List of fatalities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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The following is a list of individuals killed during events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Persons named include drivers, riding mechanics, pit crew members, track personnel, and spectators. All fatalities are related to Championship Car races at the Speedway unless otherwise noted.

Fatalities have occurred in conjunction with the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, the Moto GP event, the Speedway's golf course, and during private testing. During World War I, while the Speedway was being used as a landing strip and maintenance/refueling station for the 821st Aero Repair Squadron, at least test pilot was fatally injured in a plane crash at the track.[1]

Fatal accidents during races from 1909—1910[edit]

  • Wilfred Bourque & Harry Holcomb  – 1909 Prest-O-Lite Trophy Race (Thursday, August 19, 1909)
    Wilfred "William" Bourque, 26, was accompanied by riding mechanic Harry Holcomb, 22. On the 58th lap of the 250-mile race, Bourque was witnessed to have glanced backwards momentarily at other cars on the frontstretch. At that moment, a wheel slipped, hit a rut, and the car flipped over in a ditch. Holcomb was thrown from the car and was killed instantly. Bourque was trapped under the car and suffered severe injuries, and never regained consciousness after being transferred to the hospital.
  • Claude Kellum  – 1909 Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race (Saturday, August 21, 1909)
    During the 300-mile race, Claude Kellum was serving as the riding mechanic for Charlie Merz. At the time, he was relieving fellow riding mechanic Robert Lyne. While driving down the frontstretch, Merz blew a tire, and the car flipped up into the stands, pinning Merz underneath. Kellum was thrown from the car, and died from his injuries an hour later. Spectators Howard Homer Jolliff, 20, of Franklin, Indiana, and James West, 29, of Indianapolis, were also killed by the crashed car.[2]

Fatal accidents during the Indianapolis 500[edit]

  • Sam Dickson  – 1911 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 30, 1911)
    Dickson was the riding mechanic for Arthur Greiner and would be the first person killed during the Indianapolis 500. On lap twelve, one of the front wheels came off of the American Simplex car Greiner was driving, causing Greiner to lose control and both men to be thrown from the car. Dickson flew into a fence twenty feet from the car. Reports state that Dickson was killed instantly, although the crowd evidently swarmed around the body, requiring the state militia who were acting as security at the event to use their guns as clubs to clear a path for the attending doctors.[3]
  • Arthur Thurman  – 1919 Indianapolis 500 (Saturday, May 31, 1919)
    Thurman's car turned over on lap 45, and he was killed instantly.[4] His riding mechanic Nicholas Molinero survived critical injuries.[5]
  • Louis LeCocq & Robert Bandini  – 1919 Indianapolis 500 (Saturday, May 31, 1919)
    LeCocq's car turned over on lap 96, causing the fuel tank to rupture and burst into flames. Driver LeCocq was killed, along with his riding mechanic Bandini.[4]
  • Bill Spence  – 1929 Indianapolis 500 (Thursday, May 30, 1929)
    Spence turned over in turn two on lap 10, throwing him from the car. He was taken unconscious from the track, but died en route to the hospital from a fractured skull.[6]
  • Paul Marshall  – 1930 Indianapolis 500 (Friday, May 30, 1930)
    Paul Marshall was the riding mechanic for his brother Cy Marshall. The car crashed in turn three on lap 29. Driver Cy Marshall was seriously injured, but survived.
  • Mark Billman  – 1933 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 30, 1933)
    On the 79th lap, Billman in the Kemp-Mannix Special skidded on the southeast turn, hit the outside wall and finally came to rest with the car astride the wall. He was pinned between the left front wheel and the wall and it took 20 minutes to get him out. His left arm was torn off, both legs were broken and he was internally injured. In spite of blood transfusions, he died an hour later.[7]
  • Lester Spangler & G.L. "Monk" Jordan  – 1933 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 30, 1933)
    Spangler and his riding mechanic Monk Jordan were killed in a crash on the 132nd lap. The car of Malcolm Fox spun coming out of turn one, and was rolling slowly towards the top the track. Spangler tried to get by on the outside, but ran out of room and plowed into Fox's car head on at over 100 miles per hour. Spangler's car rolled over while still maintaining its speed, ejecting the driver and mechanic.[7]
  • Clay Weatherly  – 1935 Indianapolis 500 (Thursday, May 30, 1935)
    Weatherly was driving the same car in which Johnny Hannon suffered a fatal crash ten days earlier while practicing. Moreover, in a practice run the throttle had stuck, forcing Weatherly to kill the engine to avoid another crash.[8] In lap 9 of the race, Weatherly went into and over the wall in turn four. He was already dead when rescue crews arrived. His riding mechanic was critically injured but survived.[9]
  • Floyd Roberts  – 1939 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 30, 1939)
    Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Floyd Roberts was on lap 109, when the car driven by Bob Swanson lost control coming out of turn 2 and went sideways. Roberts' car contacted Swanson's, causing Swanson's car to flip over and catch fire ejecting Swanson, and Roberts' car went through the outer wall and went headfirst into a tree. Chet Miller's car went into the debris field, flipped, and went into the inner wall. Two spectators were also injured by flying debris. The three drivers were taken to hospitals, while it took over 30 minutes to clear the burning wreck of Swanson's car from the track. Roberts' died instantly due to brain injuries at Methodist Hospital of Indianapolis. His death was announced before the race was completed.[10]
  • Shorty Cantlon  – 1947 Indianapolis 500 (Friday, May 30, 1947)
    Cantlon swerved to avoid Bill Holland's car, which had gone onto the inside grass and skidded back across the track.[11] Cantlon's car went into the outside wall nearly head-on, causing severe chest, leg and internal injuries. He died at the track hospital shortly afterward.[12] Holland went on to finish second.
  • Carl Scarborough  – 1953 Indianapolis 500 (Saturday, May 30, 1953)
    During one of the hottest runnings of the 500, Scarborough expired from what was reported as heat prostration.[13][14] According to Speedway historian Donald Davidson, when Scarborough pulled into the pits, smoke or a small fire may have broken out on the car, wherein crews quickly doused with fire extinguishers. In the process, Scarborough may have inhaled CO2, which may have contributed to, or been the actual cause of death.
  • Bill Vukovich  – 1955 Indianapolis 500 (Monday, May 30, 1955)
    Vukovich, the two-time reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, was leading the race when Rodger Ward spun his car coming out of turn two. Al Keller and Johnny Boyd touched wheels as the two were trying to avoid Ward, causing Boyd's car to hit Vukovich, who was attempting to lap the other three drivers. Vukovich's car hit and went over the outer wall, sending it into a high-speed cartwheel outside the track. Vukovich died instantly of a basilar skull fracture before any help could reach the scene.[15]
  • Pat O'Connor  – 1958 Indianapolis 500 (Friday, May 30, 1958)
    On the opening lap, a 15-car pileup occurred in turn three. According to A. J. Foyt, O'Connor's car hit Jimmy Reece's car, sailed fifty feet in the air, landed upside down, and burst into flames. Although O'Connor was badly burned in the accident, medical officials said that he was probably killed instantly from a fractured skull.[16] Rookie Indianapolis 500 announcer Lou Palmer called the first lap crash for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. Palmer had been placed in Turn 3 because "nothing ever happens there".
  • Eddie Sachs & Dave MacDonald  – 1964 Indianapolis 500 (Saturday, May 30, 1964)
    Coming out of turn four on lap 2, MacDonald spun and crashed into the inside wall. The car exploded and went back onto the track, into the path of oncoming traffic. Sachs hit MacDonald's car, and his car caught fire as well. Sachs was killed instantly of injuries and severe burns. MacDonald was declared dead a short time after in the infield hospital.
  • Swede Savage  – 1973 Indianapolis 500 (crash occurred on Wednesday, May 30, 1973; Savage died on Monday, July 2, 1973)
    On the 59th lap, Swede Savage lost control as he exited turn four. His car twitched back and forth, and then slid across to the inside of the track at nearly top speed. It hit the angled inside wall nearly head-on. The force of the impact, with the car carrying a full load of fuel, caused the car to explode in a plume of flame. The engine and transaxle tumbled end-over-end to the pit lane entrance while Savage, still strapped in his seat, was thrown back across the circuit. Savage came to rest adjacent to the outer retaining wall, fully conscious and completely exposed while he lay in a pool of flaming methanol fuel. Savage was taken to the hospital with critical injuries, but was in stable condition. A little over a month later, Savage died in the hospital. The actual cause of death may have been from contaminated plasma from a blood transfusion. He reportedly contracted hepatitis B which caused liver failure.[17]

Fatal accidents during Indianapolis 500 time trials[edit]

  • Herbert Jones  – 1926 Indianapolis 500 (crash occurred on Thursday, May 27, 1926; Jones died on Friday, May 28, 1926)
    After making contact with the northwest retaining wall, Jones's Elcar Special shot across the track to the inside, tumbled and came to a stop upside down with Jones trapped inside. He suffered a fractured skull,[18][19] and died the following day.
  • Stubby Stubblefield & Leo Whitaker  – 1935 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 21, 1935)
    Stubblefield was the driver and Whitaker was the riding mechanic. Their car rode over the wall in turn one, and flipped over, ejecting both men. The car ended up upside down and leaning against a fence, largely destroyed.[20][21]
  • Albert Opalko  – 1937 Indianapolis 500 (Friday, May 28, 1937)
    Having completed four of ten scheduled qualifying laps, Frank McGurk's car plunged through an inner rail, overturned and ejected both McGurk, who was hospitalized in serious condition but survived, and his riding mechanic, Albert Opalko, who was killed. The crash was caused by a broken connecting rod.[22] Opalko is the most recent driver to be fatally injured during an official qualifying run — all subsequent fatalities during time trials have occurred during warm-up laps, prior to receiving the green flag to officially start the respective runs.
  • Chuck Rodee  – 1966 Indianapolis 500 (Saturday, May 14, 1966)
    Rodee spun on his second warm-up lap and backed the car into the wall exiting Turn 1. The impact appeared minor but the rigid chassis transferred virtually the entire force of the crash to the driver. Rodee suffered a ruptured aorta and lapsed into a coma. He was pronounced dead after emergency surgery failed to save him.[23]
  • Gordon Smiley  – 1982 Indianapolis 500 (Saturday, May 15, 1982)
    On his second warm-up lap, Smiley's car began to oversteer while rounding the third turn, causing the car to slightly slide. When Smiley steered right to correct this, the front wheels gained grip suddenly, sending his car directly across the track and into the wall nose first at nearly 200 mph (320 km/h). The impact shattered and completely disintegrated the March chassis, causing the fuel tank to explode, and sent debris — including Smiley's exposed body — tumbling hundreds of feet across the short-chute connecting turns 3 and 4. Smiley died instantly from massive trauma.

Fatal accidents during testing and practice[edit]

  • Tom Kincaid  – Test (Wednesday, July 6, 1910)
    During a testing session, Kincaid's National went off the embankment at the southeast turn and crushed him to death.[24]
  • Harry Martin  – Test (Thursday, June 26, 1913)
    After a tire on the Stutz Martin was driving in a test had blown out, the car crashed into the outside wall and overturned, pinning Martin and his riding mechanic Frank Agan under the wreckage. The latter survived.[25][26]
  • Albert Johnson  – Test (crash occurred on Monday, October 4, 1915; Johnson died on Tuesday, October 5, 1915)
    A tire failure caused the Packard Johnson was testing to roll over several times. His riding mechanic Ross Robinson was injured.[27]
  • Joe Caccia & Clarence Grover  – 1931 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 26, 1931)
    Caccia was the driver and Grove was the riding mechanic. Caccia lost control entering turn 2, crashed through the outside wall, and hurtled 100 feet down the embankment, crashing into a tree. Both occupants were thrown from the car, which burst into flames, enveloping both.[28]
  • Harry Cox  – 1932 Indianapolis 500 (Wednesday, May 25, 1932)
    Harry Cox, 28, of Indianapolis, was serving as the riding mechanic for driver Bennie Benefiel. During a practice run, the car crashed in turn one and went over the outside wall. The car fell 18 feet to the ground and crashed into trees. Benefiel was seriously injured, and Cox was killed.[29]
  • M. C. Jones  – 1932 Indianapolis 500 (Friday, May 27, 1932)
    Milton C. Jones, 38, of Cleveland, Ohio was driving with riding mechanic Harold Gray. Going into turn 3, the car spun, and hit the outside wall backwards. It flipped up into the concrete wall, and rolled over several times. Both Jones and Gray were thrown from the car. Jones died in the hospital about six hours after the crash, while Gray survived, suffering a broken arm and internal injuries.[30]
  • Peter Kreis & Robert Hahn  – 1934 Indianapolis 500 (Friday, May 25, 1934)
    During a practice run, Kreis was the driver and Hahn was the riding mechanic. Entering turn one, a car in front of him spun, followed by Kreis' car spinning, possibly due to trying to avoid a collision. The car went over the outside wall backwards, tumbled, and hit a tree. Both men were dead when the ambulance arrived. Kreis was a wealthy contractor who would take a month off each year to drive in the 500.[31]
  • Johnny Hannon  – 1935 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 21, 1935)
    Hannon was a rookie driver, making his first practice run. On his first lap at racing speed, he lost control of the car, and went over the turn 4 wall. He was thrown from the vehicle, which then landed on top of him. Hannon was killed instantly from a fractured skull while his mechanician, Oscar Reeves, was seriously injured.[21][32] This accident led to the Speedway requiring rookie tests in subsequent years.
  • Lawson Harris  – Tire test (Wednesday, September 20, 1939)
    Harris was the riding mechanic for Babe Stapp. The car had completed eight laps, when a mechanical failure occurred in the front of the car (possibly a broken axle or rod), causing the car to veer into the wall in the Southwest turn at approximately 115 mph. Harris was thrown from the car, and suffered fatal head injuries.[33]
  • George Bailey  – 1940 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 7, 1940)
    During a practice run, Bailey lost control of his rear-engined Miller and skidded sideways into a concrete wall. It spun back across the track and hit the inside guard rail, causing the gasoline tank to explode.[34]
  • Ralph Hepburn  – 1948 Indianapolis 500 (Sunday, May 16, 1948)
    Hepburn's Novi became lose and swerved towards the infield entering turn three. He tried to correct as he drove over the infield grass, causing the car to turn sharply to the right, and it hit the outside wall head on at approximately 130 mph. A physician on the scene said Hepburn died "instantly" from a skull fracture and crushed chest, and it took about twenty minutes to remove Hepburn's body from the car.[35][36]
  • George Metzler  – 1949 Indianapolis 500 (crash occurred on Saturday, May 28, 1949; Metzler died on Friday, June 3, 1949)
    Metzler crashed in turn 1.[37] He died of his injuries at the hospital six days later.[38]
  • Chet Miller  – 1953 Indianapolis 500 (Friday, May 15, 1953)
    After practicing all day, at 3:15 p.m., Miller was clocked with a lap of 138.46 mph in his Novi Special. Going into turn one, he went too low, and the left-front wheel got into the apron and the car started skidding. The back end came around, and the car crashed into the outside wall nearly head-on in a crash eerily similar to Ralph Hepburn's 1948 Novi crash. It rode along the wall and came to a stop on the south short chute.
  • Manuel Ayulo  – 1955 Indianapolis 500 (crash occurred on Monday, May 16, 1955; Ayulo died on Tuesday, May 17, 1955)
    Ayulo was killed in a crash during practice. He was found to have not been wearing a seat belt and his pockets "were filled with wrenches".[39]
  • Keith Andrews  – 1957 Indianapolis 500 (Wednesday, May 15, 1957)
    Andrews was hired as a back-up driver to Giuseppe Farina. During a test on May 15, he was entering turn 4 when he got low under the white line. The car spun and slid into the inside retaining wall. The car rebounded, then slid back into the inside wall. The back end of the car shoved Andrews up against the steering wheel, breaking his neck and killing him.
  • Jerry Unser  – 1959 Indianapolis 500 (crash occurred on Saturday, May 2, 1959; Unser died in hospital on Sunday, May 17, 1959)
    During a practice session, Unser lost control coming out of Turn 4. The car spun and hit the outside and inside walls. One account claims the car rolled over several times, but others make no mention of the car ever turning over. The fuel tank was punctured and the car caught fire, and Unser was taken to the hospital with burns. He died of his injuries about two weeks later on Sunday May 17.
  • Bob Cortner  – 1959 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 19, 1959)
    On Monday, May 18, Cortner passed his rookie test.[40] On Tuesday May 19, Cortner took to the track for a practice run. Johnny Parsons, who observed the accident, reported that the wind was blowing hard and that Cortner got caught in a crosswind. The car slid to the infield before shooting back across the track head-first into the outside wall.[41] Cortner's face hit the steering wheel and it appeared he began bleeding internally. He was pronounced dead that evening, the cause being listed as "massive head injuries". Cortner's death came only two days after Jerry Unser had succumbed to his injuries.[40]
  • Tony Bettenhausen  – 1961 Indianapolis 500 (Friday, May 12, 1961)
    Bettenhausen was testing a Stearly Motor Freight Special car for his good friend Paul Russo. Down the mainstretch, the car smashed into the outside wall of the track and then rolled 325 feet along the barrier. The car came to rest entangled in the fence on top of the wall in front of Grandstand A, with the tail of the car on fire. Results showed the accident was caused by an anchor bolt which fell off the front radius rod support, allowing the front axle to twist and mis-align the front wheels when the brakes were applied.[42]
  • Mike Spence  – 1968 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 7, 1968)
    Spence joined the Lotus effort as a replacement for Jim Clark, who was fatally injured at Hockenheim a month earlier. During a practice run in one of the STP Granatelli Lotus 56 "Wedge" Turbine machines, Spence lost control in turn one at about 163 mph. He hit the outside wall, and slid along the wall for almost 400 feet. The right-front wheel became dislodged, and impacted him on the helmet. Spence died in the hospital, from massive head injuries, a few hours after the accident.
  • Jim Malloy  – 1972 Indianapolis 500 (crash occurred on Sunday, May 14, 1972; Malloy died in hospital Thursday, May 18, 1972)
    On the morning of the second day of time trials, Malloy was participating in the morning practice session. At 10:21 a.m., Malloy was going down the backstretch into turn three. In turn three, the car suddenly veered across the track, and hit the outside wall near the exit of turn three with the right-front. The car slid to a stop in the grass near turn four. Malloy was unconscious, suffering from burns to his hands and feet, he broke both arms and both legs, and also had head injuries. He died of his injuries at Methodist Hospital four days later.[43]
  • Art Pollard  – 1973 Indianapolis 500 (Saturday, May 12, 1973)
    On the morning of pole day time trials, Pollard was participating in the morning practice session. At 9:37 a.m., after a lap of 192 mph, the car slammed the outside wall entering turn one. It did a half-spin towards the grass towards the inside of the south short chute. The chassis dug into the grass and flipped upside-down, slid a short distance and then flipped back over as it reached the pavement again and came to rest upright in the south chute. Pollard was rushed to Methodist Hospital, and pronounced dead at 10:40 a.m. His injuries were reported to include pulmonary damage due to flame inhalation, burns on both hands, face and neck, and a fractured right arm.[44] Pollard's would be the first of three fatalities from the 1973 race.
  • Scott Brayton  – 1996 Indianapolis 500 (Friday, May 17, 1996)
    Scott Brayton had won the pole position for the 1996 Indy 500 on Saturday May 11. At 12:17 p.m. on Friday, May 17, Brayton, testing a back-up car,[45] did a half-spin in the middle of turn two, the car scrubbed off almost no speed as it spun and the left side of the car impacted the wall at over 200 mph.[45] The car slid 600 feet to a stop down the backstretch. The driver was found unconscious[46] in the car, and was transported immediately to Methodist Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 12:50 p.m. EST.[46] Brayton was killed instantly of basilar skull fracture.[46][47] It was determined that Brayton likely ran over a piece of debris in turn four or the mainstretch,[46] which punctured his right rear tire. Unaware of the debris, he completed the lap at 228.606 mph,[45] then drove into turn one. The tire suffered rapid deflation[45][48] in the southchute and in turn two, causing the car to lose control.
  • Tony Renna  – Private tire testing (Wednesday, October 22, 2003)
    Renna had just recently signed with Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2004 season. On the night of October 21, 2003, the crew was up late getting Renna fitted for his new car that was driven earlier that day by Scott Dixon. On the morning of October 22, Renna was scheduled to conduct a tire test at the Speedway. On that morning, it was about 50 degrees air temperature, and the track surface cool. On Renna's fourth lap, he was driving approximately 218 mph (351 km/h) and spun out in turn three. While spinning, his car caught air underneath the chassis, which lifted into the air, and into the catch fence. Renna died instantly of massive internal trauma, and was pronounced DOA at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. The exact cause of the spin was unknown, and damage was observed to have been inflicted to the grandstand seating (which was vacant) in the immediate vicinity of the impact area.

Fatal accidents involving spectators, crew members, and track workers[edit]

  • Howard H. Jolliff & James West  – 1909 Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race (Saturday, August 21, 1909)
    During the 300-mile race, Claude Kellum was serving as the riding mechanic for Charlie Merz. At the time, he was relieving fellow riding mechanic Robert Lyne. While driving down the frontstretch, Merz blew a tire, and the car flipped up into the stands, pinning Merz underneath. Kellum was thrown from the car, and died from his injuries an hour later. Spectators Howard Homer Jolliff, 20, of Franklin, Indiana, and James West, 29, of Indianapolis, were also killed by the crashed car.[2]
  • Bert Shoup  – 1923 Indianapolis 500 (Wednesday, May 30, 1923)
    On lap 22, Tom Alley (driving Earl Cooper's entry) wrecked on the backstretch, going through the wall, and killed 16-year-old spectator Bert Shoup. Alley and two other spectators were injured.[49]
  • Wilbur C. Brink  – 1931 Indianapolis 500 (Saturday, May 30, 1931)
    On lap 162, defending champion Billy Arnold, while leading, broke his rear axle as he negotiated the fourth turn. He lost control of his car and tumbled over the 4th turn wall. In the process, the rear tire from the broken axle was sent sailing in the air and out of the track. The tire bounced over the fence of the speedway and over the Brinks' house across the street, located on 2316 Georgetown Road. The tire landed on Wilbur Brink's head, killing him instantly. Brink was an 11-year-old boy playing in his backyard.[50]
  • George Warford & Otto Rohde  – 1937 Indianapolis 500 (crash occurred on Friday, May 28, 1937; Warford died the same day; Rohde died on Wednesday, June 2, 1937)
    During time trials, the car of Overton Phillips burst into flames when his crankshaft broke and punctured the gas tank. He then crashed into the pit area, killing George Warford of Indianapolis, who was standing there.[51] Injured were Phillips and his riding mechanic, Walter King, Anthony Caccia, the brother of Joe Caccia, who died in practice for the 1931 race, and Otto Rohde of Toledo, Ohio, a crew member for Champion Spark Plug.[22] Rohde succumbed to his injuries five days later on June 2, 1937.[52]
  • Everett Spence  – 1938 Indianapolis 500 (Monday, May 30, 1938)
    Everett Spence, 33, of Terre Haute, Indiana, was struck and killed by a wheel off of Emil Andres' car in turn two. On lap 45 Andres hit the wall in turn two, then flipped over several times, causing its right front wheel to fly off. The wheel traveled 100 feet (30 m) through the air and hit Spence, who was pronounced dead upon arriving at the hospital. Andres suffered a concussion, broken nose, and chest injuries.[53]
  • Fred Linder & William Craig  – 1960 Indianapolis 500 (Monday, May 30, 1960)
    Two spectators in the infield, Fred H. Linder, 36, of Indianapolis, and William C. Craig, 37, of Zionsville, were killed, and as many as 82 were injured, when a homemade scaffolding collapsed. Approximately 125-130 patrons had paid a small fee ($5–$10) to view the race from the 30-foot tall scaffolding, erected by a private individual (Wilbur Shortridge, Jr.[54]) and not the Speedway - a practice that was allowed at the time. During the parade lap as the field drove by, the people on the platform began to lean and wave at the cars, which caused the scaffolding to become unstable. It soon tipped forward and fell to the ground, crushing people who were underneath the structure, and the 125-130 people who were on it either fell or jumped to the ground. Linder and Craig were pronounced dead of broken necks, and over 80 were injured, about 22 seriously.
  • John Masariu  – 1961 Indianapolis 500 (Tuesday, May 30, 1961)
    On the 127th lap, driver Eddie Johnson spun out in turn 4, but did not suffer significant damage and he was not injured. A small fire broke out on the car. A safety fire truck went to his aid. John Masariu of Danville, Indiana, who was a basketball coach at nearby Ben Davis High School and was serving as a safety worker, fell off the back of the fire truck. A moment later, the truck driven by James Williams accidentally backed over him, and he was injured fatally.[55]
  • Unknown (Tuesday, July 21, 1964)
    Two 17-year old maintenance workers were killed after being struck by lightning. The two men had sought shelter in an outdoor restroom facility when the lightning struck.[56]
  • Armando Teran  – 1973 Indianapolis 500 (Wednesday, May 30, 1973)
    Armando Teran, 22, of Santa Monica, California, was a pit crew member for Graham McRae. Just moments prior, McRae's teammate Swede Savage suffered a terrible crash in turn 4. Teran started sprinting up the pit lane. At the same time, a fire truck was signaled to head to the scene. Cleon Reynolds, the Chief of the Speedway Fire Department, signaled for fire/safety truck driver Jerry Flake to proceed northbound up the pit lane to the crash scene. Flake was stationed at the south end of the pits. Flake, driving northbound, struck Teran and tossed his body about 50 feet. Teran suffered crushed ribs and a broken skull, and was pronounced dead at 4:23 p.m. The incident was witnessed by thousands of spectators, as it occurred on the pit lane right at the start/finish line. It was erroneously reported by media that Flake was driving the wrong way, and was at fault; at the time, safety trucks were permitted to drive in the opposite direction of the racing cars. The following year, USAC prohibited safety trucks from driving in the opposite direction.[57]
  • Timothy Scott Vail  – 1980 Indianapolis 500 (Thursday, May 22, 1980)
    On Carburetion Day, Timothy Scott Vail, 19, of Indianapolis, Indiana, was in the "Snake Pit" area of the infield when his Jeep overturned. Vail died of a fractured skull. His passenger David Stegenmiller was thrown from the vehicle, but was uninjured.[58]
  • Steven C. White (Wednesday, May 29, 1991)
    Three days after the 1991 race, Steven C. White, 31, of Indianapolis entered the grounds of the Speedway in the very early hours of Wednesday May 29. At some point before 7:30 a.m., he started driving around the track in a pickup truck. He completed about 3-4 laps, approaching speeds of 100 mph. Luther Wray, a foreman in the Speedway's maintenance department attempted to block his truck by parking a Dodge minivan on the track near the start/finish line. White was driving approximately 90 mph when he struck the van, his truck became airborne and landed approximately 150 feet away. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at Methodist Hospital.
  • Art Morris  – 2004 Brickyard 400 (Friday, August 6, 2004)
    Art Morris, 64, of Anderson, Indiana was a 20-year Safety Patrol employee. In the infield at approximately 7:30 a.m. during a practice day for the Brickyard 400, he suffered a heart attack causing him to crash his motor scooter into a concrete wall. He was pronounced dead at Methodist Hospital at 10:30 a.m.

Fatal accidents during the Motorcycle events[edit]

  • Peter Lenz  – 2010 Red Bull Indianapolis G.P. (Sunday, August 29, 2010)
    During race two of the USGPRU Moriwaki MD250H Powered by Honda, the field was circulating on the warm-up lap. Lenz, 13, fell and was run over by another motorcycle. Paramedics immediately placed Lenz into a cervical collar, intubated him, and performed CPR. He later died of the injuries at Methodist Hospital.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, June 15, 2005
  2. ^ a b "Death claims further toll". The Evening Sentinel (Rochester, Indiana). August 23, 1909. 
  3. ^ "Marmon car wins; death marked race". The New York Times. May 31, 1911. Archived from the original on July 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "3 die in auto race at Indianapolis". The New York Times. June 1, 1919. Archived from the original on June 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ Howdy Wilcox - 1919 Indianapolis 500 at
  6. ^ "160,000 witness auto race; one driver killed in crash". The Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. May 30, 1929. 
  7. ^ a b Motor - The Automotive Business Magazine, June 1933
  8. ^ "Hannon's 'death' car almost hits wall again". The Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. May 28, 1935. 
  9. ^ "Daring Petillo wins auto race". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. May 31, 1935. 
  10. ^ Cleveland, Reginald M. (May 31, 1939). "Roberts, 1938 victor, dies in triple crash as Shaw takes Indianapolis race". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 6, 2014. 
  11. ^ Sainsbury, Ed (May 31, 1947). "Mauri Rose wins 500-mile race; $25,800 check". Middlesboro Daily News. United Press. 
  12. ^ Burgess, Dale (May 31, 1947). "Mauri Rose wins big auto race; driver killed". The Meriden Daily Journal. Associated Press. 
  13. ^ Yates, Brock (2005). Against Death and Time: One Fatal Season in Racing's Glory Years. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-1-56025-770-7. Retrieved 2011-06-23. 
  14. ^ Blunk, Frank (May 31, 1953). "Heat kills driver; Scarborough dies after Vukovich auto takes Indianapolis 500". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 6, 2014. 
  15. ^ Autocourse Official Illustrated History of the Indianapolis 500 by Donald Davidson and Rick Schaffer, published by Crash Media Group, December 1, 2006. Page 134. Retrieved from Google Books, October 21st, 2012
  16. ^ Indy 500 deadly accidents, 1958
  17. ^ Dr. Stephen Olvey, "Rapid Response", 2006, page 35
  18. ^ "Lockhart breaks De Paolo's record". Lewiston Evening Journal. Associated Press. May 28, 1926. 
  19. ^ "Driver dies as result of accident in trials". Manitoba Free Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba). May 29, 1926. 
  20. ^ "Three lose lives on auto speedway". Lawrence Daily Journal-World. Associated Press. May 22, 1935. 
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