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NBC Sports’ Top 10 Indy 500s countdown

Top 10 Indy 500s


The debate over the top 10 Indy 500s of all time literally could go in more than a hundred directions, but there is one point that everyone can agree upon.

This inherently is an imperfect exercise.

The Greatest Spectacle in Racing will unfold with its 107th edition Sunday, May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

INDY 500 PRIMER: Details for the May 28 race on NBC

There obviously is no one alive on the planet who has seen every Indianapolis 500 firsthand -- and thus be able to offer an authoritative opinion on what definitively are the top 10 500-mile races to have been held near the intersection of 16th Street and Georgetown.

Beyond what is available from archival footage and news clippings, no one can vouch as a primary source for why Rene Thomas’ triumph in 1914 was a banger of a race. Or for the special reason why Tommy Milton’s second victory in 1923 never should be forgotten.

In NBC Sports’ countdown of the top 10 of Indy 500s of all time, neither of those years made the list.

But there is a wide representation in the rankings, which stretch across eight decades and nine winners.

The cherished and vaunted legacy of the Indy 500 is among the many charms of a race that can claim millions of unofficial historians and protectors of its rich traditions. Those who might expect a poll of the top 10 Indy 500s to reek of recency bias or an overreliance on the race’s famous names might be surprised by some of the selections.

NBC Sports commissioned a panel of broadcasters, journalists and former drivers to choose the list. Four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears, IMS president Doug Boles and IndyCar on NBC analyst Townsend Bell were among the voters.

Races were ranked on five categories:

  • Quality of racing
  • Memorable moments
  • Strength of field
  • Historical significance
  • Spectacle

The countdown began today at 11 a.m. ET with Nos. 9 and 10 unveiled on through a video recap and stories about their significance. See below for the ongoing list.

Two races will be unveiled each Friday through Carb Day, two days before the 107th Indy 500 on NBC (starting at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 28).

Ladies and gentlemen, start your passionate debates and discussions of the greatest moments in Indy 500 history.


No. 10: A.J. Foyt becomes a three-time winner in 1967 as Parnelli Jones’ dominant Granatelli turbine car breaks

No. 9: Sam Hornish Jr. beats Marco Andretti in 2006 on the race’s first last-lap pass

No. 8: Al Unser Jr. edges Scott Goodyear in 1992 for closest finish in the race’s history

No. 7: Rick Mears becomes a four-time winner of the race with a thrilling pass in 1991

No. 6: Louis Meyer becomes the first three-time winner and starts milk tradition in 1936

No. 5: Dan Wheldon wins second Indy 500 in 2011 after J.R. Hildebrand crashes on last lap

No. 4: A.J. Foyt becomes the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1977

No. 3: Helio Castroneves “reopens America” in 2021 with his fourth Indy 500 victory

No. 2: Gordon Johncock holds off Rick Mears in 1982 thriller

No. 1: Jim Rathmann outduels Rodger Ward in 1960 epic