The 2017 Indianapolis 500 Trivia Contest

The time is finally here for one of the most treasured traditions of the Month of May. OK, that may be just a slight exaggeration, but quite a few people do look forward to this each year. It’s time for the annual Indianapolis 500 Trivia Contest.

The rules are simple. There are thirty-three questions and one tie-breaker. There are no multiple-choice or true/false questions. They are all short answer. The answers are due back to me by Tuesday May 23 before 5:00 CDT. Please email them to me at I ask that you please number your answers. Any submission that does not have the answers numbered with the corresponding question number will not be graded. I have not the time, nor the desire to look to see what question is being answered without a number. The answers will be posted here on Wednesday May 24, along with the announced winner.

The prize is a cherished item – a brand new polo made from 100% pima pique cotton. With my hatred of dri-fit, did you expect anything less?

Each year I try to make the quiz harder, but y’all are a smart bunch. When I think no one will even get 70% right, the winner usually ends up with only one wrong. Every year I say it’s the toughest and every year someone proves me wrong. But this year, I mean it!

It would be easy to just plagiarize thirty-three questions each year out of Pat Kennedy’s book of Indianapolis 500 Trivia, but there’s no fun in that for me. What I’ve done for years is to listen to all of my archived episodes from The Talk of Gasoline Alley (TOGA) throughout the year. As I hear Donald Davidson describe a person, fact or story that I think sounds like a good trivia question – I stop and jot it down. So regular listeners to Donald will have a leg up on this.

This year, I had been collecting questions since last May. I kept a growing MS Word document going on the desktop of my computer where I would keep the questions. I had about twelve really good questions by the end of January and was right on schedule for May. Well, guess what? On Feb 3, my computer crashed and I lost everything. Our IT guy from work was able to salvage about 80% of my data, but not all of it. The trivia contest was a casualty. As I configured the new computer I had to buy, the first thing I did was start a new list of questions. But I could only remember about three of them.

So I enlisted the help of my friend Paul Dalbey, who is just as much (if not more) of a trivia lover than I am. He and I were binge-listening to TOGA all through March and April. We were texting questions back and forth and finally came up with these thirty-three. I want to personally thank Paul for his help. I’m not sure I had the time to do this on my own.

You’ve got two full weeks to do your research and get your answers back to me. So fire up the Google machine, have at it and good luck!


1. What future multi-year starter served on Andy Linden’s pit crew in 1956?


2. Which Indianapolis 500 winner ran only one road race in his career, that being at Sebring? In what year and where did he finish?


3. Which Indianapolis 500 winning driver holds the record for the shortest time between winning the “500” and being fatally injured in racing?


4. A team raced in the Indianapolis 500 only once – but in that one year, had their drivers qualify first and second. Who was the team, who were the drivers and in what year?


5. There have been three drivers with the familial birth names of Stewart to drive in the Indianapolis 500. Name them.


6. When Gordon Johncock beat Rick Mears to the line by .16 seconds in the 1982 Indianapolis 500, it was the shortest margin of victory in history; only to be surpassed by the 1992 race that still holds the record. Prior to 1982, which race had the closest margin of victory? Who was the winner and who came in second?


7. In 1991, a Dodge Viper pre-production prototype paced the Indianapolis 500. What was the only other year a pre-production prototype was used as the pace car? What type of car was it?


8. What car did Bill Vukovich take his rookie test in at Indianapolis?


9. Who is the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the national championship and the sprint car championship all in the same season?


10. Who was the first driver to ever lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500?


11. It has been well-documented that Troy Ruttman is still the youngest winner of the Indianapolis 500. Who is the youngest pole-sitter? What year and what was his age?


12. Parnelli Jones drove Ol’ Calhoun to victory in the 1963 Indianapolis 500. Who was the first driver to drive the iconic car in the race?


13. Who was the first two-time winning team “manager” or “strategist” in the Indianapolis 500?


14. What driver gave up his full-time ride to a future legend, in order to have a part-time ride that led to an Indianapolis 500 victory that very same season?


15. The pace car has been built by a US manufacturer every year. One year, the pace car originally chosen was built by a foreign manufacturer, but Speedway officials bowed to public pressure from the UAW among others and changed to a car from a US manufacturer. What was the year, what was the original pace car chosen and what car ultimately paced the field that year?


16. What is the record for the lowest starting position that won the Indianapolis 500? (Hint: It’s a tie)


17. Which veteran Indianapolis 500 driver appeared in the classic film The Ten Commandments?


18. When Jim Clark won the pole in 1964, he came the first foreign pole winner since which driver and in what year?


19. The car driven to victory in 1955 by Bob Sweikert was driven the following year by Troy Ruttman. Who did car owner John Zink originally offer the car to before signing Ruttman?


20. What driver completed 1,799 of a possible 1,800 laps over a nine race span?


21. Who was the first driver to return the following year to defend his Indianapolis 500 championship?


22. Who is the oldest Indianapolis 500 pole winner ever?


23. A legendary story involves an official not allowing a pitted car to return to action with a broken spring. Mechanics found an unattended car in the infield with a similar spring. They removed the spring and placed it on the pitted car allowing it to return to the race and ultimately finishing in thirteenth place. When the race was over, the spring was returned to the car with the owner never knowing the difference. What year did this happen? Who was the driver and what type of car was he driving?


24. What driver had the most Indianapolis 500 starts before earning his first win? What was the year and how many races did he start before winning?


25. It is well-known that Tom Sneva was the first to turn an official lap at over 200 mph in 1977. Who was the second person to officially break the 200 mph barrier?


26. In one race, a driver started on the pole in one car and won that same race in another. Who was the driver and in what year?


27. Which multiple pole-winning driver went the longest period of time between poles?


28. AJ Watson built and entered his first car in 1949, but it was bumped. Who was the driver?


29. What was the last year that trains ran from downtown Indianapolis to the main gate at 16th and Georgetown for fans on Race Morning?


30. Who was the last driver to be fatally injured after taking the green flag on a qualifying attempt for the Indianapolis 500? What year?


31. What is the oldest documented chassis to ever run in the Indianapolis 500? Who drove it in the last year it ran? What was the year?


32. What was the original working title for what is now known as the Borg-Warner Trophy?


33. Who was the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 with their brother in the same field?

Tie-Breaker: What was the first entry to be sponsored by a cigarette company? What was the year and who was the driver?

6 Responses to “The 2017 Indianapolis 500 Trivia Contest”

  1. billytheskink Says:

    One of my favorite, and least productive, days of the year.

  2. Well I was all set to get things done around the house today and now all I want to do is work on this. I think it’s hard every year but still enjoy it.

  3. Looks like a great contest. Cant wait to work on it. This is harder than the NCAA bracket.

  4. Ron Ford Says:

    My brain surgeon will not allow me to work on this until he has the results of my follow-up brain scan. Good luck to all of you who can and thanks to George for putting this quiz together each year. With the Indy500 coming up, perhaps George will grade on a curve.

  5. johnoreovicz Says:

    I am confident that I could answer No. 4 and No. 22 correctly for a score of 2/33.

  6. Great post, I would like to add that you can find more resources to study on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: