1980sABCAuto RacingHighlightsIndy 500Jim LampleyWide World of Sports

Auto Racing – 1986 – Indy 500 – Jim Lampley + Sam Posey Race Thoughts + The Race Lineup Row By Row


Saturday May 31 saw sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80’s…..and due to the rain delays….traditional pre-race ceremonies were retooled slightly….with some replacement performers….as the Purdue University band was absent….while Jim Nabors, scheduled to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana”, had departed….and was replaced by John S. Davies, the artist-in-residence at the Indianapolis Opera.  A smaller balloon spectacle was also hastily arranged….after all of the original balloons had lost their helium by Monday afternoon.  An army band from Fort Benjamin Harrison was brought in to accompany the performances….and to perform “Taps.” ….then Mary F. Hulman gave the starting command just minutes before 11 a.m….and the field pulled away for the parade and pace laps.  

On the final pace lap, Tom Sneva veered off-course at the exit of turn 2….and further down the backstretch, a massive smoke bomb was set off by some unruly spectators. The yellow flag was displayed, and the start was waved off. The next time by, the field was red flagged, and halted on the front stretch. Sneva’s crash was cleaned up, but it was determined that the field had burned an unnecessary four laps of fuel….so, a decision was made to replenish each of the 32 remaining cars’ pitside fuel tanks with 3 gallons of methanol. The red flag wound up delaying the start by over a half-hour.  

At 11:34 a.m., Tony George gave the command to restart the engines….and the field assembled for two pace laps. The field was straggling through the fourth turn to take the green….when  Michael Andretti jumped into the lead from the outside of the front row. He set a new all-time record for the first lap at 202.940 mph (326.600 km/h)….which was the first time the opening lap was run over 200 mph (320 km/h). After a postponement of six days…..and after another half hour delay due to the Sneva crash, the race was finally underway.

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