Image from Penske Entertainment

From IMS and Penske Entertainment:

March 17, 2022 | By Indianapolis Motor Speedway

A Conversation 110 Years in the Making: Foyt, Unser, Mears Welcome Castroneves to Most Exclusive Club in Motorsports

Television coverage of the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will shift into high gear Saturday, May 14 when NBC debuts “Pennzoil presents The Club,” a documentary featuring an exclusive conversation among one of the most elite groups in global motorsports — the four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times.

Airing at 2 p.m. (ET), “Pennzoil presents The Club” will lead into live coverage at 3 p.m. that afternoon of the GMR Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the IMS road course.

A trailer, released just this morning, is at this link:

Helio Castroneves became the fourth member of the most exclusive club in motorsports last May 30. Castroneves will aim for his record-breaking fifth “500” victory in the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 29, also live starting at 11 a.m. (ET) on NBC.

“This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch and discuss sports history,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “For fans around the globe, it’s an epic way to start the Month of May on NBC before tuning in to the GMR Grand Prix and Helio’s historic ‘drive for five’ on Indy 500 Race Day.”

Shortly after Castroneves’ emotional victory for Meyer Shank Racing in the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, Boles called for a secret meeting of Castroneves and his fellow four-time winners, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

On July 21, 2021, the four legendary INDYCAR SERIES drivers gathered to commemorate one of the most significant accomplishments in motorsports history. Penske Entertainment was on hand to capture and document the moment, recording a conversation 110 years in the making.

“Pennzoil presents The Club” is a documentary celebrating that conversation and what it means to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” four times. The show features a sit-down conversation in downtown Indianapolis, historic race footage and a four-time winner’s meeting at the world-famous Yard of Bricks with the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Featuring additional interviews with Mario Andretti, Tony Stewart, Scott Dixon, Roger Penske and veteran motorsports writer Curt Cavin, “Pennzoil presents The Club” is the only recorded conversation among Foyt, Unser, Mears and Castroneves. Unser passed away Dec. 9, making this conversation even more poignant. The documentary includes a dedication to his memory.

“It’s still hard for me to believe that I am a part of this group of drivers – these are drivers that I have looked up to and watched all my life and to now be standing on the same level as them is incredible. My best memories have come from winning the Indianapolis 500, there is no other race in history that has that same feeling; the feeling of a month’s long hard work all coming to an end in the best way possible,” said Castroneves. “I will forever be grateful for the people who have helped me achieve such a monumental accomplishment because it was not just me, it was a team effort each of those four years.”

A Yard of Bricks with Two Feet of Bronze

Photo: The four 4 time winners. Chris Owens, Indycar

  • Marti Uprate. She is at Vanderbilt Hospital and saw numerous doctors today. I had to come home to take care of a problem and will be heading back tomorrow. Her length of stay is unknown, but I might still be there for the race next weekend.

Just Catching Up

It’s the little things Roger Penske thinks of that make him a success. The photo above is an example of one of those little things- getting the four four time Indianapolis 500 winners together for a group photo. There might not be many more opportunities to get this group together. A. J. Foyt, the first four time winner, had a commemorative bronze brick installed in the yard of bricks at the start/finish line. The other three will have their own bricks installed this fall.

It is a fitting tribute to these four drivers who have collectively won 15% of the 105 Indianapolis 500s. Will more of these bricks appear in the future? It will be a long time before that happens, if ever. Only two other drivers in this year’s race, Juan Pablo Montoya and Takuma Sato, have won twice. Whether either of them runs another 500 is uncertain right now.

I will be on the road during tomorrow’s Jimmie Johnson media conference tomorrow, but I will get up to date on it tomorrow night and share what I find out.

A. J. at 85

A. J. Foyt turns 85 today. That must mean I’m old. Reaching that age is an accomplishment for anyone, but quite amazing for someone who began racing in the ’50s and ’60s. I’m not going to list all his accomplishments. I like to keep these essays short. There are a few that standout, however.

Foyt is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in both a front engine car and a rear engine car. In 1964 he won 10 of the 13 USAC Championship races, including the first seven races of the season. I saw him win a stock car race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds after starting last. He qualified higher, but was unhappy with his time and withdrew it. He won in almost every type of car he raced.


I have had racing heroes since I was six or seven years old, but I never got the chance to see any of them race. Bill Vukovich was my first hero, and after his death at the 500, I followed Bob Sweikert, but alas, he too died the following year. A. J. was the first of my racing heroes that I actually saw drive. It didn’t hurt any that he had the number 14 on his car, Vukovich’s number.


I loved the way he drove. Sure there were other outstanding drivers in that era- Andretti, Jones, the Unsers-and I appreciated all of them. Yet, there was something special about Foyt. I liked his unapologetic style and the way he seemed to always be in a position to win. He didn’t always get to Victory Lane, but more often than not, he had a chance.

It is my belief that the modern era of racing began with Foyt’s 1961 Indianapolis 500 victory. He beat the drivers of the 50s, some of whom had raced in the early post World War II years. His future rivals were yet to make an appearance at the Speedway. I think all fans owe him thanks for that.


As I have written on several occasions, the stars of that era who miraculously survived a very dangerous period in the sport are all now in their 80s. I believe Paul Goldsmith is 90. As you watch the NTT Indycar Series races this season, take a moment or two to reflect on the sport’s heritage. No matter who your favorite driver of that era is, we all owe a debt of gratitude to A. J. If you see one of the legends at a track, please say hello and thank you to them.



Some Thoughts on Mari Hulman George- We’ve Lost a Lot

One of the first things I do after I wake up in the morning is check social media. Saturday morning the first thing on my Twitter timeline was the notice of the death of Mari Hulman George. It was hard to believe. I knew she was ill, but that didn’t make the news less of a shock.

Although she had not been an active member of the board for a couple of years, I’m sure her influence was still being felt. Many drivers have praised her selflessness and kindness. She let Parnelli Jones drive her car at Trenton when his car had a problem during practice. Jones finished second. A. J. Foyt spent many Christmases with Mari and her family.

I was most familiar with her through her work with greyhound rescue.  I fostered and adopted greyhounds from a different group, but her group, USA Dog, also had a presence at shows where we had information booths our hounds. I remember ads for greyhound rescue in the Indianapolis 500 programs in the ’90’s. She was instrumental in bringing the Mutt Strut to the track as well.

How will things change at the Speedway? There probably won’t be many changes noticeable on a day to day basis. There are things that will change, one has already happened. First, all drivers, past and present, have lost a great friend and advocate. Second, we will likely not hear the name Hulman mentioned in connection with anybody again. While it is Tony’ middle name, no one refers to him with his middle name. Third, the thing that makes me most sad, is that we may never hear the race started with “Gentlemen, Start your Engines” again. The 100th running of the 500 was the last time the race began with those words. Mari, accompanied by her family gave the command in unison. Tony Hulman the last two years has given the pedestrian “Drivers, start your engines,” a weak command to begin the Indianapolis 500.

The Hulman family has owned the Speedway for seventy three years as of next Friday. The third generation is now completely in charge. My hope is that they follow the examples and high bars set by their grandfather and mother.

1960: The Last All Roadster Race Produces a Classic Duel

My latest adventure in memorabilia show Indy 500 program hunting yielded some more gems with hidden treasures.  The 1960 program for the 44th Indianapolis 500. Still fairly early in the white cover with the flag program era, it follows the standard format of programs since the mid 50’s. The welcome page announced a new double- deck paddock grandstand on the front stretch for 1961. Fans wishing to get seats there had to request seats by mail after 4 pm on Race Day.

The memorial page of drivers who had died  the previous year featured Jerry Unser, the first Unser brother to drive at the Speedway. He died two weeks after a May 3  crash during practice for the 1959 500. Ed Elisian also appears on the page. Elisian, sadly,  is most  remembered for two incidents at Indianapolis- stopping his car to run to the aid of Bill Vukovich after the fatal wreck in 1955, which earned the wrath of his car owner; and causing the pileup at the start of the 1958 race which took the life of popular driver Pat O’Connor.

1960 was the rookie year for Lloyd Ruby, Jim Hurtubise, Wayne Weiler, and Bud Tingelstad. Ruby would finish seventh in the race, but  Hurtubise won Rookie of the Year for his spectacular qualifying run.  Just three former winners started the 500 that year- defending champion Rodger Ward, Troy Ruttman, and Jimmy Bryan. This race was the second in a four year stretch in which Ward finished no lower than third.

The revered heroes of that era were just beginning their careers. 1960 was A. J. Foyt’s  third 500. He finished tenth in 1959 on his way to fifth place in the national championship.  Mario Andretti would not enter the race for five more years. Parnelli Jones was a year away from his first race.

The front straightaway featured the last uncovered half mile of bricks at the track. The surface that earned the track its nickname had just two races left before all but three feet was paved before the 1962 race. I was fortunate to have been at the track while the bricks were still there. The sound of the cars over the bricks added to the engine noise added to the excitement. Bricks gather dust in the crevices, so the front stretch was vacuumed the day before the race.



A feature article about the Speedway golf course, which had nine holes in the infield, hosted a PGA event late in May before the race. The3 story discusses naming each of the holes for a noted figure in 500 history. Fifteen of the holes bor5e the names of former winners Wilbur Shaw was  the most recent winner honored. Tony Hulman, “Pop” Myers, former Speedway vice president, and mechanic Cotton Henning also have their names on holes.

Eddie Sachs won the pole with an average speed of 146.592 mph. His best lap was 147.251. Sachs was not the fastest qualifier, however. On Bump Day, rookie Jim Hurtubise shocked everyone as he flirted with what was considered at the time the impossible 150 mph barrier. Hurtubise averaged 149. 056. Because of the qualifying format in effect, Hurtubise started the race 23rd. He finished 18th, completing 185 laps and retired with mechanical issues. The qualifying order entering Bump Day:


The race is still considered one of the best in 500 history. twenty nine lead changes among five drivers may not seem like much today, but in 1960 it was record breaking. From lap 96 until the end of the race, Jim Rathmann and Rodger Ward swapped the lead. Rathmann finally took the lead for good on lap 197. Ward slowed down when he saw that his front tires were beginning to wear down to the cord. From lap 123 onward, neither driver led more than 14 consecutive laps. The 12.67 second margin of victory was the second closest at that time. Wilbur Shaw’s 1937 win by 2.16 seconds over Ralph Hepburn still held the record.

Foyt finished twenty-fifth, his second DNF in three years. He and Ward would battle for the national title for the next few years. Foyt won the 500 in 1961, beginning his legendary run.

As always in that period, fatalities overshadowed the racing at times. 1958 500 winner Jimmy Bryan lost his life at Langhorne in June. 1959 pole winner Johnny Thomson died in a crash at Allentown, PA, in September.