Looking Back: Helio’s Third Indy 500

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Helio Castroneves won his third Indianapolis 500 in 2009. (IndyCar Photo)
Helio Castroneves won his third Indianapolis 500 in 2009. (IndyCar 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 27, 2009): Helio Castroneves repaid Roger Penske’s faith in him with his third Indianapolis 500 victory. Castroneves, who on April 17 had gained his acquittal in a tax evasion case, became the ninth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three times. He took the lead on lap 142 and led the rest of the distance to give Penske his record 15th Indianapolis 500 win over Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick.

Other Happenings: David Reutimann was in the right place at the right time when the rains came at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, allowing him to collect his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series triumph in the Coca-Cola 600; Jenson Button continued Brawn’s Cinderella season with a victory in the Monaco Grand Prix; Chuck Gurney Jr. added another page to the history books for the Gurney family with a triumph in the Night Before the 500 midget race at O’Reilly Raceway Park.

25 Years Ago (May 25, 1994): Al Unser Sr. and Johnny Rutherford, two of Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s legendary figures, both officially retired from Indy car racing. Unser’s retirement came after the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner said he felt his skills were no longer up to the task of putting a car in the Indianapolis 500 field. Rutherford, on the other hand, had not driven a race car since 1988, but did borrow a car from A.J. Foyt and make one final tour of Indianapolis Motor Speedway before making his retirement official.

Other Happenings: Geoff Bodine earned a $250,000 payday with his victory in the Winston Select at Charlotte Motor Speedway, outrunning Sterling Marlin; Top Fuel legend Jimmy Nix was killed in an accident at the Texas Motorplex that saw his dragster go out of control and hit a guardrail; Sammy Swindell headlined the list of weekend winners for the World of Outlaws that also included Steve Kinser and Stevie Smith.

50 Years Ago (May 28, 1969): LeeRoy Yarbrough enjoyed a perfect day at Charlotte Motor Speedway aboard Junior Johnson’s 1969 Mercury Cyclone, winning the 10th running of the World 100 stock car race. He led 274 laps and finished two laps ahead of Donnie Allison in second. Yarbrough’s victory at Charlotte came after he qualified eighth for the Indianapolis 500 driving the Jim Robbins Special turbocharged Ford Eagle.

Other Happenings: A.J. Foyt, with his father serving as crew chief, qualified on the pole for the Indianapolis 500 with an average speed of 170.568 mph; Jim Paschal gave the AMC Javelin it’s first victory in NASCAR Grand Touring competition at Baton Rouge Int’l Speedway; Buzz Gregory held on to win the Little 500 at Sun Valley Speedway despite failing brakes and low fuel; team owner Ray Fox announced he was quitting stock car racing to pursue a less hectic lifestyle.