Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year

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Winners of the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Award, first awarded in 1952. No official award was given from 1911–1951, even though at least one rookie starter has been present in every running of the Indianapolis 500. The award is voted on by members of the media the night of (or the morning after) the race, and does not necessarily go to the highest finishing rookie. Noteworthy accomplishments during qualifying, regardless of the respective race result, have frequently been a factor in voting. A rookie who competitively runs up front during the race, passes many cars, and/or leads laps (but ultimately drops out) can also garner consideration over another rookie who finished higher, but did so merely by surviving attrition. Other contributing factors can include attitude, sportsmanship, and interaction with driver coaches, fans, and media. Years in which two drivers are listed indicate co-winners, due to a tie in the final voting.

The Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year award has been sponsored by the following companies:

This award is separate from the annual rookie of the year award presented by IndyCar, as well as the Jim Trueman Award (rookie of the year) which was handed out by CART. The current award is $25,000 cash and a plaque.[1] In the early years, when Stark & Wetzel sponsored the award, the prize package included $500 in cash, and a year's supply of meat.[2]

Rookie[edit]

The term "rookie" at the Indianapolis 500 may be deceptive. According to race rules, a rookie is any driver who has never qualified for the race and/or has never been credited with a start. Several exceptions have created confusion, among the many include:

  • In 1911, the first Indianapolis 500, all 40 participants are considered rookies. However, 23 of the 40 starters had previously participated in early events at the Speedway in 1909–1910. Therefore, in the first 500, there were actually only seventeen complete newcomers to the Speedway. In addition, four other drivers who raced in the 500 in subsequent years, had previous experience at the Speedway in 1909–1910.[3]
  • In 1927, Louis Meyer did not qualify for the race, but served as a relief driver. He first qualified on his own in 1928, and was considered a rookie when he won that race.
  • Bill Puterbaugh had a notable streak of failing to qualify for the race six times from 1968–1974, before finally making the race for the first time in 1975. He was still scored a rookie for the 1975 race, and his 7th place finish earned him the Rookie of the Year award.
  • Jacques Villeneuve qualified for the 1984 race, but crashed in practice. He was not cleared to drive, and was forced to withdraw, and not credited with a start. He returned in 1985, but a crash early in the month prevented him from making a qualifying attempt. In 1986, he qualified and started the race (his third year overall), where he was considered a rookie, and still eligible for the award (he did not win). Members of the media lightheartedly referred to him as "the veteran rookie."
  • Affonso Giaffone was a rookie when first qualified for the 1997 race. He wrecked on the pace lap, and never saw the green flag to take the start, and was credited with 0 laps. Had he returned in a subsequent year, despite never starting the race, he would not be considered a rookie again.

The term "rookie" can also confuse spectators, as it suggests a young, inexperienced competitor. In reality, it can be a mis-nomer, since several experienced champions of other forms of motorsports have come to Indy and been ruled a rookie. World Champions such as Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet were still scored as "rookies" in their first starts.

  • Graham Hill was considered a rookie winner when he won in his first start (1966). However, Hill had already won the 1962 World Championship going into the race.
  • In 2012, longtime Formula One veterans Rubens Barrichello and Jean Alesi were by rule, considered race "rookies."
  • In the wake of the CART/IRL split in 1996, several drivers who first arrived at Indy in the early 2000s had been experienced fixtures of the CART circuit. Juan Pablo Montoya was the 1999 CART champion, but when he raced at Indy for the first time and won in 2000, he was still considered by definition, a "rookie." A similar situation occurred for Helio Castroneves a year later. After experience in three seasons in the CART series, he attempted Indy for the first time in 2001. He won the 2001 race, also scored as a rookie. He would go on to the win the 2002 race also, becoming the first driver to win the race in his first two starts. After the open-wheel unification in 2008, several former Champ Car drivers arrived at Indy for the first time. All were scored as rookies, despite several having perhaps several years experience in open wheel type cars.
  • In 2014, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch will be, by rule, considered a rookie.

Rookie of the Year award winners[edit]

Year Driver Start Qualifying Speed
(mph)
Finish Race details
1952 United States Art Cross 20 134.288 5 A total of 8 rookies qualified in 1952, the first instance which the Rookie of the year was to be given. Four rookies finished in the top 12, with Art Cross, Jimmy Bryan, and Jimmy Reece charging from 20th/21st/23rd starting positions to finish finishing 5th-6th-7th respectively. Cross was the highest finishing rookie, about 44 seconds ahead of Bryan.
1953 United States Jimmy Daywalt 21 135.747 6 Six rookies drove in the 1953 race, on a brutally hot afternoon. Daywalt went the entire 500 miles without relief help, and finished 6th. He was the highest finishing rookie, about two minutes ahead of Ernie McCoy.
1954 United States Larry Crockett 25 139.557 9 Crockett was the only rookie (out of 6) to go the full 500 miles, doing so without relief help.
1955 United States Al Herman 16 139.811 7
1956 United States Bob Veith 23 142.535 7
1957 United States Don Edmunds 27 140.449 19
1958 United States George Amick 25 142.710 2 Amick led three times for 18 laps, and was the highest finishing rookie since the Rookie of the Year award started being given.
1959 United States Bobby Grim 5 144.225 26
1960 United States Jim Hurtubise 23 149.056 18 Hurtubise was the fastest overall qualifier in the field. On the second weekend of time trials, he set a four-lap track record at 149.056 mph.
1961 United States Bobby Marshman 33 144.293 7 Jones led two times for 27 laps. However, Marshman charged from last starting position to finish 7th, and for the first time, "co-winners" were awarded.
United States Parnelli Jones 5 146.080 12
1962 United States Jim McElreath 7 149.025 6 Five rookies made the field, with McElreath starting 7th and finishing 6th, the best of all five. None of the other four rookies made it beyond the halfway point. Dan Gurney started 8th, but dropped out with a broken rear end.
1963 United Kingdom Jim Clark 5 149.750 2 Clark led 28 laps.
1964 United States Johnny White 21 150.893 4 A total of seven rookies made the field. Four were running at the finish, with White finishing 4th, and the only one to complete the full 200 laps. Rookie Dave MacDonald was fatally injured in the major crash with Eddie Sachs on lap 2, and fellow Ronnie Duman was caught up in the accident as well.
1965 United States Mario Andretti 4 158.849 3 Andretti briefly sat on the pole position with a new track record qualifying speed at the time. Eventually his time was bested, and he started 4th on race day.
1966 United Kingdom Jackie Stewart 11 159.972 6 Stewart led 40 laps during the race, and had a lap lead on the field late in the race. On the 191st lap he slowed due to low oil pressure, and parked the car. That handed the lead over to another rookie, Graham Hill, who led the final 9 laps en route to victory. Even though Hill won the race as a rookie starter, Stewart's performance earned him enough votes to win the rookie of the year award.
1967 New Zealand Denis Hulme 24 163.376 4 Two rookies were running at the finished, with Hulme charging from 24th starting position to finish 4th. Rookie Art Pollard started 13th, but managed only 8th on race day.
1968 United States Bill Vukovich II 23 163.510 7 Rookies Bill Vukovich II, Mike Mosley, and Sammy Sessions finished 7th-8th-9th, respectively. Vukovich, son of the 1953-1954 winner, completed 198 laps, and despite tangling with Mel Kenyon just after the halfway point, finished a lap ahead of Mosley and Sessions.
1969 United States Mark Donohue 4 168.903 7 Donohue (7th place) won the rookie of the year award, despite finishing ten laps behind fellow rookie Peter Revson (5th place). Voters took into account the fact that Donohue (who started 4th) had to make a lengthy pit stop early on, but his race pace was much faster. Revson, who started last, lost a cylinder, and due to the high attrition rate, was able to cruise around to a largely uncontested 5th place finish.[4]
1970 United States Donnie Allison 23 165.662 4 Three of the four rookies were running at the end, with Donnie Allison (a NASCAR regular) charging from 23rd starting position to an impressive 4th place finish.
1971 United States Denny Zimmerman 28 169.755 8 Zimmerman was the only rookie (out of 4) running at the finish.
1972 United States Mike Hiss 25 179.015 7 Out of 8 rookies, Sam Posey qualified 7th and finished 5th with 198 laps. But Hiss charged from 26th to 7th, completing 196 laps.
1973 New Zealand Graham McRae 13 192.031 16 Three rookies made the field, with Bobby Allison the qualifying fastest (12th); but McRae was only one position slower than Allison (13th). None of the three were running when the race was called at 133 laps; Allison completed only 1 lap, and Jerry Karl completed only 22 laps. McRae was credited with 92 laps before dropping out with a broken header, but was by far the highest finishing rookie.
1974 United States Pancho Carter 21 180.605 7 Only two rookies were running at the finish. Carter was 9 laps down in 7th, while Tom Bigelow finished 12th completing 166 laps. On lap 141, Carter spun in turn one and nearly took out race leader Johnny Rutherford. No cars made contact, and Carter continued undamaged.
1975 United States Bill Puterbaugh 15 183.833 7 Puterbaugh was the fastest rookie qualifier, and had tried for seven years to make the field.
1976 Australia Vern Schuppan 17 182.011 18 Out of only four rookies, Schuppan started furthest up on the grid and finished the highest. He was 5 laps down in 18th pace when the race was called for rain on lap 102.
1977 United States Jerry Sneva 16 186.616 10 Of seven rookies in the field, Sneva (the brother of pole-sitter Tom Sneva) was the only one running at the finish, as well as the only one to make it beyond the halfway point.
1978 United States Larry Rice 30 187.393 11 Mears became the first rookie to qualify on the front row since the Rookie of the Year award had been given. Rice charged from 30th starting position to finish 11th. Initial voting ended in a tie. At the victory banquet, it was discovered that two of the voters had split their votes. They could not decide who to vote for, and put both Rice and Mears on their respective ballots. Officials requested that those two voters re-vote, and they both agreed. One voted for Rice, and the other voted for Mears, and a tie still prevailed. Officials decided to award co-winners.
United States Rick Mears 3 200.078 23
1979 United States Howdy Holmes 13 185.864 7 Holmes was the only rookie that qualified for the field. Seven rookies entered the month and took rookie tests, and a total of four made qualifying attempts. Dana Carter was bumped; while the qualifying attempts of Dick Ferguson and Bill Alsup were disallowed due to rules infractions. That left Holmes the lone rookie, despite a special qualifying session the day before the race which gave participants one extra chance to make the field.
1980 United States Tim Richmond 19 188.334 9 Richmond, the fastest rookie qualifier, led one lap during the race.
1981 Mexico Josele Garza 6 195.101 23 Garza led two times for 13 laps before crashing out of the race.
1982 United States Jim Hickman 24 196.217 7 Hickman was the highest finishing rookie at the finish. He died at Milwaukee about two months later.
1983 Italy Teo Fabi 1 207.395 26 Fabi became the first rookie to win the pole position since the Rookie of the Year award had been given. He led the first 23 laps of the race. Fellow rookie Al Unser, Jr. finished in the top ten.
1984 Colombia Roberto Guerrero 7 205.707 2 Three rookies (Guerrero, Andretti, and Al Holbert) finished in the top five. Guerrero was the highest finishing rookie since 1966.
United States Michael Andretti 4 207.805 5
1985 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 20 206.004 7 Two rookies (Luyendyk and Ed Pimm) finished in the top ten.
1986 United States Randy Lanier 13 209.964 10 Lanier, also the fastest rookie qualifier, was the only rookie out of four running at the finish.
1987 Italy Fabrizio Barbazza 17 208.038 3 Three rookies (Barbazza, Stan Fox, and Jeff MacPherson) finished in the top ten, with Barbazza the highest at third, two laps down.
1988 United States Bill Vukovich III 23 208.545 14 Vukovich, the first third-generation starter, was the second-fastest rookie qualifier, and the only rookie (of 5) still running at the finish (albeit 21 laps down).
1989 Mexico Bernard Jourdain 20 213.105 9 Jourdain and Pruett had nearly identical months of May in terms of performance. They qualified close together, raced near each other all day, and finished together.
United States Scott Pruett 17 213.995 10
1990 United States Eddie Cheever 14 217.926 8 Two out the three rookies in the race were running at the finish, with Cheever qualifying fastest and finishing the highest.
1991 United States Jeff Andretti 11 217.632 15 Only one rookie was running at the finish, Hiro Matsushita, however, after repairs, he was running 51 laps behind. Jeff Andretti dropped out of the race, but was actually scored one place higher than Matsushita. Andretti had actually attempted to qualify for the race in 1990, but was bumped. Therefore, 1991 was his second overall attempt.
1992 United States Lyn St. James 27 220.150 11 St. James was the first female rookie of the year, and the only rookie out of six still running at the finish.
1993 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell 8 220.255 3 Mansell led three times for 34 laps, and was leading on a restart with 16 laps to go. He was passed on the restart, and fell to third, and despite brushing the wall a few laps later, held on to finish the race in third position.
1994 Canada Jacques Villeneuve 4 226.259 2 Villeneuve qualified as the fastest rookie, led the race two times for 7 laps, and finished on the lead lap.
1995 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 27 226.375 2 Rookie Mauricio Gugelmin led the most laps of the race (59), but finished a somewhat distant 6th.
1996 United States Tony Stewart 1 233.100 24 Veteran Scott Brayton won the pole position and Stewart qualified second. Six days after pole day, Brayton was fatally injured during a practice crash. Brayton was replaced by driver Danny Ongais, and the car was required to start at the rear of the field. Stewart, who was second, was elevated to the pole position on race day. He led the first 31 laps of the race, and 44 overall before dropping out with engine trouble.
1997 United States Jeff Ward 7 214.517 3 Ward led two times for 49 laps, and led as late as lap 192 before ducking into the pits for fuel, and finishing third.
1998 United States Steve Knapp 23 216.445 3 Six out of the eight rookies were still running at the finish, with Knapp the lone rookie on the lead lap.
1999 United States Robby McGehee 27 220.139 5 Only four rookies qualified, and two dropped out. McGehee was just 1 lap down at the finish while John Hollansworth, Jr. was 8 laps down in 13th.
2000 Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya 2 223.372 1 Montoya was the first rookie winner since 1966, and the first race winner to actually be awarded the Rookie of the year award in the same year.
2001 Brazil Hélio Castroneves 11 224.142 1 Castroneves was the second rookie in a row to win the race and the Rookie of the Year award together.
2002 United States Alex Barron 26 228.580 4 Scheckter led the most laps (85), and turned the fastest lap of the race. He, however, crashed out on lap 173 while leading the race. Barron was the only rookie out of nine to finish on the lead lap.
South Africa Tomas Scheckter 10 229.210 26
2003 Japan Tora Takagi 7 229.358 5 Takagi led two laps.
2004 Japan Kosuke Matsuura 9 220.740 11 Matsuura was the fastest rookie qualifier, and the only rookie running on the lead lap when the race was officially called for rain after 180 laps (450 miles).
2005 United States Danica Patrick 4 227.004 4 During practice, Patrick ran the fastest practice lap of the month, and was a favorite for the front row. During her qualifying attempt, Patrick's car slipped in the first turn, and she settled for 4th starting position as the fastest rookie. Had she not slipped, she may have been fast enough to qualify for the pole position. On race day, she led three times for 19 laps. She was leading as late as 6 laps to go before finishing 4th.
2006 United States Marco Andretti 9 224.918 2 Marco Andretti, the fastest rookie qualifier, was leading the race with one lap to go. He was passed by Sam Hornish, Jr. on the mainstrech on the final lap, about 450 feet from the finish line, in the second-closest finish in Indy 500 history.
2007 United States Phil Giebler 33 219.637 29 Only two rookies (Giebler and Milka Duno) qualified, the fewest since 1979. Giebler was chosen as the best newcomer for the month, in part after qualifying as the fastest rookie. He, however, had his share of ups and down during the month, crashing during his first qualifying attempt, and again during the race. Nonetheless, he posted a higher finishing position than the other rookie, Milka Duno, who also wrecked during the race.
2008 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay 20 221.579 6 Eleven rookies were part of the field, including several former Champ Car drivers following the open wheel unification. Hunter-Reay, the 2007 IndyCar Series rookie of the year, spent most of the day near the top ten, and was the highest running rookie at the finish, finishing one spot higher than the fastest rookie qualifier, Hideki Mutoh. Hunter-Reay was eligible for the award, despite being a second-year driver in the series, by virtue of the fact that he did not participate at Indy previously.
2009 Canada Alex Tagliani 33 221.115 11 Tagliani was bumped from the field in the final minutes of Bump Day. A day later, his teammate Bruno Junqueira was removed from his ride, and Tagliani replaced him behind the wheel. Rules forced the car to start from the rear of the field. On race day, Tagliani charged quickly up the standings, and by the midpoint, was running 11th. After running as high as 10th, Tagliani was the highest finishing rookie. There was some mild controversy about voting for Tagliani due to the fact that he did not qualify, but he won the award nonetheless, and became the first driver to win the award despite not qualifying for the race.
2010 Switzerland Simona de Silvestro 22 224.228 14 Six rookies qualified for the race, and four were running at the finish. Simona de Silvestro was one of two females rookies (Ana Beatriz was the other), and qualified in the top 24 cars on pole day. She officially finished one position lower than Mario Romancini, who was the fastest rookie qualifier (started 27th), and the highest finishing rookie (13th). de Silvestro became the third female to win the award.
2011 United States J. R. Hildebrand 12 225.579 2 After fuel strategies shuffled the leaders in the waning laps, Hildebrand took the lead with three laps to go, and appeared to be on his way to victory. On the final turn of the final lap, he was approaching the slower car of Charlie Kimball, got into the "marbles," and crashed into the outside wall. His car slid down the frontstretch, but in the final 1,000 feet, Dan Wheldon slipped by and took the checkered flag. Hildebrand's wrecked car coasted across the line to finish 2nd.
2012 Brazil Rubens Barrichello 10 224.264 11 Josef Newgarden was the fastest rookie qualifier, but Barrichello was the highest finishing rookie. He led two laps during the race.
2013 Colombia Carlos Muñoz 2 228.342 2 Muñoz, in his first IndyCar race, led the speed chart during practice twice, and qualified in the middle of the front row. On race day, he led 12 laps, and finished 2nd.

Drivers to win award and race (chronologically)[edit]

Driver Rookie of
the Year
Race
Victories
United States Parnelli Jones 1961 1963
United Kingdom Jim Clark 1963 1965
United States Mario Andretti 1965 1969
United States Mark Donohue 1969 1972
United States Rick Mears 1978 1979
1984
1988
1991
Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 1985 1990
1997
United States Eddie Cheever 1990 1998
Canada Jacques Villeneuve 1994 1995
Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya 2000 2000
Brazil Hélio Castroneves 2001 2001
2002
2009

Rookie winners[edit]

Officially nine drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 in their first attempt. In 1928, Louis Meyer won the race in his first start, but he had driven relief in the race a year earlier. In the first race in 1911, all drivers were considered "rookies," even though 23 of the 40 starters had previously driven in other races at the track in 1909–1910.

Fastest rookie qualifier[edit]

Since 1975, a separate award has been presented to the fastest rookie qualifier in the field. It has been sponsored by the American Dairy Association of Indiana since its inception. The award goes to the rookie who posts the fastest four-lap qualifying average during official time trials - regardless of overall starting position, and regardless of day in which the qualifying run was completed. The award is currently $5,000 cash and a plaque. It is presented at a luncheon a few days before the race.[5] Each other rookie in the field receives $250. The names of the winners are affixed to a permanent trophy on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Although rookies have qualified for every race dating back to 1911, this particular award has only been officially recognized since 1975.

In 2009, the award celebrated its 35th consecutive year of continuous sponsorship by the American Dairy Association of Indiana. Since 2010, the pole position has been determined utilizing the Fast Nine Shootout. In 2012, Josef Newgarden became the first rookie to make the shootout. Though by rule, his Segment 1 speed of 224.677 mph was erased at the start of the shootout, it counted as his speed in regards to the Fastest Rookie Qualifier award.

Notes[edit]

Works cited[edit]

  • 2006 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Program

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kelly, Paul (2013-05-27). "Kanaan Earns $2.3 Million For Winning 97th Indianapolis 500". IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com. Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  2. ^ Davidson, Donald (1997-05-21). "Rookies of the year were once rewarded with $500 and a year's supply of meat". Donald Davidson's Indy 500 (SpeedNet). Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  3. ^ Scott, D. Bruce (2005). Indy: Racing Before The 500 (First ed.). Indiana Reflections, LLC. p. 231. ISBN 0-9766149-0-1. 
  4. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - WFNI, May 23, 2013
  5. ^ Kightlinger, Cathy (2013-05-21). "Indy 500 starter Carlos Munoz honored at Fastest Rookie of the Year lunch". IndyStar.com. Retrieved 2014-04-11.