100th INDIANAPOLIS 500 COUNtDOWN
For most of its first 43 runnings, a good
Indy 500 consisted of having two drivers on
the lead lap at the end. And if they were
anything less than 30sec apart, that was
considered a close finish. But Jim Rathmann
and Rodger Ward changed all that in 1960.
Driving identical Watson roadsters, they
pushed each other for the better part of
three and a half hours, swapping the lead
14 times in the final 100 laps, enthralling a
crowd used to seeing dominant winners.
This race was a different animal from
the start as the fans were treated to a
five-car donnybrook, with Eddie Sachs,
Troy Ruttman and Johnny Thomson all
A DUEL FOR THE AGES
taking turns trying to out-muscle the two
protagonists at the front and.
A record 29 lead changes were
recorded, but by the halfway point it was
a private duel between the three-time
Indy bridesmaid and ’ 59 winner Ward.
In the last 50 miles they passed each
other 10 times, then traded the top spot
four times in the final 11 laps. Ward
snatched the lead on Lap 194, but slowed
after seeing how worn his right-front tire
had become. On Lap 197, Rathmann
swooped past by turning the fastest lap
of the race (146.1mph) and beating Ward
to the checkered flag by 12sec.
The only sure thing in choosing the
top-five Indianapolis 500-Mile Races
is that nobody will agree with all of
the choices. With 99 to pick from,
what’s left out is as hard a choice as
what goes in. RACER ’s Robin Miller
isn’t afraid to make the tough calls,
so here are his five of the best.
No 1982 ultra-close finish? No
2006 cliff-hanger? No Foyt win?
Nope. But Miller’s sticking with his
choices, and he’s certainly chosen five
classics – whether you agree or not...
WoRds Robin Miller
(TOP) Rathmann drinks the spoils of victory
after his intense battle with Rodger Ward
(ABOVE, Rathmann ahead of Ward).
44th Indianapolis 500
Eddie Sachs, 146.592mph
Jim Rathmann, 138.767mph
Second: Rodger Ward
Winning margin: 12.67sec
Lead changes: 29 among 5 drivers