Indy 500 Winners to be Honored in Parade of Champions

5 May 1998

INDIANAPOLIS - Former Indianapolis 500 winners Gordon Johncock, Parnelli Jones, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Al Unser and Bobby Unser will be recognized for their accomplishments at the Brickyard with the "Parade of Champions," May 10-15 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These six days constitute the practice days leading up to the Indy 500 Pole Day, May 16. The schedule for the Parade of Champions:

Sunday, May 10 - Parnelli Jones (won in 1963)
Monday, May 11 - Bobby Unser (1968, 1975, 1981)
Tuesday, May 12 - Gordon Johncock (1973, 1982)
Wednesday, May 13 - Johnny Rutherford (1974, 1976, 1980)
Thursday, May 14 - Al Unser (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987)
Friday, May 15 - Tom Sneva (1983)

The six drivers have amassed 119 starts, 14 wins, 11 pole positions and 2,419 laps led in the Indianapolis 500.

Fans at IMS will get a nostalgic flashback as the champions drive their storied championship machines from years past in laps of honor around the 2-mile oval. Each champion will also sign autographs in FanFest, a free, interactive racing entertainment area located next to the Hall of Fame Museum.

Jones made history as the first driver to break the 150-mph barrier in qualifying when he posted a four-lap average of 150.370 for the pole in 1962. He went on to win the pole and the race in 1963.

In 1967, Jones dominated the race by leading 171 laps in Andy Granatelli's unique STP Turbine, but a bearing failure less than four laps from the finish denied him victory. He will drive "Calhoun," the front-engine car fielded by the late J.C. Agajanian that he drove to the 1963 victory.

Bobby Unser had the distinction, among his 19 starts at IMS, of driving the famed Novi and winning in rear-engine cars and a ground effects-laden "wing car." In 1972, he took the pole at 195.940 mph, 17.244 mph faster than the previous record set by Peter Revson one year earlier. It was the biggest jump in the track record in Speedway history.

Unser will drive the Rislone Special, which took him to victory in 1968.

Johncock is a two-time winner who will forever be remembered for his close victory over Rick Mears in the 1982 Indy 500. Johncock held off Mears in a relentless side-by-side duel, winning by just .16 of a second, the second-closest margin in IMS history.

Johncock will drive his '82 winning car, the STP Oil Treatment Wildcat. It's the last American-built car to triumph at Indy.

Rutherford came from the 25th starting spot to lead 122 laps and win the 1974 race, then won from the pole in 1976 and 1980, the latter in the famed Pennzoil Chaparral created by Jim Hall.

Renowned for the star of Texas on his helmet, "Lone Star J.R." is recognized for his statesmanship in the sport, as well as his talents as an aviator, artist, television and radio commentator and pace car driver on the Pep Boys Indy Racing League circuit.

Al Unser made history by becoming the second four-time winner of the "500" when he subbed for the injured Danny Ongais in 1987 and beat a young Roberto Guerrero to the flag. Unser's winning car started the month of May as a show car in a Reading, Pa., hotel.

Known for his race strategy and care of equipment, Unser had the philosophy of being in a "position to win" and took advantage of a long pit stop by Guerrero to match A.J. Foyt's win total, later tied by Rick Mears.

Unser, who now serves as a driver coach for the Pep Boys IRL, will drive the 1987 winning Cummins Holset Turbo car on May 14. Sneva ended Al Unser's bid for victory in 1983 when he outdueled Unser in the late going to register his lone "500" victory.

He made history at the Speedway on May 14, 1977, when he became the first driver ever to exceed 200 mph in "500" qualifying, setting a one-lap mark of 200.535. Sneva also set records the following year of 203.620 for one lap and 202.156 for a four-lap average. He will drive his winning car from 1983 on May 15, the final practice day before qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 gets underway on Pole Day, Saturday, May 16.

Practice for the 82nd Indianapolis 500 gets underway Sunday, May 10. Time trials are set for Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17. Carburetion Day, the final practice before "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," takes place at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 21, with the Indianapolis 500 concluding May activities on Sunday, May 24.

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