|1952 Indianapolis 500|
|Date||30 May 1952|
|Official name||36th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes|
|Location||Indianapolis Motor Speedway|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||4.023 km (2.5 miles)|
|Distance||200 laps, 804.672 km (500 miles)|
|Weather||Warm and sunny|
|Time||4:20.85 (4 laps)|
|First||J. C. Agajanian|
The 36th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was a motor race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 30, 1952. It was the opening race of the 1952 AAA National Championship Trail and was also race 2 of 8 in the 1952 World Championship of Drivers.
Troy Ruttman won the race for car owner J. C. Agajanian. Ruttman, aged 22 years and 80 days, set the record for the youngest 500 winner in history. It was also the last dirt track car to win at Indy. Ruttman's win also saw him become the youngest winner of a World Drivers' Championship race, a record he would hold for 51 years until the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix when Spanish driver Fernando Alonso won at the age of 22 years and 26 days.
Bill Vukovich led 150 laps, but with 9 laps to go, he broke a steering linkage while leading. He nursed his car to a stop against the outside wall, preventing other cars from getting involved in the incident.
In the third year that the 500 was included in the World Championship, Ferrari entered the race with Alberto Ascari driving a Ferrari 375 Indianapolis. The effort gained considerable attention, but Ascari was forced to retire after a few laps when the hub of a wheel on his car collapsed. He was classified 31st. It was the only World Championship race in 1952 that Ascari entered and did not win.
Fifth place finisher Art Cross was voted the Rookie of the Year. Though at least one rookie starter was in the field every year dating back to 1911, this was the first time the now-popular award was officially designated.
Time trials was scheduled for four days, but rain pushed qualifying into a fifth day.
- Saturday May 17 – Pole Day time trials
- Sunday May 18 – Second day time trials (rained out)
- Saturday May 24 – Third day time trials
- Sunday May 25 – Fourth day time trials (rained out)
- Monday May 26 – Fifth day time trials (rain make up day)
|2||10||59||Jim Rathmann||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||136.34||7||200||0||+4:02.33||6|
|3||5||18||Sam Hanks||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||135.73||14||200||0||+6:11.61||4|
|5||20||33||Art Cross||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||134.28||26||200||0||+8:40.15||2|
|6||21||77||Jimmy Bryan||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||134.14||27||200||0||+9:24.32|
|7||23||37||Jimmy Reece||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||133.99||29||200||0||+10:35.24|
|8||14||54||George Connor||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||135.60||15||200||0||+12:00.61|
|9||9||22||Cliff Griffith||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||136.61||6||200||0||+12:23.76|
|10||31||5||Johnnie Parsons||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||135.32||19||200||0||+13:37.78|
|11||3||4||Jack McGrath||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||136.66||5||200||6||+14:21.72|
|13||16||14||Joe James||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||134.95||22||200||0||+16:55.65|
|15||13||65||George Fonder||Sherman-Offenhauser||135.94||13||197||0||+3 Laps|
|16||24||81||Eddie Johnson||Trevis-Offenhauser||133.97||30||193||0||+7 Laps|
|17||8||26||Bill Vukovich||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||138.21||2||191||150||Steering||11|
|18||11||16||Chuck Stevenson||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||136.14||9||187||0||+13 Laps|
|19||12||2||Henry Banks||Lesovsky-Offenhauser||135.96||11||184||0||+16 Laps|
|20||28||8||Manny Ayulo||Lesovsky-Offenhauser||135.98||10||184||0||+16 Laps|
|21||33||31||Johnny McDowell||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||133.93||32||182||0||+18 Laps|
|22||29||48||Spider Webb||Bromme-Offenhauser||135.96||12||162||0||Oil leak|
|23||22||34||Rodger Ward||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||134.13||28||130||0||Oil Pressure|
|24||30||27||Tony Bettenhausen||Deidt-Offenhauser||135.38||17||93||0||Oil Pressure|
|25||4||36||Duke Nalon||Kurtis Kraft-Novi||136.18||8||84||0||Supercharger|
|26||32||73||Bob Sweikert||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||134.98||21||77||0||Differential|
|27||1||28||Fred Agabashian||Kurtis Kraft-Cummins diesel||138.01||3||71||0||Turbocharger|
|28||18||67||Gene Hartley||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||134.34||24||65||0||Exhaust|
|29||25||93||Bob Scott||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||133.95||31||49||0||Transmission|
|30||27||21||Chet Miller||Kurtis Kraft-Novi||139.03||1||41||0||Supercharger|
|33||2||9||Andy Linden||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||137.00||4||20||0||Oil Pump|
- ^1 – 1 point for fastest lead lap
Failed to qualify
- Frank Armi (#39)
- George Armstrong – Did not arrive
- Buzz Barton (#58)
- Joe Barzda (#53)
- Bill Boyd (#92) – Did not arrive
- Bill Cantrell (#52)
- Neal Carter (#25)
- Jimmy Daywalt (#64)
- Duke Dinsmore (#68)
- Giuseppe Farina – Withdrew
- Walt Faulkner (#3)
- Johnny Fedricks (#82)
- Carl Forberg (#53)
- Gene Force (#96)
- Dick Fraizer (#63)
- Potsy Goacher (#93)
- Perry Grimm (#55)
- Peter Hahn (#74)
- Allen Heath (#32, #97)
- Tommy Hinnershitz (#27)
- Jackie Holmes (#41)
- Jimmy Jackson (#61)
- Danny Kladis (#19)
- Jud Larson (#39, #66)
- Bayliss Levrett (#69) – Wrecked practice, retired
- Frank Luptow (#56)
- George Lynch (#74)
- Johnny Mauro (#35)
- Mike Nazaruk (#5, #66)
- Danny Oakes (#39)
- Puffy Puffer
- Paul Russo (#10)
- Carl Scarborough (#33, #44)
- Albert Scully (#62) – Did not arrive
- Doc Shanebrook (#76)
- Ottis Stine (#84)
- Bill Taylor (#47)
- George Tichenor (#88)
- Johnnie Tolan (#51)
- Leroy Warriner (#27)
- Chuck Weyant (#92) – Did not arrive
- Pole position: Fred Agabashian – 4:20.85 (4 laps)
- Agabashian's Cummins Diesel Special was the first entry in the Indianapolis 500 to be powered by a turbocharged engine (then described as "turbosupercharged"). Gear-driven centrifugal blowers known as "superchargers" had been used since the 1920s to increase the volumetric efficiency and power output of racing engines, but the Cummins Diesel was the first to make use of the "free" energy contained in the engine exhaust stream to drive a turbine wheel connected to a centrifugal blower (thus, "turbo-supercharging").
- Fastest Lead Lap: Bill Vukovich – 1:06.60 (135.135 mph)
- As of 2022, Troy Ruttman remains the youngest driver to win the Indianapolis 500, at 22 years and 80 days.
- Ruttman also became the youngest driver to win a race counting for the World Championship of Drivers. His record was broken by Fernando Alonso at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix.
- Alberto Ascari marked the first instance of a driver competing seriously for the World Drivers' Championship (of which the 500 was a points-scoring race) to race in the 500. Although he finished 31st at Indy, he went on to win all of the remaining races and the title.
- 1952 was the only occasion when the fastest (Chet Miller) and slowest (Jim Rigsby) qualifiers for the race started next to each other.
- 1952 was the first Indy 500 in which not a single relief driver was utilized during the race.
The race was carried live on the radio on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. During the offseason, the Speedway management created the network to handle broadcasting duties in-house. The arrangement was under the flagship of 1070 WIBC-AM of Indianapolis, and featured a crew that consisted mostly of WIBC talent. WIBC landed exclusive rights of the broadcast in the Indianapolis market, which eventually would draw the ire of the other major stations in the area. In later years, the broadcast would be carried on all five stations inside the city.
Sid Collins served as booth announcer. Jim Shelton was among the turn reporters, reporting from turn 4. Gordon Graham reported from the pits and from victory lane. Like previous years, the broadcast featured live coverage of the start, the finish, and 15-minute live updates throughout the race. At least twenty stations around the county picked up the broadcast.
Championship standings after the race
- World Drivers' Championship standings
- Note: Only the top five positions are included. Only the best 4 results counted towards the Championship.
- Stranahan, Bob (May 31, 1952). "Sets Race Record Of 128 MPH After Vukovich Bid Failes". The Indianapolis Star. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "More Indy Hearbreaks". Autoweek. 62 (11): 82. May 28, 2012. ISSN 0192-9674.
- "1952 Indianapolis 500". formula1.com. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- "1952 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
- Davidson, Donald. (2007). "The Talk of Gasoline Alley" [Radio program]. WIBC (FM), April 30, 2007. Archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20070928124654/http://media.wibc.com/av/audio/talk_gas/2007/april30.mp3, retrieved on January 6, 2016.
- Greuter, Henri. "1952: Ferrari at Indianapolis". www.forixautosport.com. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
- "WIBC All Night Race Party - 2007
- Cochran, Polly (May 30, 1952). "Everyone In Reach of Radio Will Have 'Ticket' To Race". The Indianapolis Star. p. 42. Retrieved March 7, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Indianapolis 1952 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- Indianapolis 500 History: Race & All-Time Stats – Official Site
- Van Camp's Pork & Beans Presents: Great Moments From the Indy 500 – Fleetwood Sounds, 1975