashian 138.010
1953 Bill Vukovich Bill Vukovich 138.392
1954 Bill Vukovich Jack McGrath 141.033
1955 Bob Sweikert Jerry Hoyt 140.045
1956 Pat Flaherty Pat Flaherty 145.596
1957 Sam Hanks Pat O’Connor 143.948
1958 Jim Bryan Dick Rathmann 145.974
1959 Roger Ward Johnny Thomson 145.908
1960 Jim Rathmann Eddie Sachs 146.592
1961 A.J. Foyt Eddie Sachs 147.481
1962 Jimmy Clark Parnelli Jones 150.370
1963 Parnelli Jones Parnelli Jones 151.153
1964 A.J. Foyt Jim Clark 158.828
1965 Jim Clark A.J. Foyt 161.233
1966 Graham Hill Mario Andretti 165.899
1967 A.J. Foyt Mario Andretti 168.982
1968 Bobby Unser Joe Leonard 171.599
1969 Mario Andretti A.J. Foyt 170.568
1970 Al Unser Sr. Al Unser Sr. 170.220
1971 Al Unser Sr. Peter Revson 178.696
1972 Mark Donohue Bobby Unser 195.940
1973 Gordon Johncock Johnny Rutherford 198.413
1974 Johnny Rutherford A.J. Foyt 191.632
1975 Bobby Unser A.J. Foyt 193.976
1976 Johnny Rutherford Johnny Rutherford 188.957
1977 A.J. Foyt Tom Sneva 198.884
1978 Al Unser Sr. Tom Sneva 202.156
1979 Rick Mears Rick Mears 193.736
1980 Johnny Rutherford Johnny Rutherford 192.256
1981 Bobby Unser Bobby Unser 200.546
1982 Gordon Johncock Rick Mears 207.004
1983 Tom Sneva Teo Fabi 207.395
1984 Rick Mears Tom Sneva 210.029
1985 Danny Sullivan Pancho Carter 212.583
1986 Bobby Rahal Rick Mears 216.828
1987 Al Unser Sr. Mario Andretti 215.390
1988 Rick Mears Rick Mears 219.198
1989 Emerson Fittipaldi Rick Mears 223.885
1990 Arie Luyendyk Emerson Fittipaldi 225.301
1991 Rick Mears Rick Mears 224.113
1992 Al Unser Jr. Roberto Guerrero 232.482
1993 Emerson Fittipaldi Arie Luyendyk 223.967
1994 Al Unser Jr. Al Unser Jr. 228.011
1995 Jacques Villeneuve Scott Brayton 231.604
1996 Buddy Lazier Tony Stewart (Scott Brayton)* 223.708
1997 Arie Luyendyk Arie Luyendyk 218.263
1998 Eddie Cheever Billy Boat 223.503
1999 Kenny Brack Arie Luyendyk 225.179
2000 Juan Pablo Montoya Greg Ray 223.471
2001 Helio Castroneves Scott Sharp 226.037
2002 Helio Castroneves Bruno Junqueria 231.342
2003 Gil de Ferran Helio Castroneves 231.725
2004 Buddy Rice Buddy Rice 222.024
2005 Dan Wheldon Tony Kanaan 227.566
2006 Sam Hornish Jr. Sam Hornish Jr. 228.985
2007 Dario Franchitti Helio Castroneves 225.817
2008 Scott Dixon Scott Dixon 226.366
2009 Helio Castroneves Helio Castroneves 224.864
2010 Dario Franchitti Helio Castroneves 227.970
2011 Dan Wheldon Alex Tagliani 227.472
2012 Dario Franchitti Ryan Briscoe 226.484
2013 Tony Kanaan Ed Carpenter 228.762
2014 Ryan Hunter-Reay Ed Carpenter 231.067
2015 Juan Pablo Montoya Scott Dixon 226.760
2016 Alexander Rossi James Hinchcliffe 230.760
2017 Takuma Sato Scott Dixon 232.164
2018 Will Power Ed Carpenter 229.618
2019 Simon Pagenaud Simon Pagenaud 229.992
2020 Takuma Sato Marco Andretti 231.068
2021 Helio Castroneves Scott Dixon 231.685
2022 tbd    
*Scott Brayton won the 1996 pole but was killed a couple days later in a pratice crash.  All the drivers moved up one position, allowing Tony Stewart to start on the pole.