1959 Indianapolis 500

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United States  1959 Indianapolis 500 Grand Prix
Race details
Winning car of the 1959 Indianapolis 500
Winning car of the 1959 Indianapolis 500
Date 30 May 1959 (1959-05-30)
Official name 43rd International 500-Mile Sweepstakes
Location Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 4.023 km (2.5 mi)
Distance 200 laps, 804.672 km (500 mi)
Attendance 180,000[1]
Pole position
Driver Racing Associates
Time 4:06.73 (4 laps)
Podium
First Leader Card 500 Roadster (Bob Wilke)
Second Simoniz (Lindsey Hopkins)
Third Racing Associates

The 43rd International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 30, 1959. The event was part of the 1959 USAC National Championship Trail and was also race 2 of 9 in the 1959 World Championship of Drivers.

Rodger Ward won the first of two career Indy 500 victories. A record sixteen cars completed the full 500 miles.

All cars were required to have roll bars for the first time.[2]

Practice and time trials[edit]

Two drivers, Jerry Unser and Bob Cortner, were killed in separate crashes during the month. On May 2, Unser lost control in Turn Four, spun, and flipped down the main stretch. The car caught fire and Unser suffered significant burns; he died from complications of his burns on May 17. On May 19, rookie Cortner crashed in turn three after being pushed by a wind gust. He was killed instantly of head injuries.[3]

Time trials was scheduled for four days:

  • Saturday May 16 – Pole Day time trials
  • Sunday May 17 – Second day time trials
  • Saturday May 23 – Third day time trials
  • Sunday May 24 – Fourth day time trials

Classification[edit]

Pos Grid No Driver Constructor Qual Rank Laps Led Time/Retired Points
1 6 5 United States Rodger Ward Watson-Offenhauser 144.03 7 200 130 3:40:49.20 8
2 3 16 United States Jim Rathmann Watson-Offenhauser 144.43 4 200 19 + 0:23.28 6
3 1 3 United States Johnny Thomson Lesovsky-Offenhauser 145.9 1 200 40 + 0:50.64 51
4 15 1 United States Tony Bettenhausen Epperly-Offenhauser 142.72 18 200 0 + 1:47.09 3
5 16 99 United States Paul Goldsmith Epperly-Offenhauser 142.67 19 200 0 + 2:06.44 2
6 11 33 United States Johnny Boyd Epperly-Offenhauser 142.81 16 200 0 + 3:16.98  
7 12 37 United States Duane Carter Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.79 17 200 0 + 4:09.92  
8 8 19 United States Eddie Johnson Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144 9 200 0 + 4:10.53  
9 27 45 United States Paul Russo Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.38 22 200 0 + 4:11.04  
10 17 10 United States A. J. Foyt Kuzma-Offenhauser 142.64 20 200 0 + 4:14.48  
11 9 88 United States Gene Hartley Kuzma-Offenhauser 143.57 10 200 0 + 5:42.48  
12 7 74 United States Bob Veith Moore-Offenhauser 144.02 8 200 0 + 6:09.73  
13 23 89 United States Al Herman Dunn-Offenhauser 141.93 29 200 0 + 6:40.40  
14 13 66 United States Jimmy Daywalt Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.68 3 200 0 + 6:41.54  
15 21 71 United States Chuck Arnold (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.11 24 200 0 + 8:19.86  
16 33 58 United States Jim McWithey (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.21 33 200 0 + 11:41.69  
17 2 44 United States Eddie Sachs Kuzma-Offenhauser 145.42 2 182 0 Spun Off  
18 28 57 United States Al Keller Kuzma-Offenhauser 142.05 27 163 0 Engine  
19 18 64 United States Pat Flaherty (W) Watson-Offenhauser 142.39 21 162 11 Accident  
20 4 73 United States Dick Rathmann Watson-Offenhauser 144.24 5 150 0 Fire  
21 30 53 United States Bill Cheesbourg Kuzma-Offenhauser 141.78 30 147 0 Magneto  
22 25 15 United States Don Freeland Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.05 14 136 0 Magneto  
23 32 49 United States Ray Crawford Elder-Offenhauser 141.34 32 115 0 Accident  
24 10 9 United States Don Branson (R) Phillips-Offenhauser 143.31 12 112 0 Suspension  
25 24 65 United States Bob Christie Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.24 13 109 0 Engine  
26 5 48 United States Bobby Grim (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.22 6 85 0 Magneto  
27 14 24 United States Jack Turner Christensen-Offenhauser 143.47 11 47 0 Fuel leak  
28 29 47 United States Chuck Weyant Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.95 28 45 0 Accident  
29 19 7 United States Jud Larson Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.29 23 45 0 Accident  
30 31 77 United States Mike Magill Sutton-Offenhauser 141.48 31 45 0 Accident  
31 26 87 United States Red Amick (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.92 15 45 0 Accident  
32 22 8 United States Len Sutton Lesovsky-Offenhauser 142.1 26 34 0 Accident  
33 20 6 United States Jimmy Bryan (W) Epperly-Offenhauser 142.11 25 1 0 Engine  
Notes
  • ^1 – Includes 1 point for fastest lead lap

Alternates[edit]

  • First alternate: Rex Easton (R) (#39, #45)[4]

Failed to Qualify[edit]

Race notes[edit]

  • Fastest Lead Lap: Johnny Thomson – 1:01.89
  • Two drivers, Jerry Unser and Bob Cortner, were killed as a result of accidents during practice for this race.
  • Bobby Grim qualified 5th and won the Rookie of the Year award despite dropping out of the race before the halfway point. On lap 85, he suffered magneto failure, and began coasting to the pits. As was customary for drivers of the time, he raised his arm to signify to the other drivers he had lost power. However, due to the high speed he was still traveling, he dislocated his arm in the process. Visibly in pain, the crew thought he was coming in for relief, and quickly Jack Turner jumped behind the wheel, but the car would not run.[6]
  • The first scoring pylon, a famous landmark of the Speedway, was constructed at the south end of the pit area.

Championship standings after the race[edit]

  • Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Also, points scored in the 500 did not count towards the F1 constructors championship.

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. Fred Agabashian joined the crew for the first time as "driver expert." The broadcast reached 385 affiliates, including Fairbanks, Alaska.[7]

Bernie Herman (backstretch), Lou Palmer (turn 3) and Jim Shelton (turn 4) were part of the broadcast team.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stranahan, Bob (May 31, 1959). "Good Race Day Time Had By All". The Indianapolis Star. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley. May 3, 2010. WFNI. 
  3. ^ "Fatalities - May 1959". The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2016. 
  4. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
  5. ^ "1959 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  6. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley1070-AM WIBC, May 9, 2007
  7. ^ {{cite news"Alaska Joins '500' Hookup". The Indianapolis News. May 29, 1959. p. 44. Retrieved March 6, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]


Previous race:
1959 Monaco Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1959 season
Next race:
1959 Dutch Grand Prix
Previous race:
1958 Indianapolis 500
Jimmy Bryan
1959 Indianapolis 500
Rodger Ward
Next race:
1960 Indianapolis 500
Jim Rathmann
Preceded by
135.601 mph
(1957 Indianapolis 500)
Record for the Indianapolis 500 fastest average speed
135.875
mph
Succeeded by
138.767 mph
(1960 Indianapolis 500)