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.

The Rocket Lands at IMS Museum

Just 16 hundredths of a second stands between Rick Mears and a fifth Indianapolis 500 victory. The margin by which Gordon Johncock beat Mears to the checkered flag in 1982 is portrayed in a tableau of sorts in the exhibit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum honoring the man known as “The Rocket.” The special exhibit opened May 2 and runs through March 20, 2022.

The four cars in which he won the 500 are also present, along with one of his first race car, an off road dune buggy he built with the help of his brother Roger and father Bill.

From there, Mears went to the Pikes peak Hill Climb in another specially built car. Mears won the 1976 Hill Climb in the Porsche powered car built by Paul Newman and Doug Dreager. The following year Mears attempted to qualify for the 500.

His car was not fast enough to make the race, but a conversation with Roger penske after qualifying led to a career shaping relationship between the two. Mears would drive for Penske the remainder of his time in Indycar.

Rick Mears 1977 car for Indianapolis. Livery shown is not the livery he drove and the car number was 77.

Mears first win came in his second 500 in 1979. he drove a tactical race, which became his style. Mears also won the first of what grow to be a record six poles at Indianapolis. He won from the pole twice more. The race has been won from the pole 21 times, which makes his accomplishment stand out even more.

Rick Mears winning car in 1979, the first of four victories for Mears in the 500.

The 1982 race finish had the cars too far apart. While Bob Jenkins radio call is quoted on the wall, the cars have a lot more separation in the display.

The 1982 finish was much closer than this. Johncock’s car (foreground) leads mears car across the line. The actual finish below.

The exhibit contains just a few memorabilia items from Mears. The best things are two of his helmets.

Mears’s 1979 helmet.

New for this exhibit is the car information presentation. Instead of a placard to read, visitors scan a QR code which displays the information on their phones. By scanning the first one, fans can scroll through to subsequent cars and give themselves a self guided tour of the display. This system allows fans to read information without waiting for the person in front of them to finish reading the placard. Welcome to the future of museums.

“Rocket Rick Mears” is a nice tribute to a driver as we commemorate the 30th anniversary of his last win at Indianapolis.

Museum Touch Ups

The IMS Museum has upgraded the display cases in the winners’ gallery. The case on the north wall is a tribute to the Hulman Family’s 74 years of ownership. It contains a nice timeline of improvements to the facility. The displays on the south wall are tidier and less cluttered, with a display of early racing helmets and other historical items. The walls look much neater and have a cleaner look than I have seen on previous visits.