May 26, 1996
(This page was created Sept 25, 2013 after I stumbled
across these photos of mine.)
Jay and I had been roommates on the north side of
Indianapolis for a few years and his buddies from
Michigan would come down in May and go to the race
with us. But in 2005, Jay moved back to Michigan to
finish his degree in electrical engineering.
This did not stop these race fans from returning for the
1996 race. I had a 2 bedroom apt but only one bed. My
other bedroom was the game room with a foosball table
and a dart board. I had one little couch in the living
room and a wicker chair. Consequently two of the guys
had to sleep on the floor, which might have been better
than using the couch.
1996 is the year that a rule was made at the Indy 500
that reserved 22 spots on the grid for those drivers who
were competing in the new Indy Racing League (IRL) as
opposed to C.A.R.T. (Championship Auto Racing
All the CART teams boycotted the Indy 500, except for
Galles and Walker. CART attempted to hold a
competing race at Michigan which they called the U.S.
500. This race was doomed to failure, as was CART.
None the less, their boycott resulted in only 77 entries
for the '96 Indy 500, down from 104 the previous year. It
also resulted in the largest number of rookie drivers.
Interestingly enough, after the CART contingent had
bleeted through the media that all the rookies in the Indy
500 would result in a crashfest, their US 500 was in fact
the crashfest and the Indy 500 was quite successful.
This was also the last year at the Indy 500 for
the CART chassis. A new IRL Dallara chassi
would be used the following year with 4.0 L V-8
engines. This year the engines included the
Ford Cosworth V-8, the Menard V-6 and
Mercedes Ilmor V-8.
This was the year of the fastest speeds ever at
On Pole Day, rookie Tony Stewart, driving for
Menards, holds the fastest speed for most of
the day with a 4-lap average of 233.1 mph.
Arie Luyendyk came out late in the day and
posted a 4-lap average of 233.39 mph, besting
Minutes later, team owner John Menard
withdrawals Scott Brayton's Lola which was
qualified on the 2nd row. Brayton came out in
his backup car and captured the pole with a
4-lap speed of 233.718 mph.
During post-qualifying inspection, Luyendyk's
car was found to be under weight and his time
was thrown out.
Tragically, six days later, Brayton has a rear
tire blow out during practice in turn 2 while
traveling at approximately 235 mph. The
veteran driver lost his life that day. He was 37
y/o. His first Indy was in 1981.
These last two events moved Stewart into the
Buddy Lazier won the race.
|Me, Jay, Koz and E.T. sitting toward the top of Stand J, section 28 - Good seats!
|Parade Lap before the start of the 80th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race
|Roberto Guerrero qualified 6th and finished 5th
driving for Pagan Racing in his WavePhore Pennzoil Renyard.
He would lead the race a few times during the day.
His 1992 record qualifying speed fell this year.
These photos were likely taken with my old Nikon film camera with a 50mm lens.