1956 Indianapolis 500

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40th Indianapolis 500
Indy500winningcar1956.JPG
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning body USAC / World Championship
Date May 30, 1956
Winner Pat Flaherty
Winning Entrant John Zink
Average speed 128.490 mph (206.785 km/h)
Pole position Pat Flaherty
Pole speed 145.596 mph (234.314 km/h)
Most laps led Pat Flaherty – 127 laps
Pre-race
Pace car DeSoto Fireflite
Pace car driver L. Irving Woolson
Chronology
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1955 1957

The 40th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, May 30, 1956. The event was part of the 1956 USAC National Championship Trail, and was included in the 1956 World Championship of Drivers.

The 1956 race was the first to be governed by the United States Automobile Club. AAA withdrew from auto racing the previous August. Another change would have a more immediate effect on the current race. The track had been paved over with asphalt with only about 600 yards of the mainstretch still remaining brick.

The 1956 race is also known in Indy 500 lore as "Cagle's Miracle." Torrential rains pummeled the Speedway in the days leading up to the race. The track was full of standing water, access tunnels were completely flooded, and the infield was a muddy quagmire. The conditions threatened to postpone or outright cancel the race. Speedway superintendent Clarence Cagle supervised a massive cleanup effort, in which hundreds of thousands of gallons of water were pumped out of the tunnels and the infield. Cagle and his crew worked non-stop for 48 hours straight, some without sleep, and had the track ready just in time for race morning.[1]

Time trials[edit]

Time trials was scheduled for four days, but the third day was rained out. With the new surface, a new track record was expected. Pat Flaherty did not disappoint with a pole speed of 145.596 mph (234.314 km/h), over 4.5 mph (7.2 km/h) faster than the 1954 record. 29 drivers qualified opening weekend. The second weekend saw heavy rain that completely canceled Saturday and left only a small window on Sunday for 4 drivers to fill the field. Nino Farina was one of the drivers left out when he didn't get a chance to qualify his Bardahl-Ferrari.

  • Saturday May 19 – Pole Day time trials
  • Sunday May 20 – Second day time trials
  • Saturday May 26 – Third day time trials (rained out)
  • Sunday May 27 – Fourth day time trials

Race summary[edit]

The early part of the race turned into a three man duel between Russo, O'Connor, and Flaherty. Russo was the first to retire when his tyre failed and his car crashed and caught fire. At quarter distance due to yellows and the pit stops, Parsons took the lead followed by Freeland. By the 200-mile (320 km) mark Flaherty took over the lead followed by Freeland, Sweikert, and Parsons but Hanks was working his way through the fields after sustaining some damage in the Russo crash, eventually taking second. Flaherty had built up such a lead that he was able to make his last pit stop and remain in front. He crossed the finish line with Hanks the only other car on the lead lap. The only real change in the top cars toward the end was both O'Connor and Jim Rathmann having to drop back with mechanical problems while both drivers were in the top 5.

Classification[edit]

Pos Grid No Driver Constructor Qual Rank Laps Led Time/Retired Points
1 1 8 United States Pat Flaherty Watson-Offenhauser 145.59 1 200 127 3:53:28.84 8
2 13 4 United States Sam Hanks Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.05 21 200 0 +0:20.45 6
3 26 16 United States Don Freeland Phillips-Offenhauser 141.69 22 200 4 +1:30.23 4
4 6 98 United States Johnnie Parsons (W) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.14 7 200 16 +3:25.69 3
5 4 73 United States Dick Rathmann Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.47 6 200 0 +4:21.81 2
6 10 1 United States Bob Sweikert (W) Kuzma-Offenhauser 143.03 12 200 0 +5:35.05
7 23 14 United States Bob Veith (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.53 16 200 0 +6:25.63
8 15 19 United States Rodger Ward Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.17 27 200 0 +6:32.31
9 21 26 United States Jimmy Reece Lesovsky-Offenhauser 142.88 14 200 0 +6:38.31
10 30 27 United States Cliff Griffith Stevens-Offenhauser 141.47 24 199 0 +1 Lap
11 22 82 United States Gene Hartley Kuzma-Offenhauser 142.84 15 196 0 +4 Laps
12 7 42 United States Fred Agabashian Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.06 8 196 0 +4 Laps
13 25 57 United States Bob Christie (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.23 20 196 0 +4 Laps
14 28 55 United States Al Keller Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.19 26 195 0 +5 Laps
15 32 81 United States Eddie Johnson Kuzma-Offenhauser 139.09 32 195 0 +5 Laps
16 29 41 United States Billy Garrett (R) Kuzma-Offenhauser 140.55 30 194 0 +6 laps
17 33 64 United States Duke Dinsmore Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 138.53 33 191 0 +9 laps
18 3 7 United States Pat O'Connor Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.98 4 187 39 +13 Laps
19 19 2 United States Jimmy Bryan Kuzma-Offenhauser 143.74 9 185 0 +15 Laps
20 2 24 United States Jim Rathmann Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 145.12 3 175 0 Engine
21 31 34 United States Johnnie Tolan (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140.06 31 173 0 Engine
22 5 99 United States Tony Bettenhausen Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.6 5 160 0 Accident
23 14 10 United States Ed Elisian
(Relieved by Eddie Russo; 37 laps)
Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.38 25 160 0 Brakes
24 16 48 United States Jimmy Daywalt Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140.97 28 134 0 Accident
25 24 54 United States Jack Turner (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.39 18 131 0 Engine
26 20 89 United States Keith Andrews Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.97 13 94 0 Transmission
27 9 5 United States Andy Linden Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.05 11 90 0 Oil Leak
28 27 12 United States Al Herman Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.61 23 74 0 Accident
29 17 49 United States Ray Crawford Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140.88 29 49 0 Accident
30 12 15 United States Johnny Boyd Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.33 19 35 0 Oil Leak
31 11 53 United States Troy Ruttman (W) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.48 17 22 3 Spun Off
32 18 88 United States Johnny Thomson Kuzma-Offenhauser 145.54 2 22 0 Spun Off
33 8 29 United States Paul Russo Kurtis Kraft-Novi 143.54 10 21 11 Accident 1

Alternates[edit]

Race notes[edit]

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. Charlie Brockman conducted the winner's interview in victory lane.

Bill Frosh (turn 1) and Jim Shelton (turn 4) were part of the broadcast team.

Drivers' Championship standings after the race[edit]

Pos Driver Points
Nuvola single chevron right.svg 1 France Jean Behra 10
Nuvola single chevron right.svg 2 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio 9
Nuvola single chevron right.svg 3 United Kingdom Stirling Moss 8
1uparrow green.svg 22 4 United States Pat Flaherty 8
1uparrow green.svg 21 5 United States Sam Hanks 6
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included.

See also[edit]

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500" Donald Davidson, 2006, page 138
  2. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
  3. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley1070-AM WIBC, May 13, 2007

Works cited[edit]


Previous race:
1956 Monaco Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1956 season
Next race:
1956 Belgian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1955 Indianapolis 500
Bob Sweikert
1956 Indianapolis 500
Pat Flaherty
Next race:
1957 Indianapolis 500
Sam Hanks