|Indianapolis Motor Speedway|
|Date||May 30, 1956|
|Winning team||John Zink|
|Average speed||128.490 mph (206.785 km/h)|
|Pole position||Pat Flaherty|
|Pole speed||145.596 mph (234.314 km/h)|
|Most laps led||Pat Flaherty – 127 laps|
|Pace car||DeSoto Fireflite|
|Pace car driver||L. Irving Woolson|
The 40th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, May 30, 1956. The event was part of the 1956 USAC National Championship Trail and was also race 3 of 8 in the 1956 World Championship of Drivers.
The 1956 race was the first to be governed by the United States Automobile Club. AAA withdrew from auto racing the previous August. Another change would have a more immediate effect on the current race. The track had been paved over with asphalt with only about 600 yards of the main stretch still remaining brick.
The 1956 race is also known in Indy 500 lore as "Cagle's Miracle." Torrential rains pummeled the Speedway in the days leading up to the race. The track was full of standing water, access tunnels were completely flooded, and the infield was a muddy quagmire. The conditions threatened to postpone or outright cancel the race. Speedway superintendent Clarence Cagle supervised a massive cleanup effort, in which hundreds of thousands of gallons of water were pumped out of the tunnels and the infield. Cagle and his crew worked non-stop for 48 hours straight, some without sleep, and had the track ready just in time for race morning.
Time trials was scheduled for four days, but the third day was rained out. With the new surface, a new track record was expected. Pat Flaherty did not disappoint with a pole speed of 145.596 mph (234.314 km/h), over 4.5 mph (7.2 km/h) faster than the 1954 record. 29 drivers qualified opening weekend. The second weekend saw heavy rain that completely canceled Saturday and left only a small window on Sunday for 4 drivers to fill the field. Nino Farina was one of the drivers left out when he didn't get a chance to qualify his Bardahl-Ferrari.
- Saturday May 19 – Pole Day time trials
- Sunday May 20 – Second day time trials
- Saturday May 26 – Third day time trials (rained out)
- Sunday May 27 – Fourth day time trials
The early part of the race turned into a three-man duel between Russo, O'Connor, and Flaherty. Russo was the first to retire when his tire failed and his car crashed and caught fire. At quarter distance due to yellows and the pit stops, Parsons took the lead followed by Freeland. By the 200-mile (320 km) mark Flaherty took over the lead followed by Freeland, Sweikert, and Parsons but Hanks was working his way through the fields after sustaining some damage in the Russo crash, eventually taking second. Flaherty had built up such a lead that he was able to make his last pit stop and remain in front. He crossed the finish line with Hanks the only other car on the lead lap. The only real change in the top cars toward the end was both O'Connor and Jim Rathmann having to drop back with mechanical problems while both drivers were in the top 5.
|2||13||4||Sam Hanks||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||142.05||21||200||0||+0:20.45||6|
|4||6||98||Johnnie Parsons||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||144.14||7||200||16||+3:25.69||3|
|5||4||73||Dick Rathmann||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||144.47||6||200||0||+4:21.81||2|
|7||23||14||Bob Veith||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||142.53||16||200||0||+6:25.63|
|8||15||19||Rodger Ward||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||141.17||27||200||0||+6:32.31|
|10||30||27||Cliff Griffith||Stevens-Offenhauser||141.47||24||199||0||+1 Lap|
|11||22||82||Gene Hartley||Kuzma-Offenhauser||142.84||15||196||0||+4 Laps|
|12||7||42||Fred Agabashian||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||144.06||8||196||0||+4 Laps|
|13||25||57||Bob Christie||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||142.23||20||196||0||+4 Laps|
|14||28||55||Al Keller||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||141.19||26||195||0||+5 Laps|
|15||32||81||Eddie Johnson||Kuzma-Offenhauser||139.09||32||195||0||+5 Laps|
|16||29||41||Billy Garrett||Kuzma-Offenhauser||140.55||30||194||0||+6 Laps|
|17||33||64||Duke Dinsmore||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||138.53||33||191||0||+9 Laps|
|18||3||7||Pat O'Connor||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||144.98||4||187||39||+13 Laps|
|19||19||2||Jimmy Bryan||Kuzma-Offenhauser||143.74||9||185||0||+15 Laps|
|20||2||24||Jim Rathmann||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||145.12||3||175||3||Engine|
|21||31||34||Johnnie Tolan||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||140.06||31||173||0||Engine|
|22||5||99||Tony Bettenhausen||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||144.60||5||160||0||Accident|
|23||14||10|| Ed Elisian
(Relieved by Eddie Russo; 37 laps)
|24||16||48||Jimmy Daywalt||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||140.97||28||134||0||Accident|
|25||24||54||Jack Turner||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||142.39||18||131||0||Engine|
|26||20||89||Keith Andrews||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||142.97||13||94||0||Transmission|
|27||9||5||Andy Linden||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||143.05||11||90||0||Oil Leak|
|28||27||12||Al Herman||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||141.61||23||74||0||Accident|
|29||17||49||Ray Crawford||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||140.88||29||49||0||Accident|
|30||12||15||Johnny Boyd||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||142.33||19||35||0||Oil Leak|
|31||11||53||Troy Ruttman||Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser||142.48||17||22||0||Spun Off|
|32||18||88||Johnny Thomson||Kuzma-Offenhauser||145.54||2||22||0||Spun Off|
|33||8||29||Paul Russo||Kurtis Kraft-Novi||143.54||10||21||11||Accident||11|
- ^1 – 1 point for fastest lead lap
Failed to Qualify
- Jay Abney (#87)
- George Amick (#33) - Entry declined, failed physical
- Johnny Baldwin (R) (#91)
- Tony Bonadies (#25)
- Buddy Cagle (#81) - Wrecked rookie test
- Bill Cheesbourg (#84, #87)
- Jimmy Davies (#31)
- Len Duncan (#51)
- Edgar Elder (#41) - Did not finish rookie test
- Giuseppe Farina (#9)
- Elmer George (#78)
- Johnny Kay (#35)
- Danny Kladis (#91)
- Mike Magill (#74)
- Ernie McCoy
- Jim McWithey (#77)
- Earl Motter (#9, #41)
- Duke Nalon (#31)
- Roy Newman (#74)
- Cal Niday
- Marvin Pifer (#75)
- Dickie Reese (#87)
- Eddie Russo (#10, #27, #33)
- Gig Stephens (#85)
- Len Sutton (#62)
- Marshall Teague (#3, #47)
- Shorty Templeman (#46)
- Leroy Warriner (#93)
- Chuck Weyant (#22)
- Dempsey Wilson (#22, #79)
- Pole position: Pat Flaherty – 4:07.26 (time over four laps)
- Fastest Lead Lap: Paul Russo – 1:02.32
- Shared Drive: Car# 10: Ed Elisian 123 laps and Eddie Russo 37 laps
- Race winner Pat Flaherty was the last driver to win the 500 wearing a t-shirt. All subsequent winners have worn flame retardant uniforms.
The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. The broadcast was carried by over 280 affiliates, as well as Armed Forces Radio. The broadcast came on-air at 10:45 a.m. local time, fifteen minutes prior to the start of the race. This was the final broadcast based out of the old wooden Pagoda, which was demolished after the race.
This was also the final year to have only two turn reporters ("south turns" and "north turns"). Beginning in 1957, the crew would be expanded to have one reporter in each of the four turns.
|Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network|
|Booth Announcers||Turn Reporters||Pit reporters|
South turns: Bill Frosch
Bob Rhodes (garages)
Championship standings after the race
- World Drivers' Championship standings
|2||Juan Manuel Fangio||9|
- Note: Only the top five positions are included.
1956 pace car
- Fox, Jack C. (1994). The Illustrated History of the Indianapolis 500 1911-1994 (4th ed.). Carl Hungness Publishing. p. 22. ISBN 0-915088-05-3.
- Campbell, Don G. (May 31, 1956). "Race Fans Battle, Slosh Through And Sit In Mud". The Indianapolis Star. p. 2. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500" Donald Davidson, 2006, page 138
- The Talk of Gasoline Alley – 1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
- "1956 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
- The Talk of Gasoline Alley – 1070-AM WIBC, May 13, 2007
- Brockman, Charles (May 30, 1956). "5 Radio Stations Broadcast '500'". The Indianapolis Star. p. 33. Retrieved March 7, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Indianapolis 1956 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 18 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
- 1956 Indianapolis 500 at RacingReference.info (Relief driver statistics)