50 Years Ago – June 8, 1960
Pete Wales, a race-car builder and mechanic from Dayton, Ohio, reported he had finalized an agreement with Frank Funk to buy Winchester (Ind.) Speedway. The purchase price was not disclosed, but was reported to be $200,000. Funk had been trying to sell the paved half-mile track since 1951.
25 Years Ago – June 12, 1985
Willy T. Ribbs, the successful black driver whose Indy-car career has stalled twice in two years, asserts that racism inside the CART community is blocking his entry to the elite circuit. “It’s obvious to me that I’m not being picked by Indy-car teams because of pure, unadulterated racism,” Ribbs said.
Countdown To 100
Starting in the last row at Indianapolis should be a bad sign, but several drivers have had outstanding efforts from the final row of the grid. Still, no driver has won the Indianapolis 500 from the 11th row.
In 1992, Scott Goodyear came from dead last to finish a few feet behind winner Al Unser, Jr.
In the first race in 1911, the first three finishers were 28th, 29th and 25th at the start.
While Johnny Rutherford won the 1980 race from the pole, second- and third-place Tom Sneva and Gary Bettenhausen were 32nd and 33rd at the start. Ted Horn in 1937, Jim Rathmann in 1957 and Mario Andretti in 1981 are the others who came from the last row to a top- three finish.
Newsmaker – Kevin Olson
In 1982, Kevin Olson, a 29-year-old racer from Loves Park, Ill., became the first driver in USAC midget history to claim the series championship without winning a single feature race.
Showing up for every event and producing consistent top-10 finishes were the keys to Olson’s title performance in the Volkswagen-powered midget owned by Lee Carey.
Olson recorded 14 top-10 finishes in 21 features, including a pair of runner-up efforts. He took the point lead in the outdoor opener on March 13 at California’s Ascot Park Speedway and beat second-place finisher Mel Kenyon by 62 points.
Olson eventually founded a successful light bulb repair business in addition to working as a pit reporter for the IMS Radio Network.
Chris’s Column – May 12, 1982
“The loss of Gilles Villeneuve is yet another blow Formula One has taken this year. From the description of the crash and photos we’ve seen, it appears the seat in the Ferrari came out and Gilles with it. And when the rescuers got to him, his helmet was off! Why would a seat in a Formula One car — touted as the ‘ultimate’ in racing machinery — come out? And why would a helmet come off?”