Before I write this blog, I would like to let all my readers know I am not a huge auto racing fan. I rarely watch NASCAR and have not really got into Formula One since Jacques Villeneuve of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec won the Formula One Championship in 1997.
That said, there is something special about the Indianapolis 500, and a reason I have watched the race since 1991.
I have not watched the Indianapolis 500 every year since then however. When Tony George formed the Indy Racing League in 1994, and CART drivers, including Paul Tracy, (a good friend of Prospect Magazine) decided to boycott the race starting in 1996, I stopped watching it too. Tracy did compete in 2002, and I was glad to watch then.
But over time, some of my greatest auto racing memories have come watching the Indianapolis 500.
1992– Despite starting dead last (33rd) on the grid, Toronto’s Scott Goodyear moved all the way up to second place, and barely lost to eventual winner Al Unser Jr. who clipped Goodyear at the line by 0.043 seconds, the closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history.
1994– In his first year competing in CART, Jacques Villeneuve finished second to Al Unser Jr., who won his second Indianapolis 500 in three years.
1995–Villeneuve became the first and only Canadian ever to win the Indianapolis 500. He would also go on to win the Indy Car World Series for Team Green.
2002–In one of the most controversial Indianapolis 500′s in history, Paul Tracy of West Hill, Ontario, was completely robbed and lost the race because of one of the worst conspiracies in the history of sports. A late race caution flag appeared at the same time Tracy passed eventual winner Helio Castroneves. Tracy, was penalized despite the fact there was a significant lack of video evidence that showed he passed Castroneves before the flag came out. Many, including I, believe the Indy Racing League did not want a Canadian driver from the CART series to win the great American race.
2011–Alex Tagliani, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports gets the pole for the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Let’s hope Tagliani, from Montreal, Quebec, has the race of his life and follows in the footsteps of Goodyear, Villeneuve and Tracy.