1960 Indianapolis 500

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1960 Indianapolis 500
Winning car of the 1960 Indianapolis 500
Winning car of the 1960 Indianapolis 500
Race details
Date 30 May 1960 (1960-05-30)
Official name 44th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes
Location Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 4.023 km (2.5 mi)
Distance 200 laps, 804.672 km (500 mi)
Attendance 200,000[1]
Pole position
Driver Dean Van Lines (Al Dean)
Time 4:05.58 (4 laps)
First Ken-Paul
Second Leader Card 500 Roadster (Bob Wilke)
Third Norm Demler

The 44th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana on Monday, May 30, 1960. The event was part of the 1960 USAC National Championship Trail and was also race 3 of 10 in the 1960 World Championship of Drivers. It would be the final time World Championship points would be awarded at the Indy 500.

Often regarded as the greatest two-man duel in Indianapolis 500 history, the 1960 race saw a then-record 29 lead changes (a record that stood until 2012). Jim Rathmann and Rodger Ward battled out nearly the entire second half. Rathmann took the lead for good on lap 197 after Ward was forced to slow down with a worn out tire.[2] Rathmann's margin of victory of 12.75 seconds was the second-closest finish in Indy history at the time.

The inaugural 500 Festival Open Invitation was held at the Speedway Golf Course in the four days leading up to the race.

Time trials

Time trials was scheduled for four days, but the third day was rained out.

  • Saturday May 14 – Pole Day time trials
    • Eddie Sachs set a track record of 146.592 mph to win the pole position.
  • Sunday May 15 – Second day time trials
  • Saturday May 21 – Third day time trials
    • The third day of time trials was rained out.
  • Sunday May 22 – Fourth day time trials
    • Jim Hurtubise nearly broke the elusive and much-anticipated 150 mph barrier. Hurtubise's four-lap qualifying average of 149.056 mph featured a new one-lap record of 149.601 mph (on lap 3), to establish himself as the fastest qualifier in the field.[3]

After Carburetion tests, Dempsey Wilson replaced Jimmy Daywalt as the driver for the #23 entry, and the car was moved to the rear of the starting grid.[4]

Race recap

First half

The race started out with four contenders in the first half. Rodger Ward took the lead on lap 1 from the outside of the front row, but polesitter Eddie Sachs took the lead on lap 2. Two laps later, Ward was back in the lead, and the record-setting number of lead changes was already under way. Troy Ruttman and Jim Rathmann also took turns at the front. .

The first caution came out on lap 47, after Duane Carter spun in turn 3. He did not hit the wall, came to a rest in the infield grass, then continued in the race. Later, Jim McWithey came into the pits without any brakes. He brushed the inside pit wall trying to slow the car down, but continued through the pit lane and wasn't able to stop until he reached the infield grass in turn 1. Later in the race, Eddie Russo and Wayne Weiler also suffer single-car crashes.

Rodger Ward stalled his engine twice during his first pit stop, losing considerable ground. After getting back on the track, he started charging to catch up to the front of the field.[5] Shortly after the halfway point, Eddie Sachs and Troy Ruttman would both drop out of the race, ultimately leaving Rathmann and Ward to battle it out in front.

Second half

On about lap 124, Tony Bettenhausen came in for a routine pit stop. He complained of a smoking engine, but returned to the track. One lap later, he was back in the pits with a fire and a blown engine. Bettenhausen was unhurt, but hoisted himself out of the cockpit as it was coasting to stop in the pits to avoid getting burned.

In the second half, Ward had caught up to Rathmann, with Johnny Thomson close behind in third. Rathmann and Ward swapped the lead several times, but meanwhile Ward was hoping that the pace would slow down, in order to save his tires to the end. After stalling in the pits earlier, the hard charge Ward made to get back to the front was a concern, as he was afraid he had worn out his tires prematurely. Ward was aware of Rathmann's tendencies as a driver, and allowed Rathmann to pass him for the lead. Rathmann was known for charging hard to take the lead, but once he was in the lead, would often back the pace down.[5] Ward's prediction came true, but it was at the expense of losing ground to third place. Johnny Thomson was now catching up.

With Thomson closing in on the leaders, Ward and Rathmann started charging again, racing each other hard, swapping the lead between themselves. Meanwhile, Thomson's engine lost power, and he slowed to a 5th-place finish. Inside ten laps to go, Rodger Ward seemed to have the faster car, and took the lead on lap 194. A few laps later though, Ward saw the cords in his right front tire showing, and he let off the pace. Jim Rathmann took the lead on lap 197, and pulled away for victory. Due to Ward's experience as a tire tester, he was able to nurse his car to the finish without pitting to change the bad tire, and held on to second place.[2] Despite winning twice (1959 and 1962), Rodger Ward often considered this race his personal best.[5]

Paul Goldsmith charged from 26th starting position to finish 3rd, holding off 4th place Don Branson by about a car length.


1960 Indianapolis 500
Race 3 of 10 in the 1960 Formula One season
Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Speedway.svg
Race details
Date 30 May 1960
Official name 44th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes
Location Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 4.023 km (2.500 mi)
Distance 200 laps, 804.675 km (500.000 mi)
Pole position
Driver Ewing-Offenhauser
Time 146.592 mph (235.917 km/h)
Fastest lap
Driver United States Jim Rathmann Watson-Offenhauser
Time 1:01.59
First Watson-Offenhauser
Second Watson-Offenhauser
Third Epperly-Offenhauser
Pos Grid No Driver Constructor Qual Rank Laps Led Time/Retired Points
1 2 4 United States Jim Rathmann Watson-Offenhauser 146.37 4 200 100 3:36:11.36 8
2 3 1 United States Rodger Ward (W) Watson-Offenhauser 145.56 5 200 58 + 0:12.75 6
3 26 99 United States Paul Goldsmith Epperly-Offenhauser 142.78 27 200 0 + 3:07.30 4
4 8 7 United States Don Branson Phillips-Offenhauser 144.75 11 200 0 + 3:07.98 3
5 17 3 United States Johnny Thomson Lesovsky-Offenhauser 146.44 3 200 10 + 3:11.35 2
6 7 22 United States Eddie Johnson Trevis-Offenhauser 145 10 200 0 + 4:10.61 1
7 12 98 United States Lloyd Ruby (R) Watson-Offenhauser 144.2 15 200 0 + 4:25.59  
8 25 44 United States Bob Veith Meskowski-Offenhauser 143.36 23 200 0 + 5:17.48  
9 28 18 United States Bud Tingelstad (R) Trevis-Offenhauser 142.35 29 200 0 + 8:19.91  
10 14 38 United States Bob Christie Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.63 19 200 0 + 8:40.28  
11 22 27 United States Red Amick Epperly-Offenhauser 143.08 26 200 0 + 11:10.58  
12 27 17 United States Duane Carter Kuzma-Offenhauser 142.63 28 200 0 + 11:17.20  
13 31 39 United States Bill Homeier Kuzma-Offenhauser 141.24 32 200 0 + 12:10.71  
14 24 48 United States Gene Hartley Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.89 16 196 0 + 4 Laps  
15 9 65 United States Chuck Stevenson Watson-Offenhauser 144.66 12 196 0 + 4 Laps  
16 21 14 United States Bobby Grim Meskowski-Offenhauser 143.15 25 194 0 + 6 Laps  
17 19 26 United States Shorty Templeman Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.85 17 191 0 Clutch  
18 23 56 United States Jim Hurtubise (R) Christensen-Offenhauser 149.05 1 185 0 Engine  
19 10 10 United States Jimmy Bryan (W) Epperly-Offenhauser 144.53 13 152 0 Fuel System  
20 6 28 United States Troy Ruttman (W) Watson-Offenhauser 145.36 8 134 11 Axle  
21 1 6 United States Eddie Sachs Ewing-Offenhauser 146.59 2 132 21 Magneto  
22 11 73 United States Don Freeland Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.35 14 129 0 Magneto  
23 18 2 United States Tony Bettenhausen Watson-Offenhauser 145.21 9 125 0 Engine  
24 15 32 United States Wayne Weiler (R) Epperly-Offenhauser 143.51 20 103 0 Accident  
25 16 5 United States A. J. Foyt Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.46 22 90 0 Clutch  
26 29 46 United States Eddie Russo Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.2 30 90 0 Accident  
27 13 8 United States Johnny Boyd Epperly-Offenhauser 143.77 18 77 0 Engine  
28 20 37 United States Gene Force Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.47 21 74 0 Brakes  
29 32 16 United States Jim McWithey Epperly-Offenhauser 140.37 33 60 0 Brakes  
30 5 9 United States Len Sutton Watson-Offenhauser 145.44 7 47 0 Engine  
31 4 97 United States Dick Rathmann Watson-Offenhauser 145.54 6 42 0 Brakes  
32 30 76 United States Al Herman Ewing-Offenhauser 141.83 31 34 0 Clutch  
33 33 23 United States Dempsey Wilson Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.21 24 11 0 Magneto  


Failed to qualify

Lap leaders

Race notes

  • Fastest Lead Lap: Jim Rathmann – 1:01.59
  • The 1960 Indianapolis 500 was the final 500 which featured a 33-car field consisting of all front-engined cars.
  • The weather on race day would reach a high of 75 °F (24 °C) with wind speeds up to 15 miles per hour (24 km/h).[8] Climate historians would consider this to be the "traditional" climate for an Indianapolis 500 race.
  • Despite some published claims that it was Smokey Yunick,[9] the race-winning chief mechanic for Rathmann was Takeo "Chickie" Hirashima.[10]

Spectator fatalities

Two spectators in the infield, Fred H. Linder, 36, of Indianapolis, and William C. Craig, 37, of Zionsville, were killed, and as many as 82 were injured, when a homemade scaffolding collapsed. Approximately 125–130 patrons had paid a small fee ($5–$10) to view the race from the 30-foot tall scaffolding, erected by a private individual (Wilbur Shortridge, Jr.[11]) and not the Speedway – a practice that was allowed at the time. The structure was partially anchored to a pick-up truck, and situated in the infield of turn three. Over the years, the private scaffold platforms had become a popular fixture at the Speedway, with often many located around the massive infield. They were not sponsored by the track, and at times, the track management would attempt to curtail the practice, with safety in mind. However, enforcement was inconsistent, and they were not banned outright prior to 1960.

During the parade lap as the field drove by, the people on the platform began to lean and wave at the cars, which caused the scaffolding to become unstable. It soon tipped forward and fell to the ground, crushing people who were underneath the structure, and the 125–130 people who were on it either fell or jumped to the ground. Linder and Craig were pronounced dead of broken necks, and over 80 were injured, about 22 seriously.

After the accident, the Speedway banned "bootleg" homemade scaffolds at the track, a rule that still exists to this day. The track management was scrutinized by the state fire marshal and other officials for allowing the scaffolds to be constructed without permits, inspections, or any sort of safety rules. Other reports even criticized spectators who witnessed the tragedy and did little to offer help, whereas many in attendance were totally unaware of the accident. Johnny Rutherford, who was attending the race for the first time as a spectator, claims to have witnessed the accident.[12] In addition, his future wife Betty Hoyer, a student nurse, attended to the scene.[13]

Championship standings after the race

  • Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Also, points scored in the 500 did not count towards the F1 constructors championship.



The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. Fred Agabashian served as "driver expert" for the second year. After the race, Luke Walton reported from victory lane.

For the first time, the network reached South Africa via tape-delay rebroadcasts.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network
Booth Announcers Turn Reporters Pit/garage reporters

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Driver expert: Fred Agabashian
Statistician: Charlie Brockman

Turn 1: Bill Frosh
Turn 2: John Peterson
Backstretch: Bernie Herman
Turn 3: Lou Palmer
Turn 4: Jim Shelton

Greg Smith (north)
Jack Shapiro (center)
Luke Walton (south)


  1. ^ Cadou Jr., Jep (May 31, 1960). "Wheel-To-Wheel Battle Feature Of Fastest 500". The Indianapolis Star. p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  2. ^ a b The Talk of Gasoline Alley1070-AM WIBC, May 21, 2007
  3. ^ Indy Record Probable
  4. ^ "The Talk of Gasoline Alley", WIBC, May 12, 2003
  5. ^ a b c The Talk of Gasoline Alley1070-AM WIBC, April 30, 2007
  6. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
  7. ^ "1960 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes". ChampCarStats. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Weather information for the "1960 Indianapolis 500"". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
  9. ^ "The Talk of Gasoline Alley," WIBC: May 20, 2005
  10. ^ "The Talk of Gasoline Alley," WFNI/Network Indiana: May 21, 2009
  11. ^ Grandstand Collapse at the 1960 Indianapolis 500
  12. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley. May 22, 2000. Network Indiana.
  13. ^ Cork, Bob (1974-06-09). "Rutherford's Wife Met Tragedy, Then Him, at Indy". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  14. ^ a b "Indianapolis 1960 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 18 March 2019.

External links

Previous race:
1960 Monaco Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1960 season
Next race:
1960 Dutch Grand Prix
Previous race:
1959 Indianapolis 500
Rodger Ward
1960 Indianapolis 500
Jim Rathmann
Next race:
1961 Indianapolis 500
A. J. Foyt
Preceded by
135.875 mph
(1959 Indianapolis 500)
Record for the Indianapolis 500 fastest average speed
Succeeded by
139.130 mph
(1961 Indianapolis 500)
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