We Have a Winner!

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Congratulations to fellow blogger, Patti Nolen of I Kissed the Bricks, for knocking down almost all of the thirty-three questions in this year’s Oilpressure.com Indianapolis 500 Trivia Contest. She correctly answered all but four of the questions. Runner-up was a tie between Rick Johnson and Billy the Skink, who got his entry in with six minutes to spare. both of them missed five. As usual, there were a couple of questions that there were answers slightly different than what I had. After researching them, I decided to accept the other answers too. There was also one that I mistakenly misworded, so I had to throw that question out (noted below).

Here are the questions with their respective answers in italics. Thanks to those that played along, and even if you didn’t submit an answer sheet – I hope you learned a few useless tidbits regarding the Indianapolis 500. Congratulations again, Patti!

1.  What was the first year for the traditional release of brightly colored balloons, just before the start of the race? 1947

2.  In May of 1964, Mario Andretti was at the track when he met a sprint car owner who gave him his big break that propelled him into big-time auto racing. Who was the owner? Rufus Gray

3.  Which Indianapolis 500 winning car owner was also the founder of an NFL franchise? John Mecom

4.  Who was the first African-American crew chief in the Indianapolis 500? What was the year and who was his driver? Mel Leighton in 1948 for rookie Jack McGrath

5.  Which car-owner struck a deal to run Formula One driver Lorenzo Bandini in the 1967 Indianapolis 500, who was ultimately fatally injured at the Monoco Grand Prix just a few days before Pole Day? Wally Weir

6.  Which drivers originally made up John Mecom’s winning team for the 1966 Indianapolis 500? Rodger Ward, John Surtees and Walt Hansgen

7.  Who was the first reigning Indianapolis 500 winning driver to defend his title the following year? Jules Goux in 1913

8.  In 2014, Jacques Villeneuve set a record with 19 years between starts in the Indianapolis 500. Prior to that, two drivers were tied with that dubious distinction and set the record in the same year. Who were the two drivers, and in what year did they set the record, and what was the year of their previous start before setting the record? Roland Free and Cy Marshall started races in 1930 and 1947.

9.  What was the last year that a front-drive car made a qualifying attempt for the Indianapolis 500? Who was the driver? 1965. Bob Mathouser in a Mickey Thompson creation.

10. Which three drivers finished thirty-third in the Indianapolis 500, in the following year after winning it? Jimmy Bryan (1959), Johnny Rutherford (1977) and Juan Montoya (2016)

11. What was the final year a driver from the inaugural Indianapolis 500 of 1911, drove in the race? Who was the driver? 1927. Eddie Hearne

12. Who was the only Purdue graduate to race in the Indianapolis 500?  Pete Halsmer

13. We all know that Aldo Andretti sat in as a sub for twin-brother Mario, during the 1969 front-row photo shoot. Who sat in the car for Ed Elisian for the 1958 front-row photo shoot?  Denny Moore, his Chief Mechanic

14. What two brothers are credited with designing the famous Novi engine?  Ed and Bud Winfield

15. Most know that there are four individuals credited with founding the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Fisher, Allison, Newby and Wheeler. There was actually a fifth original owner, who pulled out early and sold his shares to two of the other four. What was his name? Stoughton Fletcher

16. There was a handful of drivers that qualified for the Indianapolis 500 and started, yet never completed a lap in their racing career. Which driver was the last to do so, and what was the year? Affonso Giaffone in 1997

17. What was the last year that a front-drive Novi made a qualifying attempt? Who was the driver? 1955 – Troy Ruttman

18. What was the first year that Borg-Warner’s PR department arranged for a Hollywood actress to be part of the Victory Lane ceremony? Who was the actress? 1947 – Carole Landis

19. Who was the first Indianapolis 500 winner to be born after the inaugural running of the race in 1911? What year was he born in? 1950 winner Johnnie Parsons was born in 1918

20. Three drivers with the legal surname of Stewart have started in the Indianapolis 500 at least once. Name them. George Stewart (Leon Duray), Jackie Stewart and Tony Stewart

21. Name two Indianapolis 500 starters that were native Tennesseans. Peter Kreis and Josef Newgarden were the two I was looking for, but I also accepted Charles Crawford.

22. What driver finished third in the Indianapolis 500, then the next February finished third in the Daytona 500? Paul Goldsmith

23. Who was the last driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and not pour milk all over his head? What was the year? Juan Montoya in 2015.

24. Who was the first relief driver to be in a winning car for the second time? This one I messed up. Instead of "relief driver, I meant to say "riding mechanic". That was my fault, so I basically threw this question out. Lawson Harris, with Louis Meyer in 1933 and 1936 were the answers I was looking for, had I worded the question correctly.

25. Two Indianapolis 500 winning cars carried the same primary sponsor name, yet they were two completely separate and different companies. What was the name of the sponsor, the drivers and the years they won? Gilmore. Wilbur Shaw won in 1937 in the Gilmore Special (an oil company), In 1977, AJ Foyt won in the Gilmore Racing Team Coyote (broadcasting).

26. AJ Foyt is one of the drivers that have led all 200 laps in his Indianapolis 500 career; meaning that he has at one time, led each individual lap of the race. What year did he accomplish this and what lap did he lead to finalize leading each of the 200 laps? 1982. Lap One

27. What was the first year that a set of brothers raced against each other in the Indianapolis 500? What were their names? 1911. Bill and Harry Endicott

28. Assuming he qualifies, Helio Castroneves will be making his twenty-first start in the Indianapolis 500. Who was the last driver to be entered into the Indianapolis 500 to have at least twenty previous starts on their resume? Mario Andretti in 1994

29. When was the last year that wire wheels were used on a car in the Indianapolis 500? Who was the driver? 1956. Cliff Griffith, who finished tenth.

30. Who was reportedly the heaviest driver to ever drive in the Indianapolis 500? Jerry Grant. In his second 500 in 1966, Grant confessed to weighing north of 275 lbs. He slimmed down considerably by the seventies.

31. What was the first year that rookie stripes appeared on the cars to denote first-year drivers in the Indianapolis 500? 1950

32. Who wrote the original rules for what is now the Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Competition, usually held on Carb Day each year? Frankie DelRoy, USAC Technical Director, who was one of seven to go down in a plane crash in April of 1978 on their way back from Trenton.

33. Who was the last riding mechanic to sit on pole for the Indianapolis 500? Frankie DelRoy

Tie-Breaker: What do Jacques Villeneuve, Johnny Parsons, Jr. and Arie Luyendyk have in common at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? All three drove Reynard chassis No. 94I-004, which still holds the one and four-lap qualifying record from 1996.

The car was Villeneuve’s backup car in 1994, Parsons attempted to qualify the car in 1995, before Luyendyk qualified the car in 1996, setting the records that still stand today.

8 Responses to “We Have a Winner!”

  1. WooHoo! I am so excited! I’ve been trying to win this contest for years and it is always so hard. Thank you George for putting it together every year. I was so stumped on the African American crew chief. Mel Leighton was a name I googled but still missed that info on him. I had Troy Ruttman for the heaviest. Donald talked about his height and build and whoever was hosting that night said he weighed around 275 so at least I feel I was still close with that one. Where in the world would we have found the answer that Frankie Delroy wrote the pit stop competition rules? I spent so much time trying to figure out that one. I was missing John Surtees on no. 6.
    Not to give away my secrets but I have to thank everyone who works at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Musuem. Every year they are willing to help me find answers and enjoy playing along.
    George, I’m still in a bit of shock. You make this so hard but I always learn so much. Can’t wait to defend my title next year.
    Congratulations to Rick and Billy, I know the time you must have spent on this. Hope you had as much fun as I did.

    • billytheskink Says:

      Congratulations! This was George’s hardest contest yet (they seem to get harder every year), so your victory was extremely well-earned. It must be a blast to research these questions at the IMS Museum! I always have fun an learn a lot with these contests and I hope everyone who participates does as well.

      I also missed Mel Leighton, but further research shows his role as chief mechanic for Jack McGrath in 1948 was discussed in a 2011 episode of The Talk Of Gasoline Alley. Leighton does indeed appear in one of McGrath’s qualifying photos that year with the rest of the car’s main crew.

      Troy Ruttman is listed as the tallest and heaviest 500 winner in one of Pat Kennedy’s Indy 500 trivia books and I almost wrote him down, but Donald cites Jerry Grant as the heaviest 500 starter in a 2007 episode of TOGA.

      Frankie DelRoy writing the pit stop competition rules was also discussed in a 2007 TOGA episode.

      The question I’m kicking myself for missing is the Endicott brothers, that’s as obvious as these questions get and I whiffed and said the DePalmas. The Endicotts are also probably the only 500 starters with a Star Wars character (Ebe E. Endocott) named after them, a podracer in Episode I of course.

      • There is just not enough time to listen to all the episodes of The Talk of Gasoline Alley.
        My boys and I attend the Indy GP every year and our Mother’s Day tradition (a week late this year) is breakfast at Charlie Browns and then the museum. When they were younger they said they were going to tell Dad I was flirting with all the men at the museum. Once you engage them they all want to help and have lots of stories to share.
        I had the Chevrolet brothers down but fortunately went back and double checked that. I got it right. Had no clue about the Star Wars reference. Maybe you need to make up your own contest.

  2. Rick Johnson Says:

    Congrats, Patti!!

    I look forward to the trivia contest each year, and I imagine, George, that it’s a lot of work for you. I love that it’s difficult. In addition to it being fun, I always learn a thing or two about the race we love. Thanks for doing it.

    Again, Patti, well done!

  3. billytheskink Says:

    Here’s our history of winners of the great Oilpressure trivia contest, because who doesn’t love trivia about a trivia contest?

    2010: Bicklemom
    2011: *no contest*
    2012: Billy The Skink
    2013: BryanBe (prize winner) and Steven Kilsdonk
    2014: Ryan Svaboda (prize winner) and Billy The Skink
    2015: Paul Dalbey
    2016: Mike from Vernon Hills
    2017: Mike from Vernon Hills
    2018: Mike from Vernon Hills
    2019: Rick Johnson
    2020: Billy The Skink
    2021: Patti Nolen/ikissedthebricks

  4. billytheskink Says:

    The tie-breaker question was tricky because many sources, even official sources, list Luyendyk’s 1996 record setter as a Reynard 95I… but tricky or not, all evidence present on the Luyendyk car itself indicates that it was the same car driven by Villeneuve and Parsons.

    George, I hope you found my “three men who have never been in my kitchen” answer to the tie-breaker amusing at least. All three drivers did indeed have a relative who failed to qualify in their first Indy 500 entry: Villeneuve’s uncle of the same name struggled to find speed and wrecked in practice in 1985 and was actually replaced late in the month by… Johnny Parsons Jr. Parson’s famous 500-winning father took his rookie test in one of Andy Granatelli’s Grancor cars in 1948 but did not qualify. Luyendyk’s son, of course, was bumped at his first 500 attempt in 2005 by Felipe Giaffone, perhaps the most famous Babies R Us shopper in history.

    Another even more tenuous connection between the three drivers is that each benefitted from USAC mishaps at the 500. Villeneuve, of course, famously benefitted from Scott Goodyear passing the surprisingly slow pace car in 1995. Luyendyk benefitted from USAC’s surprise restart in 1997, again at the expense of Scott Goodyear. Parsons USAC story comes from that same 1985 race where he replaced Villeneuve’s uncle, he was elevated from 7th to 5th after the race when USAC officials reviewed tape of the race and realized he had actually completed 198 laps instead of 197… the two drivers Parsons passed post-race? Johnny Rutherford and… Arie Luyendyk.

  5. Oliver W. Says:

    Can this quiz keep going until 33 contests. Then all the questions and answers should be popped into a hardback book. I will buy a copy to two.
    Congrats to Patti. Impressive. Also Rick & Billy.

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