1978 Indianapolis 500

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
62nd Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyUSAC
Season1978 USAC Trail
DateMay 28, 1978
WinnerAl Unser, Sr.
Winning teamJim Hall/Chaparral
Average speed161.363 mph (259.689 km/h)
Pole positionTom Sneva
Pole speed202.156 mph (325.339 km/h)
Fastest qualifierTom Sneva
Rookie of the YearRick Mears & Larry Rice
Most laps ledAl Unser, Sr. (121)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemPurdue band
"Back Home Again in Indiana"Jim Nabors
Starting commandMary F. Hulman
Pace carChevrolet Corvette C3
Pace car driverJim Rathmann
StarterPat Vidan[1]
Estimated attendance325,000[2]
TV in the United States
AnnouncersJim McKay and Jackie Stewart
Nielsen ratings13.4 / 26
Previous Next
1977 1979

The 62nd 500 Mile International Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana on Sunday, May 28, 1978. Danny Ongais dominated the early stages of the race but eventually dropped out with a blown engine. Al Unser Sr. dominated the second half, and held a large lead late in the race. However, Unser bent the front wing of his Lola during a pit stop on lap 180, causing his handling to go away over the final twenty laps. Second place Tom Sneva charged to catch Unser's crippled Lola but came up 8 seconds short at the finish line – the second-closest finish in Indy history to that point. Unser held off the challenge, and became a three-time winner of the 500. It was Al Unser's third Indy victory in the decade of the 1970s, and the fifth of nine overall victories by the Unser family.

Al Unser Sr. entered the month having won the 1977 California 500 at Ontario the previous September. Later in the 1978 season, Unser would go on to win the Pocono 500 and the California 500, sweeping the "triple crown" of Indy car racing. As of 2019 he is the only driver in history to do so in the same season, and coupled with the win at Ontario in 1977, set a record by winning four straight 500-mile Indy car races.

Second year driver Janet Guthrie finished ninth, and it was later revealed she drove with a broken wrist.[3] It was the highest finish for a female driver in Indy history until Danica Patrick finished in fourth place in 2005. During time trials, Tom Sneva, who had broken the 200 mph (320 km/h) barrier a year earlier, bettered his own record. This time he managed to complete all four qualifying laps over 200 mph (320 km/h), setting once again new one and four lap records.

Tony Hulman, the popular owner and president of the track since 1945, died the previous October. His widow Mary F. Hulman was named the chairperson of the board of the Speedway, and for the first time she delivered the famous starting command. Along with the death of Tony Hulman, the race was held just five weeks after eight USAC officials were killed in a plane crash. With dissent increasing among the participants about organizational issues and poor revenue, the 1978 race would be the final Indy 500 contested prior to the formation of CART and prior to the first open wheel "split."

Al Unser's victory was the first Indy triumph for the Cosworth DFX V8 engine. The British-based engine building company would go on to win the Indianapolis 500 for ten consecutive years.

Race schedule[edit]

Race schedule – May, 1978
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Time Trials
Time Trials
Time Trials
Time Trials
Carb Day
Indy 500
Memorial Day
Color Notes
Green Practice
Dark Blue Time trials
Silver Race day
Red Rained out*
Blank No track activity

* Includes days where track
activity was significantly
limited due to rain

Practice and time trials[edit]

On Wednesday May 10, Mario Andretti turned a practice lap of 201.838 mph (324.827 km/h), faster than the track record. Minutes later, Danny Ongais upped the best speed to 201.974 mph (325.046 km/h). On Thursday May 11, rookie Rick Mears (200.0 mph (321.9 km/h)) also joined the coveted "200 mph (320 km/h) club" in practice. Johnny Rutherford (199.2 mph (320.6 km/h)) and A. J. Foyt (199.158 mph (320.514 km/h)) were also within striking distance.

On Friday May 12, the final day of practice before pole qualifying was scheduled to be held, Mario Andretti shattered the unofficial track record, turning a lap of 203.482 mph (327.473 km/h). Also over 200 mph (320 km/h) were Mears, Rutherford, and Foyt. Tom Sneva, the driver who broke the 200 mph (320 km/h) barrier a year earlier, was the slowest of the three Penske cars, managing only a 196.3 mph (315.9 km/h) lap during practice.

The first weekend of time trials was scheduled for May 13–14. Rain washed out the entire first weekend, and pole qualifying was moved to Saturday May 20.

The rainout complicated the schedule for Mario Andretti. He was forced to leave the track and fly to Zolder for the Grand Prix of Belgium. Arrangements were being made for another driver to qualify the car for him, and he would return to the cockpit for race day. With no track activity possible at Indy for Sunday, A. J. Foyt flew to Talladega and finished third in the NASCAR Winston 500.

During the second week of practice, Pancho Carter and Tom Sneva joined the "200 mph (320 km/h) club." Sneva had a hand-timed lap of about 203.1 mph (326.9 km/h), inching closer to Andretti's mark from the previous week. Danny Ongais destroyed his primary car in a crash in turn four on Tuesday May 16. He was not seriously injured, but would have to qualify with his back-up car.

Pole Day – Saturday May 20[edit]

Tom Sneva won his second-consecutive pole position.

Pole day dawned with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s. Qualifying started promptly at 11:00 a.m., with Johnny Rutherford first out on the track. He fell short of the 200 mph (320 km/h) barrier on all four laps, and settled for an average of 197.098 mph (317.198 km/h).

At 12:03 p.m., Tom Sneva took to the track. Following in his own footsteps from the previous year, he set new all-time one and four lap track records. This time becoming the first driver in Indy history to complete all four qualifying laps over 200 mph (320 km/h).

  • Lap 1 – 44.20 seconds, 203.620 mph (327.695 km/h) (new 1-lap track record)
  • Lap 2 – 44.43 seconds, 202.566 mph (325.998 km/h)
  • Lap 3 – 44.60 seconds, 201.794 mph (324.756 km/h)
  • Lap 4 – 44.85 seconds, 200.669 mph (322.945 km/h)
  • Total – 2:58.08, 202.156 mph (325.339 km/h) (new 4-lap track record)

Due to changes in the rules in subsequent years, his one and four lap track records would stand until 1982. Sneva's four-lap average secured the pole position, his second pole in a row.

Sneva's Penske teammate, rookie Rick Mears, was the next car out. Mears completed three laps over 200 mph (320 km/h), and his four-lap average of 200.078 mph (321.994 km/h) was a rookie speed record, and would be good enough for the front row.

Janet Guthrie returned for her second start, and qualified strongly at 190.325 mph (306.298 km/h). At 12:39 p.m., Danny Ongais made it an "all 200 mph (320 km/h)" front row, securing second starting position at 200.122 mph (322.065 km/h).

After practicing over 200 mph (320 km/h), A. J. Foyt was forced to wave off his run, and missed his chance to qualify in the pole round. Mike Hiss was hired by Penske to drive substitute for Mario Andretti during time trials. He qualified the car with a respectable speed of 194.647 mph (313.254 km/h) (8th). However, on race day, Andretti would get back in the car, and he would be forced to line up in the 33rd starting position due to the driver switch.

Rain late in the day hampered the qualifying attempts. The trip through the original qualifying line exhausted at 5 p.m., and Tom Sneva officially secured the pole position. Several drivers including Bobby Unser, A. J. Foyt, and Pancho Carter, were unable to qualify during the pole round. At 5 p.m., the "third day" of time trials officially commenced, and those drivers would line up behind the cars from the pole round.

The day ended with the field filled to twenty cars. Bobby Unser finished his run as a "third day" qualifier in the rain. The track was closed for the day as soon as Unser returned to the pits at 5:11 p.m.

Bump Day – Sunday May 21[edit]

Jim Hurtubise drew controversy on Bump Day.

The final day of time trials opened with 13 spots unfilled. A. J. Foyt at 200.120 mph (322.062 km/h) was the fastest of the day. His speed was tied for second-fastest, but as a final day qualifier, he would line up 20th.

Roger Rager was the only major on-track incident of the day. On his second warm-up lap, he hit the outside wall in turn four, suffering an injured hand. He would miss the race. Larry Cannon brushed the wall on his second qualifying lap, and Dick Simon brushed the wall on the main stretch shaking down a car for Bill Puterbaugh. The car lost two wheels and it was too late in the day for the car to be repaired.

In the final hour, there was one spot left in the field when Bob Harkey was preparing to make his attempt. Jim Hurtubise, who had once again entered his now-infamous Mallard/Offy front-engined car, had been denied the permission to qualify, due to lack of speed. USAC had decided to set a 180 mph (290 km/h) minimum speed in order to pass "final" inspection, receive the appropriate sticker, and be allowed to make a qualifying attempt. They deemed Hurtubise ineligible, claiming he had not broken 175 mph (282 km/h),[4][5] despite some claiming he had lapped over 184 mph (296 km/h).[4] Hurtubise considered the ruling a personal harassment, lies, and an effort by USAC, Goodyear, and the Speedway to single him out and keep him from qualifying.[5] After being a popular fixture amongst the fans for many years, several episodes of antics had caused some to begin to view Hurtubise unfavorably.[6] Hurtubise got into a heated exchange with chief steward Tom Binford, then proceeded to climb into Harkey's car, shouting "If I can't qualify, no one can!"[6] After a few minutes, Hurtubise was coaxed out of the car, and Harkey climbed in to crank it up. With some encouragement from the crowd, Hurtubise then jumped in front of Harkey, preventing him from pulling out of the pits.[4] He had to be restrained by safety patrol members, and Harkey managed to pull away. While Harkey was on the backstretch of his warm-up lap,[5] Hurtubise jumped over the pit wall and ran out on the race track in order to disrupt and halt the qualifying attempt.[4] Running down the main stretch, several guards chased after him. Hurtubise was tackled by John Martin and was then detained by police.[4][6] By this time, the crowd's opinion had changed, and they began booing and jeering Hurtubise for going too far by disrupting qualifying. Hurtubise was banned from the track for the remainder of the month.[5]

Harkey managed to finish his qualifying attempt without incident, but his speed was not fast enough to stand. Within twenty minutes, Harkey was bumped by Joe Saldana. The day closed with Cliff Hucul bumping Graham McRae with two minutes left in the day.

After missing time trials, Mario Andretti won the Grand Prix of Belgium. He traveled back to Indianapolis during the week, and would be back in time for Carburetion Day "tests."

Starting lineup[edit]


Row Inside Middle Outside
1 1 United States Tom Sneva
Norton Spirit Special
Team Penske
Penske PC-6, Cosworth DFX
202.156 mph (325.339 km/h)
25 United States Danny Ongais
Interscope Racing Special
Ted Field
Parnelli, Cosworth DFX
200.122 mph (322.065 km/h)
71 United States Rick Mears  R 
CAM2 Motor Oil Special
Team Penske
Penske PC-6, Cosworth DFX
200.078 mph (321.994 km/h)
2 4 United States Johnny Rutherford  W 
1st National City Travelers Checks Special
Team McLaren
McLaren 77, Cosworth DFX
197.098 mph (317.198 km/h)
2 United States Al Unser  W 
1st National City Travelers Checks Special
Chaparral Racing
Lola 78, Cosworth DFX
196.474 mph (316.194 km/h)
20 United States Gordon Johncock  W 
North American Van Lines Special
Patrick Racing
Wildcat 78, DGS
195.833 mph (315.163 km/h)
3 6 United States Wally Dallenbach Sr.
Sugaripe Prune Special
Jerry O'Connell
McLaren 77, Cosworth DFX
195.228 mph (314.189 km/h)
16 United States Johnny Parsons
1st National City Travelers Checks Special
Lindsey Hopkins
Lightning, Offenhauser
194.280 mph (312.663 km/h)
80 United States Larry Dickson
Polak Construction/Sta-On Car Glaze Special
Russ Polak
Penske PC-5, Offenhauser
193.434 mph (311.302 km/h)
4 17 United States Dick Simon
La Machine Special
Rolla Vollstedt
Vollstedt, Offenhauser
192.967 mph (310.550 km/h)
11 United States Roger McCluskey
National Auto Engineering Special
Warner Hodgdon
Eagle 76, AMC
192.256 mph (309.406 km/h)
24 United States Sheldon Kinser
Thermo King Special
Ralph Wilke
Watson, Offenhauser
192.051 mph (309.076 km/h)
5 40 United States Steve Krisiloff
Foreman Industries Special
Patrick Racing
Wildcat, DGS
191.255 mph (307.795 km/h)
22 United States Tom Bagley  R 
Kent Oil Special
Ralph Wilke
Watson 77, Offenhauser
190.941 mph (307.290 km/h)
51 United States Janet Guthrie
Texaco Star Special
Janet Guthrie
Wildcat, DGS
190.325 mph (306.298 km/h)
6 2 United States Spike Gehlhausen
Hubler Chevrolet/WIRE Special
Carl Gehlhausen
Eagle 74, Offenhauser
190.325 mph (306.298 km/h)
39 United States John Mahler
Tibon Special
Carl Gehlhausen
Eagle, Offenhauser
189.723 mph (305.330 km/h)
43 United States Tom Bigelow
Armstrong Moulding Special
Sherman Armstrong
Wildcat 76, DGS
189.115 mph (304.351 km/h)
7 48 United States Bobby Unser  W 
ARCO Graphite Special
All American Racers
Eagle 78, Cosworth DFX
194.658 mph (313.272 km/h)
14 United States A. J. Foyt  W 
Gilmore/Citicorp Special
A. J. Foyt Enterprises
Coyote, Foyt V-8
200.122 mph (322.065 km/h)
8 United States Pancho Carter
Budweiser Special
Arizona Mechanics
Lightning, Offenhauser
196.829 mph (316.766 km/h)
8 77 United States Salt Walther
Dayton-Walther Special
George Walther
McLaren, Cosworth DFX
193.226 mph (310.967 km/h)
84 United States George Snider
Gilmore/Citicorp Special
A. J. Foyt Enterprises
Coyote, Foyt V-8
192.627 mph (310.003 km/h)
69 United States Joe Saldana  R 
Mr. Wize-Buys Carpet Special
Dynamics Inc.
Eagle 73, Offenhauser
190.809 mph (307.077 km/h)
9 78 United States Mike Mosley
Alex XLNT Foods Special
Alex Morales
Lightning, Offenhauser
188.719 mph (303.714 km/h)
26 United States Jim McElreath
Circle City Coal Special
Jim McElreath
Eagle 74, Offenhauser
188.058 mph (302.650 km/h)
29 Canada Cliff Hucul
Wendy's Hamburgers Special
McLaren, Offenhauser
187.803 mph (302.240 km/h)
10 88 United States Jerry Karl
Machinists Union Special
Frank Fiore
McLaren, Cosworth DFX
187.549 mph (301.831 km/h)
87 United States Phil Threshie  R 
Circle Chevy/Tutwiler Special
Phil Threshie
Lightning, Offenhauser
187.520 mph (301.784 km/h)
35 United States Larry Rice  R 
Bryant Heating/WIBC Special
Patrick Santello
Lightning, Offfenhauser
187.393 mph (301.580 km/h)
11 98 United States Gary Bettenhausen
Oberdorfer Special
Grant King
King 76, Offenhauser
187.324 mph (301.469 km/h)
30 United States Jerry Sneva
Smock Materials Special
Marv Schmidt
McLaren, Offenhauser
187.266 mph (301.375 km/h)
7 United States Mario Andretti  W 
Gould Charge Special
Team Penske
Penske PC-6, Cosworth DFX
194.329 mph (312.742 km/h)†
  Driver Mike Hiss qualified Mario's car for him while he was in Belgium winning the Belgian Grand Prix. After qualifying Mike Hiss stepped aside from the ride so Mario would race the car on race day. Because of the driver change USAC rules stated the entry must start at the rear of the field (33rd)


Failed to qualify[edit]

 R  = Indianapolis 500 rookie
 W  = Former Indianapolis 500 winner

Race summary[edit]

1978 was the first of ten consecutive Indy victories for the Cosworth DFX engine.


Race day dawned hot and humid, with temperatures in the high 80s (°F). After the death of Tony Hulman, the starting command was recited by his widow Mary F. Hulman. With Janet Guthrie in the field once again, the traditional command was again tweaked. This time command was worded "Lady and Gentlemen, start your engines!"

During the pace laps, Gary Bettenhausen pulled into the pits with mechanical trouble, and missed the start. At the green flag, Danny Ongais darted into the lead, with Tom Sneva falling in line behind him in second. Rick Mears suddenly faded and pulled to the outside, and was passed by several cars. Ongais completed the first lap at a record speed of 185.185 mph (298.026 km/h).

Sheldon Kinser stalled on the backstretch, and brought out the yellow light for three laps. Rick Mears ducked into the pits for an unscheduled stop. He had neglected to fasten his helmet strap properly, and nearly lost his helmet at the start of the race. He was able to properly fasten his helmet, and returned to the race.[10]

The green came back out on lap 5, with Ongais pulling out to a comfortable lead. Cliff Hucul went to pits, and was out of the race with a broken oil line.

First half[edit]

Mario Andretti quickly charged from last starting position to run as high as 13th in the early going. However, he was forced to pit to change a bad spark plug wire. He lost 8 laps, and was effectively out of contention for the rest of the day.

On lap 26, Spike Gehlhausen crashed exiting turn 2, and came to rest along the outside wall on the backstretch. Leader Danny Ongais was in the pits when the yellow came out, which gave the lead temporarily to Steve Krisiloff. However, under the yellow light condition, Krisiloff violated the PACER light rules, and was penalized one lap. That gave the lead to Tom Sneva. With Ongais in second right behind Sneva, the green light came back on down the backstretch on lap 31. Sneva led for barely a lap, and Ongais passed him for the lead the next time by.

Salt Walther dropped out with a bad clutch, and proceeded to rant his frustration of his chief mechanic Tommy Smith during a heated television interview. It was reported that Smith made a change to the throttling system the night before the race; while Walther's team worked on repairing the car, Smith reportedly left the track, having parted ways with the team.

Danny Ongais led 68 of the first 75 laps. The team reported that Ongais had lost his two-way radio, and was forced to communicate only by sign boards for the rest of the race.

Al Unser Sr. took the lead for the first time on lap 76. he held the lead at the halfway point. A. J. Foyt, who had charged near the front early on, started to fade, and after long pit stops, was laps down to the leaders. Janet Guthrie, on the other hand, was moving up into the top ten.

Second half[edit]

Rookie Rick Mears dropped out after 103 laps with a blown engine. By lap 120, thirteen cars were out of the race, with hot conditions contributing to the attrition.

Al Unser Sr. led, with Danny Ongais and Tom Sneva in the top three. Unser continued to hold a small lead over Ongais, with his crew's efficient and quick pit stops increasing the margin.

Suddenly on lap 145, second place Danny Ongais came into the pits with smoke pouring from the car. After having led 71 laps (nearly half the race up to that point), Ongais was out with a blown engine.


Al Unser Sr. led second place Tom Sneva by over 20 seconds. Those were the only two cars left on the lead lap. On lap 180, Unser came onto the pits for his final stop. Unser overshot his pit box by a few feet, and hit a spare tire with his front wing. The team decided not to change tires, and filled the car with fuel only. His stop was 17 seconds, his worst pit stop of the day.

One lap later, Tom Sneva pitted, taking fuel only. His pit stop, however, was not fast, and he did not immediately gain ground on Unser. With a 30-second lead, Unser had 19 laps to victory. However, his front wing was damaged from hitting the tire, and Unser's handling was starting to go away. Sneva began cutting away at his lead, by about a second per lap.

With three laps to go, Sneva had cut the lead to 14 seconds. Then with one lap to go, it was down to 10 seconds. On the final lap, third place Gordon Johncock slipped by Unser to get one of his laps back. Unser nursed the car around on the final lap, and won this third Indy 500. Second place for the second year in a row Tom Sneva finished 8.09 seconds behind, the second-closest finish in Indy history to that point.

Wally Dallenbach and A. J. Foyt both stalled on the course out of fuel, but both finished strongly, 5th and 7th, respectively. Janet Guthrie finished 9th, and revealed after the race that she drove with a fractured wrist. Two days before the race, she fell during a charity tennis match, suffering the injury.

Late in the race, the Patrick Racing Wildcats of Gordon Johncock and Steve Krisiloff were penalized one lap by stewards - Johncock for running over an air-hose, and Krisiloff for speeding too fast under caution. If the penalties had not happened, Johncock would have barely finished runner-up behind Al Unser, and Krisiloff would have still finished fourth, but would have been the only driver one lap down. George Bignotti announced his intentions to protest Johncock's penalty, claiming that officials overlooked Unser running over his air-hose, and did not treat both drivers equally. However, post-race footage showed that Unser, although coming very close, did not run over his air-hose, and the team declined to protest.


Box score[edit]

Finish Grid No Name Chassis Engine Laps Led Status Points
1 5 2 United States Al Unser  W  Lola 78 Cosworth DFX 200 121 Running 1000
2 1 1 United States Tom Sneva Penske PC-6 Cosworth DFX 200 3 Running 800
3 6 20 United States Gordon Johncock  W  Wildcat 78 DGS 199 0 Flagged 700
4 13 40 United States Steve Krisiloff Wildcat DGS 198 5 Flagged 600
5 7 6 United States Wally Dallenbach Sr. McLaren 77 Cosworth DFX 195 0 Out of fuel 500
6 19 48 United States Bobby Unser  W  Eagle 78 Cosworth DFX 195 0 Flagged 400
7 20 14 United States A. J. Foyt  W  Coyote Foyt V-8 191 0 Flagged 300
8 23 84 United States George Snider Coyote Foyt V-8 191 0 Flagged 250
9 15 51 United States Janet Guthrie Wildcat DGS 190 0 Flagged 0
10 8 16 United States Johnny Parsons Lightning Offenhauser 186 0 Flagged 150
11 30 35 United States Larry Rice  R  Lightning Offenhauser 186 0 Engine 100
12 33 7 United States Mario Andretti  W  Penske PC-6 Cosworth DFX 185 0 Flagged 50
13 4 4 United States Johnny Rutherford  W  McLaren 77 Cosworth DFX 180 0 Flagged 25
14 28 88 United States Jerry Karl McLaren Cosworth DFX 176 0 Flagged 25
15 24 69 United States Joe Saldana  R  Eagle 73 Offenhauser 173 0 Flagged 25
16 31 98 United States Gary Bettenhausen King 76 Offenhauser 147 0 Piston 25
17 25 78 United States Mike Mosley Lightning Offenhauser 146 0 Broken Gear 20
18 2 25 United States Danny Ongais Parnelli Cosworth DFX 145 71 Piston 20
19 10 17 United States Dick Simon Vollstedt Offenhauser 138 0 Wheel Bearing 20
20 26 26 United States Jim McElreath Eagle 74 Offenhauser 132 0 Engine 20
21 18 43 United States Tom Bigelow Wildcat 76 DGS 107 0 Connecting Rod 15
22 9 80 United States Larry Dickson Penske PC-5 Cosworth DFX 104 0 Oil Pressure 15
23 3 71 United States Rick Mears  R  Penske PC-6 Cosworth DFX 103 0 Engine 15
24 21 8 United States Pancho Carter Lightning Cosworth DFX 92 0 Exhaust Header 15
25 11 11 United States Roger McCluskey Eagle 76 AMC 82 0 Clutch 10
26 17 39 United States John Mahler Eagle Offenhauser 58 0 Timing gear 10
27 14 22 United States Tom Bagley  R  Watson 77 Offenhauser 25 0 Overheating 10
28 22 77 United States Salt Walther McLaren Cosworth DFX 24 0 Clutch 10
29 16 19 United States Spike Gehlhausen Eagle 74 Offenhauser 23 0 Crash T2 5
30 29 47 United States Phil Threshie  R  Lightning Offenhauser 22 0 Oil Pressure 5
31 32 30 United States Jerry Sneva McLaren Offenhauser 18 0 Rear End 5
32 12 24 United States Sheldon Kinser Watson Offenhauser 15 0 Oil Pressure 5
33 27 29 Canada Cliff Hucul McLaren Offenhauser 4 0 Oil Line 5

 R  = Indianapolis 500 rookie
 W  = Former Indianapolis 500 winner


Points standings after the race[edit]

Rank Driver Points Difference Position
1 Tom Sneva 1725 Leader +1
2 Gordon Johncock 1688 -37 0
3 Al Unser 1325 -400 +6
4 Steve Krisiloff 1150 -575 +1
5 A. J. Foyt 1078 -647 -1
6 Danny Ongais 1075 -650 -5
7 Wally Dallenbach 868 -857 -1
8 Bobby Unser 434 -1291 Outside top 20
9 Bobby Olivero 360 -1365 -2
9 Dick Simon 360 -1365 -1



The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Paul Page served as anchor for the second year despite what happened on December 1, 1977. On that day while he was doing a helicopter traffic report, Page was nearly killed in an accident, as the helicopter he was riding aboard crashed near Speedway Senior High School in Speedway, Indiana.[16] Page would fully recover to call the race. Lou Palmer reported from victory lane. Mike Hiss, who had served as a substitute driver for Mario Andretti during time trials, served as the "driver expert."

This would be the 31st and final year for Jim Shelton on the crew. After eleven previous appearances, Fred Agabashian also had departed from the crew.

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

Chief Announcer: Paul Page
Driver expert: Mike Hiss
Statistician: John DeCamp
Historian: Donald Davidson

Turn 1: Ron Carrell
Turn 2: Howdy Bell
Backstretch: Darl Wible
Turn 3: Doug Zink
Turn 4: Jim Shelton

Jerry Baker (north pits)
Chuck Marlowe (north-center pits)
Luke Walton (south-center pits)
Lou Palmer (south pits)
Bob Forbes (garages)


The race was carried in the United States on ABC Sports on a same-day tape delay basis. Billed as an "ABC Sports Exclusive", the race was introduced with the 1977 song African Symphony, written by Van McCoy, and performed by Saint Tropez.[17] Jim McKay anchored the broadcast.

The broadcast has re-aired on ESPN Classic since May 2011.

The full race broadcast has been available since May 10, 2018 on the official IndyCar Series Youtube channel.[18]

ABC Television
Booth Announcers Pit/garage reporters

Host: Chris Schenkel
Announcer: Jim McKay
Color: Jackie Stewart

Chris Economaki
Bill Flemming
Sam Posey



See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. ^ Miller, Robin (May 29, 1978). "Al Unser Captures 3rd '500'". The Indianapolis Star. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  3. ^ "Janet Proves Her Point". Milwaukee Sentinel. 1978-05-29. Archived from the original on 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  4. ^ a b c d e "'Herk' Can Always Make It Interesting". Times-Union. 1978-05-22. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  5. ^ a b c d "Jim Hurtubise has been Indy's 'Nice Guy' this year". The Madison Courier. 1979-05-18. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  6. ^ a b c Donald Davidson; Rick Shaffer (2006). Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500. MBI Publishing Company. p. 222.
  7. ^ "Race Results".
  8. ^ "1978 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes".
  9. ^ "Indianapolis Motor Speedway". Archived from the original on 2020-08-28. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  10. ^ Wittenmyer, Gordon (1989-05-28). "Mears Uses A Good Yawn For Fast Lap". Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2014-11-10. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  11. ^ "1978 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes".
  12. ^ "Race Results".
  13. ^ "Race Results".
  14. ^ "Race Results".
  15. ^ "Race Results".
  16. ^ "Wills, Steven, the Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, IN, Dec 2 1977, Pg 1". The Indianapolis Star. 2 December 1977. p. 1.
  17. ^ doctorindy (2013-01-03), 1978 Indianapolis 500 - FULL RACE "EXTENDED VERSION", retrieved 2017-07-01
  18. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "1978 Indianapolis 500". YouTube.

Works cited[edit]

1977 Indianapolis 500
A. J. Foyt
1978 Indianapolis 500
Al Unser
1979 Indianapolis 500
Rick Mears