1965 Indianapolis 500

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49th Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyUSAC
Season1965 USAC season
DateMay 31, 1965
WinnerJim Clark
Winning teamTeam Lotus
Average speed150.686 mph (242.506 km/h)
Pole positionA. J. Foyt
Pole speed161.233 mph (259.479 km/h)
Fastest qualifierA. J. Foyt
Rookie of the YearMario Andretti
Most laps ledJim Clark (190)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemPurdue Band
"Back Home Again in Indiana"Johnny Desmond
Starting commandTony Hulman
Pace carPlymouth Sport Fury
Pace car driverP.M. Buckminster
StarterPat Vidan[1]
Honorary refereeRaymond Firestone[1]
Estimated attendance250,000[2]
TV in the United States
NetworkABC's Wide World of Sports
AnnouncersCharlie Brockman Rodger Ward
Previous Next
1964 1966

The 49th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana on Monday, May 31, 1965.

The five-year-old "British Invasion" finally broke through as Jim Clark and Colin Chapman triumphed in dominating fashion with the first rear-engined Indy-winning car, a Lotus 38 powered by Ford. With only six of the 33 cars in the field having front engines, it was the first 500 in history to have a majority of cars as rear-engined machines.

Clark, of Scotland, started from the front row, and led 190 laps, the most since Bill Vukovich (195) in 1953. He became the first non-American winner of the Indianapolis 500 since 1920 when Frenchman Gaston Chevrolet won. Clark would go on to win the 1965 World Championship (which Indianapolis was not part of any longer). He is the only driver in history to win the Indy 500 and Formula One World Championship in the same year. Clark actually chose to skip Monaco to compete at Indy.

ABC Sports covered the race for the first time on Wide World of Sports. Charlie Brockman anchored the broadcast along with Rodger Ward.

Rule changes[edit]

Following the tragic 1964 race, this race was run relatively clean with no major accidents. Contrary to some popular belief, gasoline was not banned for the 1965 race. Instead, USAC officials crafted several calculated rule changes to effectively encourage teams to use methanol in order to be competitive.[3] In addition, a new minimum car weight of 1,250 pounds was also established.

For 1965, all cars were required to make a minimum of two pit stops. A pit stop was generally defined as coming to a complete stop in the respective pit box, and hooking up the fueling mechanism. Tire changes were not specifically required, and some cars in fact changed zero tires all day. On-board fuel tank capacity was reduced to 75 gallons, which also included requirements that they contain rubber bladders inside, and were required to be behind the driver on the left side of each car. Crossover tubes were no longer allowed ahead of the driver as well. Pressurized fueling rigs were also outlawed. All fueling rigs from 1965 onward had to be gravity fed, a rule that still is in effect as of 2023.

Conventional "pump" gasoline registered better fuel mileage than methanol, and could go a longer distance before needing to refuel. The methanol-powered engines had worse fuel mileage, but were expected to produce more horsepower and effectively race faster. Since cars were required to make a minimum of two fuel stops, the advantage to using gasoline (i.e., fewer pit stops and better resulting track position) was diminished, or outright lost.[4]

While most teams switched to methanol, the Agajanian team decided to utilize a methanol/gasoline blend. Chief mechanic Johnny Pulson and driver Parnelli Jones determined that they were effectively down on power, finished second, and attributed the fuel blend as what cost them a chance to win the race.[3]

Time trials[edit]

One other major change was implemented for time trials. The evening before pole day time trials, a new blind draw was to be used to establish the qualifying order (namely for Pole Day). Prior to 1965, no draw was used, and the qualifying order was a "first-come, first-served" line-up, queued down the pit lane and usually stretching into the garage area. Some teams would even claim their spots in line the night before. The unorganized scramble to roll the cars into a queue had often led to heated exchanges, collisions, and unfair situations.

Each entry would still be allowed up to three attempts to qualify (across all four scheduled days). Once the original qualifying draw order had been exhausted on Pole Day, if there was still time left in the day (prior to the traditional 6 o'clock gun), the track was open for qualifying on a first-come, first-served basis. A proposal to charge cars with an attempt if they got to the front of the line but elected not to go out, or went out and did not take the green flag to start the run, was rejected.[5] Despite the addition of a qualifying draw, each car in the order was not yet guaranteed the opportunity to make an attempt during the pole round. If rain were to delay or interrupt the qualifying line on Pole Day, any cars left in the original qualifying order at the time the track closed (due to rain or at the 6 o'clock gun) were simply out of luck, and had to qualify on the next round. This technicality would be corrected in 1971.

Race schedule[edit]

Race schedule — April/May 1965
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Pole Day
Time Trials
Time Trials
Bump Day
500 Open
500 Open
500 Open
Carb Day
Indy 500
Color Notes
Green Practice
Dark Blue Time trials
Silver Race day
Blank No track activity


After suffering a terrible crash in January at the Motor Trend 500 at Riverside, A. J. Foyt was back behind the wheel in time for the 500. Foyt had suffered a broken back, crushed sternum, and a concussion[6] after he lost his brakes, hit an embankment, and flipped violently in a stock car.

There would be considerable turnaround in the starting lineup, with eleven rookies making the race, the most since 1951 (12). The rookie class of 1965 was historically notable, including such drivers as Mario Andretti, Al Unser Sr., Gordon Johncock, Joe Leonard, and George Snider.


The track opened for practice on Saturday May 1. On Monday May 3, Jim Clark turned a lap of 150.779 mph, the first driver over 150 mph for the month.[7] On Tuesday May 4, chief steward Harlan Fengler lifted the speed limits, and A. J. Foyt upped his practice speed to 155 mph.

On Wednesday May 5, A. J. Foyt's Lotus-Ford wrecked on the backstretch when a magnesium hub carrier snapped. The next day, all of the Lotus-Fords and Lola cars were parked by USAC for a few days until tests and improvements could be made to the magnesium parts.[8] Thursday's practice was cut short due to rain.

On Monday May 10, after adequate improvements, the Lotus-Fords were authorized to return to the track. Both Foyt and Clark turned laps over 158 mph.[9] Foyt and Clark continued to top the speed charts during the week,[10] and on Thursday, Foyt blistered the track with a new unofficial track record of 161.146 mph.[11]

On the day before pole day, Ebb Rose spun in turn one in front of Bobby Unser, collecting him in the crash. Unser was driving the brand new four-wheel drive Novi car entered by Andy Granatelli. Unser's car t-boned Rose's car, and spun wildly into the outside wall. Rose was not hurt. Unser was sent to the hospital for x-rays, but was not seriously injured.

Time trials[edit]

Pole Day – Saturday May 15[edit]

Pole day was a record-setting day, as drivers officially broke the 160 mph barrier. Rookie Mario Andretti was one of the first drivers to set the pace, putting in a lap of 159.406 mph, and a four-lap average of 158.849 mph. Later, Jim Clark in the Lotus 38, became the first driver to break the 160 mph barrier. His first two laps of 160.772 mph and 160.973 mph set one-lap records. His record four-lap average of 160.729 mph tentatively put him on the pole.

Defending race winner A. J. Foyt ended up as the fastest of the day, with three laps in the 161 mph range. His first lap of 161.958 mph established the new one-lap track record. His record four-lap average of 161.233 secured the pole position, his first pole at Indy.

A day after his crash during practice, Bobby Unser got in a year-old Novi back up car to qualify 8th. Nineteen cars qualified on pole day.[12]

Second day – Sunday May 16[edit]

Strong winds kept most cars off the track. Only two drivers (Don Branson and Arnie Knepper) qualified.[13] At the end of the first weekend of time trials, the field was filled to 21 cars.

Third day – Saturday May 22[edit]

Jim Hurtubise, who was seriously burned in a crash at Milwaukee in 1964, completed his comeback by qualifying a Novi at 156.860 mph (252.442 km/h), the fastest of eleven qualifiers that day.[14]

Two drivers crashed during the day, Rodger Ward and Lloyd Ruby. Ruby wrecked his already-qualified machine, but Ward was still struggling to get up to speed. Masten Gregory and Al Unser both blew engines, but were able to keep the cars off the wall.

Bobby Johns, a NASCAR regular, skipped the World 600 and entered as a teammate to Jim Clark in another Lotus. He qualified for 22nd position, third fastest of the afternoon.

At the end of the day, there was only one spot left open in the field.

Bump day – Sunday May 23[edit]

Former winner Rodger Ward failed to qualify. He suffered a crash and three blown engines during the month. He got onto the track in the final 15 minutes, but his qualifying attempt was too slow to make the field.

Bob Mathouser was the final driver in Indy history to attempt to qualify in a front-wheel drive machine, but the engine blew and he did not make the field.[15]

Starting grid[edit]

Row Inside Middle Outside
1 1 United States A. J. Foyt  W  82 United Kingdom Jim Clark 17 United States Dan Gurney
2 12 United States Mario Andretti  R  98 United States Parnelli Jones  W  66 Canada Billy Foster  R 
3 74 United States Al Miller 9 United States Bobby Unser 7 United States Lloyd Ruby
4 54 United States Bob Veith 24 United States Johnny Rutherford 16 United States Len Sutton
5 52 United States Jim McElreath 76 United States Gordon Johncock  R  81 United States Mickey Rupp  R 
6 94 United States George Snider  R  48 United States Jerry Grant  R  4 United States Don Branson
7 18 United States Arnie Knepper  R  59 United States Jim Hurtubise 53 United States Walt Hansgen
8 83 United States Bobby Johns  R  25 United States Roger McCluskey 5 United States Bud Tingelstad
9 65 United States Ronnie Duman 88 United States Chuck Stevenson 29 United States Joe Leonard  R 
10 23 United States Eddie Johnson 14 United States Johnny Boyd 19 United States Chuck Rodee
11 41 United States Masten Gregory  R  45 United States Al Unser  R  47 United States Bill Cheesbourg
R Indianapolis 500 rookie
W Indianapolis 500 winner


Failed to qualify[edit]

Race recap[edit]

The Wood Brothers from the NASCAR Grand National circuit, were invited by Ford Motor Company to work the pit stops for Team Lotus (drivers Jim Clark and Bobby Johns).[18] Their arrival at the Speedway was quickly recognized and much reported. They were well known for their rapid pit stop work in NASCAR, and their presence immediately created a stir in the garage area. It took them only a short time to acclimatize to the open wheel championship cars' equipment.

Their contributions to the victory, however, have been considered overstated in some cases.[19][20][21] Historians agree that Clark's Lotus-Ford was capable of winning the race handily without the added help of the Wood Brothers. In fact, the only work done on the cars was routine refueling, as they did not need to change tires during the race.[22] Clark made only two stops all day, and the quickness of the refueling process was largely attributed to a specially-designed gravity fueling rig with a venturi tube. One of the things they did ahead of time was to "break in" the new fueling hose nozzles by simply working them in and out of the coupling for a period of time.

First half[edit]

A. J. Foyt started on the pole, but Jim Clark led the first lap. Jim Hurtubise dropped out with a broken transmission on the first lap. Foyt took the lead on lap two, and at first glance, the early laps appeared as if they were going to develop into a duel. However, Clark re-took the lead on lap 3, and pulled away.

Heavy attrition saw 17 cars drop out with engine or mechanical trouble before reaching the halfway point.

Lloyd Ruby spun, but was able to continue. He went to the pits for new tires, but the heavily flat-spotted tires required a minute and a half to change.

Clark led until lap 65, giving up the lead for a pit stop. A. J. Foyt led from lap 66-74. On lap 75, Clark regained the lead of the race.

Second half[edit]

Jim Clark still led at the halfway point, and would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the race. Early contender A. J. Foyt dropped out after 115 laps with a broken gearbox.

The lone accident of the day involved Bud Tingelstad, who lost a wheel and spun into the outside wall in turn three.

Scotland's Jim Clark became the first non-American winner of the Indianapolis 500 since 1920. Clark led three times for a total of 190 laps. Only eleven cars were running at the finish. Second place Parnelli Jones ran out of fuel on the final lap, and pushed his car back to the pits.

Rookie Mario Andretti, who ran no lower than 6th all afternoon, came home third, and won the Rookie of the Year award. Despite rapidly becoming obsolete, two front-engined roadsters still finished in the top ten. Rookie Gordon Johncock finished 5th, and Eddie Johnson came home 10th. Johncock was locked in a duel with Al Miller in the late stages of the race.

The race was slowed by only three yellow lights for a total of 13 minutes.

Box score[edit]

Finish Start No Name Chassis Engine Qual Laps Status
1 2 82 United Kingdom Jim Clark Lotus Ford 160.729 200 Running
2 5 98 United States Parnelli Jones  W  Kuzma-Lotus Ford 158.625 200 +1:59.98
3 4 12 United States Mario Andretti  R  Brawner Ford 158.849 200 +2:05.36
4 7 74 United States Al Miller Lotus Ford 157.805 200 +5:34.53
5 14 76 United States Gordon Johncock  R  Watson Offenhauser 155.012 200 +5:48.28
6 15 81 United States Mickey Rupp  R  Gerhardt Offenhauser 154.839 198 Flagged
7 22 83 United States Bobby Johns  R  Lotus Ford 155.481 197 Flagged
8 18 4 United States Don Branson Watson Ford 155.501 197 Flagged
9 32 45 United States Al Unser  R  Lotus Ford 154.440 196 Flagged
10 28 23 United States Eddie Johnson Watson Offenhauser 153.998 195 Flagged
11 9 7 United States Lloyd Ruby Halibrand Ford 157.246 184 Blown Engine
12 12 16 United States Len Sutton Vollstedt Ford 156.121 177 Flagged
13 29 14 United States Johnny Boyd BRP Ford 155.172 140 Gearbox
14 21 53 United States Walt Hansgen Huffaker Offenhauser 155.662 117 Overheating
15 1 1 United States A. J. Foyt  W  Lotus Ford 161.233 115 Gearbox
16 24 5 United States Bud Tingelstad Lola Ford 154.672 115 Crash T3
17 6 66 Canada Billy Foster  R  Vollstedt Offenhauser 158.416 85 Water manifold
18 19 18 United States Arnie Knepper  R  Kurtis Kraft Offenhauser 154.513 80 Cylinder
19 8 9 United States Bobby Unser Ferguson Novi 157.467 69 Oil Fitting
20 13 52 United States Jim McElreath Brabham Offenhauser 155.878 66 Rear End
21 16 94 United States George Snider  R  Gerhardt Offenhauser 154.825 64 Rear End
22 25 65 United States Ronnie Duman Gerhardt Offenhauser 154.533 62 Rear End
23 31 41 United States Masten Gregory  R  BRP Ford 154.540 59 Oil Pressure
24 10 54 United States Bob Veith Huffaker Offenhauser 156.427 58 Piston
25 26 88 United States Chuck Stevenson Kuzma Offenhauser 154.275 50 Piston
26 3 17 United States Dan Gurney Lotus Ford 158.898 42 Timing Gears
27 17 48 United States Jerry Grant  R  Halibrand Offenhauser 154.606 30 Magneto
28 30 19 United States Chuck Rodee Halibrand Offenhauser 154.546 28 Rear End
29 27 29 United States Joe Leonard  R  Halibrand Ford 154.268 27 Oil Leak
30 23 25 United States Roger McCluskey Halibrand Ford 155.186 18 Clutch
31 11 24 United States Johnny Rutherford Halibrand Ford 156.291 15 Rear End
32 33 47 United States Bill Cheesbourg Gerhardt Offenhauser 153.774 14 Magneto
33 20 59 United States Jim Hurtubise Kurtis Kraft Novi 156.863 1 Transmission

 W  Former Indianapolis 500 winner

 R  Indianapolis 500 Rookie

Race statistics[edit]

Tire participation chart
Supplier No. of starters
Goodyear 12 
Firestone 21*
* – Denotes race winner



The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer for the 14th year, and 18th year overall with the crew. Fred Agabashian served as "driver expert," and Rodger Ward (who failed to qualify), joined the pre-race coverage briefly to offer commentary. The four and a half hour broadcast opened with a 30-minute pre-race segment.

The broadcast was carried by over 800 affiliates and was heard by an estimated 100 million listeners worldwide. The broadcast was carried by Armed Forces Network, as well as Radio New York Worldwide. Foreign translation rebroadcasts in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian were heard in Central and South America and elsewhere.

After visiting the broadcast booth in 1964 for an interview, Donald Davidson returned, joining the crew full-time as race historian. Also new for 1965 was Ron Carrell, who reported from the backstretch. Other guests that visited the booth included Gus Grissom, Senator Birch Bayh, Assistant Postmaster General Tyler Able, Wally Parks, Peter DePaolo, J. C. Agajanian, 500 Festival Chairperson Margaret Clark and 500 Festival Queen Suzanne Devine Sams.

Absent from the crew was nine-year veteran Jack Shapiro, who died the previous summer at the age of 37.[26]

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

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Driver expert: Fred Agabashian
Statistician: John DeCamp

Turn 1: Bill Frosh
Turn 2: Howdy Bell
Backstretch: Ron Carrell R 
Turn 3: Mike Ahern
Turn 4: Jim Shelton

Chuck Marlowe (north)
Luke Walton (center)
Lou Palmer (south)


The race was shown live on MCA closed-circuit television in approximately 180 theaters and venues across the United States. Charlie Brockman served as anchor.[27][28]

The following weekend on June 5, the race was carried in the United States on ABC's Wide World of Sports. It was ABC's first exclusive network coverage of the Indianapolis 500 on race day. Charlie Brockman anchored the telecast, as he did during the closed-circuit broadcast. The Wide World of Sports broadcast was an edited tape of the closed-circuit broadcast, and driver Rodger Ward served as analyst. Ward sat out the 1965 race, having failed to qualify, but returned in 1966.



  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. ^ Overpeck, Dave (June 1, 1965). "First Foreigner To Score Since '16; Parnelli 2d". The Indianapolis Star. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  3. ^ a b The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 15, 2007
  4. ^ "'Nitro Alley' Fits Garage Area Bbetter". The Star Press. May 27, 1970. p. 46. Retrieved September 8, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  5. ^ "Drawing Will Decide Qualifying Positions". The Indianapolis Star. May 14, 1965. p. 26. Retrieved April 5, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  6. ^ Hinton, Ed (May 27, 2011). "The last ride of A.J. Foyt". ESPN. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  7. ^ "Clark Turns 150.779 Lap In Practice". The Anderson Herald. May 4, 1965. p. 8. Retrieved March 27, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  8. ^ "Lotus-Ford Kept Off Track Pending Tests". The Anderson Herald. May 7, 1965. p. 22. Retrieved March 27, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  9. ^ "Little Lotus-Ford To Resume Assault On Track Records". The Anderson Herald. May 11, 1965. p. 7. Retrieved March 27, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  10. ^ "Rear-Engined Cars Continue To Set Pace". The Anderson Herald. May 13, 1965. p. 10. Retrieved March 27, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  11. ^ Indianapolis 500: Chronicle, page 180
  12. ^ Foyt Gets Mark at Indy Action
  13. ^ "Only Two Brave Strong Winds to Qualify". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. 1965-05-17. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
  14. ^ "Hurtubise In Fastest Lap In Qualifying". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. 1965-05-23. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
  15. ^ "Ward Fails to Qualify". St. Joseph Gazette. 1965-05-24. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
  16. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
  17. ^ "1965 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  18. ^ "Jim Clark, Wood Brothers Win 1965 Indianapolis 500 with Innovative Lotus-Ford 38/". Racing in America. 2011-05-25. Archived from the original on 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  19. ^ "The Talk of Gasoline Alley," WFNI: May 9, 2012
  20. ^ The History of the 500 - WFNI/WIBC: Episode 10, 2013
  21. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, August 6, 2005
  22. ^ Spencer, Lee (May 25, 2014). "Nearly a half-century later, Wood Brothers fondly remember Jim Clark's dominant Indy 500 win". Motorsport.com. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  23. ^ Davidson, Donald; Shaffer, Rick (2013). Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500 (Second ed.). Malvern, Worcestershire, England: Icon Publishing. p. 375. ISBN 978-1-905334-82-7 – via Internet Archive.
  24. ^ Popely, Rick; Riggs, L. Spencer (1998). Indianapolis 500 Chronicle. Lincolnwood, Illinois: Publications International. p. 185. ISBN 0-7853-2798-3 – via Internet Archive.
  25. ^ "1965 Indianapolis 500". Racing-Reference. Archived from the original on April 28, 2021. Retrieved August 8, 2021.
  26. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley. May 16, 2009. WFNI.
  27. ^ "Closed-Circuit Setup Elaborate". The Indianapolis Star. May 31, 1965. p. 45. Retrieved March 21, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  28. ^ "180 new grandstands". The Indianapolis Star. May 31, 1965. p. 37. Retrieved March 21, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon

Works cited[edit]

1964 Indianapolis 500
A. J. Foyt
1965 Indianapolis 500
Jim Clark
1966 Indianapolis 500
Graham Hill
Preceded by
147.350 mph
(1964 Indianapolis 500)
Record for the fastest average speed
150.686 mph
Succeeded by