1969 Indianapolis 500
|Indianapolis Motor Speedway|
|Season||1969 USAC season|
|Date||May 30, 1969|
|Winning team||Andy Granatelli|
|Average speed||156.867 mph (252.453 km/h)|
|Pole position||A. J. Foyt|
|Pole speed||170.568 mph (274.503 km/h)|
|Rookie of the Year||Mark Donohue|
|Most laps led||Mario Andretti (116)|
|National anthem||Purdue Band|
|Back Home Again in Indiana||Mack H. Shultz|
|Starting Command||Tony Hulman|
|Pace car||Chevrolet Camaro SS|
|Pace car driver||Jim Rathmann|
|TV in the United States|
|Network||ABC's Wide World of Sports|
|Announcers||Jim McKay, Rodger Ward|
The 53rd International 500 Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 30, 1969. Mario Andretti led 116 laps and won for car owner Andy Granatelli. Hard luck driver Lloyd Ruby was leading the race just after the midpoint, but during a pit stop, pulled away with the fueling hose still attached. He ripped a hole in the fuel tank, and was out of the race. The incident put Mario Andretti in the lead for rest of the way.
For 1969 not a single front-engined car managed to qualify for the race, and ultimately, one would never do so again. All 33 cars in the field were rear-engined, piston-powered, machines. After the historic failures of the controversial STP Granatelli Turbine machines in 1967 and 1968, USAC imposed additional restrictions that effectively rendered them uncompetitive. The annulus inlet was further reduced from 15.999 in² to 11.999 in², and the Granatelli team parked them forever.
Mario Andretti crashes in practice and suffers burns two weeks before the race, but he hops into a back-up car and wins going away. Andy Granatelli, who abandoned the turbine cars for 1969, plants a famous kiss on his cheek in victory lane. Interesting fact: The type of engine in his car was known to overheat, so Cliff Brawner, his chief mechanic, managed to insert a radiator underneath Mario's seat, making it the hottest ride Mario had ever driven at the speedway. Also, for the official front row picture, Mario's twin brother Aldo was standing in for him.
Race schedule 
Jigger Sirois 
On pole day, Saturday May 17, rain threatened to wash out the afternoon. At the time, the rules did not specifically provide for rain delay extensions during the pole round. Only cars who made an attempt before the rains came (and the track being closed) might be eligible for the pole unless officials made a ruling. Rookie Jigger Sirois drew the #1 qualifying spot in the order.
At 4:12 p.m., the track finally was opened for qualifying, and Sirois took to the track. He completed his first three laps at:
- Lap 1 - 161.783 mph
- Lap 2 - 162.279 mph
- Lap 3 - 160.542 mph
However, on his fourth and final lap, his crew waved off the run, and it was aborted. Arnie Knepper was the second car in line, and pulled away for his warm up laps. Rain began to fall, and Knepper was unable to complete a single lap. The rain washed out the rest of the afternoon, and continued into Sunday, washing out the entire weekend. Had Sirois' crew not waved off his final lap, he would have been the lone qualifier of the weekend, and would have sat on the provisional pole position for an entire week.
On the second weekend of time trials, Sirois waved off his second attempt, and also waved off his third and final attempt when his speed was not fast enough. Sirois's first attempt the weekend before would have been fast enough to qualify for the race. Sirois never managed to qualify at Indy in subsequent years, and became a source of popular folklore.
Box score 
|14||6||82||Roger McCluskey||168.350||6||157||0||Split Header|
|20||20||4||Lloyd Ruby||166.428||20||105||11||Fuel Tank|
|21||19||22||Wally Dallenbach, Sr.||166.497||19||82||7||Clutch|
|22||21||29||Arnie Knepper||166.220||21||82||0||Crash T4|
|23||8||67||LeeRoy Yarbrough||168.075||8||65||0||Split Header|
|28||7||38||Jim McElreath||168.224||7||24||0||Engine Fire|
|29||17||36||Johnny Rutherford||166.628||17||24||0||Oil Tank|
|31||12||40||Art Pollard||167.123||12||7||0||Drive Line|
|32||26||98||Bill Vukovich II||164.843||26||1||0||Rod|
|Tire participation chart|
|Supplier||No. of starters|
|* - Denotes race winner|
Race notes 
- After suffering burns to his face in a practice crash, Mario Andretti had his twin brother Aldo stand in for him during the traditional front row qualifying photo session.
The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer and Fred Agabashian served as "driver expert." At the conclusion of the race, Lou Palmer reported from victory lane.
The broadcast was carried on over 950 affiliates, including AFN, shortwave to troops in Vietnam, and the CBC. The broadcast reached an estimated 100 million listeners. Among the visitors interviewed in the booth were Senator Birch Bayh, along with his teenage son, future senator Evan Bayh.
|Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network|
|Booth Announcers||Turn Reporters||Pit/garage reporters|
Turn 1: Mike Ahern
|Chuck Marloe (north pits)
Luke Walton (center pits)
Lou Palmer (south pits)
The race was carried in the United States on ABC's Wide World of Sports. The broadcast aired on Saturday, June 7. Jim McKay anchored the broadcast with Rodger Ward as analyst and Chris Economaki as pit reporter.
The telecast featured a summary of time trials as well as pre-race interviews. During the race, McKay and Economaki served as roving pit reporters, and their interviews were edited into the final production.
The broadcast has re-aired on ESPN Classic starting in May 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 1969 Indianapolis 500|
Works cited 
- 1969 Indianapolis 500 Press Information - Daily Trackside Summary
- Indianapolis 500 History: Race & All-Time Stats - Official Site
- 1969 Indianapolis 500 Radio Broadcast, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network
|1968 Indianapolis 500
|1969 Indianapolis 500
|1970 Indianapolis 500