1966 Indianapolis 500

The 50th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana on Monday, May 30, 1966. The official program cover for the race celebrated both the 50th running of the race, and sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of Indiana statehood.

Eleven of the 33 starters were eliminated in a first-lap accident right after receiving the green flag on the main stretch. There were only two injuries sustained in this accident. A. J. Foyt was injured, hurting his hand scaling the catch fence trying to escape the wreck scene and Mel Kenyon had his leather racing glove violently pulled off of his left hand which had been severely burned less than a year earlier at Langhorne, PA. The glove being pulled from Mel's hand caused the still healing skin grafts to be pulled from his hand, causing it to bleed. Mel quickly put his hand back in the glove so the USAC officials wouldn't see it and possible prevent him from re-starting the race. Only seven cars, the fewest finishers ever, were still running by the end of the race.

First-time starter Jackie Stewart led by over a lap late in the race in John Mecom's Lola -Ford.[3] However, inside ten laps to go, his oil pressure dropped too low due to a broken scavenge pump. Stewart parked the car, and walked back to the pits. Fellow rookie Graham Hill inherited the lead and led a total of 10 laps to win, the first rookie winner since 1927. Despite parking the car, Stewart was voted the rookie of the year over Hill.

Defending race winner Jim Clark spun twice during the race, and finished second. For the second year in a row, the Wood Brothers from the NASCAR Grand National circuit were invited to work pit stops, this time for Dan Gurney. However, the car dropped out of the race in the crash on the opening lap.[4]

Race schedule

Race schedule – April/May 1966
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Time Trials
Time Trials
Time Trials
Bump Day
Carb Day
Indy 500
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


Three-year veteran Johnny Rutherford was injured in a serious crash on April 3 at Eldora, and was forced to sit out the 1966 race.[5]

The Mecom Racing Team was scheduled to field drivers Walt Hansgen, Rodger Ward, and Jackie Stewart. However, Hansgen died from injuries suffered in a crash during a test session at Le Mans on April 3. Graham Hill was named as a late replacement, and his name was not even listed on the entry list in the official program.


Practice for the "Golden Anniversary 500" opened on Saturday April 30,[6] but cold temperatures and rainy weather for the first few days kept most cars off the track. Chuck Hulse (149.8 mph) was the fastest car over the first weekend.[7] On Monday May 2, Art Pollard became the first rookie to pass the 145 mph rookie test.[8] Jackie Stewart also passed his rookie test.

On Tuesday May 10, Mario Andretti turned a practice lap of 164.5 mph during practice, establishing himself as an early favorite for the pole position.[6] Among the others over the 160 mph mark were A. J. Foyt, George Snider, and Dan Gurney.

Rain washed out practice on Wednesday May 11.[9]

On Friday May 13, the final day of practice before time trials, Mario Andretti shattered the unofficial track record by more than 5 mph, running a lap of 167.411 mph. Rain hampered most of the day, but Andretti put together additional laps of 166 mph, and 164 mph. The next-fastest car was Jim Clark, whose best lap was 165.7 mph.[10]

Saturday May 14 – Pole Day time trials

Mario Andretti won the pole position with a four-lap track record of 165.889 mph. His best single lap was a record 166.328 mph.[11]

Chuck Rodee was killed in a crash. On his second warmup lap in turn one, Rodee backed into the outside wall, and he died of his injuries at the hospital.

A total of 18 cars completed qualifying runs on a chilly pole day.

Sunday May 15 – Second Day Time trials

After crashing on pole day, A. J. Foyt qualified at 161.355 mph, the fourth-fastest car in the field.

Saturday May 21 – Third Day Time trials

Unser brothers Bobby and Al qualified, with rookie Al (162.272 mph) leading the speeds for the day.[12] Bobby Grim qualified his turbo Offy front-engined roadster at 158.367 mph, the only such car in the field.

Sunday May 22 – Bump Day Time trials

Two drivers managed to bump their way into the field, Ronnie Duman and Larry Dickson.[13] Greg Weld wrecked two cars (one of which was a popular Granatelli-Novi), but was uninjured. Bobby Grim, the slowest qualifier, holds on to the make the field in his front-engined roadster.

Starting grid

Row Inside Middle Outside
1 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Jim Clark  W  United States George Snider
2 United States Parnelli Jones  W  United States Lloyd Ruby United States Gordon Johncock
3 United States Jim McElreath United States Chuck Hulse United States Don Branson
4 United States Jerry Grant United Kingdom Jackie Stewart  R  Canada Billy Foster
5 United States Rodger Ward  W  United States Johnny Boyd United Kingdom Graham Hill  R 
6 United States Gary Congdon  R  United States Mel Kenyon  R  United States A. J. Foyt  W 
7 United States Dan Gurney United States Joe Leonard United States Roger McCluskey
8 United States Jim Hurtubise United States Al Unser United States Cale Yarborough  R 
9 United States Carl Williams  R  United States Arnie Knepper United States Bud Tingelstad
10 United States Bobby Unser United States Eddie Johnson United States Al Miller
11 United States Bobby Grim United States Larry Dickson  R  United States Ronnie Duman
     Yellow indicates the driver was eliminated in the first lap accident.
     Tan indicated the driver was involved in the first lap accident, but was able to restart the race.

Race recap


As the field came down the main stretch for the start, Billy Foster was among those jockeying for position. As the green flag fell, he nearly touched wheels with Gordon Johncock and lost control.[14] He spun directly into the outside wall, just beyond the start/finish line, and triggered a huge pileup. Sixteen cars were involved, with debris and loose wheels bouncing all over the racing surface.

As the drivers instinctively scurried out of their machines to avoid possible flames (although no significant fires had broken out), A. J. Foyt became the only driver casualty of the incident. He injured his hand climbing over the catch fence on the outside of the track.[14] He was checked out at the infield hospital, and cleared to drive relief if needed. One spectator was hit by a wheel from the crash.

Of the sixteen cars, eleven were damaged beyond repair. The red flag came out, and after the cleanup, the race lined up for a restart with only 22 cars. The red flag delay was about 1 hour and 24 minutes.[14]

When the race was restarted, the field took several warm up laps, and restarted single file. The yellow light came back on almost immediately when Johnny Boyd crashed in turn 1 on the first green lap.


After the race, some confusion in the scoring led to a controversy, wherein second place Jim Clark's team thought they were the rightful winner.[15] Clark had spun on two separate occasions during the race, but did not make serious contact during either incident. He did not stall his engine either time, and was able to drive to the pits for the crew to inspect the car quickly both times. Clark's team contended that he did not lose a significant amount of track position, and estimated that they were still one lap ahead of Graham Hill at the finish.[16] The scoring pylon, which was manually controlled and unofficial, changed frequently and somewhat sporadically as the scoring was ironed out, much to the dismay of Clark's crew in particular, and much to the confusion of spectators. The unofficial results at the conclusion of the race showed Graham Hill winning by 41.13 seconds over Clark.

The morning after the race, USAC released the official results, and the standings were unchanged. Colin Chapman and Andy Granatelli, the entrants of Clark's Lotus team, declined to file an official protest. A possible explanation given was that the Lotus crew did not see Hill pass by Clark during the aftermath of the second spin.[17]

Race winner Graham Hill admitted to being "puzzled" and "surprised" to be the winner, while other unsatisfied competitors quipped that he had "never passed a car all day long."[18] The IMS Radio Network, which scored the race independently from the USAC officials, also came up with Hill as the first place car.[19] The apparent controversy died out quickly, and no official action was ever taken. Years later the subject is still mildly debated in racing circles.

A theory emerged that scorers accidentally omitted one lap from Jim Clark's official tally. Therefore, he was effectively placed behind Hill at the finish. The car of Al Unser was painted nearly identical to Clark's. The theory is that when Al Unser crashed out of the race on lap 161, scorers mistakenly thought it was Clark, and as Clark drove by in the immediate aftermath, they credited that lap to Unser by mistake.[19] Another version of the theory suggests an opposite situation - one of Unser's laps was erroneously credited to Clark's tally early on, and when the scoring serials were compiled and settled later in the race, the extra lap was correctly deleted.

Alongside the controversy between Hill and Clark, fourth place Gordon Johncock is also theorized by some observers to have actually been the rightful winner of the race. Johncock completed the 500 miles in less elapsed time than Hill, Clark, and third place Jim McElreath. However, Johncock had suffered minor damage during the first lap accident, and restarted the race in the pit lane due to the crew changing the nose cone. USAC officials did not score his first lap out of the pit lane, and he effectively ran all day carrying a one lap penalty to the field.[20]

Box score

Finish Start No Name Qual Rank Laps Led Status
1 15 24[21] United Kingdom Graham Hill  R  159.243 23 200 10 Running
2 2 19 United Kingdom Jim Clark  W  164.114 2 200 66 Running
3 7 3 United States Jim McElreath 160.908 9 200 0 Running
4 6 72 United States Gordon Johncock 161.059 8 200 0 Running
5 17 94 United States Mel Kenyon  R  158.555 32 198 0 Flagged
6 11 43 United Kingdom Jackie Stewart  R  159.972 14 190 40 Oil Pressure
7 29 54 United States Eddie Johnson 158.898 28 175 0 Stalled
8 28 11 United States Bobby Unser 159.109 27 171 0 Flagged
9 20 6 United States Joe Leonard 159.560 17 170 0 Stalled
10 10 88 United States Jerry Grant 160.335 13 167 0 Flagged
11 5 14 United States Lloyd Ruby 162.433 5 166 68 Cam Stud
12 23 18 United States Al Unser 162.372 6 161 0 Crash T4
13 21 8 United States Roger McCluskey 159.271 22 129 0 Oil Leak
14 4 98 United States Parnelli Jones  W  162.484 4 87 0 Wheel Bearing
15 13 26 United States Rodger Ward  W  159.468 19 74 0 Handling
16 25 77 United States Carl Williams  R  159.645 16 38 0 Valve
17 22 56 United States Jim Hurtubise 159.208 24 29 0 Oil line
18 1 1 United States Mario Andretti 165.849 1 27 16 Valve
19 3 82 United States George Snider 162.521 3 22 0 Crash T2
20 8 12 United States Chuck Hulse 160.844 10 22 0 Crash T2
21 27 22 United States Bud Tingelstad 159.144 26 16 0 Overheating
22 14 28 United States Johnny Boyd 159.384 21 5 0 Crash T1
23 9 4 United States Don Branson 160.385 12 0 0 Crash FS
24 12 27 Canada Billy Foster 159.490 18 0 0 Crash FS
25 16 53 United States Gary Congdon  R  158.688 29 0 0 Crash FS
26 18 2 United States A. J. Foyt  W  161.355 7 0 0 Crash FS
27 19 31 United States Dan Gurney 160.499 11 0 0 Crash FS
28 24 66 United States Cale Yarborough  R  159.794 15 0 0 Crash FS
29 26 37 United States Arnie Knepper 159.440 20 0 0 Crash FS
30 30 75 United States Al Miller 158.681 30 0 0 Crash FS
31 31 39 United States Bobby Grim 158.367 33 0 0 Crash FS
32 32 34 United States Larry Dickson  R  159.144 25 0 0 Crash FS
33 33 96 United States Ronnie Duman 158.646 31 0 0 Crash FS


Failed to qualify

Race statistics

Tire participation chart
Supplier No. of starters
Goodyear 16 
Firestone 17*
* – Denotes race winner



The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. Len Sutton joined the crew, serving as "driver expert," replacing Fred Agabashian. The network had gained sponsorship from Autolite, but Agabashian worked for Champion, and he considered it a conflict of interest, so he stepped aside.[24] He would eventually return to the network in 1973–77. At the conclusion of the race, Lou Palmer reported from victory lane. The broadcast was scheduled for four and a half hours (including a 30-minute pre-race), but the red flag delay at the start extended it.

The broadcast was carried on over 725 affiliates in all 50 states, and 850 stations worldwide including shortwave transmissions from New York and Los Angeles, and XEVIP in Mexico City. Through Armed Forces Network, the broadcast reached worldwide to locations including Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Saigon, Okinowa, Philippines, England, Spain, the Azores, Italy, France, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Pakistan, Morocco, Libya, Newfoundland, Iceland, Labrador, Greenland, and both the North and South poles. In the Indianapolis area, nearly every major radio station simulcast the broadcast. The race was heard by an estimated 100 million listeners.

Bill Frosh, who had reported from turn one for over a decade, left the on-air crew, working instead in production. Mike Ahern took over the prestigious turn one position. Newcomer Doug Zink took the backstretch location, while second-year member Ron Carrell moved to turn three.

The off-air, two-man serial scoring team of Bill Fleetemeyer and Bill Lamb[25] were commended for their contributions to the broadcast. During this era, the radio network crew typically facilitated its own team of unofficial serial scorers to track the progress of the race.[19] That allowed the scoring reports to be announced on-air faster than the official USAC scorekeepers could produce them from race control. Despite the controversy over the scoring between winner Graham Hill and second place Jim Clark, Fleetemeyer and Lamb also came up with Hill as the first place car.[19]

For 1967, the flagship station changed from WIBC to WTHI in Terre Haute. Guests in the booth during the red flag delay included Peter DePaolo, Cesar Romero, Johnnie Parsons, Wally Parks, Lucy Foyt, Phil Harris, General Howdy Wilcox, and Larry Bisceglia. During the race, guests that stopped by included Walt Arfons, Frank Borman, Al Bloemker, Louis Meyer, Mickey Thompson, J. C. Agajanian, and Duke Nalon. Senator Birch Bayh visited the booth, accompanied by Wyoming Senator Gale W. McGee and Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman.

As a gesture celebrating the network's 15th anniversary, as well as the 50th running of the 500, guests were presented with a commemorative gold filled Zippo lighter. One station, KXO in California, was noted and recognized as being one of the few original affiliates to carry the race all fifteen years since the network's inception.

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

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Driver expert: Len Sutton
Statistician: John DeCamp
Historian: Donald Davidson

Turn 1: Mike Ahern
Turn 2: Howdy Bell
Backstretch: Doug Zink
Turn 3: Ron Carrell
Turn 4: Jim Shelton

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


The race was shown live on MCA closed-circuit television in nearly 200 theaters across the United States. Charlie Brockman served as anchor. For the first time, the feed was transmitted internationally to Europe utilizing the "Early Bird" satellite.[26]

The race was carried in the United States on ABC's Wide World of Sports. The broadcast aired on Saturday June 4. Chris Schenkel anchored the telecast for the first time. Much of the video was culled from the live closed-circuit color telecast of the race.




  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. ^ Ullmann, Harrison (May 31, 1966). "Potpourri In Infield Stages Own Show". The Indianapolis Star. p. 11. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  3. ^ Kettlewell, p. 2192.
  4. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, August 6, 2005
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ a b "Andretti Nears 165 In Practice". Reading Eagle. 1966-05-11. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
  7. ^ Indianapolis Gets Off To Slow Start
  8. ^ Pollard Passes Rookie Test At 500 Track
  9. ^ Rain Curtails Indy Practice
  10. ^ Andretti Solid Choice To Win Indy Pole Slot
  11. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=e0c0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=vWUEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6936,3934989&dq=indianapolis+time+trials&hl=en
  12. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=gUc0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=vWUEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4447,5685519&dq=indianapolis+time+trials&hl=en
  13. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=QDgiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wqsFAAAAIBAJ&pg=671,2430308&dq=indianapolis+time+trials&hl=en
  14. ^ a b c Bissett, Mark. "Graham Hill's 'American Red Ball Spl' Lola T90 Ford: Indy Winner 1966…". primotipo.com. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  15. ^ "The Greatest 33: Jim Clark". History. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  16. ^ "Hill Official Winner". The Tuscaloosa News. 1966-05-31. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2012-05-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ a b c d "The Talk of Gasoline Alley," Network Indiana, May 11, 2006
  20. ^ Miller, Robin (May 20, 2016). "Indy's weird, wild, wonderful 1966". Racer.com. Archived from the original on September 23, 2016. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  21. ^ Popular Science, December 1966, Pg. 169, Perfect Circle advertisement regarding the May 30, 1966 Indianapolis 500 winners
  22. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
  23. ^ "1966 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  24. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley. August 7, 2004. 1070 WIBC-AM.
  25. ^ "Race Broadcast Spans The Globe". The Indianapolis Star. May 30, 1969. p. 36. Retrieved July 9, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  26. ^ "Closed-Circuit TV To Europe 1st Time". The Indianapolis Star. May 30, 1966. p. 31. Retrieved March 21, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.open access

Works cited

1965 Indianapolis 500
Jim Clark
1966 Indianapolis 500
Graham Hill
1967 Indianapolis 500
A. J. Foyt