Saturday, May 7, 2016

500 facts: '77, the year the Mini began

Let's celebrate the year the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon began in Indianapolis

Posted By on Sat, May 7, 2016 at 11:40 AM

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  • File photo

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.

Let's celebrate the year the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon began, shall we?

From our "Before the green flag flies" chapter:

471. The “Mini” began in ’77. The half-marathon foot race known as the “500 Festival Mini-Marathon” — one of the biggest — celebrates 40 years in 2016. The Mini is really the start of modern “Month of May” traditions.

472. The Pit Stop Challenge started in 1977, too. The timed event that includes a four-tire change and simulated refueling has been won six times by the driver/team combo of Helio Castroneve’s Team Penske crew.

473. 1977 was the first time “Gentlemen, start your engines” was altered. After a bit of a tussle with the Speedway’s traditionalists, the “Most Famous Words in Racing” were altered to: “In company with the first lady ever to qualify at Indianapolis, gentlemen, start your engines.” Now the phrase begins simply, when applicable: “Lady/Ladies and gentlemen …”

From our chapter titled "The '70s:"

337. Janet Guthrie had a vastly better showing than Rick Mears in the ’77 quals. Guthrie became the first woman in the field, starting in the middle of row 9. Mears failed to qualify.

338. Tom Sneva cracked the 200 mph barrier in 1977. Sneva qualified in Roger Penske’s ride on May 14 at 200.535. After several second-place finishes, he’d eventually win the race in 1983. The following year, 1984, Sneva broke the 210 mark in quals.

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Ed Wenck

Ed Wenck

Ed Wenck has been writing for NUVO (as well as several other Indiana publications) for nearly 20 years while moonlighting as a radio host. He became Managing Editor of NUVO in 2013. He's authored four books and also reports for WISH-TV's Boomer TV program.

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