On August 19, 1985, after years of being shown tape delayed….ABC Sports signed an initial three-year deal to cover the Indianapolis 500 live flag-to-flag starting in 1986….as longtime anchor Jim McKay was moved to the host position….with play-by-play being handled by Jim Lampley and Sam Posey. Since the Daytona 500 had been shown live flag-to-flag on CBS since 1979….and ABC officials had wanted to do the same for Indianapolis for several years….that is when ABC’s landmark telecast was scheduled to feature 32 cameras, three RaceCams and an hour-long live pre-race show.
Defending Indy 500 winner Danny Sullivan had returned to Penske Racing….however, the rest of the team saw a shake-up from the previous year….as a result of Rick Mears returning to full-time driving….after his serious crash at Sanair in 1984….resulting in Mears only driving a partial schedule on oval tracks only in 1985…..whereas Al Unser, Sr. who had driven full-time for Penske in 1985….while becoming the 1985 CART champion….had dropped to part-time…..when Unser would race only the three 500 milers at Indy, Michigan and Pocpno….along with Phoenix and Tamiami…..as Unser was assigned the duty of being the first driver to roll out the brand new PC-15/Ilmor Chevy Indy V-8 265A. Kevin Cogan moved over from the Kraco Team to Patrick Racing…..while joining Emerson Fittipaldi to make the team a two-car effort. Fittipaldi’s new livery for 1986 featured a new sponsor to the sport, Marlboro, which would become a big part of the sport for over two decades. Bobby Rahal won three of the last six races of 1985….and finished third in the points….who despite a heavy crash at Michigan in August…..and a testing crash in the fall at Indy….for Rahal was hot off the finish of the 1985 season….while returning with Truesports and a favorite entering the season. Nearly the entire race….as seen in this video herewith….unfolded as a three-way battle between pole sitter Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal, and Kevin Cogan.