1968 Indianapolis 500

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
52nd Indianapolis 500
Eagle Rislone Special front Honda Collection Hall.jpg
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning body USAC
Season 1968 USAC season
Date May 30, 1968
Winner Bobby Unser
Winning team Leader Cards
Average speed 152.882 mph (246.040 km/h)
Pole position Joe Leonard
Pole speed 171.559 mph (276.097 km/h)
Fastest qualifier Joe Leonard
Rookie of the Year Bill Vukovich II
Most laps led Bobby Unser (127)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthem Purdue Band
Back Home Again in Indiana Purdue Band
Starting Command Tony Hulman
Pace car Ford Torino GT
Pace car driver William Clay Ford, Sr.
Attendance 250,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
Network ABC's Wide World of Sports
Announcers Jim McKay, Rodger Ward
Chronology
Previous Next
1967 1969

The 52nd International 500 Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday May 30, 1968. For the second year in a row, Andy Granatelli's STP Turbine-powered machine dominates the race, but once again, failed within sight of victory.

On lap 174 Lloyd Ruby's engine misfired allowing Joe Leonard to take the lead in the Lotus 56 turbine. Leonard, however, suffered a flameout on the lap 190 restart, and rolled to a silent and shocking halt. Bobby Unser in the venerable piston-powered Offenhauser, inherited the lead, and despite gearbox trouble, went on to win his first of three Indy 500 victories.

This was the final Indianapolis 500 to feature a front-engined car in the starting field. Of the 33 cars, 32 were rear-engined machines (including three turbines). Jim Hurtubise's entry, which dropped out after nine laps, was the last front-engine car to race in the 500. It was also the first 500 won by a turbocharged engine.

During the month, film crews were on hand to film various action shots and stock footage of the race proceedings to be used in the upcoming movie Winning, starring Paul Newman.

With 9.25 inches of precipitation in the Indianapolis area, the 1968 race featured the wettest month on record for the Indy 500.[1] Rain hampers practice and qualifying, but does not affect race day.

Race schedule[edit]

Time trials was scheduled for four days, but for the first time under the current schedule format, qualifying was carried over into a fifth day. Most of Bump Day was rained out, and the track closed due to darkness without the field yet filled to 33 cars. A special session was held Monday in order to complete the field.

Race schedule — May 1968
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

 

 

 
1
Practice
2
Practice
3
Practice
4
Practice
5
Practice
6
Practice
7
Practice
8
Practice
9
Practice
10
Practice
11
Practice
12
Practice
13
Practice
14
Practice
15
Practice
16
Practice
17
Practice
18
Pole Day
19
Time Trials
20
Practice
21
Practice
22
Practice
23
Practice
24
Practice
25
Time Trials
26
Bump Day
27
Time Trials
28
Carb Day
29
 
30
Indy 500
31
 

 
Color Notes
Green Practice
Dark Blue Time trials
Silver Race day
Red Rained out*
Blank No track activity

* Includes days where track activity
was significantly limited due to rain

  • The 500 Festival parade was held Tuesday night, May 28.

Practice and time trials[edit]

The 1968 Indianapolis 500 was the second and eventually the final year of participation by the controversial STP Granatelli Turbine machines. For 1968, the Pratt & Whitney turbine engine was installed in the Lotus 56 chassis, often known affectionately as the "Wedge Turbine." In a veiled effort to curtail the turbine's power output, USAC had imposed revised regulations regarding the maximum annulus inlet (reduced from 23.999 in² to 15.999 in²).

Mike Spence was fatally injured after a crash in turn one on May 7. A tire broke off his Lotus "Wedge" Turbine and struck him in the head. He died of his injuries a few hours after the accident after being taken to the hospital. Spence's death came one month after Jim Clark's at Hockenheim. Clark was scheduled to drive one of the Lotus Wedge Turbines at Indy.

Pole Day Time trials - Saturday May 18[edit]

Graham Hill the 1966 winner in the #70 STP Turbine was first to qualify, and set a new qualifying record. Later, his STP Lotus 56 teammate Joe Leonard in #60 won the pole position with a speed of 171.559 mph (276.097 km/h).

Second Day time trials - Sunday May 19[edit]

Rain kept cars off the track most of the day. Only two cars were able to make an attempt, and only one was run to completion. At 5:45 p.m., the track was finally opened for qualifications, and Jochen Rindt (164.144 mph) was the lone qualifier, while Denny Hulme waved off as the 6 o'clock gun went off.

At the conclusion of the first weekend of time trials, the field was filled to 16 cars.

Third Day time trials - Saturday May 25[edit]

Sixteen cars made a total of 24 attempts, and filled the field to 26 cars. High winds kept some cars off the track, and speeds were down from the previous weekend.[2] Many cars waved off, and Mel Kenyon (165.191 mph) was the fastest car of the day.

After qualifying, Ronnie Bucknum's car was disqualified for being 20 pounds underweight.

Fourth day time trials - Sunday May 26[edit]

With the field filled to 25 cars (eight spots open), rain kept the cars off the track until late in the day. The final scheduled day of time trials ("Bump Day") was almost a complete wash out. The traditional 6 o'clock closing time came and went, and the track was still wet. Track crews continued to work, and the track opened for practice at 6:55 p.m. After the mandatory 30-minute practice session, the track opened for time trials at 7:31 p.m.

With overcast skies and darkness looming, three cars made attempts. Bill Puterbaugh and Bill Cheesbourg completed runs, while Bobby Johns spun on his second warm up lap. At that time, officials deemed the conditions unsafe due to darkness, and postponed the remainder of qualifying until Monday morning.[3]

Time trials - Monday May 27[edit]

For the first time since 1952, time trials were pushed into a fifth day. Officials ruled that all 25 cars that were in the starting field at 6 p.m. Sunday May 26 were "locked in" and could not be bumped. In addition, all cars that were in line to qualify Sunday evening at 7:54 p.m. were eligible to make one qualifying attempt on Monday. Only cars that qualified after 6 p.m. on Sunday evening were subject to bumping (including Puterbaugh and Cheesbourg).

Ronnie Bucknum was reinstated to the field when it was determined that during his inspection, the scale used to weight the car was defective.[4] With Bucknum's car back in the field, only seven spots were now available.

Though rain hampered the day, the qualifying was successfully completed on Monday. A frantic session saw two crashes (Bob Hurt and Rick Muther). Eighteen cars took to the track to fill the seven open spots. Both Puterbaugh and Cheesebourg were bumped, and Mike Mosley was the fastest of the day. Jim Hurtubise qualified his front-engined Mallard for 30th starting position. It would be the final front-engined car to qualify for the Indy 500.

Race Day[edit]

First half[edit]

At the drop of the green flag, Joe Leonard in the #60 STP Turbine took the lead, with Bobby Unser in second and Roger McCluskey up to third at the end of lap one. A fast pace was set over the first 100 miles, with no yellow caution lights. Bobby Unser took the lead for the first time on lap 8, and lead most of the first half.

After only nine laps, Jim Hurtubise in the front-engined PepsiCo Frito-lay special had burned a piston, and was out, finishing 30th, the final front-engined "roadster" to race at lap at the 500. Also in the pits was Mario Andretti, who dropped out with a bad piston. Moments later, he hopped into the car of his teammate Larry Dickson, but that was also short-lived. That car also suffered a broken piston after 24 laps.

On lap 41, the caution flag flew for the first time. Al Unser, Sr. made a routine pit stop, but a fire broke out in the turbocharger. He was able to return to the race, but after only one lap, he lost a wheel and hit the wall in turn one. Arnie Knepper and Gary Bettenhausen were also involved. After 200 miles (320 km), defending champion A.J. Foyt was out with a blown engine.

Second half[edit]

On lap 110, Graham Hill loses a wheel and smashed into the turn two wall, which brought out the second caution. It was the first of the three Granatelli Turbines to drop out of the race. On the restart, Bobby Unser took the lead, blowing by Joe Leonard, showing the traditional piston-powered engines were still a match for the powerful turbines.

On lap 127, Mel Kenyon and rookie Billy Vukovich II tangle in turn four. Both were able to re-enter the race, but Johnny Rutherford, while trying to slow down, was rear-ended by Jim McElreath. Mike Mosley also spun in turn four trying to avoid the accident.

When Bobby Unser made his last pit stop, his car was stuck in high gear. As he left his pit struggling to reach racing speed, both Leonard and Ruby passed him. Leonard now lead, but Ruby was out of contention with a faulty ignition coil.

With 19 laps to go, Joe Leonard led, with Bobby Unser second. Carl Williams crashed on the backstretch, triggering a fire which brought out the yellow light. Under the caution, Leonard led, with Bobby Unser and Dan Gurney nose-to-tail. After the cleanup, the green flag was given on lap 191. At that instant, both leader Joe Leonard and his teammate Art Pollard hesitated and instantly slowed with identical snapped fuel pump drive shafts. The turbine engines again failed in sight of the finish, stunning the racing fraternity. Bobby Unser swept by into the lead with Dan Gurney inheriting second place. With a nearly full-lap lead, Unser cruised the final nine laps to win his first 500.

Cars using Goodyear tires swept the top four positions, and Goodyear won their second 500 in row. Officials allowed the top five cars to finish the full 500 miles, then flagged the rest of the field off the track. This would be the final 500 in which finishers were named to the prestigious Champion Spark Plug 100 mph Club.

Box score[edit]

Finish Start No Name Qual Rank Laps Led Status
1 3 3 United States Bobby Unser 169.507 3 200 127 Running
2 10 48 United States Dan Gurney 166.512 10 200 0 Running
3 17 15 United States Mel Kenyon 165.191 14 200 0 Running
4 20 42 New Zealand Denis Hulme 164.189 19 200 0 Running
5 5 25 United States Lloyd Ruby 167.613 5 200 42 Running
6 26 59 United States Ronnie Duman 162.338 27 200 0 Running
7 23 98 United States Bill Vukovich II (R) 163.510 23 198 0 Flagged
8 27 90 United States Mike Mosley (R) 162.499 26 197 0 Flagged
9 31 94 United States Sammy Sessions (R) 162.118 31 197 0 Flagged
10 25 6 United States Bobby Grim 162.866 25 196 0 Flagged
11 24 16 United States Bob Veith 163.495 24 196 0 Flagged
12 1 60 United States Joe Leonard 171.599 1 191 31 Fuel Shaft
13 11 20 United States Art Pollard 166.297 11 188 0 Fuel Shaft
14 13 82 United States Jim McElreath 165.327 13 179 0 Stalled
15 28 84 United States Carl Williams 162.323 28 163 0 Crash BS
16 18 10 United States Bud Tingelstad 164.444 17 158 0 Oil Pressure
17 12 54 United States Wally Dallenbach, Sr. 165.548 12 148 0 Engine
18 21 18 United States Johnny Rutherford 163.830 21 125 0 Crash T4
19 2 70 United Kingdom Graham Hill (W) 171.208 2 110 0 Crash T2
20 8 1 United States A.J. Foyt (W) 166.821 8 86 0 Rear End
21 19 45 United States Ronnie Bucknum (R) 164.211 18 76 0 Fuel Leak
22 14 27 United States Jim Malloy (R) 165.032 15 64 0 Rear End
23 15 78 United States Jerry Grant 164.782 16 50 0 Oil Leak
24 22 11 United States Gary Bettenhausen (R) 163.562 22 43 0 Accident T1
25 32 21 United States Arnie Knepper 161.900 32 42 0 Accident T1
26 6 24 United States Al Unser 167.069 6 40 0 Crash T1
27 9 4 United States Gordon Johncock 166.775 9 37 0 Rear End
28 33 64 United States Larry Dickson
(Relieved by Mario Andretti; laps 14-24)
161.124 33 24 0 Piston
29 7 8 United States Roger McCluskey 166.976 7 16 0 Oil Filter
30 30 56 United States Jim Hurtubise 162.191 30 9 0 Piston
31 29 29 United States George Snider 162.264 29 9 0 Oil Leak
32 16 35 Austria Jochen Rindt 164.144 20 5 0 Piston
33 4 2 United States Mario Andretti 167.691 4 2 0 Piston

Alternates[edit]

Qualification Chronology[edit]

Att
#
Car
#
Driver Laps Qual
Speed
Rank Start Comment
Saturday May 18, 1968
1 70 Graham Hill 4 171.208 2 2
2 25 Lloyd Ruby 4 167.613 5 5
3 8 Roger McCluskey 4 166.976 7 7
4 15 Mel Kenyon 2 Waved off
5 54 Wally Dallenbach 3 Waved off
6 3 Bobby Unser 4 169.507 3 3
7 4 Gordon Johncock 3 Waved off
8 1 A. J. Foyt 4 166.821 8 8
9 48 Dan Gurney 4 166.512 10 10
10 27 Jim Malloy 4 165.032 15 14
11 60 Joe Leonard 4 171.559 1 1
12 4 Gordon Johncock 4 166.775 9 9
13 82 Jim McElreath 4 165.512 13 13
14 24 Al Unser 4 167.069 6 6
15 2 Mario Andretti 4 167.691 4 4
16 54 Wally Dallenbach 4 165.548 12 12
17 56 Jim Hurtubise 1 Accident
18 78 Jerry Grant 4 164.782 16 15
19 20 Art Pollard 4 166.297 11 11
Sunday May 19, 1968
20 35 Jochen Rindt 4 164.144 20 16
21 42 Denis Hulme 3 Waved off
Saturday May 25, 1968
22 21 Arnie Knepper 1 Accident
23 15 Mel Kenyon 3 Waved off
24 62 Bruce Walkup 3
25 11 Gary Bettenhausen 4 163.562 22 22
26 18 Johnny Rutherford 4 163.830 21 21
27 45 Ronnie Bucknum 4 164.211 18 19 Disqualfied 5/25; Reinstated 5/27; Bumps #88
28 88 Bob Harkey 3 Waved off
29 36 Larry Dickson 3 Waved off
30 59 Ronnie Duman 4 162.338 27 26
31 98 Billy Vukovich II 4 163.510 23 23
32 26 Bobby Johns 3 Waved off
33 14 Bob Hurt 3 Waved off
34 16 Bob Veith 4 163.495 24 24
35 10 Bud Tingelstad 1 Pulled off
36 90 Mike Mosley 2 Waved off
37 6 Bobby Grim 4 162.866 25 25
38 84 Carl Williams 2 Waved off
39 26 Bobby Johns 3 Waved off
40 10 Bud Tingelstad 4 164.444 17 18
41 21 Arnie Knepper 3 Waved off
42 42 Denis Hulme 4 164.189 19 20
43 15 Mel Kenyon 4 165.191 14 17
44 84 Carl Williams 3 Waved off
45 36 Larry Dickson 3 Waved off
Sunday May 26, 1968
46 77 Bill Puterbaugh 4 157.301 Bumped by #84
47 22 Bill Cheesbourg 4 157.274 Bumped by #21
Bobby Johns 157.274 Spun on second warm up lap
Monday May 27, 1968
48 88 Bob Harkey 4 159.915 Bumped by #45 reinstatement
49 90 Mike Mosley 4 162.449 26 27
50 41 George Follmer 4 158.877 Bumped by #62
51 28 Rick Muther 2 Accident
52 94 Sam Sessions 4 162.118 31 31
53 31 Sonny Ates 4 158.221 Bumped by #29
54 36 Larry Dickson 4 159.652 Bumped by #56
55 21 Arnie Knepper 4 161.900 32 32 Bumps #22
56 84 Carl Williams 4 162.232 29 29 Bumps #77
57 29 George Snider 4 162.264 28 28 Bumps #31
58 62 Bruce Walkup 4 160.514 Bumps #41; Bumped by #64
59 56 Jim Hurtubise 4 162.191 30 30 Bumps #36
60 32 Al Miller II 4 157.109 Too slow
61 71 Bob Harkey 4 156.257 Too slow
62 64 Larry Dickson 4 161.124 33 33 Bumps #88
63 76 Jerry Titus 4 154.540 Too slow
Tire participation chart
Supplier No. of starters
Goodyear 19*
Firestone 14 
* - Denotes race winner

Race notes[edit]

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. Len Sutton served as "driver expert" for the third year. At the conclusion of the race, Lou Palmer reported from victory lane.

Pre-race coverage was 30 minutes. The entire on-air crew remained consistent from 1966 & 1967. The broadcast was carried by over 900 affiliates including 761[6] in the United States, Armed Forces Network, the CBC, and reached New Zealand and Australia for the first time. The broadcast had an estimated 100 million listeners worldwide.

Collins greeted numerous guests in the booth during the race. Among those who stopped by were Chuck Stevenson, Sam Hanks, J. C. Agajanian, former (and future) radio analyst Fred Agabashian, Duke Nalon, Pete DePaolo, Henry Banks, Tom Binford, Johnnie Parsons, and Johnny Boyd. Indiana Senator Vance Hartke visited the booth, escorting a delegation that indluded Secretary of Transportation Alan Boyd. FCC chairman Rosel H. Hyde, Utah Senator Frank Moss, and Jack Kauffmann (The Washington Star). Senator Birch Bayh also visited the booth, accompanied by his teenage son, future senator Evan Bayh, who was attending his first race.

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

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Driver expert: Len Sutton
Statistician: John DeCamp
Historian: Donald Davidson

Turn 1: Mike Ahern
Turn 2: Howdy Bell
Backstretch: Doug Zink
Turn 3: Ron Carrell
Turn 4: Jim Shelton

Chuck Marloe (north)
Luke Walton (center)
Lou Palmer (south)

Television[edit]

The race was carried in the United States on ABC's Wide World of Sports. The broadcast was supposed to air on Saturday, June 8 but was postponed a week to Saturday June 15 due to the funeral that day of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Jim McKay anchored the broadcast with Rodger Ward as analyst.

ABC
Booth Announcers

Announcer: Jim McKay
Color: Rodger Ward

The race was shown live on MCA closed-circuit television in approximately 175 theaters across the United States.[7][8] Charlie Brockman served as anchor.

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Works cited[edit]


1967 Indianapolis 500
A.J. Foyt
1968 Indianapolis 500
Bobby Unser
1969 Indianapolis 500
Mario Andretti