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The 10 Greatest Indy 500 Drivers

Indy Speedway signWith the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 a mere memory, this is a great time to look back at the best drivers in the race’s history. Here are our picks for the greatest drivers of the Indy 500.

10. Ray Harroun

There’s just something about being the first. Horroun won the very first Indy 500 way back in 1911, at the wheel of a Marmon Wasp racer that he helped build. He faced numerous challenges that day, including a fatal accident and a grueling, almost seven hour, race.

9. Dario Franchitti

One of the UK’s very best, Franchitti won the 500 in 2007 and backed it up in 2010 and 2012. He’s a four-time IndyCar Series champion, has finished in the top 10 in NASCAR, and has appearances in video games and movies, and married Ashley Judd. Not a bad resume.

8. Hélio Castroneves

The Brazilian Castroneves won at Indy in 2001, and repeated the feat the next year. He returned to the winners circle in 2009, joining a very exclusive group of winners. “Spiderman” originated the celebratory fence climbing action you see after race victories, which you’ll see a lot, as he currently holds the record for most IndyCar victories without a championship.

Mario Andretti7. Mario Andretti

What a career. Andretti has won races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR, and won the Indy 500 in 1969. He’s won ovals, road courses, and dirt tracks, has competed with three other family members in IndyCar, participated in Bullrun, and has absolutely nothing left to prove.

6. Arie Luyendyk

“The Flying Dutchman” won twice at Indy, in 1990 and 1997. Luyendyk is also an endurance racer, having defeated the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. He has some notoriety at Indy, having recorded the fastest lap at just under 38 seconds at an incredible 237 mph.

5. Johnny Rutherford

1974, 1976, and 1980 Indy 500 champion knows a thing or two about winning. “Lone Star JR” started in stock cars in ’59 and would continue racing, and winning, in everything from IndyCar to NASCAR, until his retirement in 1994, where he now offers services as a driving coach. Rutherford is in three different racing “Hall of Fame” legacies for a reason.

4. Bobby Unser

Unser is a three time winner of the Indy 500, in 1968, 1975, and a controversial win in 1981. Yes, he won in three different decades. Unser also won in IROC, and has several victories in the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. He retired to broadcasting, and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990.

3. Rick Mears

There isn’t enough room on here for Mears. He is a four time winner of the Indy 500, in 1979, 1984, 1988, and in 1991 where he duked it out with Andretti for the win. He holds the record for most Indy 500 poles (six), and was the IndyCar champion in 1979, 1981 and 1982. Mears retired after a crash injury at just 41.

2. Al Unser, Sr.

“Big Al” has one of the most incredible racing careers spanning three decades. Like Mears, Unser Sr. won the Indy 500 four times, in 1970, 1971, 1978, and 1987. He has led the most laps in Indianapolis 500 history, at a whopping 644. In 1978, he was the International Race of Champions winner. Like Andretti, Unser has cemented his legacy with family racers.

AJFoyt_cropped1. AJ Foyt

Foyt is no surprise at number 1 on this list. He has 14 championship titles, won the Indy 500 in 1961, 1964, 1967, and 1977, then won the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He won in everything from NASCAR and IROC and even ran 3 races in Formula One. AJ Foyt is in his 80s, and still a better driver than everyone reading this.

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