History and records of the Indianapolis 500
Most career victories
Legendary drivers A.J. Foyt (1961, '64, '67, '77), Al Unser (1970-71, '78, '87) and Rick Mears (pictured, 1979, '84, '88, '91) share the record for most Indianapolis 500 victories, each having earned the Borg-Warner trophy four times.
Most victories by an owner
Since Roger Penske retired from racing and founded Penske Racing in 1965, he has won the Indianapolis 500 a record 15 times as an owner. His team's first Indy 500 was in 1969, and his first victory came in 1972. Penske's most recent win in the race came in 2009 with driver Helio Castroneves.
Most consecutive victories
Only five drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 two years in a row -- Wilbur Shaw (1939-'40), Mauri Rose (1947-'48), Bill Vukovich (1953-'54), Al Unser (1970-'71) and Helio Castroneves (2001-02). Defending champion Dario Franchitti will be looking to join their ranks when this year's race gets underway.
Longest span between first and last win
In his long IRL racing career, Al Unser won 39 IndyCar races, including four at The 500. One of those wins came in 1970, five years after his first Indy 500, and one of those wins came in 1987, six years prior to his last Indy 500. The 17 years between his first and last Indianapolis 500 victories is the longest span of any driver with multiple wins.
Largest margin of victory
French racing legend Jules Goux, the first European to win the Indianapolis 500, holds the record for the most dominant victory. He cruised to a 13-minute, 8.40-second victory over Spencer Wishart in The 500 in 1913.
Smallest margin of victory
Two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr.'s 1992 victory over Scott Goodyear was decided by just .043 of a second. That record still stands as the closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history.
When Troy Ruttman took the checkered flag in 1952, he became the youngest race winner. He was just 22 years and 80 days old at the time.
Just five days shy of his 48th birthday, Al Unser won his final Indy 500. He holds the record as the race's oldest victor.
Most victories from the pole
Rick Mears has four career Indianapolis 500 victories, including three from the pole position (in 1979, '88 and '91). No other driver has that many victories after starting the race in first place.
Most career starts
From 1958 to 1992, A.J. Foyt didn't miss a single running of the Indianapolis 500, competing in 35 straight races. He holds the record for the most career starts and also has four career victories at The 500.
Best finish by a female driver
As a rookie driver in 2005, Danica Patrick became the first female driver in Indianapolis 500 history to lead laps during the race. After qualifying fourth, she also finished fourth, the highest finish ever in the race for a female.
Most career laps led
From 1965-1990 and again from 1992-1993, Al Unser was a starter in the Indianapolis 500. During that time, he led a record 644 laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Most career races led
Thirteen times in the 35 Indianapolis 500 races in which he competed, A.J. Foyt raced his way to the lead. No other driver in Indy 500 history has been up front in that many races.
Fewest laps led by a winner / Most laps led by a loser
When Ralph DePalma overtook Teddy Tetzlaff on the third lap in 1912, he amassed an advantage that looked unbeatable. With a five-and-a-half lap, 11-minute lead, his car lost all power at the end of the backstretch on lap 199. He and his riding mechanic jumped out to push it the five-eighths of a mile to the finish line, but Joe Dawson passed them for the win. DePalma's 196 laps led are the most of any losing driver in a single race, while Dawson's two laps led are the fewest in a single race by any winner.
Most laps led by a rookie
En route to winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, Juan Pablo Montoya led 167 of 200 laps. No other rookie has ever dominated an Indy 500 race like that. Montoya became the first rookie to win the race since 1966.
Most races led without winning
Nine times Rex Mays led the Indianapolis 500, but he wasn't able to win any of those times. Mays claimed four poles and started in the front row seven of the 12 times he raced in the Indy 500, but his best finish was second (in 1940 and 1941).
Lowest starting position for a winner
Not only did Louis Meyer motor his way through the pack in the 1936 Indy 500, moving from a starting position of 28th to a final position of first, but he also led 96 laps while capturing his third Indy 500 win. The only other driver to make a leap of similar magnitude was Ray Harroun, who won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911 and led 88 laps in the process.
Fastest average winning speed
When Tony Kanaan won The Indy 500 in 2013, his average speed was 187.433 mph, edging out Ryan Hunter-Reay's record of 186.563 set just one year earlier.
Slowest average winning speed
Ray Harroun came out of retirement in 1911 to race in the first running of the Indianapolis 500, and he won. His victory, however, was controversial, as his average speed was just 74.602 mph, and many believe that mistakes made by the official scorers erroneously awarded him the victory.
Most laps led in a career without winning
Michael Andretti's frustrations at the Indianapolis 500 have been well documented. In 1991 he lost the lead with just 12 laps and finished second. The following year he led four-fifths of the laps, but 11 laps away from the finish his fuel pump failed and his car stalled out. Andretti also dropped out of the race while leading in 1989, 1995 and 2003. His 431 career laps led at the Indy 500 without a win are the most of any driver.
Fastest lap in a race
In the 1996 Indianapolis 500, Eddie Cheever recorded a lap at the speed of 236.103 mph. No driver has been able to race a faster lap since then. While Cheever finished 11th in that race, he did win the Indy 500 two years later.
With the world in the midst of World War I, the 1916 Indy 500 only had 21 starters. The race that year, won by Dario Resta, was only the one in Indianapolis 500 history to be scheduled for fewer than 500 miles -- its length was a planned 300 miles instead. The race had its most starters in 1933, when 42 drivers took part.