1992 Indianapolis 500... Greatest Ever?

I was brushing up on my Indianapolis 500 history, and I think the 1992 Indianapolis 500 is one of if not the greatest Indianapolis 500s in the history of Indycar. Not only was the race one to remember, but the quality of the field was incredible.

The 1992 Indianapolis had ten former winners in its field thirty-three car field. These included (in order they qualified): Mario Andretti, Arie Luyendyk, Danny Sullivan, Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal, Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser, AJ Foyt, Tom Sneva, and Gordon Johncock. Holy shit, is that an impressive list?! Coming into the 1992 season, that is a combined 20 Indianapolis 500 wins, including the winners of the last ten races at Indy

Future winners of the race that had not won yet include Eddie Cheever, Al Unser Jr., and Buddy Lazier. Al Jr. would go on to win two 500's, while Cheever and Lazier would both go on to win one each. 

Michael Andretti, who is the best driver at Indianapolis to have never won and one of the greatest Indycar drivers ever, was in the field. He, Mario, John Andretti (the son of Mario's brother Aldo), and Jeff Andretti (son of Mario, younger brother of Michael) made it four Andrettis in the field.

Lyn St. James, one of nine women to have qualified for the Indianapolis 500 and the first to have captured Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, was in the field.

Paul Tracy, future Indycar legend and then rookie in 1992, was in the field.

Scott Pruett, future Indycar race winner, sports car legend, and "I'd like to say hi to my wife and kids" guy, was in the field.

Jimmy Vasser, future Indycar Champion and owner of KV Racing, was in the field.

Eric Bachelart, future owner of Conquest Racing, was in the field.

Scott Brayton, Indycar veteran who later died in a crash in 1996 (rest in peace), was in the field.

Raul Boesel, Scott Goodyear, Roberto Guerrero, and Stan Fox, all well known drivers, were in the field.

Rounding out the field of thirty-three includes John Paul Jr., Jim Crawford, Brian Bonner, Dominic Dobson, and Ted Prappas.

Well known drivers who were bumped from the field include three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, three-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet, Mark Dismore, Johnny Parsons, and Tony Bettenhausen Jr.

*takes breath* Do you get my point?! Shit a brick, that is one hell of a field. The 1992 Indianapolis 500 marked the last time that legends like AJ Foyt, Rick Mears, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, and Gordon Johncock would be in a car during the Month of May.

Well known teams in the race included Newman/Haas Racing, Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, Galles/KRACO Racing, AJ Foyt Enterprises, Rahal/Hogan Racing, Dale Coyne Racing, Team Menard, and Hemelgarn Racing.

The race itself started off a bizarre one. It was a unusually cold one in Indy, with temperatures hovering around 50° F, with wind chills reaching 36° F. Roberto Guerrero then had a career defining moment, spinning on the backstretch of the pace laps from pole position, damaging his suspension forcing him to retire. 

As the race took shape after the halfway mark, only six cars were on the lead lap. Michael Andretti led a dominating spectacle, pacing the other five lead lap cars including Eddie Cheever, Arie Luyendyk, Al Unser, Al Unser Jr., and Scott Goodyear.

It was Michael Andretti's race to lose. He was making a show of it. Just after passing Scott Goodyear for P2, Al Unser Jr. was lapped by Andretti. Not too long after passing him, Andretti suffered a a fuel pump failure, forcing him to retire after leading 160 of 189 laps.

The race became Scott Goodyear vs Al Unser Jr. On the final lap, Goodyear closed in on Little Al down the backstretch and in turns three and four. Goodyear bobbed and weaved down the front stretch, and he made one last ditch effort to pass Al, but to no avail. The finish turned out to be the closest in Indianapolis 500 history, with Little Al winning by .043 seconds. 


Box Score:

FP SP No. Driver Nationality Start Qual C E Laps Status Team
1 12 3 Al Unser Jr. USA 222.989 14 G C 200 134.777 Galles/KRACO Racing
2 33* 15 Scott Goodyear Canada 221.800* 21* L C 200 +0.043 s Walker Racing
3 22 27 Al Unser [W] USA 223.744 12 L B 200 +10.236 s Team Menard
4 2 9 Eddie Cheever USA 229.639 2 L F 200 +10.281 s Chip Ganassi Racing
5 8 18 Danny Sullivan [W] USA 224.838 9 G C 199 -1 Lap Galles/KRACO Racing
6 10 12 Bobby Rahal [W] USA 224.158 11 L C 199 -1 Lap Rahal/Hogan Racing
7 25 11 Raul Boesel Brazil 222.433 19 L C 198 -2 Laps Dick Simon Racing
8 14 8 John Andretti USA 222.644 18 L C 195 -5 Laps Jim Hall Racing
9 23 14 AJ Foyt [W] USA 222.798 16 L C 195 -5 Laps AJ Foyt Enterprises
10 18 93 John Paul Jr. USA 220.244 27 L B 194 -6 Laps DB Mann Development
11 27 90 Lyn St. James [R] USA 220.150 28 L C 193 -7 Laps Dick Simon Racing
12 29 68 Dominic Dobson USA 220.359 26 L C 193 -7 Laps Burns Racing
13 6 1 Michael Andretti USA 228.168 7 L F 189 Fuel Pressure Newman/Haas Racing
14 24 21 Buddy Lazier USA 222.688 17 L B 139 Engine Leader Cards Racing
15 4 6 Arie Luyendyk [W] Netherlands 229.127 4 L F 135 Accident Chip Ganassi Racing
16 32 31 Ted Prappas [R] USA 219.173 33 L C 135 Gear Box P.I.G. Racing
17 5 51 Gary Bettenhausen USA 228.932 5 L B 112 Accident Team Menard
18 20 48 Jeff Andretti USA 219.306 31 L C 109 Accident AJ Foyt Enterprises
19 26 39 Brian Bonner [R] USA 220.845 24 L B 97 Accident Dale Coyne Racing
20 19 7 Paul Tracy [R] Canada 219.751 29 P C 96 Engine Penske Racing
21 28 47 Jimmy Vasser [R] USA 222.313 20 L C 94 Accident Hayhoe Racing
22 7 22 Scott Brayton USA 226.142 8 L V 93 Engine Dick Simon Racing
23 3 2 Mario Andretti [W] USA 229.503 3 L F 78 Accident Newman/Haas Racing
24 11 5 Emerson Fittipaldi [W] Brazil 223.607 13 P C 75 Accident Penske Racing
25 21 26 Jim Crawford UK 228.859 6 L B 74 Accident King Racing
26 9 4 Rick Mears [W] USA 224.594 10 L C 74 Accident Penske Racing
27 13 91 Stan Fox USA 222.867 15 L B 63 Accident Hemelgarn Racing
28 16 44 Philippe Gache [R] France 221.496 23 L C 61 Accident Dick Simon Racing
29 31 92 Gordon Johncock [W] USA 219.287 32 L B 60 Engine Hemelgarn Racing
30 17 10 Scott Pruett USA 220.464 25 T C 52 Engine TrueSports
31 30 59 Tom Sneva [W] USA 219.737 30 L B 10 Accident Team Menard
32 15 19 Eric Bachelart [R] Belgium 221.549 22 L B 4 Engine Dale Coyne Racing
33 1 36 Roberto Guerrero Colombia 232.481 1 L B 0 Accident King Racing


   FP - Finishing position
   SP - Starting Position
   No. - Car number
   Driver - Driver
   Nationality - Country of birth
   Start - Qualifying speed
   Qual - Qualifying position
   C - Chassis
           - G - Galmer
           - L - Lola
           - P - Penske
           - T = TrueSports
   E - Engine
           - B - Buick
           - C - Ilmor-Chevrolet
           - F - Cosworth-Ford
   Laps - Laps completed 
   Led - Laps led
   Status - Note to how they finished
   Team - Team
   [R] - Rookie
   [W] - Former winner of the Indianapolis 500

* - Walker Racing's primary driver Scott Goodyear did not qualify off of his own speed. He replaced Walker Racing's secondary driver Mike Goff, and therefore had to start last in the field.

Note - all cars used Goodyear tires

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey