As the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500 has lived up to its name during its 111-year history and provided fans with some of the most amazing moments in all of racing. Herewith is one writer’s list; they are not listed in any order, whether from good to best or chronologically. These are one fan’s subjectively memorable moments. What are yours?
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In 1963, my father (I am NOT going to any huge crowd) finally relented and took us to Indy for the Race. Parnelli Jones was P-1 for the start. First pole speed of over 150 mph. My dad had a friend who "ran the show" as I was told. Turned out to be Harlan Fengler, Chief Steward for USAC. Nice friend to have as the tickets arranged for us were on the start/finish line 26 rows up. We were right on top of the seldom used Pace Car Room. The seats gave us an incredible view of the main straight. The race began and everyone settled into their seats, temporarily. Only the drivers sit for the entire race, the crowd stands. We get a better view of the back of the heads in front of us. As the race settled into the end of the middle portion a crisis began to brew. A USAC observer reported an oil leak from the outboard oil tank on the 98 car. Parnelli was in trouble. While he continued to circle the track every 60 seconds his owner J C Agajanian (sp?) had been told of an impending D/Q for his boy and exploded. From our seats we knew something was up but we had no idea of what was to come. Agajanian was a very large man, Harlan Fengler was not. Harlan had been observing the race from his green wooden throne when the explosion arrived. He stood nose-to-belt-buckle with Agajanian and the two of them nearly ate each other. Harlan wore his trademark red Fedora and J C wore a white Stetson. Those hats were what alerted the crowd on the entire main strait of hell-to-pay for one of hat's wearer. Most arguments in sports are one-sided and each participant knows it. This one was becoming a blood match until one of Harlan's aids intervened to tell them the obvious. While these two were putting on a great show, Parnelli was riding around all by himself leaking oil until-the oil level finally reached the bottom of the crack and stopped leaking. Agajanian had accomplished his mission, as had Harlan. Harlan resumed his rightful position on his throne and Agajanian went back to his pit and waited for victory. I was hooked. I went back year after year and with the exception of school or military saw every race until 2015. Over the years I got to see some incredible people, cars, and events. What a ride it was.
Nothing against the Andrettis; I've watched them all race and admired them for their many positive attributes, but the names that are all over the Borg-Warner Trophy are Unser: Al Jr 2, Bobby 3, and Al Sr 4 times. And Penske; well, he owns the place in more ways than one.