1963 Indianapolis 500

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47th Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyUSAC
Season1963 USAC season
DateMay 30, 1963
WinnerParnelli Jones
Winning teamAgajanian Racing Enterprises
Average speed143.137 mph (230.357 km/h)
Pole positionParnelli Jones
Pole speed151.153 mph (243.257 km/h)
Fastest qualifierParnelli Jones
Rookie of the YearJim Clark
Most laps ledParnelli Jones (167)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemPurdue Band
"Back Home Again in Indiana"Brian Sullivan
Starting commandTony Hulman
Pace carChrysler 300
Pace car driverSam Hanks
StarterPat Vidan[1]
Honorary refereeBaxter F. Ball[1]
Estimated attendance250,000[2]
TV in the United States
Nielsen ratingsN/A / N/A
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1962 1964

The 47th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana on Thursday, May 30, 1963.

Rufus Parnell Jones, also known as "Parnelli," took his only Indy 500 win. This win was controversial because his car (nicknamed "Calhoun") spewed oil from a cracked overflow tank for many laps, which allegedly caused at least one driver to spin and crash. USAC officials put off black-flagging Jones after car owner J. C. Agajanian ran down pit lane and convinced them that the oil leak was below the level of a known crack and would not leak any further.[3] Lotus owner Colin Chapman, whose English-built, rear-engined Lotus-Ford finished second in the hands of Scotsman Jim Clark, accused USAC officials of being biased in favor of the American driver and car.

The non-black flagging of Jones remains controversial. Many, including Chapman and writer Brock Yates, believed that officials would have black flagged Jones if an American driver and car had been in second place instead of Clark in the British built Lotus, .

Goodyear arrived at the track and supplied tires for some entries, but participated only in practice. No cars used Goodyear tires during time trials or the race itself. It was the first time since about 1921 that Goodyear attempted to compete at Indy. Goodyear had last won the race in 1919.

Time trials[edit]

Time trials was scheduled for four days.

  • Saturday May 18 – Pole Day time trials
    • A huge crowd came on Pole Day to see potential records with some speculating there would be speeds over 152 MPH, but windy and gusty conditions kept speeds down. Dan Gurney's practice crash created problems for the Lotus team and required Gurney to later qualify and race the team's spare car. Jim McElreath was the first qualifier but all eyes were on Parnelli Jones who went out third and set the early pace with a track record of 151.153 MPH, including a one lap track record of 151.847 which would turn out to be enough for the pole. Several wave-offs followed before Jim Hurtubise, driving a popular Novi, and Don Branson filled out the front row with runs over 150 MPH. Jim Clark qualified fifth fastest in the Lotus-Ford. The day ended with 1962 winner Rodger Ward qualifying 4th fastest and 7 cars having qualified for the race.
  • Sunday May 19 – Second day time trials
    • Better Conditions on the second day saw increased track activity. The morning practice saw Jack Turner involved in a bad crash, he suffered third degree burns and announced his retirement later that day while in Methodist Hospital. A. J. Foyt set the pace with a run of 150.615 after having waived his run on pole day with other big name drivers such as Dan Gurney, Eddie Sachs and Paul Goldsmith also qualifying. Duane Carter and Masten Gregory qualified two of Mickey Thompson’s radical “rollerskate” cars while Pedro Rodriguez, driving an Aston Martin powered Cooper, was slowest in the field. At the end of the day there were 18 cars qualified, 5 of which qualified over 150 MPH.
  • Saturday May 25 – Third day time trials
  • Sunday May 26 – Fourth day time trials
    • The final day of qualifying opened with 16 cars preparing to qualify and Ebb Rose on the bubble. Heavy winds meant few cars went out early in the day before Troy Ruttman bumped Rose in mid afternoon and Al Miller, in a third Mickey Thompson car, bumped Len Sutton with the fastest run of the day. In the final half hour Ralph Liguori just bumped Masten Gregory but immediately found himself on the bubble. Len Sutton then set a near identical time to Liguori’s and, while officials were figuring out if Sutton had bumped Liguori, Ebb Rose went out in A. J. Foyt’s backup car and went even faster, eliminating both Sutton and Liguori. As time expired Masten Gregory went out in another Thompson car but was unable to bump Dempsey Wilson.[5]

Race details[edit]


Parnelli Jones started from the pole position, and at the start, led the field into turn one. A fierce duel broke out in the opening laps. Jim Hurtubise, who started in the middle of the front row, caught up to Jones down the backstretch, and passed him for the lead. Hurtubise led at the stripe at the completion of lap 1. On lap 2, Jones caught up to Hurtubise again, and took the lead back in turn four, and led lap 2. Hurtubise dove down to re-take the lead in turn one, but Jones was able to slip by and hold the position.

On lap 3, Bobby Unser swerved to avoid running into the car of Dick Rathmann. Unser spun out and crashed into the wall in turn one. The yellow light would stay on for nearly ten minutes to clean up a gasoline spill caused by the wreck. Jones continued to lead, and when the green flag came back out on lap 10, he pulled out to a sizable margin.

First half[edit]

With Jones ahead, Hurtubise was running second, holding off Roger McCluskey and Bobby Marshman in 3rd-4th. Hurtubise held off their challenge for many laps, his powerful Novi engine blasting down the long straights. By lap 40, however, McCluskey and Marshman finally got by Hurtubise. Jones was all alone though, ahead by over 20 seconds.

On lap 46, the yellow came out for a crash by Bud Tingelstad in turn two. At the same time, Allen Crowe lost a wheel and crashed in turn 1. Still under the caution light on lap 50, Jim McElreath and Bobby Marshman spun in the pit area. They avoided a major mishap and made no contact. They got to their pit stalls, and rejoined the race.

Leader Parnelli Jones made his first pit stop on lap 62. As the other leaders pitted one by one, Jim Clark and Dan Gurney (driving the Lotus 29-Ford rear-engined machines) worked their way to the front of the field. The venerable front engine roadsters were expected to make 2–3 pits stops each, while the rear-engined Lotus machines were planning on only one pit stop for fuel. Tire wear was a concern for the heavy roadsters, but the Lotus team was hoping to go the whole way without changing any tires. Clark passed Roger McCluskey for the lead on lap 68.

With Clark and Gurney running 1st-2nd, Parnelli Jones was running third. Despite having already pitted, Jones remarkably was only about 18 seconds behind. The superior handling the rear-engined machines enjoyed in the corners was still somewhat trumped by the higher top speed the front-engined roadsters achieved down the long straights.

It was around lap 80 that observers began to see oil smoke intermittently trailing Parnelli Jones' car. Jim Clark made his lone scheduled pit stop on lap 95, taking on fuel and changing three tires (the rarely-worn left-front was left in place). His stop was timed at 33 seconds. That gave the lead back to Jones, who now enjoyed a 37-second margin. Dan Gurney in the other Lotus, however, had a worn out right-rear tire, and his pit stop dragged on for 42 seconds. Gurney went a lap down and dropped to 9th place.

Jim Hurtubise, an early contender who started slipping in the standings due to handling issues, dropped out at the halfway point with an oil leak.

Second half[edit]

Jim McElreath spun in the pits, brushed the wall, and lost a wheel. He was able to get to his pit stall, and was able to rejoin the race.

Just after the 120-lap mark, Eddie Johnson spun about three-fourths the way down the backstretch, likely due to hitting an oil slick. He spun to the inside, and crashed into the inside wall. Under the yellow light on lap 125, Parnelli Jones made his second pit stop, taking advantage of the caution. After a 27-second pit stop, he came out of the pits still in the lead, and lost minimal ground.

With 50 laps to go, Parnelli Jones had a 43-second lead over second place Jim Clark, and A. J. Foyt was in third. All other cars were at least one lap down. Dan Gurney had worked his way back up to 4th, Roger McCluskey was running 5th, followed by Eddie Sachs, Rodger Ward, Jim McElreath, Don Branson, and Bobby Marshman filling out the top ten.

At around lap 160, Duane Carter blew an engine in turn one, bringing out the yellow light. Leader Parnelli Jones took advantage of the yellow once again, and ducked into the pits. He changed tires in 20 seconds, and was back out on the track. His once commanding lead, however, was down to only 10 seconds. The Lotus team of Jim Clark and Dan Gurney were now running 2nd and 4th, respectively, and the question remained if they would both be able to go the distance without another pit stop to change tires.

When the green came back out, Jim Clark began steadily closing the gap behind Parnelli Jones. With 25 laps to go, Jones' lead was down to only 5–6 seconds. Meanwhile, Dan Gurney was forced to the pits with a worn out right-rear tire. A couple laps later, he was back in the pits to change the right-front, and Gurney fell out of contention for the victory. He wound up 7th at the finish.


In the closing laps, Eddie Sachs spun on two occasions, once on lap 179, then again in turn three on about lap 189, the second time hitting the wall and losing a wheel. The second spin was the impetus of a controversy that embroiled over the next few minutes.

With about twenty laps to go, USAC officials were growing increasingly concerned with the sight of smoke venting from the leader's car. Parnelli Jones had been visibly leaking oil for some time due to a horizontal crack in the external oil tank at the rear of the car. Some observers were reporting the smoke was more intense, particularly in the turns, and that dripping oil was making the track slick, which led to Eddie Sach's crash in turn three. USAC chief steward Harlan Fengler was contemplating displaying the black flag to Jones, which would have sent him to the pits for consultation, and almost certainly deny him any chance at victory.

J. C. Agajanian, the owner of the Jones entry, immediately confronted Harlan Fengler and Henry Banks in a heated exchange at the start/finish line. Colin Chapman of the Lotus team also rushed over to join the discussion, arguing for Clark's case, and that Jones should be disqualified for leaking oil. Agajanian argued that the leak was minor, and had ceased once it dropped below the level of the crack. He also quipped that other cars on the track were leaking worse, without recourse. The confrontation went on for several minutes on the grass parapet by the starter's stand, and USAC ultimately decided not to black flag Jones.

The green light came back on for lap 193, and Jones quickly pulled out to a 21-second lead. After Clark had narrowed the gap significantly, Jones was again holding a commanding lead. Parnelli Jones stayed in front and led to the finish. With the white flag waving, third place Roger McCluskey was running right with Jones down the mainstretch. The two cars were dicing through some traffic, and McCluskey spun out and came to a rest in turn three, bringing out a last-lap yellow flag. Jones narrowly skirted by the incident on the outside unscathed, and cruised to victory. Jim Clark come home second, and A. J. Foyt finished third.


The day after the race, Eddie Sachs and Parnelli Jones got into an argument, and exchanged fists over the oil leak controversy. Chief steward Harlan Fengler explained his decision not to black flag Jones, citing that the leak had subsided, and that so few laps were left, that he didn't want to "take this race away from a man on a snap judgement."[6]

The Lotus team, while unhappy with the perceived favoritism offered to the American participants, ultimately declined to protest. They acknowledged Jones' clear superiority in the event. In addition, Ford officials recognized that a victory through disqualification of Clark's biggest competitor would not be well received by the American public.

Box score[edit]

Finish Start No Name Chassis Engine Qual Rank Laps Status
1 1 98 United States Parnelli Jones Watson Offenhauser 151.153 1 200 Running
2 5 92 United Kingdom Jim Clark  R  Lotus Ford 149.750 7 200 Running
3 8 2 United States A. J. Foyt  W  Trevis Offenhauser 150.615 2 200 Running
4 4 1 United States Rodger Ward  W  Watson Offenhauser 149.800 6 200 Running
5 3 4 United States Don Branson Watson Offenhauser 150.188 4 200 Running
6 6 8 United States Jim McElreath Watson Offenhauser 149.744 8 200 Running
7 12 93 United States Dan Gurney Lotus Ford 149.019 17 200 Running
8 11 10 United States Chuck Hulse Ewing Offenhauser 149.340 13 200 Running
9 31 84 United States Al Miller  R  Thompson Chevrolet 149.613 9 200 Running
10 17 22 United States Dick Rathmann Watson Offenhauser 149.130 14 200 Running
11 30 29 United States Dempsey Wilson Watson Offenhauser 147.832 33 200 Running
12 33 17 United States Troy Ruttman  W  Kuzma Offenhauser 148.374 24 200 Running
13 18 65 United States Bob Christie Christensen Offenhauser 149.123 15 200 Running
14 32 32 United States Ebb Rose Watson Offenhauser 148.545 21 200 Running
15 14 14 United States Roger McCluskey Watson Offenhauser 148.680 20 198 Spun T3
16 7 5 United States Bobby Marshman Epperly Offenhauser 149.458 11 196 Rear End
17 10 9 United States Eddie Sachs Watson Offenhauser 149.570 10 181 Crash T3
18 9 99 United States Paul Goldsmith Watson Offenhauser 150.163 5 149 Crankshaft
19 19 52 United States Lloyd Ruby Watson Offenhauser 149.123 16 126 Crash T4
20 21 88 United States Eddie Johnson Watson Offenhauser 148.509 22 112 Crash BS
21 22 45 United States Chuck Stevenson Watson Offenhauser 148.386 23 110 Valve
22 2 56 United States Jim Hurtubise Kurtis Kraft Novi 150.257 3 102 Oil Leak
23 15 83 United States Duane Carter Thompson Chevrolet 148.002 30 100 Rod
24 29 16 United States Jim Rathmann  W  Watson Offenhauser 147.838 32 99 Magneto
25 20 26 United States Bobby Grim Trevis Offenhauser 148.717 19 79 Oil Leak
26 24 86 United States Bob Veith Epperly Offenhauser 148.289 26 74 Valve
27 13 35 United States Allen Crowe Trevis Offenhauser 148.877 18 47 Crash T1
28 25 54 United States Bud Tingelstad Epperly Offenhauser 148.227 27 46 Crash T2
29 26 37 United States Johnny Rutherford  R  Watson Offenhauser 148.063 28 43 Transmission
30 28 21 United States Elmer George Lesovsky Offenhauser 147.893 31 21 Handling
31 23 75 United States Art Malone  R  Kurtis Kraft Novi 148.343 25 18 Clutch
32 27 23 United States Johnny Boyd Epperly Offenhauser 148.038 29 12 Oil Leak
33 16 6 United States Bobby Unser  R  Kurtis Kraft Novi 149.421 12 2 Crash T1


Failed to qualify[edit]

Race statistics[edit]

Race notes[edit]



The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. Fred Agabashian served as "driver expert."

Lou Palmer, who had debuted in 1958, moved from turn three to the pit area, replacing John Peterson, where he would remain for 25 years. Palmer also took over the duty of the winner's interview in victory lane. Mike Ahern returned to the broadcast after a year absence, and took over the turn three location. This was the last year with Charlie Brockman as Statistician, and also the last year with Bernie Herman on the Backstretch.

The radio affiliate count topped 700 stations worldwide.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network
Booth Announcers Turn Reporters Pit/garage reporters

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Driver expert: Fred Agabashian
Statistician: Charlie Brockman

Turn 1: Bill Frosh
Turn 2: Howdy Bell
Backstretch: Bernie Herman
Turn 3: Mike Ahern
Turn 4: Jim Shelton

Jack Shapiro (north)
Luke Walton (center)
Lou Palmer (south)


For the third year, a few minutes of race highlights were telecast on ABC's "Wide World Of Sports".




  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ Cadou Jr., Jep (May 31, 1963). "Shatter Track Record With Hot 143.137 Average". The Indianapolis Star. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  3. ^ "Fist Fight Breaks Out Between Speedway Winner Parnelli Jones and Eddie Sachs". Lewiston Daily Sun. June 1, 1963. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  4. ^ "The Leader-Post - Google News Archive Search".
  5. ^ "Indianapolis Motor Speedway".
  6. ^ Fist Fight Breaks Out between Speedway Winner Parneli Jones And Eddie Sachs
  7. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
  8. ^ "1963 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  9. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley. May 12, 2010. WFNI.

Works cited[edit]

1962 Indianapolis 500
Rodger Ward
1963 Indianapolis 500
Parnelli Jones
1964 Indianapolis 500
A. J. Foyt
Preceded by
140.293 mph
(1962 Indianapolis 500)
Record for the fastest average speed
143.137 mph
Succeeded by