Commentary

Indy 500 Field of the Century: Row 8

Updated: May 27, 2011, 12:26 PM ET
By Ed Hinton | ESPN.com

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Only one driver ever won the 500 while it was CART-dominated and again when it was IRL-dominated, so that earns him the inside of our eighth row. An ice-nerved Englishman's Englishman sits in the middle, with the great-great granddaddy of all Indy drivers on the outside.


Arie Luyendyk

22. Arie Luyendyk

Indy 500 starts: 17
Best finish (years): First (1990, 1997)
Laps led: 188

The dour Dutchman, who could crack up an audience with his deadpan one-liners, is the only driver to win this race both pre- and post-split. Three other times, his car fell out of the race while he was leading.

In 1990, running smartly while Emerson Fittipaldi was blistering the track -- and in the process blistering his tires -- Luyendyk led only 37 laps but won easily at the end for CART car owner Doug Shierson.

In '97, the second year of IRL dominion over Indy, he won despite a monumental mess-up by race officials. Caution lights came on with just more than a lap to go, but the pace car didn't come out, and next time by the start-finish line, Luyendyk and teammate Scott Goodyear were caught completely by surprise by the display of both white and green flags, signaling a one-lap dash to the finish.

"What the f--- are they doing?" Luyendyk yelled to his crew via radio, but his right foot never questioned the situation, holding the accelerator pedal to the floor until he took the checkered flag.



Graham Hill

23. Graham Hill

Indy 500 starts: Three
Best finish (years): First (1966)
Laps led: 10

Say he won but once, and that one by attrition, but quickly add this about the Englishman's Englishman. He typified the spirit of Indy in multiple facets: the international spirit of the race's heyday as the Olympus of world motor racing, the spirit of adaptability and the spirit of technical evolution.

Formula One drivers to this day consider racing on a high-speed oval with concrete walls, especially Indy, simply madness. Arriving as a rookie in 1966 with an F1 world championship already under his belt, Hill adapted quickly.

After a fellow Briton, the "Wee Scot" Jackie Stewart, fell out of the race, Hill was in position to take the win for the ongoing "British invasion" of Indy.

That was the second straight Indy victory by a rear-mounted Ford engine, this one in a Lola chassis, coming on the heels of the '65 win by Scotsman Jim Clark in a Lotus. That one-two punch forever ended the domination of the grand old race by front-engine roadsters. Since Hill's win, only rear-engine cars have won.

And no one ever placed an Indy 500 win as a jewel in a more elaborate crown. Hill remains the only driver to win the 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Grand Prix of Monaco and an F1 world championship.



Ray Harroun

24. Ray Harroun

Indy 500 starts: One
Best finish (years): First (1911)
Laps led: 88

He was one-and-done, but there's much to be said for pioneering. In May 1911, nobody really knew what it would take to go 500 miles.

Engineer Ray Harroun knew what it wouldn't take: a riding mechanic, as many drivers used at the time. Rather than have someone aboard who mainly watched the rear, Harroun fitted his single-seater Marmon Wasp with a newfangled gadget he'd seen on the streets of Chicago, called a rearview mirror.

He was already a veteran racer by the inaugural 500. Indeed, as an employee of the Indianapolis-based Marmon Co., Harroun already had won seven shorter races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909 and 1910, while track owner Carl Fisher was still conceiving the world's first 500-mile race.

Harroun's racing career can be traced back to 1903, the year the Wright Brothers first flew an airplane. He participated in record-setting overland endurance runs from Chicago to New York in '03 and '04 and was participating in AAA-sanctioned races by '05. He also dabbled at measured-mile runs on Daytona Beach long before he got to Indy.

Ed Hinton is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at edward.t.hinton@espn.com.