1950 Indianapolis 500
The 1950 Indianapolis 500 was the third race of the 1950 Alternate Formula One season, held on May 30th 1950. It was the first of two Indianapolis 500s to be included in the World Drivers' Championship, and therefore included the entries of many European drivers and teams, although an overwhelming majority of them failed to qualify for the race. Johnny Mauro won the race from Myron Fohr and Jim Rathmann.
With the announcement of a World Championship, the American representatives insisted on the inclusion of a round in the United States. Indeed, all other planned races were in Europe. However, the United States did not have the infrastructure to organise a classic Grand Prix on a road course, and the FIA decided to include the classic Indianapolis 500-mile race. The race would still count for the national AAA championship at the same time, ensuring that a large mix of European drivers and teams would join the regular American entrants.
Indeed, 50 drivers showed up to compete for the 33 spots available. Most of the regular European teams made changes to their line-ups, either bringing less cars, buying local machinery to increase their chances of success or even hiring local experienced drivers. As such, Johnny Claes left the second Maserati to Spider Webb, Reg Parnell left his works Maserati to Jimmy Davies, EXTRAS entered two Watsons for Jack McGrath and Troy Ruttman, Motorsport Bleu entered Duke Nalon, ENB fielded Bill Vukovich and Belgian-American Charles Van Acker next to Cabantous and Chaboud, Scuderia Maremmana kept regular driver Bill Holland next to Myron Fohr and Australian Frank Kleinig and Jaguar made their first entry with veteran Wilbur Shaw.
Of course, American entrants arrived by the dozens. A factory Kurtis Kraft team entered four cars for Cecil Green, Jimmy Jackson, Joie Chitwood and Hans Stuck, while other teams fielded their own cars, as usual. These smaller teams made up the remaining 18 entrants. The last and most peculiar entry was that of Ecurie Australie, a small Australian outfit who made the long trip to Indianapolis to enter two Kurtis Krafts for Lex Davison and Doug Whiteford.
As expected, the American entrants dominated qualiying, Al Miller taking pole ahead of Bud Rose, with Johnny Mauro third in the private Alfa Romeo. The best European entry was driven by an American, Myron Fohr starting fourth in the Scuderia Maremmana Deidt-Jaguar. Bill Holland also qualified the car in 16th, while Frank Kleinig just missed out, ending up 36th. The best factory team in qualifying was undoubtedly Kurtis Kraft, who put Chitwood fifth ahead of Green. Milt Fankhouser lined up seventh with Paul Russo just behind, and Charles Van Acker ninth, by far the best qualifying result for an ENB up to that point. Danny Kladis completed the top ten in the Maserati.
Continuing on the local domination, Ralph Pratt qualified 11th, just ahead of Lee Wallard. One of the greatest surprises of qualifying was EXTRAS, who was one of the rare European teams to buy an American chassis-engine combination for the race. Troy Ruttman and Jack McGrath, both very inexperienced drivers, qualified the Watsons in 13th and 14th. Jim Rathmann would line up 15th. Behind Holland, Bill Vukovich did a good job of qualifying the ENB in his first appearance at the Speedway. Then it was locals William Cantrell, Chuck Leighton, Andy Linden, Manuel Ayulo and George Lynch.
Jimmy Davies qualified 23rd, a good result for Maserati, who seemed completely unsuited to the track. In fact, Davies was the only factory Maserati driver to qualify for the race. He was followed by Jim Rigsby, Jimmy Jackson and Mauri Rose, the best Alfa Romeo on the grid and probably the best driver at the track, having won the race three times. Like Davies, he was the only driver from his team to qualify. Joe James, Gene Hartley and Cy Marshall followed, then Duke Nalon, who qualified the Motorsport Bleu Talbot-Lago, which is no mean feat at a track where power was the most important factor. The grid was completed by Hans Stuck, Kurtis Kraft's guest driver, the 50-year-old German probably in one of his last races. Doug Whiteford qualified for Ecurie Australie, the first time he had set foot in America. Wilbur Shaw, another triple-winner of the race, barely made it onto the grid in his last hurrah, driving the Jaguar.
All of the American entrants qualified bar one, Spider Webb, driving the Claes Maserati. He qualified 37th. Only five of the foreign entrants actually qualified for the race. Lex Davison and Frank Kleinig, the Australians, were the only two drivers to fail to qualify while driving an American car, even though their teams were Australian and Italian respectively. They were split by Luigi Fagioli, the best Italian. Phoenix were relatively good compared to other European entrants, partly due to the Offenhauser engines, placing Ascari in 38th and Gonzalez in 40th, split by de Graffenried's Ferrari. They were followed by the Alfas of Fangio and Trintignant, Chaboud's ENB, Chiron's Maserati, very disappointing from the championship leader, Farina's Alfa Romeo, the Maseratis of Bonetto and Taruffi, Serafini's Ferrari, Giraud Cabantous' ENB, and, as usual, Raymond Sommer's Aston Martin in last position.
The race was quickly marred by a collision on lap 4. Jimmy Jackson lost control of his car in turn 2, spinning around and taking Mauri Rose with him. Rose struck the inside wall at low speed and was uninjured, while Jackson got the worst of it. His car caught flight for a short moment and he landed right next to the inside wall, two wheels lost. He walked out of the wreckage unharmed as well.
After an early scramble for the lead, Cecil Green took the lead on lap 7 and pulled out a gap back to the chasing pack which consisted of Al Miller and Johnny Mauro, with Jim Rathmann joining the scramble for second place later on. Green quickly began to lose pace, suffering from the lack of help from anyone. Mauro then broke away from the pack and quickly overcame the gap, taking the lead on lap 29, Bud Rose coming with him into second place. It was then Danny Kladis' turn to join in, and after 40 laps, Mauro led from Kladis, Bud Rose, Paul Russo and Joie Chitwood.
A few laps later, Kladis had caught Mauro and they began to battle for the lead, though the battle didn't last long. They had lost time fighting and Rose had overcome the leaders' advatange and overtook Kladis on lap 54, allowing Mauro to string fast laps together and pull out a big advantage. Rose quickly made a small mistake, allowing Kladis through, but he was unable to catch up to Mauro, while continuing the fight with Kladis. Kladis would suffer the consequences. On lap 73, while dueling with Rose, he had a lapse in concentration, losing control of his car in turn 3. He struck the outside wall at 200 km/h, his left rear wheel coming off and his left leg striking the wall at full speed. Kladis was transported to the hospital, and no word of his condition was given.
This left Rose alone to chase down Mauro, though he was quickly caught - and passed - by Myron Fohr, Joie Chitwood and, eventually, Jim Rathmann, who was almost immediately replaced by Milt Fankhouser. At the halfway point of the race, Mauro still had a sizeable lead over Fohr, Fankhouser, Chitwood and Rose. Fohr then began catching up to the race leader, leaving Chitwood third ahead of Rathmann and Rose, Fankhouser having slowed down.
Chitwood retired from third position on lap 120 with clutch failure, while Rose finally started to drop backwards with Fankhouser making up the lost ground. Fohr was now in an epic duel with Mauro. Jack McGrath was now a in a quiet sixth position, a great job for EXTRAS. By lap 130, it was Rathmann and Fankhouser battling, Mauro having shaken off the threat of Myron Fohr. This battle didn't last long, as Rathmann began gaining ground on the leaders, making it an exciting three-way scrap for the lead by lap 150, while Charles Van Acker was working miracles in the ENB-Bugatti to move up to fifth place and battling with Fankhouser, who was having a long day at work. The fight was short-lived, as Van Acker had to back off to save fuel.
Fohr was now in the lead, with Mauro and Rathmann battling for second, although Mauro found more pace and took the lead, immediately pulling away a bit of a gap. Fankhouser retired from the race on lap 183 with a faulty oil line, leaving Chuck Leighton in fourth place and Bud Rose fifth and quickly catching the Cantarano. Mauro eventually won the race, his first Indy 500 victory in only his second start. The interesting part was the battle for second, with Fohr beating Rathmann by just four tenths of a second! Rose eventually caught and passed Leighton on the last lap of the race. William Cantrell finished the race sixth, with Jack McGrath seventh in his first Indy 500. Ralph Pratt finished 8th ahead of Jim Rigsby and Cy Marshall. Fohr's second place was the best of the European entrants in the Deidt-Jaguar, but the best European driver was Charles Van Acker, who eventually finished eleventh after spending a brief moment in the top 5. He had, however, already driven in the Indy 500. No European driver making their Indy 500 debut for a European team actually finished the race.
- First and only victory for Johnny Mauro.
- First and only podium for Johnny Mauro, Myron Fohr and Jim Rathmann.
- First and only points for Johnny Mauro, Jim Rathmann, Bud Rose and Chuck Leighton.
- First points for Myron Fohr.
- First start for 31 drivers (only start for 14 of them).
- First entry for 34 drivers (only entry for 14 of them).
- First and only pole for Al Miller.
- First and only fastest lap for Johnny Mauro.
- First pole for Miller.
- First podium for Deidt and Wetteroth.
- First points for Deidt, Wetteroth, Bromme and Cantarano.
- First start and entry for 16 constructors (only start for 11 of them).
- First and only victory for Johnny Mauro.
- First and only pole for Trainor Auto Parts.
- First and only fastest lap for Johnny Mauro.
- First and only podium for Johnny Mauro and Pioneer Auto Repair.
- First podium for Scuderia Maremmana.
- First and only points for Johnny Mauro and Pioneer Auto Repair.
- First points for Scuderia Maremmana.
- First start for 15 entrants (only start for 14 of them).
- First entry for 15 entrants (only entry for 13 of them).
- Al Miller: 6 laps (1-6)
- Cecil Green: 22 laps (7-28)
- Johnny Mauro: 170 laps (29-150, 153-200)
- Myron Fohr: 3 laps (150-152)
- Youngest race winner: Johnny Mauro (39 years, 7 months and 5 days)
- Youngest podium scorer: Jim Rathmann (21 years, 10 months and 14 days)
- Youngest points scorer: Jim Rathmann (21 years, 10 months and 14 days)
- Youngest lap leader: Cecil Green (30 years and 8 months)
- Youngest starter: Troy Ruttman (20 years, 2 months and 19 days)
- Youngest entrant: Troy Ruttman (20 years, 2 months and 18 days)
- Oldest pole scorer: Al Miller (43 years, 1 month and 1 day)
- Most career starts: Mauri Rose and Bill Holland (3)
- Most career entries: 13 drivers (3)
- Most career laps led: Johnny Mauro (170)
- Worst starting place for a race winner: Johnny Mauro (3rd)
- Most total victories: Alfa Romeo (2)
- Most laps led: Alfa Romeo (212)
- Most total entries: Maserati (21)
- Longest race distance (804.672 km)
- Longest running time (4:02:19.23)
- Fastest average speed (199.24 km/h)
- Largest winning margin (1:05.43)
- Most starters (33)
- Most entrants (50)
- Most classified finishers (19)
- Most finishers (17)
- Most retirements (16)
|4||Juan Manuel Fangio||7|
|5||Toulo de Graffenried||7|
- Only the top five positions are listed.
| Previous race:
1950 Monaco Grand Prix
| Alternate Formula 1 World Championship
| Next race:|
1950 Swiss Grand Prix
| Previous race:
|Indianapolis 500|| Next race:|
1951 Indianapolis 500