The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Fatalities - May 15, 1982

Gordon Smiley - driver

Gordon Smiley qualified the Valvoline Phoenix/Cosworth for the Patrick Racing team in 20th position for the 1980 Indy 500. His turbocharger blew on lap 47 to finish in 25th.

Gordon Smiley qualified the Intermedics Wildcat VIII/Cosworth for the Patrick Racing team in 8th position for the 1981 Indy 500. He crashed out on lap 141 to finish in 22nd.


Saturday, May 15, 1982: Cogan is first to qualify and shatters both the single and four-lap records. His fastest circuit is 204.638 mph and he averages 204.082.

While Cogan accepts congratulations over the public-address system, Rick Mears boosts the single-lap record to 207.612 and averages 207.004. Several cars are still in line, but Mears appears to have his second pole in the bag.

About an hour later, two-time starter Gordon Smiley gets loose on his second warmup lap and slams head-on into the outside wall of Turn 3. his car disintegrates and Smiley dies instantly. His is the first fatality at the Speedway since 1973.

I was there that day, down in the snake pit. I had no idea what happened. The track reopens about two hours later, and no one matches Cogan's speed, let alone Mear's. A.J. Foyt comes closest at 203.3 to join the Penske drivers on the front row. Patrick temamates Mario Andretti and Gordon Johncock are fourth and fifth fastest.

Gordon Smiley's Indy 500 Record

Year Car# Car Laps completed Start Finish
1980 70 Valvoline 47 - turbo 20 25
1981 60 Intermedics 141 - accident 8 22

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