The 2023 Indianapolis 500 Trivia Contest

Once again, it’s time for the annual Indianapolis 500 Trivia Contest. As usual, there are thirty-three questions (plus a tie-breaker). These questions are not for the casual fan that occasionally watches the 500 on television. But most of you who come here regularly are not casual fans – you are die-hards.

The majority of these questions come from listening to archives of The Talk of Gasoline Alley with Donald Davidson. If you’ve listened to Donald much at all, you know that he would tend to go off on tangents and throw out these little nuggets of trivia. When I hear them, I jot them down and verify them (most of the time) and they become part of the quiz.

I started working on this quiz this past January, but had it completed and loaded up into the site in March. Even if I met my demise between then and now, it would have still dropped in here posthumously today, with the answers coming in two weeks.

There were a couple of other contributors to this year’s quiz. Paul Dalbey contributed a few as usual, but this year we had a new contributor – former multiple winner Mike from Vernon Hills added three questions.

There will be a prize to the top score – the obligatory T-shirt (100% cotton of course – no dri-fit here). But we all know the real prize is the pride of knowing you beat the best. You get to hold that mythical crown for a full year, Rick Johnson of Lynnwood, Washington is the reigning champion, and he had won this contest before last year. Will he go back to back, or will someone jump up and snag it away?

The rules are simple. You will have almost two weeks to submit your answers to me at Answers will be due by Tuesday May 23 at 6:00 pm EDT. Please do not text or tweet the answers to me, and don’t send them by Facebook Messenger either. Send them to my e-mail address only, if you want them counted. Also…please number your answers to correspond to the question number. I do not have the time nor desire to match each answer up, if there is not a question number beside it. Those will not be counted either. Every year, I get at least one like that and I ignore it. One of these years, it will be a perfect set of answers that gets ignored, so please number your answers.

The top score will have thirty-three correct answers. For example, if a question asks for five driver names, and four are correct but the fifth is incorrect – then the entire question is wrong. There are no partial grades.

I will be shocked if anyone gets this year’s tie-breaker correct. In the event of a tie and the tie-breaker does not settle the tie, I will go back to the time/date stamp on the e-mail to determine the winner. Whoever got their entry in earlier will get the nod, so it would behoove you to get it in sooner than later.

As in past years, if I see a pattern of the same answer that differs from what I have – I will dig in and if I find there is more than one correct answer, I will usually give that point.

I want to be fair, but just remember – this is for fun. One year, someone got more than a little miffed that I did not award a question that I thought was clearly wrong and it cost this someone the win. The back and forth I went through sort of took the fun out of it. For a few months, I swore I would never do it again. Obviously I changed my mind before the next May. Still, let’s not take this thing too seriously.

Anyway, here are this year’s questions. Good luck!

1. Once it became common for spouses/significant others to be in the pits for Race Day, they were required to wear flame-retardant clothing. Who was the first spouse/significant other for a driver to wear street clothes (not a driving suit) to be made completely out of Nomex, in the pits for Race Day? What was the year?

2. What Indianapolis 500 legend was born in Mansfield, Ohio before moving to California at an early age?

3. Roman Slobodynskj and Lindsey Hopkins once collaborated to create what chassis?

4. When the Lotus-Fords first arrived in the US in 1963, which driver was responsible for actually delivering them to IMS?

5. What driver set the all-time fastest pole speed? What was the year?

6. Three drivers from the 1910s drove ceremonial laps in vintage cars on the morning of the 1961 race to help celebrate the golden anniversary of the Indianapolis 500; Ray Harroun, Eddie Rickenbacker and whom?

7. The 1967 Indianapolis 500 was rained out after eighteen laps. Lloyd Ruby was the first out after only three laps. When the race re-started the following day, Ruby was back in the race in another car the next day. What driver did he replace?

8. The primary business of car-owner Rolla Vollstedt was what?

9. When George Snider decided he no longer wanted to drive in the Indianapolis 500, by qualifying a car with little or no practice; who replaced him in the car?

10 What was the first year for car-owner Tassi Vatis to have a car make the starting field? Who was the driver and what was the name of the car?

11. Sid Collins used to refer to the “motors” in his race broadcasts, until he was corrected by someone telling him that there are no motors in the Indianapolis 500, only engines. Who told him that, and what was the year?

12. Despite legends and myths to the contrary, what was the first year that Wilbur Shaw gave the command “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines”?

13. Driver Bobby Grim sold his house in Indianapolis to another driver, but that driver was fatally injured before he could ever move in. Who was the driver?

14. How many years transpired between motorcycle races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

15. Who is the only driver to finish second three times in the Indianapolis 500, yet never win the race?

16. When Jim Hurtubise failed to qualify his Mallard in 1967, there was another driver trying to qualify a Mallard that spun and crashed during practice on a qualifying morning. Who was the driver?

17. One very successful Indianapolis 500 driver’s father was a violinist with the Cincinnati Orchestra. Who was the driver?

18. Who was the first driver to officially break the 180 mph barrier?

19. AJ Foyt broke the record for the most Indianapolis 500 starts in a career in 1974. Whose record did Foyt break?

20. In 1992, Scott Goodyear finished second in a car qualified by Mike Groff. That tied a record for the highest finish for a driver that started the race in a car qualified by another driver. Who was the driver that Goodyear tied? What was the year and who qualified the car?

21. One year, Packard brought what today would be known as a three-driver Super Team that was not very successful. What was the year and who were the drivers?

22. There was a Bowes Seal Fast Special for decades in the Indianapolis 500. What was the last year Bowes Seal Fast was the primary sponsor for a car in the Indianapolis 500? Who was the driver?

23. What was the last year the cars were started in the pits, instead of the main straightaway?

24. What car-owner (not the team name) provided the car that gave Gary Bettenhausen his best Indianapolis 500 finish? What was the year?

25. Prior to the 1950 Indianapolis 500, Ray Nichels and Paul Russo built a car in the basement of Russo’s home in Hammond, Indiana. When it was completed, they could not get the car out and they had to disassemble it. What did this car become affectionately known as?

26. Bill Holland finished second three times in a four-year span. Name another driver who accomplished this.

27. Twelve drivers had Top-Ten finishes in both front-engine and rear-engine cars. Name them.

28. Name at least three drivers who finished second, then failed to qualify the following year.

29. Name an Indianapolis 500 starting driver, who was also a professional ice-skater.

30. The person that is credited with designing the Coca-Cola bottle had a grandson who eventually became a prominent Indianapolis 500 car-owner. Who was that car-owner?

31. Who was the first pole-winner to win the Indianapolis 500 in the same year?

32. Two Indianapolis 500 winners were fatally injured while driving the same car several years apart. Who were the two drivers?

33. What Indianapolis 500 starting driver is buried in the same cemetery as Wilbur Shaw?

Tie-Breaker Question: Name a Hamilton County, Indiana Circuit Court Judge; who entered the Indianapolis 500 twice in the 1980s. The first time he was rejected due to lack of experience. The second time, he spun in Turn One of his rookie test and later withdrew. He never returned as a driver. What was his name?

6 Responses to “The 2023 Indianapolis 500 Trivia Contest”

  1. Looks impossible as always but of course I will attempt it once again. This year will be even harder as my youngest has graduation and I will be spending a week in Indianapolis but I will do my best to find time. I’m am proud to be a former winner and would love to repeat, just not sure this will be the year.
    Good luck to all who enter, it’s always so fun to dig into the history and listen to Donald Davidson in hopes of catching an answer. Thanks George for the time you put into this.

  2. Hey I think I know two of them! Woohoo!!!! Haha!

  3. billytheskink Says:

    One of my favorite days of the year! Can’t wait to dive in.

    This is always a blast, George, than you for doing this. You told me at Texas this would go up on the site even if you were 6 feet under… now that’s dedication to the cause of Indy trivia. I don’t think I have ever gotten a perfect score, even when I have won, so I’m shooting for that. I have to say, though, that I almost like missing a couple of questions so I can learn the answers on here.


  4. As I’m a viewer/follower from 80’s CART to current, I am out on this one! Lol.

  5. Rick Johnson Says:

    After having reviewed these questions today, I can say with confidence, that the defending winner will not be victorious again this year. This edition is more difficult, in my opinion, than prior years…and I love it! Thanks, George, for making this as real challenge.

  6. I never get more than 7-10 of these right but I love to play along and love seeing the answers. Happily I remembered the tiebreaker answer off the top of my head!

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