Indy 500 winners: A complete list of all-time race champions, records, most wins
In the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, somebody will join the prestigious list of Indy 500 winners. That is, unless, somebody who already is among the list of Indy 500 winners takes another checkered flag at this year’s running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. For now, 72 names are on the all-time list of Indy 500 winners.
The current list of Indy 500 winners is topped by Will Power, who won last year’s IndyCar race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Of the last six Indy 500 winners, five are in the field for the 2019 edition of the race, meaning the chances of getting a repeat Indy 500 winner are high.
As detailed below, the record for the most Indy 500 wins is four, and three drivers share that record. Of all the winners in the 102-year history of the Indy 500, only five have won the race in consecutive years. Twenty Indy 500 winners have won the race after starting from the pole position, the most wins from any starting position, and there have been 10 rookie Indy 500 winners in the history of the race.
As for the car number with the most Indy 500 wins, the No. 3, currently used by Penske Racing’s Hélio Castroneves, has been to victory lane at Indianapolis 11 times.
The fact that in 102 years only 19 drivers have become an Indy 500 winner more than once should tell you all you need to know about this race – it is extremely difficult to win.
Below is the list of all-time Indy 500 winners, plus some all-time Indy 500 records.
Indianapolis 500 winners list
Among active IndyCar drivers, Castroneves has the most career Indy 500 wins with three. He is also the only active driver who has become an Indy 500 winner more than once in his career.
Below is the all-time list of Indy 500 winners.
Why does the Indy 500 winner drink milk?
This strange tradition is all Louis Meyer’s fault.
We’ll let Indianapolis Motor Speedway do the explaining:
“Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer regularly drank buttermilk to refresh himself on a hot day and happened to drink some in victory lane as a matter of habit after winning the 1936 race. An executive with what was then the Milk Foundation was so elated when he saw the moment captured in a photograph in the sports section of his newspaper the following morning that he vowed to make sure it would be repeated in coming years. There was a period between 1947-55 when milk was apparently no longer offered, but the practice was revived in 1956 and has been a tradition ever since.”
So there you have it. As terrible as milk sounds as a refreshment after hours of racing, Castroneves, a three-time Indy 500 winner, recently told Sporting News the milk is good simply because it represents victory. We’ll take his word for it.
These days, drivers are given a choice of skim milk, two percent milk and whole milk. They make their selections days before the race in case they win.
Who has the most Indy 500 wins all time?
Three drivers share the record for the most Indy 500 wins of all time.
A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears each have won the Indy 500 four times. Foyt, who became the first four-time winner of the race, won the Indy 500 in 1961, 1964, 1967 and 1977. Unser won the Indy 500 in 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987. Mears won the Indy 500 in 1979, 1984, 1988 and 1991.
Unser remains the oldest Indy 500 winner, as he took the checkered flag when he was 47 years, 360 days old in 1987. That win also gave Unser the record for the most time – 17 years – between Indy 500 victories.
Castroneves, who was slated to start the 2019 Indy 500 in 12th, is one Indy 500 win away from tying the all-time record. Castroneves (2001-2002) is also one of five drivers who have won the Indy 500 in consecutive years; the others are Wilbur Shaw (1939-40), Mauri Rose (1947-48), Bill Vukovich (1953-54) and Unser (1970-71).
Indianapolis 500 records
(Indy 500 records via Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
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