Photo Shoot: 33 Indy 500 Winning Cars

Posted on: October 12, 2010 | Comments(56) | Indy 500 | By: Arni

Ellen Bireley had no choice but to make Oct. 12 a free admission day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. That’s because 27 of the Indianapolis 500-winning cars usually found in the museum were being used for a unique photo opportunity on IMS’ front straightaway.

Sitting front and center

Dario Franchitti's #10 Front and Center

“It’s probably been our biggest undertaking,” said Bireley, who has served as the Hall of Fame Museum’s director since 1996. “We’ve never emptied out the museum to my knowledge.”

The photo, which commemorates next May’s 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500, featured 33 winning cars of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” (OK, there were 32 winning cars, because Mario Andretti’s 1969 winner is in the Smithsonian Institution, but the replica was the next best thing).

Set up in the morning...

Setting up the grid at IMS

“It’s pretty amazing to have this many iconic cars here,” said track historian Donald Davidson. “We have 33 cars here and every one of them has won the race at least once. I think it represents 37 victories because there have been four cars to win the 500 in consecutive years and they are all here today.  I could probably do 30 minutes on just one car here and we have 33 of them.”
Davidson and Bireley helped select the field of cars used and helped bring in the six cars from private collections. From there, they invited 16 qualified people, ranging from Hall of Fame Museum staff to veteran Indy Car mechanics, to move the cars from the museum to the track side garages used by Firestone Indy Lights and MotoGP teams during race weekend.

Then, in the early morning hours, the group pushed the cars into the traditional 11 rows of three.
The front row consisted of the 1911-winning Marmon Wasp, Dario Franchitti’s 2010-winning Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara and A.J. Foyt’s 1961-winning Bowes Seal Fast roadster, but iconic cars from the race’s first 99 years were spread throughout.

Early morning shot of the "front row"

Front Row: Ray Harroun, Dario Franchitti, A.J. Foyt

Cars driven by iconic names of the’ 500’ such as Unser (Al, Bobby and Al Jr.), Andretti, Mears, Meyer, Shaw, Rutherford and Jones were all included.
“They had to convince me (to do this),” Bireley said. “When they first said they wanted to do this product, I said no, but this was a really neat idea and after multiple conversations, we decided to do it and it was worth it.”

The line up

33 Indy 500 Winning Cars

“To see the cars in natural light, the colors really pop. When the cars are inside in the museum, the indoor lighting just doesn’t do them justice. They look spectacular out here.”


There are 56 comments for this post.

  1. Patrick on October 12, 2010 2:38 pm

    This is what IndyCar racing is all about. 33 cars that represent 100 years of the best racing on earth. I would love to have walked down the front stretch with those cars parked like that. History and the ghosts of IndyCars past! Is there anything better?

  2. George Martinez on October 12, 2010 3:20 pm
    George Martinez

    Must be an incredible experience be in front of all that race history. And all the histories around there, exciting!!!

  3. Steve on October 12, 2010 3:28 pm

    Is there a full list of all the cars brought out for the photo shoot? Or would that be confidential, because they are from the Museum? Regardless, what a treasure-trove of history! I know it shows my lack of age, but IMO the best looking car is Jacques Villeneuve’s Reynard from 1995.

  4. Dolan Hoggatt on October 12, 2010 5:13 pm
    Dolan Hoggatt

    What great history! This had to be a wonderful sight. It would be great to hear Donald talk about each of these cars like only he can. He is the best there is.

  5. Joe on October 12, 2010 5:57 pm

    These same cars should be driven on race weekend, if not on race day. What a thrill it would be to the fans to see this “Field of Winning Cars” on display. If this doesn’t stir the echoes,nothing does.

  6. Russ B on October 12, 2010 7:23 pm
    Russ B

    The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of fame Museu is a very specail place because of the history kept there. To see it on display on the front strech of the speedway is amazing! To see cars that were driven by Murphy next to cars driven by Clark and Foyt…WOW!!! I’d buy a poster of this!!!

  7. jason on October 12, 2010 7:57 pm

    What a great idea! The cars look awesome out there together. So much history! I can hardly wait until May!!

  8. Daniele on October 12, 2010 8:03 pm

    Wow! It’s a dream! uhm… 33 dreams!!!

  9. Judy on October 12, 2010 8:06 pm

    Just looking at the pictures the hair on my arms stood up! What history, what stories could be told. I for one would love to sit through a Donald Davidson 30 minute discussion on all 33. Only thing better would to have the living winners present to stand by their machines. What a wonderful way to celebrate the track’s Centennial! Thanks for the memories.

  10. Larry the Lounge Lizard on October 12, 2010 8:34 pm
    Larry the Lounge Lizard

    YES – this is what IMS was meant to be racing. Period.

  11. Oilpressure on October 12, 2010 9:14 pm

    What an incredible sight! I would have given anything to have seen that in person.

  12. Tommy Thompson on October 12, 2010 10:09 pm
    Tommy Thompson

    Seeing the photo of the red sky behind the timing tower reminds me of all the early May mornings getting up early, packing coolers, gathering with friends, and heading down to Speedway from the northeast side.
    Seeing the Pagoda in the early light reminds me of all the years skipping school and early weekend arrivals when the entire month of May was devoted to Indy across the U.S. as it prepped for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. You can almost feel the cool crispness in the air… You can smell the fuel from Gasoline Alley… AWESOME!
    Great photography and a blessed history in the Crossroads of America.

  13. Trent Pohlar on October 13, 2010 8:41 am
    Trent Pohlar

    I grew up just east of IMS and to see these pics are incredible. I too would of loved to see this in person. My father took me to my first race in 68 and I haven’t missed one since. Hopefully these pics will be available to purchase. Great Job IMS!

  14. mitch on October 13, 2010 12:55 pm

    My dad went to this and he said he should have taken me out of school to go to it, really wish he had, it’s incredible

  15. Mike (Speedway, IN) on October 13, 2010 2:10 pm
    Mike (Speedway, IN)

    The track didn’t just do this to see if they could. I expect it to be made into a poster, or maybe even the 2011 ticket. I’m now planning a trip to the IMS Photo Shop in a few weeks just to see what they have to offer concerning this event.

    It seems poignant that the ’73 winner was left inside the museum.

    As far as the cars they selected… I see some gaps in the decades that need addressing. I would have swapped the ‘64 Foyt for the 1999 Brack, the ‘78 Unser for his ‘87 winner or the 1985 “spin and win”, and Montoya for Hornish. Still, that leaves out Helio.

  16. Butch Reed on October 13, 2010 2:52 pm
    Butch Reed

    Please-Please-Please – Let us know if there is going to be a poster of this! The history of these 33 cars is amazing – Fantastic idea of lining them up on the front stretch!

  17. PeteV on October 13, 2010 3:56 pm

    I want to see pictures of all the cars close up. You can see pictures of the Speedway anywhere. TYhose cars are all special and I want to see ALL of them.

  18. Jbelkin on October 14, 2010 1:09 pm

    Did someone take better photos – concept great and glimpses of greatness but sad looking photos.

  19. arnold edgar on October 15, 2010 10:58 am
    arnold edgar

    i hope there will be a poster or something made available. would be nice to have framed.

  20. Mark L. Runyon on October 15, 2010 9:20 pm
    Mark L. Runyon

    This place has been my life from 1958 to 2010. As the great Sid Collins once said ” The wait begins at the end of this years race”!

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  22. Superformance on March 10, 2011 1:14 pm

    History! 33 cars inline.. 11 rows.. 37 victories… great!

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