Later this month, NUVO will present 500 facts about the Indy 500. Between now and then, we'll be sharing five facts per day from our upcoming story. Thanks to a batch of photos from the Fasig family of Indy, we have a look at some of the folks who competed in the 1980s — and some facts to accompany them:
354. Gordon Smiley was the last driver to perish during quals to date.
Coming out of the third turn, Smiley began sliding during his second warm-up lap before taking green for a run at the 1982 500. The correction sent Smiley’s ride into the wall head-on at somewhere between 185 and 200 mph. On impact, the car exploded, and flew into the catch fence, coming to rest in the north chute.
355. Rick Mears won his second 500 in 1984.
After Tom Sneva was knocked out of the race due to a mechanical issue, Mears cruised to victory with a two-lap lead over second-place finisher Roberto Guerrero.
356. Danny Sullivan spun his car — and still won the ’85 500.
Passing Mario Andretti on lap 120, Sullivan spun the car completely around — but avoided making contact with the wall, and even more miraculously, without “flat-spotting” his tires. Sullivan would go on to “spin and win.”
357. Rick Mears took his third Borg-Warner in 1988 — and broke the 220 mph in quals.
Mears made the ’88 field with a speed of 220.453.
358. Yellow flew for the 100th time in 1988.
The caution flag came out on lap 167 after Rocky Moran’s engine failed.