Looking Back: Helio Nabs Third Indy 500 Pole

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Helio Castroneves celebrates after winning the pole for the 2009 Indianapolis 500. (IMS Archives Photo)
Helio Castroneves celebrates after winning the pole for the 2009 Indianapolis 500. (IMS Archives Photo)

SPEED SPORT has been reporting on and covering motorsports happenings from all over the world for 85 years, so we thought it would be fun to take a look back in the archives to see what happened 10, 25 and 50 years ago each week.

So check out what SPEED SPORT was covering 10, 25 and 50 years ago this week in Looking Back!

10 Years Ago (May 13, 2009): After being acquitted of tax evasion charges in a federal court in Miami on April 17, Helio Castroneves returned to Team Penske’s Indy car program and captured the Indianapolis 500 pole for the third time in his career. His speed of 224.864 mph was enough to bump his teammate, Ryan Briscoe, from the pole during Pole Day.

Other Happenings: Mark Martin, driving the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5, survived a caution-plagued Southern 500 to earn the 37th victory of his Cup Series career; Brian Birkhofer pocketed $30,000 for his victory in the SuperClean Diamond Nationals at Lucas Oil Speedway in Missouri; Stevie Smith earned a pair of All Star Circuit of Champions victories at Port Royal Speedway while Todd Shaffer collected a win at Williams Grove Speedway; Donny Schatz took the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series points lead with a win at Eldora Speedway.

25 Years Ago (May 11, 1994): Following a diatribe in the May 4 issue of the Washington Post where sportswriter Thomas Boswell called for the banning of motorsports following the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, readers of The Post responded in overwhelming fashion. Readers responded to The Post’s “Point/Counterpoint,” in which editors asked readers to pick a side, pro racing responses outranked anti-racing replies by a 145-1 count.

Other Happenings: Ayrton Senna was laid to rest in his native Brazil in one of the largest funerals in the country’s history after his fatal crash in the Grand Prix of San Marino; Dave Blaney bagged $25,000 after winning a World of Outlaws feature at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway; Scott Brayton topped the charts with a 227.658 mph lap during Indianapolis 500 practice; Derrike Cope took Zook Racing, the former Davey Allison Racing team, to victory lane in Busch Grand National action at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

50 Years Ago (May 14, 1969): Lee Roy Yarbrough survived a collision with race leader Bobby Allison with four laps left to win the Rebel 400 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The contact between Yarbrough and Allison caused the race to end under the caution flag, allowing Yarbrough’s damaged Ford Talladega to take the checkered flag first. Allison said post-race that Yarbrough’s teammate, Cale Yarborough, triggered the crash by forcing Allison into the first turn wall.

Other Happenings: Parnelli Jones was declared the winner of a confusing SCCA Trans-Am race at Michigan Int’l Speedway. He was originally scored fourth at the flag, with Mark Donohue named winner before a scoring recheck found Jones was the actual winner; In the same Trans-Am race, a spectator was killed when Horst Kwech careened off track in the first corner and into an area occupied by fans; Mario Andretti was the clear-cut favorite to win the Indianapolis 500 pole after topping the practice charts; Andy Hampton won the 200-lap ARCA event at the Nashville Fairgrounds in a 1969 Dodge Charger.