Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year
Winners of the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Award, first awarded in 1952. No official award was given from 1911–1951, even though at least one rookie starter has been present in every running of the Indianapolis 500. The award is voted on by members of the media the night of, or the morning after, the race, and does not necessarily go to the highest finishing rookie. Noteworthy accomplishments during qualifying, regardless of the respective race result, have frequently been a factor in voting. A rookie who runs up front during the race and/or leads laps (but ultimately drops out) can also earn many votes as well. Years in which two drivers are listed indicate co-winners, due to a tie in the final voting.
The Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year award has been sponsored by the following companies:
- Stark & Wetzel (1952–1979)
- American Fletcher National Bank (1980–1988)
- Bank One (1989–2004)
- JPMorgan Chase (2005–2013)
The term "rookie" at the Indianapolis 500 may be deceptive. According to race rules, a rookie is any driver who has never qualified for the race and/or has never been credited with a start. Several exceptions have created confusion, among the many include:
- In 1911, the first Indianapolis 500, all 40 participants are considered rookies. However, 23 of the 40 starters had previously participated in early events at the Speedway in 1909–1910. Therefore, in the first 500, there were actually only seventeen complete newcomers to the Speedway. In addition, four other drivers who raced in the 500 in subsequent years, had previous experience at the Speedway in 1909–1910.
- In 1927, Louis Meyer did not qualify for the race, but served as a relief driver. He first qualified on his own in 1928, and was considered a rookie when he won that race.
- Bill Puterbaugh had a notable streak of failing to qualify for the race six times from 1968–1974, before finally making the race for the first time in 1975. He was still scored a rookie for the 1975 race, and his 7th place finish earned him the Rookie of the Year award.
- Jacques Villeneuve qualified for the 1984 race, but crashed in practice. He was not cleared to drive, and was forced to withdraw, and not credited with a start. He returned in 1985, but a crash early in the month prevented him from making a qualifying attempt. In 1986, he qualified and started the race (his third year overall), where he was considered a rookie, and still eligible for the award (he did not win). Members of the media lightheartedly referred to him as "the veteran rookie."
- Affonso Giaffone was a rookie when first qualified for the 1997 race. He wrecked on the pace lap, and never saw the green flag to take the start, and was credited with 0 laps. Had he returned in a subsequent year, despite never starting the race, he would not be considered a rookie again.
The term "rookie" can also confuse spectators, as it suggests a young, inexperienced competitor. In reality, it can be a mis-nomer, since several experienced champions of other forms of motorsports have come to Indy and been ruled a rookie. World Champions such as Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet were still scored as "rookies" in their first starts.
- Graham Hill was considered a rookie winner when he won in his first start (1966). However, Hill had already won the 1962 World Championship going into the race.
- In 2012, longtime Formula One veterans Rubens Barrichello and Jean Alesi were by rule, considered race "rookies."
- In the wake of the CART/IRL split in 1996, several drivers who first arrived at Indy in the early 2000s had been experienced fixtures of the CART circuit. Juan Pablo Montoya was the 1999 CART champion, but when he raced at Indy for the first time and won in 2000, he was still considered by definition, a "rookie." A similar situation occurred for Helio Castroneves a year later. After experience in three seasons in the CART series, he attempted Indy for the first time in 2001. He won the 2001 race, also scored as a rookie. He would go on to the win the 2002 race also, becoming the first driver to win the race in his first two starts.
Rookie of the Year award winners
(mph / km/h)
|1952||Art Cross||20||134.288 / 216.116||5|
|1953||Jimmy Daywalt||21||135.747 / 218.464||6|
|1954||Larry Crockett||25||139.557 / 224.595||9|
|1955||Al Herman||16||139.811 / 225.004||7|
|1956||Bob Veith||23||142.535 / 229.388||7|
|1957||Don Edmunds||27||140.449 / 226.031||19|
|1958||George Amick||25||142.710 / 229.669||2|
|1959||Bobby Grim||5||144.225 / 232.108||26|
|1960||Jim Hurtubise||23||149.056 / 239.882||18|
|1961||Bobby Marshman||33||144.293 / 232.217||7|
|Parnelli Jones||5||146.080 / 235.093||12|
|1962||Jim McElreath||7||149.025 / 239.832||6|
|1963||Jim Clark||5||149.750 / 240.999||2|
|1964||Johnny White||21||150.893 / 242.839||4|
|1965||Mario Andretti||4||158.849 / 255.643||3|
|1966||Jackie Stewart||11||159.972 / 257.450||6|
|1967||Denis Hulme||24||163.376 / 262.928||4|
|1968||Bill Vukovich II||23||163.510 / 263.144||7|
|1969||Mark Donohue||4||168.903 / 271.823||7|
|1970||Donnie Allison||23||165.662 / 266.607||4|
|1971||Denny Zimmerman||28||169.755 / 273.194||8|
|1972||Mike Hiss||25||179.015 / 288.097||7|
|1973||Graham McRae||13||192.031 / 309.044||16|
|1974||Pancho Carter||21||180.605 / 290.656||7|
|1975||Bill Puterbaugh||15||183.833 / 295.851||7|
|1976||Vern Schuppan||17||182.011 / 292.918||18|
|1977||Jerry Sneva||16||186.616 / 300.329||10|
|1978||Larry Rice||30||187.393 / 301.580||11|
|Rick Mears||3||200.078 / 321.994||23|
|1979||Howdy Holmes||13||185.864 / 299.119||7|
|1980||Tim Richmond||19||188.334 / 303.094||9|
|1981||Josele Garza||6||195.101 / 313.985||23|
|1982||Jim Hickman||24||196.217 / 315.781||7|
|1983||Teo Fabi||1||207.395 / 333.770||26|
|1984||Roberto Guerrero||7||205.707 / 331.053||2|
|Michael Andretti||4||207.805 / 334.430||5|
|1985||Arie Luyendyk||20||206.004 / 331.531||7|
|1986||Randy Lanier||13||209.964 / 337.904||10|
|1987||Fabrizio Barbazza||17||208.038 / 334.805||3|
|1988||Bill Vukovich III||23||208.545 / 335.621||14|
|1989||Bernard Jourdain||20||213.105 / 342.959||9|
|Scott Pruett||17||213.995 / 344.327||10|
|1990||Eddie Cheever||14||217.926 / 350.718||8|
|1991||Jeff Andretti||11||217.632 / 350.245||15|
|1992||Lyn St. James||27||220.150 / 354.297||11|
|1993||Nigel Mansell||8||220.255 / 354.466||3|
|1994||Jacques Villeneuve||4||226.259 / 364.129||2|
|1995||Christian Fittipaldi||27||226.375 / 364.315||2|
|1996||Tony Stewart||1||233.100 / 375.138||24|
|1997||Jeff Ward||7||214.517 / 345.232||3|
|1998||Steve Knapp||23||216.445 / 348.334||3|
|1999||Robby McGehee||27||220.139 / 354.279||5|
|2000||Juan Pablo Montoya||2||223.372 / 359.482||1|
|2001||Hélio Castroneves||11||224.142 / 360.722||1|
|2002||Alex Barron||26||228.580 / 367.864||4|
|Tomas Scheckter||10||229.210 / 368.878||26|
|2003||Tora Takagi||7||229.358 / 369.116||5|
|2004||Kosuke Matsuura||9||220.740 / 355.247||11|
|2005||Danica Patrick||4||227.004 / 365.328||4|
|2006||Marco Andretti||9||224.918 / 361.970||2|
|2007||Phil Giebler||33||219.637 / 353.472||29|
|2008||Ryan Hunter-Reay||20||221.579 / 356.597||6|
|2009||Alex Tagliani||33||221.115 / 355.850||11|
|2010||Simona de Silvestro||22||224.228 / 360.860||14|
|2011||J. R. Hildebrand||12||225.579 / 363.034||2|
|2012||Rubens Barrichello||10||224.264 / 360.918||11|
|2013||Carlos Muñoz||2||228.342 / 367.491||2|
- 1969: Mark Donohue (7th place) won the rookie of the year award, despite finishing ten laps behind fellow rookie Peter Revson (5th place). Voters took into account the fact that Donohue (who started 4th) had to make a lengthy pit stop early on, but his race pace was much faster. Revson, who started last, lost a cylinder, and due to the high attrition rate, was able to cruise around to a largely uncontested 5th place finish.
- 1978: Larry Rice and Rick Mears tied in the voting. At the victory banquet, it was discovered that two of the voters had split their votes. They could not decide who to vote for, and put both Rice and Mears on their respective ballots. Officials requested that those two voters re-vote, and they both agreed. One voted for Rice, and the other voted for Mears, and a tie still prevailed. Officials decided to award co-winners.
- 1979: Howdy Holmes was the lone rookie in the field, and was poised to win the award regardless of his race performance.
- 1983: Teo Fabi won the pole position and led the first 23 laps, which helped earn him the award – even though he dropped out finished 26th, (and fellow rookie Al Unser, Jr. finished in the top ten).
- 1991: Jeff Andretti had actually attempted to qualify for the race in 1990, but was bumped. Therefore, 1991 was his second overall attempt.
- 2000-2001: Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves won the race and the award respectively, becoming the first drivers to do so.
- 2007: Only two rookies were in the field (Phil Giebler and Milka Duno). Both drivers crashed during the race in separate incidents, and Giebler won the award finishing 29th, the lowest finishing position for any rookie of the year.
- 2008: Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first veteran driver (started three or more races the previous season) in the INDYCAR era (1996–present) to win the Indianapolis 500 rookie award. He had won the 2007 INDYCAR Rookie of the Year award, but his first INDYCAR start was July 22, 2007 (Mid-Ohio, eight weeks after Indianapolis), therefore he had not attempted Indianapolis, and was a race rookie and eligible for this award in 2008. Under INDYCAR rules in that season, the first since reunification of the open-wheel formula in the United States, drivers who had raced in CART/Champ Car with enough oval experience, but never in the Indianapolis 500, were declared veterans of the series but race rookies.
- 2010: Mike Conway's huge crash on the final lap shuffled the running order, as several cars slipped by others under yellow, trying to avoid the crash. Simona de Silvestro was unofficially scored as the highest finishing rookie, but when official results were posted, Mario Romancini was scored as the highest finishing rookie (13th) and he was also the fastest rookie qualfier. Simona de Silvestro, however, was still voted the rookie of the year.
Drivers to win award and race (chronologically)
|Driver||Rookie of the Year||Race Victories|
|Rick Mears||1978||1979, 1984, 1988, 1991|
|Arie Luyendyk||1985||1990, 1997|
|Juan Pablo Montoya||2000||2000|
|Hélio Castroneves||2001||2001, 2002, 2009|
Officially nine drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 in their first attempt. In 1928, Louis Meyer won the race in his first start, but he had driven relief in the race a year earlier. In the first race in 1911, all drivers were considered "rookies," even though 23 of the 40 starters had previously driven in other races at the track in 1909–1910.
- 1911: Ray Harroun (first race; Harroun had driven in early events at the Speedway in 1909–1910)
- 1913: Jules Goux
- 1914: Rene Thomas
- 1926: Frank Lockhart
- 1927: George Souders
- 1928: Louis Meyer (drover relief in 1927)
- 1966: Graham Hill (did not win Rookie of the Year award)
- 2000: Juan Pablo Montoya
- 2001: Hélio Castroneves
Fastest rookie qualifier
Since 1975, a separate award has been presented to the fastest rookie qualifier in the field. It has been sponsored by the American Dairy Association of Indiana since its inception. The award goes to the rookie who posts the fastest four-lap qualifying average, regardless of overall starting position, and regardless of day in which the qualifying run was completed. The award is currently $5,000 and a plaque. Each other rookie in the field receives $250. The names of the winners are affixed to a permanent trophy on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Although rookies have qualified for every race dating back to 1911, this award has only been officially recognized since 1975.
In 2009, the award celebrated its 35th consecutive year of continuous sponsorship by the American Dairy Association of Indiana. Since 2010, the pole position has been determined utilizing the Fast Nine Shootout. In 2012, Josef Newgarden became the first rookie to make the shootout. Though by rule, his Segment 1 speed of 224.677 mph was erased at the start of the shootout, it counted as his speed in regards to the Fastest Rookie Qualifier award.
- 1975: Bill Puterbaugh, 183.833 mph
- 1976: Billy Scott, 183.383 mph
- 1977: Danny Ongais, 193.040 mph
- 1978: Rick Mears, 200.078 mph (started 3rd)
- 1979: Howdy Holmes, 185.864 mph (lone rookie in the field)
- 1980: Tim Richmond, 188.334 mph
- 1981: Josele Garza, 195.101 mph
- 1982: Chip Ganassi, 197.704 mph
- 1983: Teo Fabi, 207.395 mph (won pole position)
- 1984: Michael Andretti, 207.805 mph
- 1985: Raul Boesel, 206.498 mph
- 1986: Randy Lanier, 209.964 mph
- 1987: Davy Jones, 208.117 mph
- 1988: Dominic Dobson, 210.096 mph
- 1989: John Jones, 214.028 mph
- 1990: Eddie Cheever, 217.926 mph
- 1991: Mike Groff, 219.015 mph
- 1992: Jimmy Vasser, 222.313 mph
- 1993: Stephan Gregoire, 220.851 mph
- 1994: Jacques Villeneuve, 226.259 mph
- 1995: Andre Ribeiro, 226.495 mph
- 1996: Tony Stewart, 233.100 mph (started on pole position after fatal crash of Scott Brayton; rookie speed record)
- 1997: Vincenzo Sospiri, 216.822 mph (started 3rd)
- 1998: Jimmy Kite, 219.290 mph
- 1999: John Hollansworth, Jr., 221.698 mph
- 2000: Juan Pablo Montoya, 223.372 mph (started 2nd, won race)
- 2001: Bruno Junqueira, 224.208 mph
- 2002: Tony Kanaan, 230.253 mph
- 2003: Scott Dixon, 230.099 mph
- 2004: Kosuke Matsuura, 220.740 mph
- 2005: Danica Patrick, 227.004 mph (started 4th)
- 2006: Marco Andretti, 224.918 mph
- 2007: Phil Giebler, 219.637 mph
- 2008: Hideki Mutoh, 223.887 mph
- 2009: Raphael Matos, 223.429 mph
- 2010: Mario Romancini, 224.641 mph
- 2011: J. R. Hildebrand, 225.579 mph
- 2012: Josef Newgarden, 224.677 mph (Segment 1 time); 224.037 mph (Fast Nine Shootout time)
- 2013: Carlos Muñoz, 228.171 mph (Segment 1 time) ; 228.342 (Fast Nine Shootout time)
- 2006 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Program
- Scott, D. Bruce (2005). Indy: Racing Before The 500 (First ed.). Indiana Reflections, LLC. p. 231. ISBN 0-9766149-0-1.
- Andretti was Italian-born.
- Rookie Graham Hill won the 1966 race, but Stewart won the rookie of the year award. After leading the race by over one lap over Hill with 8 laps remaining, Stewart slowed and finally stopped his car, retiring from the race, due to a loss of oil pressure.
- Guerrero was naturalised as a citizen in 1989.
- Tony Stewart qualified second but started the race on the pole position after pole winner Scott Brayton was killed in a practice session accident with a backup car. Replacement driver Danny Ongais started 33rd in the pole winning car per regulations.
- Hunter-Reay was the first veteran series driver (second year) to win the Indianapolis 500 rookie award. He had won the 2007 IRL Rookie of the Year award, but did not attempt this race and therefore was a race rookie and eligible for this award in 2008. 
- Tagliani was the first driver to win the Rookie of the Year award without qualifying his car for the race. After failing to qualify his own car, team owners moved him into the car qualified in 30th position by veteran teammate Bruno Junqueira, resulting in the move of the car to the back of the field, per the rules regarding driver replacements before the start of the race.
- Powell, Eric (2010-05-31). "Franchitti Earns $2.75 Million For Indy 500; De Silvestro Chase Rookie Of The Year". Indy500.com (Indianapolis Motor Speedway). Retrieved 2010-06-01.
- The Talk of Gasoline Alley - WFNI, May 23, 2013
Read in another language
This page is available in 1 language