1955 Indianapolis 500

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39th Indianapolis 500
Indy500winningcar1955.JPG
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning body AAA / World Championship
Date May 30, 1955
Winner Bob Sweikert
Winning Entrant John Zink
Average speed 128.209 mph (206.332 km/h)
Pole position Jerry Hoyt
Pole speed 140.045 mph (225.381 km/h)
Most laps led Bob Sweikert (86)
Pre-race
Pace car Chevrolet Bel Air
Pace car driver Thomas H. Keating
Chronology
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1954 1956

The 39th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 30, 1955. The event was part of the 1955 AAA National Championship Trail, and was included in the 1955 World Drivers Championship.

The race is notable to many as the race in which Bill Vukovich was killed in a crash while seemingly on his way to an unprecedented third consecutive Indy 500. .

Time trials[edit]

Time trials was scheduled for four days.

Saturday May 14 – Pole Day time trials[edit]

Gusty winds, as well as the threat of rain, was observed on pole day, therefore nearly all of the competitors stayed off the track. Around the garage area, the drivers and teams agreed amongst themselves to sit out time trials for the afternoon, and instead qualify together in better conditions on Sunday. However, in the final 20 minutes, Jerry Hoyt suddenly put his car in line, and pulled away for an unexpected qualifying attempt. His speed of 140.045 mph was not spectacular, but as the fastest (and only) car thus far of the day, he sat on the pole position. Without hesitation, Tony Bettenhausen, Sr. took to the track moments later. After two fast laps, he was slowed by a gust of wind, and qualified second. Sam Hanks and Pat O'Connor got their cars ready, but neither were able to complete attempts. The day closed with only two cars in the field, and Hoyt the surprising pole winner – to the dismay of several in the garage area.

Sunday May 15 – Second day time trials[edit]

Qualifying resumed in better conditions, and most of the drivers who stayed off the track Saturday took to the track on Sunday. Jack McGrath (142.580 mph) was the fastest qualifier, and lined up third. Hoyt's pole-winning speed from the day before ended up being only the 8th-fastest overall in the field – a record slowest ranked pole speed.

Near the end of the day, Manny Ayulo crashed due to a possible steering fault and died the following day.

Saturday May 21 – Third day time trials[edit]

Sunday May 22 – Fourth day time trials[edit]

Classification[edit]

Pos Grid No Driver Constructor Qual Rank Laps Led Time/Retired F-1 Points
1 14 6 United States Bob Sweikert Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 139.99 11 200 86 3:53:59.53 8
2 2 10 United States Tony Bettenhausen
(Relieved by Paul Russo; 77 laps)
Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 139.98 13 200 0 +2:43.56 3
3
3 10 15 United States Jimmy Davies Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140.27 5 200 0 +3:32.36 4
4 33 44 United States Johnny Thomson Kuzma-Offenhauser 134.11 33 200 0 +3:38.91 3
5 7 77 United States Walt Faulkner
(Relieved by Bill Homeier; 24 laps)
Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 139.76 16 200 0 +5:17.17 1
1
6 8 19 United States Andy Linden Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 139.09 22 200 0 +5:57.94
7 16 71 United States Al Herman (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 139.81 15 200 0 +6:24.24
8 19 29 United States Pat O'Connor Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 139.19 21 200 0 +6:41.60
9 17 48 United States Jimmy Daywalt Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 139.41 18 200 0 +7:09.81
10 12 89 United States Pat Flaherty Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140.14 7 200 0 +7:46.54
11 18 98 United States Duane Carter Kuzma-Offenhauser 139.33 19 197 0 +3 Laps
12 25 41 United States Chuck Weyant (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 138.06 25 196 0 +4 Laps
13 32 83 United States Eddie Johnson Trevis-Offenhauser 134.44 32 196 0 +4 Laps
14 20 33 United States Jim Rathmann Epperly-Offenhauser 138.7 24 191 0 +9 Laps
15 21 12 United States Don Freeland Phillips-Offenhauser 139.86 14 178 3 Transmission
16 9 22 United States Cal Niday Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140.3 4 170 0 Accident
17 24 99 United States Art Cross Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 138.75 23 168 24 Engine
18 31 81 United States Shorty Templeman (R) Trevis-Offenhauser 135.01 31 142 0 Transmission
19 6 8 United States Sam Hanks Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140 10 134 0 Transmission
20 28 31 United States Keith Andrews (R) Schroeder-Offenhauser 136.04 28 120 0 Fuel Pump
21 27 16 United States Johnnie Parsons (W) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 136.8 27 119 0 Magneto
22 13 37 United States Eddie Russo (R) Pawl-Offenhauser 140.11 8 112 0 Ignition
23 23 49 United States Ray Crawford (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 139.2 20 111 0 Engine
24 11 1 United States Jimmy Bryan Kuzma-Offenhauser 140.16 6 90 1 Fuel Pump
25 5 4 United States Bill Vukovich (W) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.07 3 56 50 Died in crash 1
26 3 3 United States Jack McGrath Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.58 1 54 6 Magneto
27 22 42 United States Al Keller (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 139.55 17 54 0 Accident
28 30 27 United States Rodger Ward Kuzma-Offenhauser 135.04 30 53 0 Accident
29 26 39 United States Johnny Boyd (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 136.98 26 53 0 Accident
30 29 68 United States Ed Elisian Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 135.33 29 53 0 Retirement
31 1 23 United States Jerry Hoyt Stevens-Offenhauser 140.04 9 40 0 Oil Leak
32 4 14 United States Fred Agabashian Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.93 2 39 0 Spun Off
33 15 5 United States Jimmy Reece Pankratz-Offenhauser 139.99 12 10 0 Engine

Alternates[edit]

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. The broadcast was carried by 237 affiliates in all 48 states (there were only 48 states at the time), as well as Armed Forces Radio. The broadcast was dedicated to the memory of Wilbur Shaw, who was killed in a plane crash in October.

Luke Walton reported from the north pits for the third year. Charlie Brockman, in his fourth appearance on the network, conducted the winner's interview in victory lane.

All five of the major radio stations in the Indianapolis area carried the broadcast. The broadcast was notable as it reported the fatal crash of Bill Vukovich.

The 1955 broadcast was the first to feature the famous out-cue "Stayed tuned for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Due to the increased number of affiliates, the network needed a scripted "out-cue" to alert producers when to manually insert local commercials. A young WIBC marketing staff member named Alice Green is credited with inventing the phrase, and chief announcer Sid Collins coined it on-air for the first time in 1955.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network
Booth Announcers Turn Reporters Pit/garage reporters

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Analyst: Gordon Graham
Driver Expert: Mauri Rose
Statistician: Charlie Brockman

South Turns: Bill Frosch
Backstretch: Jack Shapiro
North Turns: Jim Shelton

Luke Walton (north)
Greg Smith (south)
Charlie Brockman(victory lane)

Notes[edit]

  • Pole position: Jerry Hoyt – 1:04.27 (while Hoyt started on the pole, Jack McGrath set the fastest time but started on the outside of the first row)
  • Fastest Lead Lap: Bill Vukovich – 1:03.67
  • Shared Drives:
  • While in the lead, Bill Vukovich hit the 3-car pileup of Al Keller, Johnny Boyd, and Rodger Ward. He was killed (by fracture to the skull) when his car became airborne and went out of the course on the back long straightaway, landing upside down and on fire. His death concluded a streak of three straight years leading the most laps in the race (likely to have been four straight, 1955 inclusive), a feat unequaled since.
  • Formula 1 championship debut for Keith Andrews, Johnny Boyd, Ray Crawford, Al Herman, Al Keller, Eddie Russo, Shorty Templeman and Chuck Weyant

Drivers' Championship standings after the race[edit]

Pos Driver Points
Nuvola single chevron right.svg 1 France Maurice Trintignant 11 13
Nuvola single chevron right.svg 2 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio 10
1uparrow green.svg 31 3 United States Bob Sweikert 8
1downarrow red.svg 1 4 Italy Nino Farina 6 13
1downarrow red.svg 1 5 Italy Eugenio Castellotti 6
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Works cited[edit]


Previous race:
1955 Monaco Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1955 season
Next race:
1955 Belgian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1954 Indianapolis 500
Bill Vukovich
1955 Indianapolis 500
Bob Sweikert
Next race:
1956 Indianapolis 500
Pat Flaherty