|Most recent news is at bottom of page.
2018 Concept Car
Apr 1 - Here are a couple of artist
renderings of what the new IndyCar
may look like next year.
It seems to be getting positive reviews
from fans who think it looks good.
The 2017 Camaro is the only convertible in the segment
to offer all of the following:
• Fully automatic operation with latches that automatically
release and secure the top
• Capability of opening or closing at speeds up to 30 mph
• Remote opening with the key fob
• A hard tonneau cover that deploys automatically,
providing a more refined, finished appearance when the
top is lowered and stowed.
500 Festival Event Cars Announced
Apr 3 - 101 identical 2017 Camaro SS convertibles were
staged for delivery on the main straightaway of IMS.
The 500 Festival car presentation ceremony included 50
Camaros to IMS and 51 Camaros to the Indianapolis
-area Chevrolet dealers. The 500 Festival Camaro SS's
presented to the dealers will be available for immediate
This year's 500 Festival cars are based off the 2017
Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible and are powered by
the LT1 6.2L V-8, which offers 455 horsepower and
455 lb.-ft. of torque - making it the most powerful
Camaro SS ever.
Like the Camaro coupe, the convertible benefits from a
stiffer, lighter structure that helps reduce total vehicle
weight by at least 200 pounds compared to the model it
replaces. Consequently, the Camaro convertible retains
the coupe's sharp chassis tuning and nimble reflexes.
The 2017 Festival Camaros feature a Summit White
exterior, blue center stripe, black convertible top and
Adrenaline Red leather interior. The Festival Camaros
carry the unique production option code designation
(Z4Z) that signifies Indianapolis 500 Festival-only option
content. Included in the (Z4Z) package is a body-length
blue stripe with a watermark Indianapolis Motor
Speedway Wing and Wheel logo, red fender hash marks,
gloss black lower front splitter, special SS grille with red
accents and black Chevrolet bowtie emblems. The 101st
Running of the Indianapolis 500 event logo adorns the
doors, and a special rocker stripe completes the package.
Said Bob Bryant, 500 Festival president and CEO: "Over
the coming weeks, the 500 Festival's board members will
log thousands of miles in the Festival cars. From taking
part in various community outreach programs throughout
the state to transporting the 33 starting drivers of the
Indianapolis 500 in the IPL 500 Festival Parade, these
vehicles will play a role in our events that draw in excess
of half a million people annually."
Long Beach - PRACTICE Highlights
Apr 7 - Scott Dixon led the opening practice session
today for the Grand Prix of Long Beach as the IndyCar
Series hit the 1.968-mile street circuit. All 21 drivers got
their first taste of race weekend action in nearly a month.
The 45-minute session featured a few missteps where
drivers explored corner runoffs or scraped the concrete
retaining walls (Kanaan), but no drivers sustained
significant damage and no red flags flew during the 45-
After the session, Simon Pagenaud noted some of the
track changes that occurred on the circuit over the winter,
“They repaved the back stretch and Turn 8,” Pagenaud
said, “so it definitely changed the exit of the corner. It
used to be bumpy, now its super smooth, really grippy,
so the approach to Turn 8 is very different.”
Will Power grabbed the top spot in the second practice
as drivers sampled the softer-compound Firestone tires
they’ll use in qualifying.
Tony Kanaan caused a red flag when he stalled down
the Turn 1 escape road, but rebounded to finish 13th.
Scott Dixon was fastest in the third practice session,
which was held today. He commented about the 21-car
field, "As you look at the results, man, it’s super tight,”
he said, noting that the top six cars in the session were
within less than a tenth of a second. “The competition is
through the roof. Between the teams, the caliber of the
drivers at the pointy end of the field is just insane.”
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe
appeared set to lead today’s practice on the 11-turn
street circuit, but wound up fourth in the No. 5 Honda
and finished the session parked in a track runoff with
apparent gearbox problems.
The day got off to a less than ideal start for Sebastien
Bourdais, winner of the season-opening Firestone Grand
Prix and current points leader. The Dale Coyne Racing
driver found the Turn 3 tire barrier with the No. 18
Honda just moments into the session, bringing out a red
flag. The car sustained light damage to the front wing and
Bourdais recovered to post the ninth quickest lap of the
session at 1:07.3428.
Tony Kanaan’s No. 10 Honda spent most of the session
in the paddock area with the Chip Ganassi Racing crew
feverishly attending to electrical issues. The 2004 series
champion got on track with just five minutes remaining,
logging a fastest lap of 1:07.9815, 15th best overall
|Combined Practice Sessions 1,2 & 3
AJ Foyt Will Run 3 Cars At Indy
Apr 8 - He may be only 22, but Zach Veach said he’s had
a dream for 18 years to race in the Indianapolis 500. The
Buckeye will get his chance this May.
AJ Foyt Racing announced today that Veach will drive the
No. 40 Chevrolet in this year’s 101st Running of the
Indianapolis 500. His sponsor is Indy Women in Tech,
who is also title sponsor of the LPGA golf tournament
scheduled for September at Brickyard Crossing Golf
The race will mark the IndyCar Series debut for Veach,
who has been working to move up from Indy Lights,
where he won six races over three seasons.
Previous Winner: Simon Pagenaud
Previous Pole Sitter: Helio Castroneves
Track Record: Helio Castroneves - 1:06.6294
set in 2015 qualifying.
Long Beach QUALIFYING
Apr 8 - Helio Castroneves locked down his third
consecutive pole position on the streets of Long Beach.
He also set a new track record lap of 1 minute, 6.2254
seconds (106.980 mph) in the final round of qualifying
today, besting the previous record that he set in 2015.
Eleven of the 12 drivers in Segment 2 of today’s
qualifying posted laps quicker than Castroneves’ 2015
pole time. Highlighting the parity of the IndyCar Series,
five teams were featured in the final qualifying session of
Noticeably absent from the Fast Six were Team Penske
teammates, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.
Power was eliminated in Segment 2 with a time of 1:
06.6145 and will start ninth on Sunday.
Pagenaud will start from the rear of the field following a
qualifying interference penalty in Segment 1, nullifying
what would have been a track record lap. He was
penalized for impeding Castroneves on a flying lap. It cost
the Frenchman his two fastest laps and automatically
eliminated him from advancing.
F1 Chinese Qualifying
Apr 8 - Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth successive pole
position on Saturday, as he pulled out all the stops to top
qualifying for the 2017 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix,
after Ferrari had led the first two phases of the session. It
was another close fight between Mercedes and the
Scuderia, with Sebastian Vettel splitting the silver cars,
only a tenth off Hamilton and just a thousandth of a
second ahead of Valtteri Bottas in third.
At the other end of the grid, Red Bull’s Max
Verstappen will start from the back row.
Vettel yet again stamped Ferrari’s authority on Q1, taking
away Hamilton’s top spot. Raikkonen was third, just
ahead of Bottas. Interestingly, where everyone else opted
for supersoft tires, the Ferrari drivers used softs… Also
outstanding were Lance Stroll, who lapped his Williams
fifth fastest, and Fernando Alonso who found 10th for
McLaren by driving with no regard for spinning.
The unluckiest man appeared to be Romain Grosjean.
He was completing a second lap when he spun his Haas
exiting the final corner. He ruined his tires and sustained
a puncture, but was fortunate enough to limp home and
improve to take 17th slot behind Stoffel Vandoorne for
However, Pascal Wehrlein stand-in Antonio Giovinazzi
spun and heavily damaged his Sauber against the wall.
But he was in P15 at the time, and his indiscretion
prevented anyone behind from beating him. Thus the
really unlucky one was Verstappen who was struggling
with an engine software problem and could only do 1m
35.433s in his RB12, which left him 19th behind a
troubled Jolyon Palmer in his Renault, and just ahead of
an equally unhappy Esteban Ocon in his Force India.
There was a delay of 10 minutes as walls were repaired.
And it was announced that both Grosjean and Palmer
were under investigation for ignoring yellow flags.
Vettel was again fastest in Q2, followed by Hamilton,
Bottas and Raikkonen.
Hamilton snatched his 63rd pole in Q3, but the Mercedes
team lost P2 to Vettel's Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes – 1:31.678
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +0.186
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.187
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.462
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +1.355
Felipe Massa Williams +1.829
Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1.902
Sergio Perez Force India +2.028
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +2.041
Lance Stroll Williams +2.542
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari – 1:32.181
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +0.210
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.225
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.371
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +1.365
Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1.455
Felipe Massa Williams +1.578
Sergio Perez Force India +1.739
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +1.853
Lance Stroll Williams +1.909
Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso +1.969
Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.983
Fernando Alonso McLaren +2.191
Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2.865
Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber – no time
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari – 1:33.078
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.255
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.263
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.606
Lance Stroll Williams +0.908
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +0.963
Felipe Massa Williams +1.127
Daniil Kvayt Toro Rosso +1.362
Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1.375
Fernando Alonso McLaren +1.421
Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso +1.489
Sergio Perez Force India +1.579
Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1.814
Kevin Magnussen Haas +1.864
Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber +1.885
Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren +1.945
Romain Grosjean Haas +2.145
Jolyon Palmer Renault +2.201
Max Verstappen Red Bull +2.355
Esteban Ocon Force India +2.418
2017 F1 Chinese Grand Prix
Apr 9 - After rain washed out some of the first practice
and all of the second, some drivers were hoping for rain
on race day - drivers like Fernando Alonso who was
down on power to the big three teams. But race day
dawned with a wet track, but no rain in the forecast. All
but one driver began with intermediate tires.
On the first lap Daniel Ricciardo passed Kimi
Raikkonen for p4. Meanwhile, his teammate Max
Verstappen, who started in p16, passed 9 cars on the
first lap in his Renault-powered Red Bull.
Lance Stroll got hit by Sergio Perez in his Force India,
knocking Stroll into the gravel trap and ending his race.
The virtual safety car was out on lap 2 so they could
remove Stroll's Williams from the course. Several
drivers decided to pit for softer tires.
When the track went green on lap 4, Antonio
Giovinazzi lost control of his Sauber and hit the wall.
The car suffered massive damage. Giovinazzi wrecked
his other car yesterday! Boy, Sauber is not going to like
him! He is filling in for Pascal Wehrlein who has been
out this year with neck and back injuries suffered while
competing in January's Race of Champions.
The race resumed on lap 8 with the leaders in this order:
Hamilton, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel and
Alonso. Yes, Fernando Alonso was in 6th!
Verstappen immediately passed Raikkonen and then
Vettel moved in on the Ferrari.
Gabby Chavez Lands Indy 500 Ride
with New Team
Apr 11 - Two Indianapolis businessmen, Mike Harding
of Harding Group and Dennis Reinbold of Dreyer &
Reinbold Racing, have formed a technical alliance for the
Indianapolis 500 and will field an entry for driver Gabby
The Harding Group has been an instrumental partner with
IMS in paving projects and client hospitality. For the first
time this May, the company will field a car in the
Indianapolis 500 with the formation of Harding Racing
Chaves will drive the No. 88 Harding Racing Chevrolet.
The 23-year-old is the 2014 Indy Lights champion,
including a win in the Freedom 100 on the IMS oval,
and is a veteran of 23 IndyCar Series starts.
Mike Harding is the race team’s owner. Larry Curry, a
fixture running Indy car racing programs for years, is the
team manager and competition director. The team plans
to attend Wednesday’s open test at Texas Motor
Speedway for Chaves to complete an oval refresher test
and turn valuable practice laps for the first time in
Chaves will also benefit from the experience of two-time
Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr., who is serving as the
team’s driving instructor. Matt Curry, Larry’s son who
worked last season for AJ Foyt Racing and was an
engineer on Tony Kanaan’s Indy 500-winning effort in
2013 with KV Racing Technology, will be the lead
On lap 10, Carlos Sainz, Jr. got around Alonso while
setting the fastest lap so far.
By lap 22, Verstappen had moved up to 2nd. Then
Sebastian Vettel performed a great pass on Ricciardo,
banging their wheels in the process.
Verstappen started having tire problems and resume in
6th place after pitting for new super soft tires.
Poor Alonso, after magically keeping his piece of shit
Honda McLaren in the top 10, the car failed him on lap
33 and he was out of the race.
Kevin Magnussen, who joined the American team -
Haas Racing this year, passed Sergio Perez' Force India
on lap 49, taking 8th place. Magnussen's team-mate,
Romain Grosjean moved into 11th on lap 50.
Soon, young Verstappen was behind Grosjean with his
Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo right on his ass.
Verstappen started whining on the radio asking for race
control to show the passing flag to Grojean so he could
get by. He didn't like the turbulence coming off the car.
But Grojean was 2 seconds ahead of him and lap after
lap, he could not get any closer, yet he persisted on
whining. Luckily for him, Ricciardo never got by him
and he was 3rd on the podium behind Vettel and
Hamilton - who held the lead from the start to the finish.
Long Beach Grand Prix
Apr 10 - Having arguably the car to beat at the season-
opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg four weeks ago,
James Hinchcliffe ensured victory would not slip away
again at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The seventh-year IndyCar Series veteran turned in a
stellar performance on the 1.968-mile temporary street
course to collect his fifth career victory.
Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson
Motorsports Honda, started from the outside of Row 2
and assumed the lead on Lap 63 by going one lap longer
on track before pitting than Andretti Autosport rivals
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi . From there,
Hinchcliffe outlasted pressure from Hunter-Reay, Rossi
and St. Pete winner Sebastien Bourdais to earn his first
Indy car win in over two years.
Hinchcliffe fended off Bourdais, driving the Dale Coyne
Racing No. 18 Honda, by a final margin of 1.5 seconds
for his first win since NOLA Motorsports Park in April
2015. It is the first win for SPM at Long Beach.
Team Penske’s newest driver, Josef Newgarden,
finished third, followed by Ganassi driver Scott Dixon.
Simon Pagenaud fought from 21st and last starting
position to wind up fifth!
With the result, the “Mayor of Hinchtown” climbed from
ninth to second in the points fight following two of 17
races. Bourdais leads Hinchcliffe by 19 points, having
collected first- and second-place honors in the first two
“We were not really, really quick,” admitted Bourdais, a
three-time winner at Long Beach, “but we played off
strategy and saved a bunch of fuel, still kind of
maintained a half-decent pace. It was looking pretty
Michael Andretti's team had a terrible day with car
problems taking out all four of his drivers, the last being
Ryan Hunter-Reay who lead 28 laps and was in 2nd
place six laps from the finish when his car quit.
Andretti Adds 5th Car for Indy 500
Apr 10 - Jack Harvey was named today by Andretti
Autosport to drive its No. 50 Honda in a partnership with
longtime team sponsor AutoNation. Harvey, winner of
2015 Indy Lights races on both the IMS road course and
oval, will make his IndyCar Series debut as the fifth
Andretti Autosport Indy 500 entry.
Harvey, who turns 24 on April 15, finished second in the
Indy Lights championship in both 2014 and ’15, winning
a total of six races. Michael Andretti believes he’ll be
competitive in the fifth team entry. Andretti also pointed
out that it was his rookie driver, Alexander Rossi, who
won last year’s historic 100th Indy 500.
“He hasn't driven an Indy car, but he's won in Indy
Lights, he's won the Freedom 100,” Andretti said of
Harvey. “We know what Indy Lights are all about, we
know what it takes to win those races. If you can win
there, you can be competitive in the big cars.
Harvey has been chasing a IndyCar ride since finishing
second to Spencer Pigot for the 2015 Indy Lights
championship. He lost the 2014 crown to Gabby Chaves
on a tiebreaker. He twice tested an Indy car for Schmidt
Peterson Motorsports, for whom he drove in Indy Lights,
but couldn’t put the pieces in place for a IndyCar
opportunity until now.
Alonso Racing in 2017 INDY 500!
Apr 12 - McLaren announced today that Fernando
Alonso, Formula One’s two-time champion will compete
in the Indy 500 next month. This will require him to skip
F1's most valued race - the Monaco grand prix, as it takes
place each year on the same day as the Indy 500.
Alonso became the youngest champion in F1 history in
2005 at age 24 and backed it up with another title the
following year. In the years since, he has repeatedly
joined teams having poor performance. None the less,
many F1 fans consider him the greatest active driver on
Alonso will drive for Andretti Autosport, which has won
four Indy 500s, including last year’s race with Alexander
Rossi at the wheel of the Honda-powered Dallara. Honda
also powers Alonso’s car on McLaren’s grand prix team.
The addition of the Alonso entry brings to six the number
of cars Andretti Autosport has entered in this year’s 500.
He will also attend the IndyCar race at Alabama on April
23 to get closer to the Andretti Autosport team, and better
understand the cars and series.
Alonso strives to win the 500 as F1 champion Graham
Hill did as a rookie in 1966. Jack Brabham, Jim Clark,
Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Nelson Piquet also
drove in the 500 as one-time world champions, while
Alberto Ascari, Jackie Stewart, Jochen Rindt and Jacques
Villeneuve won F1 titles after competing in the 500.
Alonso's F1 team, McLaren, used to race at Indy back in
the 70s. Team Penske won their first Indy 500 in 1971,
with driver Mark Donohue driving a McLaren. The
McLaren factory works team won the 500 in '74 and '76
with driver Johnny Rutherford. Alonso's car will be
painted in the same color - papaya orange.
Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti has a link to
McLaren, too. He raced for the F1 team in 1993 along
side Ayrton Senna.
Alonso has never raced an Indy car before or driven on a
superspeedway, but Andretti thinks the talented 35-year-
old driver can overcome that inexperience with the
amount of track time afforded competitors in May.
Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns
IMS and the IndyCar Series, credited Alonso, Andretti
and Zak Brown, the executive director of McLaren
Technology Group, for assembling the deal. Brown
called Alonso “the best racing driver in the world.”
|Alonso's 2017 Formula 1 McLaren
|Rutherford's 1974 McLaren IndyCar
Grand Marshal Careers in Jeopardy?
Apr 12 - How cool is this? I love robots and I'd love to see
Asimo in action. He's acting as grand marshall at the
Honda Grand Prix of Alabama this month.
I hope they bring him to other IndyCar races.
Robotic spacecraft have been exploring the solar system
for decades. We have robot planes and missiles.
Soon, we will be driven around in robotic cars.
Meanwhile, as engineers try to add more electronis to cars
so that they can take tasks away from drivers, racing
organizations strive to keep the control in the hands made
of flesh, not plastic.
Zach Veach Racing at Barber
Apr 19 - Zach Veach, a six-time race winner in Indy
Lights competition, will make his IndyCar Series debut
this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park as a
substitute driver for injured JR Hildebrand.
A bone in Hildebrand’s left hand was broken April 9 in
a final-lap incident during the Grand Prix of Long
Beach. Surgery was performed April 11 on the hand
and Hildebrand continues to mend.
Hildebrand said he still plans to attend the Barber race
to assist Veach and the team from the pits. The 29-
year-old Californian, who had 13th- and 11th-place
finishes in the first two races of the season, hopes to
return to competition in Phoenix April 29th.
Veach has already been confirmed to drive in this year’s
Indianapolis 500 for AJ Foyt Racing.
“My heart goes out to (Hildebrand) as I suffered a
broken hand a couple years ago and I wouldn't wish
that upon anyone,” Veach said. “This isn't how any
driver wants to get his first race, but with that said,
I'm extremely thankful for the opportunity to sub for
“Ed Carpenter gave me my first chance to test an Indy
car a few months ago. It’s going to be very special for
me to be back in that same car representing Fuzzy's
Vodka at Barber,” continued Veach. “It's going to be a
lot to take in in a short amount of time, but I'm really
excited to do the best I can for the team, as well as JR.”
Veach’s teammate this weekend is Spencer Pigot, the
2015 Indy Lights champion. He has not competed in a
IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park. Veach did
win at Barber in Indy Lights in 2014. Pigot returned the
following year to sweep the Indy Lights doubleheader
on the 2.3-mile permanent road course.
High-tech Wireless Antennaes Installed
Apr 26 - Verizon is spending millions to install five
giant balls at IMS to help enable race fans to play on
their cell phones during race weekend.
They call these devices matsing balls. They are made
of 36 to 60 antennas, so they vary in size. They will
be placed around the track based on concentrations of
people on race day.
These devices will be a permanent installation at IMS.
Verizon officials expect the new technology to increase
capacity of their existing wireless system at the track by
200 percent and coverage by more than 300 percent.
This represents the largest installation of matsing ball
technology in the United States and the first in Indiana.
USAC Champion Joe Leonard Dies at 84
Apr 27 - Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Joe Leonard,
the 1968 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, a two-time USAC
National Champion and one of the great motorcycle racers
of all time, passed away Thursday, April 27. He was 84.
The longtime San Jose, California, resident, who had been
in ill health for some time, had nine consecutive starts in
the Indianapolis 500 between 1965 and 1973, leading the
field for 52 laps and finishing third in both 1967 and 1972.
Leonard won six USAC National Championship races
during his career, including three at Milwaukee and one at
Michigan International Speedway, plus the second running
of the Ontario (California) 500 in 1971 and the second
running of the Pocono (Pennsylvania) 500 in 1972.
After suffering crippling leg and ankle injuries at Ontario in
the spring of 1974 and being unable to pass the physical
for a planned comeback the following year, he hung up his
helmet for good.
Before ever turning to four wheels, Leonard was one of
the most successful riders ever in AMA (American
Motorcyclist Association) competition, winning 27
"national" events, including the Daytona 200 on two
occasions when it was still conducted over the old
For the first several decades of its existence, AMA would
declare a variety of different champions each year,
typically based on the outcome of certain one-day events
in a variety of different classifications. The coveted
"Number One" plate was assigned for the following season
to whomever won the prestigious classic over the 1-mile
dirt track at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
For the first time in 1954, a series of widely diversified
events awarded points toward a seasonal Grand National
Championship and not only was Leonard the inaugural
titlist under those circumstances, but he won it again in
1956 and 1957, in addition to placing second in three
other years up through 1961.
Runner-up in points to Leonard that first year was none
other than his Harley-Davidson "factory" teammate, Paul
Goldsmith, a mentor of sorts who helped Leonard
numerous times throughout his career and who remained a
very close friend until the very end, talking with him by
phone just days before Leonard's passing. Goldsmith
lobbied for Leonard to drive a Nichels Engineering Dodge
on the USAC Stock Car circuit in 1964, with Leonard
ending up fifth in points and winning the 100-miler on the
dirt track at Du Quoin, Illinois.
Leonard once revealed that driving in the Indianapolis 500
had been an ambition of his since boyhood, as many of
his heroes were "500" drivers who took part in the West
Coast midget car races he watched from the grandstands
in San Diego as a teenager. "I never started out to race
bikes," he once said, "but I couldn't seem to get into
midgets and since I didn't have much money, it ended up
that bikes were how I got started and how I got to
Despite finishing third in the "500" on two occasions, the
overall results fail to illustrate just how much of a
contender Leonard was for victory year after year. In
1968, for instance, the year after his third-place finish as
a teammate to race winner A.J. Foyt, Leonard was
recruited to assist the Granatelli STP team, which had just
suffered through a devastating series of major driver
injuries and other setbacks. Assigned to a rear-engined
Pratt & Whitney gas turbine-powered four-wheel-drive
Lotus "wedge," Leonard, and one of his teammates,
British Formula One World Champion Graham Hill,
quickly stabilized the still-reeling team by qualifying
Although he led only 31 laps of the 1968 race, Leonard
appeared headed for victory and was in front when a
late-race caution was about to end on Lap 192. Out came
the green and Leonard promptly slowed, heading for the
Turn 1 infield grass, a failed fuel pump shaft forcing him
out within sight of victory.
In 1969, Leonard ran second for many laps with a
Smokey Yunick-entered turbocharged Ford-powered
Eagle until turbocharger problems resulted in a couple of
lengthy pit stops. He managed to salvage sixth at the finish
but was still several laps behind when he could well have
been strongly challenging his good friend Mario Andretti
for the win.
In 1970, Leonard ran second again for several laps, this
time behind teammate Al Unser in one of the Vel's
Parnelli Jones Johnny Lightning Specials. A faulty ignition
eliminated Leonard after 73 laps, but just days later, he
trounced the entire field at Milwaukee.
In 1971, still Unser's teammate, but now sporting yellow
Samsonite livery instead of Johnny Lightning blue,
Leonard waged a great back-and-forth battle over several
laps with Unser, including as late as Lap 117, shortly
before turbocharger problems sent him to the sidelines.
There was certainly consolation from a third-place
Indianapolis 500 finish the following year behind Mark
Donohue and Unser. But very likely because Leonard
always led a less flamboyant existence than some of his
colleagues, his name tends to be overlooked when fans
and historians discuss the most deserving "500" drivers
who never won.