1996 Indianapolis 500

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80th Indianapolis 500
Indy500winningcar1996.JPG
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning body USAC/IRL
Season 1996 IRL season
Date May 26, 1996
Winner Buddy Lazier
Winning team Hemelgarn Racing
Average speed 147.956 mph
Pole position Tony Stewart
Pole speed 233.718 mph
Fastest qualifier Arie Luyendyk (236.986 mph)
Rookie of the Year Tony Stewart
Most laps led Roberto Guerrero (47)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthem Florence Henderson
"Back Home Again in Indiana" Jim Nabors
Starting Command Mary F. Hulman
Pace car Dodge Viper GTS
Pace car driver Bob Lutz
Attendance 300,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Paul Page, Danny Sullivan, and Bobby Unser
Chronology
Previous Next
1995 1997

The 80th Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26, 1996. This was the first Indy 500 contested by the Indy Racing League, under the overall sanctioning umbrella of USAC. It was the third and final race of the 1996 IRL season. Buddy Lazier won the race, his first career victory in Indy car competition.

The race was surrounded by months of controversy. Most of the top teams and drivers in Indy car racing chose to boycott the race, protesting a perceived lockout of CART teams by the IRL.[1] Rival teams instead staged a competing race the same day, the U.S. 500 at Michigan. Participants in the 1996 Indy 500 included several familiar Indy car teams and owners such as A.J. Foyt, Dick Simon, Hemelgarn, and Menard. However, there were also many new teams, some of which moved up from Indy Lights, AIS, or sports cars. Many of the drivers were inexperienced rookies from an obscure range of backgrounds, giving the impression of a field of replacement drivers.[1] For only the second time in history, no IndyCar national champions were in the Indy 500 starting lineup (first time was 1928).

Media attention of the open wheel "split" was highly critical going into the race, as the IRL participants were often ridiculed and the prestige of the Indianapolis 500 itself was brought into question.[1][2] However, the race itself was found to be competitive and entertaining,[1][2] while the rival U.S. 500 suffered a multi-car pile-up on the opening lap.[1][2]

During practice, the month was marred by the death of pole position winner Scott Brayton, who was killed in a crash testing a backup car.[1] The month was also plagued by constant rain. In Indianapolis, May 1996 was the fifth-wettest month of May on record, and the 4th wettest month of May in Indy 500 history.[3]

The 1996 race marked Firestone's first Indy 500 victory since 1971. In what would be the final year contested by the formula of turbocharged engines (until they returned in 2012), all-time track record speeds would be set during practice and time trials - all of which still stand as of 2013.

Background[edit]

IRL/CART split[edit]

See also 1996 Indy Racing League season

The seeds of the IRL/CART "split" were planted in the early 1990s, when newly named Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George began exploring options of changes in the sport of Indy cars. Sharply rising costs, the lack of many ovals on the schedule, and the dwindling number of American participants were among his stated concerns. As early as May 1991, George announced intentions to change the engine formula to 3.5L normally aspirated powerplants (essentially the same engines used in Formula One at the time), a plan that never got past the planning stages. George joined the CART board of directors from 1992-1994 as a non-voting member. He resigned after the brief tenure, disagreeing with the direction of the series.

In the summer of 1994, George announced he was going to start a new series, the Indy Racing League, with the Indianapolis 500 as its centerpiece. CART had sanctioned the sport of Indy car racing since 1979, with the exception of the Indianapolis 500 itself, which was sanctioned singly by USAC. George blueprinted the IRL as a lower-cost alternative to CART, with an emphasis on attracting American drivers, an all-oval schedule, and new cars with normally-aspirated, "production-based" engines.

Almost immediately, a turbulent political controversy erupted, with participants, media, fans, and sponsors all apprehensive of the sport's direction and pending shakeup. The prevailing opinion around the CART paddock was largely negative regarding the formation of the IRL. The 1995 season and 1995 Indy 500 were held as normal, but under a growing cloud of uncertainty about the future of the sport. During the summer of 1995, and into the offseason, the two factions of CART and the IRL were unable to reconcile on much of anything, and the "split" began to take shape. The biggest salvo was made on July 3, 1995, when IRL officials announced that the top 25 drivers in IRL points would be guaranteed starting positions in the 1996 Indy 500.

Boycott by CART teams[edit]

On December 18, 1995[4] CART teams, convinced they were being deliberately locked out from the 1996 Indy 500, and the victims of a "power grab" by Tony George,[5] announced their intentions to boycott the event. They jointly announced plans for a new race, the Inaugural U.S. 500, to be held at Michigan International Speedway the same day.[5]

The official reaction from IMS/IRL was one of disappointment and dismay, suggesting that CART was preparing to do considerable damage to Indy car racing.[4] CART participants were convinced of the opposite. The only CART teams that entered were Galles and Walker, but neither fielded their regular full-time CART drivers. Galles fielded an Ilmor Mercedes (the only Mercedes entered) in a one-off entry for Davy Jones, while Walker entered a car in the race for Mike Groff.

Defending Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve switched to Formula One and signed with the Williams team during the offseason, and irrespective of the "split," would not return to Indy for 1996. It marked the second year in a row the defending champion would not race in the 500. A year earlier, 1994 winner Al Unser, Jr. failed to qualify. With the recent retirements of several Indy legends, as well as active drivers Bobby Rahal, Emerson Fittipaldi and Unser Jr. who were at the CART race at Michigan, the only former Indy winner entered as a driver would be Arie Luyendyk.

Rules for 1996[edit]

For the 1996 IRL season, USAC implemented a rules freeze, and adopted the 1995 package rules with few changes. The move made such that the race would be contested with 1992-1995 model year CART chassis.

The two-year old Indy car "tire war" was embraced by the IRL. Both Goodyear and Firestone provided tires.

The minimum age rule for drivers in 1996 was changed from 21 to 18.

Locked-in entries[edit]

For the 1996 Indy 500, 25 (of 33) starting grid positions were set aside for the top 25 cars in 1996 season IRL points standings.[6] The arrangement was a controversial rule, known as the "25/8 Rule," and was a key issue that led the CART teams to boycott the race.[7]

The format (similar in practice to NASCAR's Top 35 rule introduced years later) provided that the top 25 entries (not drivers) in owner points were guaranteed a "locked-in" starting position, and could not be bumped,[6] provided they completed a four-lap qualifying run over a minimum prescribed speed. Officials set 220 mph as the minimum.[8] The grid would still be arranged by speed rank.[6][9] The pole position would still be the fastest car on the first day of qualifying (or first trip through the qualifying order), regardless of "locked-in" status.[8][9] The remaining eight positions would be filled by non-top 25 "at-large" entries, and bumping could only occur amongst those participants.

Going into the race, the 25 entries that were eligible for a "locked-in" starting position were[8]

The following three "locked-in" entries practiced limitedly, but made no attempts to qualify:

The following "locked-in" entry did not take any practice laps:

  • #17 Leigh Miller Racing (no driver named)

Since four of the "locked-in" entries made no attempt to qualify, only 21 of the positions were initially "locked-in." After Scott Brayton withdrew his already-qualified car on pole day, he forfeited his "locked-in" status, and qualified as an "at-large" entry.

Therefore, only 20 of the 33 starting positions were locked-in. The field included 13 at-large entries. The 1996 U.S. 500 had 29 starting drivers.

Race schedule[edit]

Race schedule — May 1996
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1
 
2
 
3
 
4
ROP
5
ROP
6
ROP
7
Practice
8
Practice
9
Practice
10
Practice
11
Pole Day
12
Time Trials
13
Practice
14
Practice
15
Practice
16
Practice
17
Practice
18
Time Trials
19
Bump Day
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
Carb Day
24
 
25
Parade
26
Indy 500
27
Memorial Day
28
 
29
 
30
 
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

ROP — denotes Rookie Orientation Program

Practice (week 1)[edit]

Saturday May 4[edit]

Rookie orientation was scheduled for Opening Day. However, rain washed out the entire first day of practice.

Sunday May 5[edit]

Opening day was reserved for rookie orientation, largely due to the overwhelming number of Indy 500 rookies entered. A cool morning saw only a half hour of practice amongst nine cars. Rain closed the track for the day at 9:35 a.m.[10] Rookie Tony Stewart led the abbreviated session with a lap of 193.957 mph.[11]

Monday May 6[edit]

Rain hampered practice for the third day in a row, however, activity was heavy throughout the day, with many drivers looking to finish their rookie tests. At 9:19 a.m., Tony Stewart ran the fastest lap ever at the Speedway by a rookie, at 231.774 mph.[12] Later in the day, he upped the fastest lap of the month to 237.336 mph, which broke the existing unofficial track record.[12][13]

Several drivers completed all four phases of their rookie tests, including Stewart, Mark Dismore, Buzz Calkins, Michel Jourdain, Jr., Michele Alboreto, Richie Hearn, Racin Gardner, Randy Tolsma, Dan Drinan, Brad Murphey, and Jim Guthrie.[12]

Off the track, Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana against CART to protect the "IndyCar" trademark. IMS officials deemed that CART, who was organizing the rival U.S. 500, was failing to comply with the license agreement under which they received permission to use the "IndyCar" trademark.[12]

Tuesday May 7[edit]

Rain once again fell at the Speedway, and opening of the practice was delayed until 2:30 p.m. Veterans took to the track for the first time, with Menard teammates Scott Brayton and Eddie Cheever quickly setting the pace at over 235 mph and 233 mph, respectively.[14]

Johnny Unser and Paul Durant both competed their rookie tests, bringing the total to 13 rookies.[14]

Late in the day, Arie Luyendyk moved up to the top five, with a lap of 232.162 mph.[14] The Menard team, however, swept the top three on the speed chart, when Tony Stewart topped 236.121 mph.[15]

Wednesday May 8[edit]

Rain washed out practice for the day, the second day of the month completely lost to weather.[16]

Thursday May 9[edit]

A windy but warm day saw heavy action. Arie Luyendyk ran the fastest practice lap in Speedway history, 237.774 mph. The three Menard entries (Stewart, Cheever, and Brayton) were all over 234 mph. Several other drivers cracked the 230 mph barrier, including Buddy Lazier, Davy Jones, and Scott Sharp.[17][18]

Friday May 10[edit]

"Fast Friday," the final day of practice before time trials saw the fastest laps turned in Indy history. Shortly after the track opened, Scott Brayton ran his fastest lap of the month, 235.688 mph.[8] Tony Stewart ran a 236.004 mph, while Scott Sharp ran a 235.300 mph lap.[8]

At 12:29 p.m., Arie Luyendyk completed a lap at 238.045 mph, the fastest lap thus far during the month.[8] A half hour later, he ran the fastest practice lap in Speedway history, 239.260 mph (37.616 seconds).[8][19] Luyendyk's lap was 0.106 seconds shy of the elusive 240 mph barrier, and as of 2013, still stands as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway one-lap unofficial track record.

At 3:25 p.m., rain closed the track for the day.[8]

Time trials (weekend 1)[edit]

Pole Day - Saturday May 11[edit]

Pole day dawned cold and rainy. The track opened for practice at 11:55 a.m., with 24 cars taking to the track. Johnny Parsons crashed in turn 3, while Arie Luyendyk stalled with engine trouble. Tony Stewart ran the fastest practice lap of the morning, at 235.719 mph.[20]

Pole day time trials began at 2 p.m. Lyn St. James was the first car to qualify, completing her four-lap run at 224.594 mph. Buddy Lazier then grabbed the provisional pole at 231.468 mph. Twenty minutes later, Davy Jones broke the 1 and 4 lap track records, completing a run at 232.882 mph. The speed broke Roberto Guerrero's 1992 track record.[20]

Tony Stewart bumped Jones off the pole with another new track record, 233.100 mph. Stewart became the first rookie to hold both the 1 and 4 lap track records since Teo Fabi in 1983.[20] His Menard teammates Eddie Cheever (231.781 mph) and Scott Brayton (231.535 mph) also put in respectable runs, but neither were fast enough for the pole. Eliseo Salazar just missed making the front row at 232.684 mph.[20]

By 5 p.m., the field was filled to 20 cars, 15 of which were "locked-in" entries. With 33 minutes left in the day, Arie Luyendyk took to the track, and set new all-time track records. A one-lap record of 234.742 mph, and a four-lap average of 233.390 mph.[20] With no other contenders in line, it appeared Luyendyk had secured his second Indy 500 pole. Stewart and Jones tentatively rounded out the front row.

Suddenly, Team Menard began scrambling, and Scott Brayton was back on pit road with helmet in hand. The team withdrew their already-qualified car #2, and Brayton was preparing to re-qualify in a back-up car.[20] By withdrawing car #2, the team forfeited their "locked-in" status, however, Brayton would now be again eligible for the pole. The risky and bold move shocked many in attendance, and fans were anxious to see if Brayton's gamble would pay off. Brayton's four-lap average of 233.718 mph was just fast enough to take the pole position, and set yet another 4-lap track record. Luyendyk's one-lap record of 234.742 mph, however, still stood. At the 6 o'clock gun, Scott Brayton officially accepted his second straight Indy 500 pole position award.[20] Luyendyk and Stewart now rounded out the front row.[21]

At 7:45 p.m., USAC chief steward Keith Ward announced that Arie Luyendyk's car failed post-qualifying inspection.[20] The car was 7 pounds underweight, and was disqualified. The ruling elevated Tony Stewart to second place, and nullified Luyendyk's standing one-lap track record. Scott Brayton's fast lap of 233.851 mph now stood as the official one-lap record, alongside his 4-lap record of 233.718 mph.[20]

Second Day - Sunday May 12[edit]

After being disqualified the night before, Arie Luyendyk returned to the track on the second day of time trials. He set track records on all four laps.[20]

  • Lap 1: 38.097 seconds, 236.239 mph (new 1-lap track record)
  • Lap 2: 37.983 seconds, 236.948 mph (new 1-lap track record)
  • Lap 3: 37.933 seconds, 237.260 mph (new 1-lap track record)
  • Lap 4: 37.895 seconds, 237.498 mph (all-time 1-lap track record)
  • Total- 2:31.908, 236.986 mph (all-time 4-lap track record)

Luyendyk's run made him the fastest qualifier in the field, however, as a second-day qualifier, he was forced to line up 20th (behind the first-day qualifiers). Luyendyk's one and four lap track records still stand as of 2013.[22][23][24]

By the end of the day, the field was filled to 26 cars. Of the 24 now cars eligible for "locked-in" positions, 18 had completed qualifying runs.[20] Among the second day qualifiers were Scott Sharp and Robbie Buhl.

Practice (week 2)[edit]

Monday May 13[edit]

A light day of activity saw Tony Stewart lead the speed chart at 235.837 mph.[25] Johnny O'Connell (216.024 mph) led the non-qualified cars.[26]

Tuesday May 14[edit]

Brad Murphey led the non-qualified cars with a fast lap of 228.612 mph. Arie Luyendyk led all cars with a lap of 238.493 mph,[27] faster than his official track record, and the second-fastest practice lap in Indy history.[28]

Rookies Billy Boat and Andy Michner took their first practice laps of the month.

Wednesday May 15[edit]

Rain washed out practice for the day. It marked the third entire day lost to rain, and the eighth overall hampered by the weather.

Thursday May 16[edit]

A fairly busy day saw 22 cars take nearly 900 laps. Scott Harrington and Billy Boat passed their rookie tests, but Harrington later crashed in turn three.

Arie Luyendyk once again led the speed chart, at 234.540 mph. Brad Murphey (225.875 mph) was the fastest of the non-qualified cars, with Johnny O'Connell also over 225 mph.[29]

Friday May 17 - Death of Scott Brayton[edit]

At 12:17 p.m., Scott Brayton, testing a back-up car,[30] did a half-spin in the middle of turn two, and crashed hard into the outside wall exiting the turn.[30] The car slid 600 feet to a stop down the backstretch. Brayton was found unconscious[31] in the car, and was transported immediately to Methodist Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 12:50 p.m. EST.[31] Brayton was killed instantly of basilar skull fracture.[31][32]

The death cast a pall over the Speedway, and the entire racing community.[31] It was determined that Brayton likely ran over a piece of debris in turn four or the mainstretch,[31] which punctured his right rear tire. Unaware of the debris, he completed the lap at 228.606 mph,[30] then drove into turn one. The tire suffered rapid deflation[30][33] in the southchute and in turn two, causing the car to lose control.

The official report of fatality was not announced until 4 p.m.[33] In the meantime, unaware of Brayton's condition, some other drivers resumed practice for a time. Arie Luyendyk posted the fastest lap overall at 234.870 mph, and Brad Murphey (228.548 mph) was the fastest of the non-qualified cars. When the news was released, nearly all participants stopped for the day.

Time trials (weekend 2)[edit]

Third Day - Saturday May 18[edit]

Track activity resumed after Friday's tragedy. Dan Drinan survived a scary morning crash in turn one during the practice session.[34] When Day 3 time trials began, Billy Boat (221.824 mph) became the first driver to complete a run, in the #99 Pagan Racing "at-large" entry.[35] By the end of the day, the field was filled to 31 cars.

Bump Day - Sunday May 19[edit]

Team Menard announced that Danny Ongais will drive the #2 entry, vacated after the death of Scott Brayton[36] Due to the replacement, the car will be moved to the back of the field, elevating Tony Stewart to the pole position.

With two positions open, veteran Hideshi Matsuda arrived at the track for the first time all month, and was quickly practicing over 227 mph. At 4 p.m., Matsuda driving an "at-large" entry, put his car safely in the field at 226.859 mph.

Late in the day, Billy Boat was practicing in the #84 Foyt entry. Boat had already qualified the #99 Pagan entry, but was the slowest car in the field and had no "locked-in" berth. At 5:24 p.m., he crashed in turn 1, and suffered a leg injury. he would not be able to re-qualify if his car was bumped.

With 23 minutes to go, Scott Harrington filled the field with a run of 222.185 mph. That put the injured Billy Boat (221.824 mph) on the bubble. Minutes later, Joe Gosek bumped Boat out with a run of 222.793 mph. That dropped Harrington to the bubble spot. In the closing minutes, Tyce Carlson made two attempts, but was too slow to bump his way into the field.

Despite the controversy regarding the "locked-in" entries, the "fastest 33 cars" did manage to make the field, and one bump did occur. None of the "locked-in" entries qualified slower than the slowest "at-large" entry, nor did any fail to meet the 220 mph requirement.

Carburation Day[edit]

The final practice session was scheduled for Thursday May 23. Rain delayed the start of final practice until 12:52 p.m. Stéphan Grégoire suffered an oil leak, Brad Murphey coasted back to the pits with low oil pressure, Paul Durant suffered a blown engine, and Buzz Calkins had a minor pit fire. The most serious incident of the day involved Johnny Unser, who crashed in turn 4. Damage was moderate, and Unser was not injured.

Rain stopped the session at 1:49 p.m., and Tony Stewart (231.273 mph) was the fastest car of the day.

Later in the afternoon, Team Galles won the Coors Pit Stop Contest with driver Davy Jones and chief mechanic Mitch Davis.

Starting Grid[edit]

Row Inside Middle Outside
1 United States Tony Stewart (R) United States Davy Jones Chile Eliseo Salazar
2 United States Eddie Cheever United States Buddy Lazier Colombia Roberto Guerrero
3 Italy Alessandro Zampedri Mexico Michel Jourdain, Jr. (R) United States Buzz Calkins (R)
4 United States Davey Hamilton (R) United States Mike Groff Italy Michele Alboreto (R)
5 France Stephan Gregoire United States Mark Dismore (R) United States Richie Hearn (R)
6 United States Johnny Unser (R) United States John Paul, Jr. United States Lyn St. James
7 United States Jim Guthrie (R) Netherlands Arie Luyendyk (W) United States Scott Sharp
8 Brazil Marco Greco United States Robby Buhl (R) United States Paul Durant (R)
9 United States Racin Gardner (R) Australia Brad Murphey (R) United States Johnny Parsons
10 Spain Fermín Velez (R) United States Johnny O'Connell (R) Japan Hideshi Matsuda
11 United States Joe Gosek (R) United States Scott Harrington (R) United States Danny Ongais
     Scott Brayton officially qualified for the pole position, but was killed in a practice crash on May 17. Danny Ongais substituted in the car on race day; in accordance with USAC rules Ongais had to start at the rear of the field.

Alternates[edit]

Failed to qualify[edit]

Driver # C E T Entrant
United Kingdom Justin Bell (R) 15 L B G Tempero-Giuffre Racing
United States Billy Boat (R) 84 L F G A.J. Foyt Enterprises
87 L B G Pagan Racing
99 R F G Pagan Racing
United States Butch Brickell (R) 77 L M G Brickell Racing Group
United States Tyce Carlson (R) 36 L B G Loop Hole Racing
77 L M G Brickell Racing Group
United States Dan Drinan (R) 36 L B G Loop Hole Racing
United States Dave Kudrave (R) 15 L B G Tempero-Giuffre Racing
United States Andy Michner (R) 36 L B G Loop Hole Racing
United States Randy Tolsma (R) 24 L F G McCormack Motorsports
45 L F F Zunne' Group
New Zealand Rob Wilson (R) 46 L F G Project Indy

(R)-Indianapolis 500 Rookie, (W)-Former Indianapolis 500 Winner

Race summary[edit]

Start[edit]

Morning rain threatened to delay the start, but the track was dried, and the schedule was only pushed back by about 5 minutes. Mary Fendrich Hulman gave the starting command just before 11 a.m. EST, and after some hesitation, the field pulled away for the pace laps. It would be the final time Hulman would give the starting command for the "500." Danny Ongais (driving Scott Brayton's car) lagged behind the field, and drove one memorial parade lap alone to salute Brayton's memory.

During the first parade lap, Hideshi Matsuda stalled on the frontstretch, and was pushed to the pits. He would re-join the field for the pace lap. On the second parade lap, Johnny Unser coasted into the pits with a transmission failure, and dropped out before the green flag.

A conservative, slow, ragged start saw Tony Stewart take the lead into turn one. Mark Dismore did a half-spin in turn one, and kicked up mud from the infield. Most of the field completed the first lap at a slow pace, but Stewart completed the lap over 208 mph. After two laps, Stewart was running a record pace of 221.965 mph. Mark Dismore ducked into the pits to check the car over. The racing was short-lived, as debris from the Dismore incident brought out the yellow on lap 3.

Under the yellow, Scott Harrington was catching up to the tail-end of the field down the backstretch, but approached too quickly. He locked up the brakes, nearly hit three cars, and spun undamaged into the warm-up lane.

First half[edit]

Arie Luyendyk began charging through the field, and by lap 10, was already amongst the top ten. Two spins slowed the early running. Paul Durant blew an engine down the backstretch on lap 11, ducked into the warm-up lane, but spun in his own fluid. On the restart, Danny Ongais lost control, and spun harmlessly through turn four.

Tony Stewart set a rookie record by leading the first 31 laps. His day ended on lap 82, however, when he lost an engine, due to a bad pop-off valve.[2] Despite not finishing, he secured the rookie of the year award.

Roberto Guerrero came to the lead after Stewart dropped out. During his second pit stop, however, the fuel nozzle malfunctioned, and his stop lasted over a minute.[2] Luyendyk, battling pushing condition, brushed the wall on lap 62,[2] but still picked his way to the front, running second to Buddy Lazier.

On lap 94, the caution came out after a crash by Brad Murphey, and the leaders headed to the pits. Buddy Lazier exited first, while Arie Luyendyk stalled. Luyendyk lost a few seconds as he refired. As he entered the warm-up lane he was side-by-side with Eliseo Salazar. In turn one, Salazar intentionally turned down on Luyendyk,[2] the cars touched, and Salazar went spinning wildly through the grass and out onto the track itself. Luyendyk suffered a damaged nosecone, broken suspension, broken bodywork, and eventually dropped out of the race.[2] Salazar's car also suffered damage, but he was repaired, and continued a couple laps down.[2]

With Luyendyk, the lone former winner, out of the race, the race would be won by a first-time winner.

Second half[edit]

Davy Jones, Buddy Lazier, and Roberto Guerrero took command of the race in the second half.[2] Attrition started dwindling the field, with several cars dropping out with mechanical trouble.

On lap 160-161, the leaders began making green flag pit stops. Looking to possibly go the entire distance, Roberto Guerrero, followed by Jones, took on fuel and four tires. Jones' faster stop put him several seconds ahead. However, if the race stayed green, Jones and Guerrero were expected to run out of fuel in the final two laps. Moments later, Scott Harrington and Lyn St. James touched wheels in turn one, and crashed hard into the outside wall.

The caution brought some cars into the pits to top off the fuel. Buddy Lazier was able to make his final scheduled stop under yellow on lap 167, and would have new tires and plenty of fuel to make the distance. Guerrero also ducked into the pits to top the car off. The refueler inserted the nozzle awkwardly, fuel spilled, and the car caught fire. He started to climb out of the car, but it was determined the car was OK to continue, and it was restarted. In the melee, he lost a lap and his two-way radio became disconnected.[2] Jones stayed out, gambling on fuel, and took over the lead.

On lap 169, the field came out of turn four for a restart with Jones leading Alessandro Zampedri now second, Richie Hearn third, and Lazier (4th) the final car on the lead lap. Guerrero was now a lap down in 5th. The lapped car of Eliseo Salazar was lined up just in front of Jones. As the green came out, Salazar blocked Jones exiting turn four. Down the frontstretch, Jones attempted to pass Salazar, but Salazar swiped to the inside, forcing Jones to brush the inside wall. Zampedri (Salazar's teammate) quickly took over the lead.

In the pit area, owner Andy Evans admitted that Salazar's move was intentional, as he was blocking Jones to help Zampedri.[2] It was Salazar's second controversial, unsportsmanlike move of the race.

Finish[edit]

With just over ten laps to go, Alessandro Zampedri led Davy Jones and Buddy Lazier. All three cars ran close together. Zampedri began suffering handling problems, and Jones took the lead back on lap 190. One lap later, Lazier passed Zampedri on the outside going into turn three to take over second place. Lazier was now the fastest car on the track.

With less than 9 laps to go, Jones was forced to go lean and conserve fuel, and was nursing possible suspension damage from the Salazar incident. Lazier, however, was running full-rich, and reeled him in quickly. He passed Jones for the lead down the front stretch with 8 laps to go. Lazier began to pull away, and ran a lap of 232.9 mph.

On lap 194, Eddie Cheever in one of the remaining Menard entries began smoking in turn two, which laid down fluid on the track. Two laps later, Scott Sharp spun, and crashed into the inside wall. The yellow came out with Lazier leading, and a lap car between him and Jones who was in second. Track crews quickly cleaned up the incident. As they completed lap 198, USAC flagman Duane Sweeney indicated they would go back to green for the final lap.

As the field came off turn four on the 199th lap, the white flag and green flag were displayed at the starter's stand. Lazier accelerated into turn one. Jones passed the lap car of Jourdain down the backstretch. Lazier held off the challenge to win his first Indy 500 and first Indy car race.

As the leaders crossed the finish line, a serious crash occurred further back in the field. Fifth-place Roberto Guerrero was running without a two-way radio (it became disconnected during his pit fire), and was not aware he was a lap ahead of sixth place. Running hard on the final lap, he spun in turn 4 and slid in front of the cars of Zampedri and Eliseo Salazar. Zampedri's car was pushed up, and flew up into the catch fence. Salazar slid underneath Zampedri's car, and wrecked into the outside wall. Guerrero slid down the track, and came to rest in the pit area. Zampedri suffered serious injuries to his wrist and feet.

At the conclusion of the race, Scott Sharp and Buzz Calkins ended up tied for first place in the season championship, and were declared co-champions for the inaugural IRL season.

Lazier's victory would prove to be the final victory to date (2014) for an open-wheel car running a Ford-badged engine at the Speedway. Ford sided with CART during the American open-wheel racing split, and while the company did consult with the IRL during planning of that series' new-for-1997 engine formula, they elected not to build engines to those specs, and continued to focus on CART. Ford would eventually end its support of Champ Car after that series' 2007 season, electing to focus their North American motorsports operations on NASCAR, NHRA, and sports car racing.

Box score[edit]

Finish Start No Name Qual Rank C E T Laps Status Entrant
1 5 91 United States Buddy Lazier 231.468 7 R F F 200 147.956 mph Hemelgarn Racing
2 2 70 United States Davy Jones 232.882 4 L MB G 200 +0.695 seconds Galles Racing
3 15 4 United States Richie Hearn (R) 226.520 20 R F G 200 +7.019 seconds Della-Penna Motorsports
4 7 8 Italy Alessandro Zampedri 229.595 10 L F G 199 Accident T4 Team Scandia
5 6 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero 231.373 8 R F G 198 Accident T4 Pagan Racing
6 3 7 Chile Eliseo Salazar 232.684 5 L F G 197 Accident T4 Team Scandia
7 33 32 United States Danny Ongais 233.718 2 L M F 197 Running Team Menard
8 30 52 Japan Hideshi Matsuda 226.856 19 L F F 197 Running Beck Motorsports
9 23 54 United States Robbie Buhl (R) 226.217 21 L F F 197 Running Beck Motorsports
10 21 11 United States Scott Sharp 231.201 9 L F G 194 Accident A.J. Foyt Enterprises
11 4 3 United States Eddie Cheever 231.781 6 L M F 189 Running Team Menard
12 10 14 United States Davey Hamilton (R) 228.887 13 L F G 181 Running A.J. Foyt Enterprises
13 8 22 Mexico Michel Jourdain, Jr. (R) 229.380 11 L F G 177 Running Team Scandia
14 18 45 United States Lyn St. James 224.594 26 L F F 153 Accident T1 Zunne Group
15 32 44 United States Scott Harrington (R) 222.185 33 R F G 150 Accident T1 Harrington Motorsports
16 20 5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk (W) 236.985 1 R F F 149 Prev. Accident Jonathan Byrd/Treadway Racing
17 9 12 United States Buzz Calkins (R) 229.014 12 R F F 148 Rear Brakes Bradley Motorsports
18 19 27 United States Jim Guthrie (R) 222.394 31 L M F 144 Engine Team Blueprint Racing
19 14 30 United States Mark Dismore (R) 227.260 18 L M F 129 Engine Team Menard
20 11 60 United States Mike Groff 228.703 15 R F G 122 Fire Walker Racing
21 28 34 Spain Fermín Velez (R) 222.487 30 L F G 107 Engine Fire Team Scandia
22 31 43 United States Joe Gosek (R) 222.793 29 L F G 106 Radiator Team Scandia
23 26 10 Australia Brad Murphey (R) 226.053 23 R F F 91 Suspension Hemelgarn Racing
24 1 20 United States Tony Stewart (R) 233.100 3 L M F 82 Engine Team Menard
25 25 90 United States Racin Gardner (R) 224.453 27 L F G 76 Suspension Team Scandia
26 22 41 Brazil Marco Greco 228.841 14 L F G 64 Engine A.J. Foyt Enterprises
27 13 9 France Stéphane Grégoire 227.556 17 R F F 59 Coil Pack Fire Hemelgarn Racing
28 27 16 United States Johnny Parsons 223.843 28 L M F 48 Radiator Team Menard
29 29 75 United States Johnny O'Connell (R) 222.361 32 R F F 47 Fuel Pickup Cunningham Racing
30 12 33 Italy Michele Alboreto (R) 228.230 16 L F G 43 Gear Box Team Scandia
31 17 18 United States John Paul, Jr. 224.757 25 L M G 10 Ignition PDM Racing
32 24 96 United States Paul Durant (R) 225.404 24 L B G 9 Engine ABF Motorsports
33 16 64 United States Johnny Unser (R) 226.115 22 R F G 0 Transmission Project Indy

Statistics[edit]

Tire participation chart
Supplier No. of starters
Goodyear 19 
Firestone 14*
* - Denotes race winner

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Bob Jenkins served as chief announcer for the sixth year. Johnny Rutherford served as "driver expert." The first 500 as part of the Indy Racing League saw a few changes on the broadcasting crew.

Larry Henry left the crew, and instead joined the CART radio network (which was anchored by Lou Palmer). Bob Forbes and Sally Larvick were also gone from the on-air team. Gary Lee shifted over to fill the vacancy in turn three, while newcomers Vince Welch and Mark Jaynes joined as pit reporters.

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

Chief Announcer: Bob Jenkins
Driver expert: Johnny Rutherford
Statistician: Howdy Bell
Historian: Donald Davidson
Commentary: Chris Economaki

Turn 1: Jerry Baker
Turn 2: Ken Double
Turn 3: Gary Lee
Turn 4: Bob Lamey

Mark Jaynes (north/center pits)
Vince Welch (center pits)
Mike King (south pits)
Chuck Marlowe (garages)

Television[edit]

The race was carried live flag-to-flag coverage in the United States on ABC Sports. ABC announced that they had signed a two-year deal to televise all the events of the newly formed Indy Racing League. The deal would include all events contested in 1996, and carry through the 1997 Indy 500. On pole day of the 1996 race, ABC signed a two-year extension with the Speedway to cover the Indy 500 itself through 1999.

Paul Page served as host and play-by-play announcer. Sam Posey left ABC, and was no longer with the broadcast. Bobby Unser (turn 2) and Danny Sullivan (booth) served as color commentators.

This would be the final 500 for ABC Executive Producer Jack O'Hara, who would be killed in TWA Flight 800 less than two months later.[37]

The ratings for the 1996 telecast dropped considerably from a 9.4/28 share in 1995 to a 7.1/23. This was largely attributed to the ongoing controversy regarding the IRL/CART "split" and the rival U.S. 500 broadcast, which overlapped slightly on ESPN.

ABC Television
Booth Announcers Pit/garage reporters

Host/Announcer: Paul Page
Color: Danny Sullivan
Color/Turn 2: Bobby Unser

Jack Arute
Gary Gerould
Dr. Jerry Punch

Practice and time trials were carried over three networks: ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2.

  • Live Daily Reports (ESPN2): Dave Despain, Danny Sullivan, Jon Beekhuis, Dr. Jerry Punch, Gary Gerould, Mike King, Marty Reid
  • Time trials (ABC): Paul Page, Bobby Unser, Danny Sullivan, Jack Arute, Dr. Jerry Punch, Gary Gerould
  • Time trials (ESPN/ESPN2): Dave Despain, Danny Sullivan, Jon Beekhuis, Dr. Jerry Punch, Gary Gerould, Mike King, Marty Reid

Notes[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Hungess, Carl (1996). The 1996 Indianapolis 500 Yearbook. Carl Hungness ublishing. ISBN 0-915088-78-9. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Ingram, Jonathan (June 3, 1996), "Hero Time", AutoWeek: 66–68 
  3. ^ "Monthly Temperature and Precipitation Extremes for Indianapolis (1871 to 2008)". NOAA.gov. 2008-06-01. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  4. ^ a b "IRL press release 95-12-19". Motorsport.com. 1995-12-19. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  5. ^ a b Siano, Joseph (1995-12-19). "AUTO RACING;Team Owners Plan a Race To Challenge The Indy 500". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  6. ^ a b c "IRL announces incentives for series participants". Motorsport.com. 1995-07-03. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  7. ^ Siano, Joseph (1996-04-25). "AUTO RACING: NOTEBOOK;At Indy, Young Drivers in Old Cars". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Indianapolis practice notes 96-05-10". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-10. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  9. ^ a b "IRL press release 96-01-04". Motorsport.com. 1996-01-04. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  10. ^ "Indianapolis practice notes 96-05-05". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-05. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  11. ^ "Indianapolis practice 96-05-05". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-05. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Indianapolis practice report 96-05-06". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-06. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  13. ^ "Indianapolis practice 96-05-06". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-06. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  14. ^ a b c "Indianapolis practice notes 96-05-07". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-07. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  15. ^ "Indianapolis practice 96-05-07". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-07. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  16. ^ "Indianapolis practice notes 96-05-08". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-08. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  17. ^ "Indianapolis practice notes 96-05-09". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-09. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  18. ^ "Indianapolis practice 96-05-09". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-09. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  19. ^ "Indianapolis practice 96-05-10". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-10. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "1996 Indianapolis 500 Daily Trackside Report - Day 8". The Auto Channel. 1996-05-11. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  21. ^ "Indianapolis starting grid as of 96-05-11". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-11. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  22. ^ "Indianapolis 500 One lap qualification records". indy500.com. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  23. ^ "Indianapolis 500 Four lap qualification records". indy500.com. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  24. ^ "2009 Indianapolis 500 Daily Trackside Report (page 36)". indy500.com. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  25. ^ "Indianapolis practice summary 96-05-13". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-13. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  26. ^ "Indianapolis practice notes 96-05-13". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-13. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  27. ^ "Indianapolis practice 96-05-14". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-14. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  28. ^ "Indianapolis practice notes 96-05-14". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-14. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  29. ^ "Indianapolis practice notes 96-05-16". Motorsport.com. 1996-05-16. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  30. ^ a b c d Siano, Joseph (1996-05-11). "AUTO RACING;Brayton Killed in Crash During Indy 500 Practice". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  31. ^ a b c d e "INDY POLE-SITTER DIES : FLAT TIRE APPEARS TO BE CAUSE.". The Boston Globe (The Free Library). 1996. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  32. ^ Hinton, Ed (2001-02-11). "Head Impact Isn't Necessary in Fatal Crashes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  33. ^ a b "Daily Trackside Report DAY 14". The Auto Channel. 1996-05-17. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  34. ^ "Drinan Survives Vicious Crash". Spartansburg Herald-Journal. 1996-05-19. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  35. ^ "Daily Trackside Report DAY 15". The Auto Channel. 1996-05-18. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  36. ^ "Daily Trackside Report DAY 16". The Auto Channel. 1996-05-19. Retrieved 2009-10-22. 
  37. ^ Sandomir, Richard (1998-11-13). "Courtside Memorial For Producer's Family". TV Sports (The New York Times). Retrieved 2012-07-30. 

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]


1995 Indianapolis 500
Jacques Villeneuve
1996 Indianapolis 500
Buddy Lazier
1997 Indianapolis 500
Arie Luyendyk