500 facts: famous firsts 

Those who broke barriers

click to enlarge 500facts_webheaders5.jpg


137. If you count the first race, eight rookies have won the Indy 500.

Indianapolismotorspeedway.com has the official list:

• Ray Harroun (1911, inaugural race)

• Jules Goux (1913)

• Rene Thomas (1914)

• Frank Lockhart (1926)

• George Souders (1927)

• Graham Hill (1966)

• Juan Pablo Montoya (2000)

• Helio Castroneves (2001)

138. Janet Guthrie was the first woman to qualify for the 500.

Guthrie qualified for the '77 race with a speed of 188.403.

139. Guthrie was also the first woman to qualify for the Daytona 500.

She was joined later in that accomplishment by Danica Patrick, and to date only two women have achieved the feat of qualifying for both Indy and Daytona.

140. Guthrie finished ninth in 1978.

That mark was the highest finish for a woman in the 500 until 2005.

141. Including Guthrie, nine women have made the field.

• Janet Guthrie (1977-79)

• Lyn St. James (1992-97, 2000)

• Sarah Fisher (2000-04, 2007-10)

• Danica Patrick (2005-11)

• Milka Duno (2007-09)

• Ana Beatriz (2010-13)

• Simona de Silvestro (2010-13, 2015)

• Pippa Mann (2011, 2013-16)

• Katherine Legge (2012-13)

click to enlarge In what may be our favorite photograph uncovered for this story, Paul Willis caught the joy — and relief — on Janet Guthrie's face just after she qualified for the 1977 Indy 500. - PAUL WILLIS
  • In what may be our favorite photograph uncovered for this story, Paul Willis caught the joy — and relief — on Janet Guthrie's face just after she qualified for the 1977 Indy 500.
  • Paul Willis

142. Danica Patrick was the first woman to lead the 500.

Patrick accomplished the feat in 2005 — her rookie season — and the crowd's reaction was so loud it nearly drowned out the roar of the cars.

143. Patrick recorded both the highest start and finish for a woman in the 500.

Patrick started fourth in 2005, led for 19 laps and finished fourth.

144. Sarah Fisher was the first woman to capture a pole position in IndyCar.

Fisher did it in 2002 for a race at the Kentucky Speedway.

145. But Danica was the first woman to win an IndyCar race.

Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 in 2008. (If you ever come across the Japanese broadcast of the race, the audio may be one of the most exciting — and excited — non-English-speaking play-by-play calls in modern history.)

146. Willy T. Ribbs was the first Black man to qualify for the 500.

1991 was the year, 217.358 mph was the speed.

147. Emerson Fitipaldi was the first South American driver to win the 500.

Fitipaldi's a Brazilian, and he's been joined since by Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan.

148. The first Spanish-speaking South American winner (the language of Brazil is primarily Portugese) was Juan Pablo Montoya.

The Colombian won in 2000 and again in 2015.


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About The Author

Ed Wenck

Ed Wenck

Bio:
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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