IRL: Wattles, Metro Racing at Indy 500
27 May 1998all-American effort
Stan Wattles of Sewall's Point, Fla. showed the power of his all- American chassis, engine and tire combination during the 82nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24. The Indy Racing League (IRL) team owner/driver started 29th on the 33-car grid and moved up 21 positions to eighth place before he was caught in a multiple-car incident that took him out of the race on lap 49 of 200. He finished 28th.
Wattles and his rookie Metro Racing Systems team fielded the only "all-American" car in this year's Indy 500, with the Riley & Scott MK V chassis, Indy Aurora V8 engine and Goodyear tires. A.J. Foyt was the last American driver to win the Indy 500 with an all-American chassis, engine and tire combination, in 1977. Kevin Cogan was the last American to start the Indy 500 in an "all-American" car, in 1984.
"The car was basically on rails -- the Riley & Scott/Olds/Goodyear -- which was terrific. The tires worked really well and the motor was working pretty well, tho' I felt a slight misfire coming up. But in general, it was just phenomenal. I was going around people on full [fuel] loads, they were tip-toeing and we were flying. The passing opportunities were awesome," Wattles said.
"Unfortunately, I got into turn three, got underneath Roberto [Guerrero] and we were side by side. I was watching him and Mark [Dismore]. Suddenly Mark lifts out and here comes Mark! He backed out of it because of an incident in front of him, and we wound up getting collected. It's a crying shame. We got up to eighth, and that car could have gone to the front and won. It was just so good, nobody could touch us. It was great."
Wattles received a total of $138,500 in prize money and awards during the Indy 500 awards banquet on May 25. "It's an honor to be part of all of this and to race with such a terrific group of drivers," he said. "I'd like to really thank Peter Mountford, my crew chief, who worked his heart out to get this car on track and to get us up to speed, and all the guys on the crew who were pitching in and working as hard as they did. It was pretty incredible."
Wattles won the Ferguson Steel award for the most consistent rookie qualifying run for this year's Indy 500. His qualifying effort was the most consistent of all drivers, including rookies and veterans. Despite the pressure of his first Indy 500, team telemetry showed he maintained the consistency during Sunday's race.