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The 40th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, May 30, 1956. The event was part of the 1956 USAC National Championship Trail and was also race 3 of 8 in the 1956 World Championship of Drivers.

1956 Indianapolis 500
Winning car of the 1956 Indianapolis 500
Winning car of the 1956 Indianapolis 500
Race details
Date 30 May 1956 (1956-05-30)
Official name 40th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes
Location Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 4.023 km (2.5 mi)
Distance 200 laps, 804.672 km (500 mi)
Weather Overcast, dry track
Attendance 125,000-150,000[1]
Pole position
Driver John Zink
Time 4:07.26 (4 laps)
Podium
First John Zink
Second Jones & Maley Cars
Third Bob Estes

The 1956 race was the first to be governed by the United States Automobile Club. AAA withdrew from auto racing the previous August. Another change would have a more immediate effect on the current race. The track had been paved over with asphalt with only about 600 yards of the main stretch still remaining brick.

The 1956 race is also known in Indy 500 lore as "Cagle's Miracle." Torrential rains pummeled the Speedway in the days leading up to the race. The track was full of standing water, access tunnels were completely flooded, and the infield was a muddy quagmire. The conditions threatened to postpone or outright cancel the race. Speedway superintendent Clarence Cagle supervised a massive cleanup effort, in which hundreds of thousands of gallons of water were pumped out of the tunnels and the infield. Cagle and his crew worked non-stop for 48 hours straight, some without sleep, and had the track ready just in time for race morning.[2]

Contents

Time trialsEdit

Time trials was scheduled for four days, but the third day was rained out. With the new surface, a new track record was expected. Pat Flaherty did not disappoint with a pole speed of 145.596 mph (234.314 km/h), over 4.5 mph (7.2 km/h) faster than the 1954 record. 29 drivers qualified opening weekend. The second weekend saw heavy rain that completely canceled Saturday and left only a small window on Sunday for 4 drivers to fill the field. Nino Farina was one of the drivers left out when he didn't get a chance to qualify his Bardahl-Ferrari.

  • Saturday May 19 – Pole Day time trials
  • Sunday May 20 – Second day time trials
  • Saturday May 26 – Third day time trials (rained out)
  • Sunday May 27 – Fourth day time trials

Race summaryEdit

The early part of the race turned into a three-man duel between Russo, O'Connor, and Flaherty. Russo was the first to retire when his tire failed and his car crashed and caught fire. At quarter distance due to yellows and the pit stops, Parsons took the lead followed by Freeland. By the 200-mile (320 km) mark Flaherty took over the lead followed by Freeland, Sweikert, and Parsons but Hanks was working his way through the fields after sustaining some damage in the Russo crash, eventually taking second. Flaherty had built up such a lead that he was able to make his last pit stop and remain in front. He crossed the finish line with Hanks the only other car on the lead lap. The only real change in the top cars toward the end was both O'Connor and Jim Rathmann having to drop back with mechanical problems while both drivers were in the top 5.

ClassificationEdit

Pos Grid No Driver Constructor Qual Rank Laps Led Time/Retired Points
1 1 8   Pat Flaherty Watson-Offenhauser 145.59 1 200 127 3:53:28.84 8
2 13 4   Sam Hanks Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.05 21 200 0 +0:20.45 6
3 26 16   Don Freeland Phillips-Offenhauser 141.69 22 200 4 +1:30.23 4
4 6 98   Johnnie Parsons (W) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.14 7 200 16 +3:25.69 3
5 4 73   Dick Rathmann Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.47 6 200 0 +4:21.81 2
6 10 1   Bob Sweikert (W) Kuzma-Offenhauser 143.03 12 200 0 +5:35.05
7 23 14   Bob Veith (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.53 16 200 0 +6:25.63
8 15 19   Rodger Ward Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.17 27 200 0 +6:32.31
9 21 26   Jimmy Reece Lesovsky-Offenhauser 142.88 14 200 0 +6:38.31
10 30 27   Cliff Griffith Stevens-Offenhauser 141.47 24 199 0 +1 Lap
11 22 82   Gene Hartley Kuzma-Offenhauser 142.84 15 196 0 +4 Laps
12 7 42   Fred Agabashian Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.06 8 196 0 +4 Laps
13 25 57   Bob Christie (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.23 20 196 0 +4 Laps
14 28 55   Al Keller Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.19 26 195 0 +5 Laps
15 32 81   Eddie Johnson Kuzma-Offenhauser 139.09 32 195 0 +5 Laps
16 29 41   Billy Garrett (R) Kuzma-Offenhauser 140.55 30 194 0 +6 laps
17 33 64   Duke Dinsmore Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 138.53 33 191 0 +9 laps
18 3 7   Pat O'Connor Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.98 4 187 39 +13 Laps
19 19 2   Jimmy Bryan Kuzma-Offenhauser 143.74 9 185 0 +15 Laps
20 2 24   Jim Rathmann Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 145.12 3 175 0 Engine
21 31 34   Johnnie Tolan (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140.06 31 173 0 Engine
22 5 99   Tony Bettenhausen Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 144.6 5 160 0 Accident
23 14 10   Ed Elisian
(Relieved by Eddie Russo; 37 laps)
Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.38 25 160 0 Brakes
24 16 48   Jimmy Daywalt Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140.97 28 134 0 Accident
25 24 54   Jack Turner (R) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.39 18 131 0 Engine
26 20 89   Keith Andrews Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.97 13 94 0 Transmission
27 9 5   Andy Linden Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 143.05 11 90 0 Oil Leak
28 27 12   Al Herman Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 141.61 23 74 0 Accident
29 17 49   Ray Crawford Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 140.88 29 49 0 Accident
30 12 15   Johnny Boyd Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.33 19 35 0 Oil Leak
31 11 53   Troy Ruttman (W) Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 142.48 17 22 3 Spun Off
32 18 88   Johnny Thomson Kuzma-Offenhauser 145.54 2 22 0 Spun Off
33 8 29   Paul Russo Kurtis Kraft-Novi 143.54 10 21 11 Accident 11
Notes
  • ^1 – 1 point for fastest lead lap

AlternatesEdit

Failed to QualifyEdit

Race notesEdit

BroadcastingEdit

RadioEdit

The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. The broadcast was carried by over 280 affiliates, as well as Armed Forces Radio. The broadcast came on-air at 10:45 a.m. local time, fifteen minutes prior to the start of the race. This was the final broadcast based out of the old wooden Pagoda, which was demolished after the race.[6]

This was also the final year to have only two turn reporters ("south turns" and "north turns"). Beginning in 1957, the crew would be expanded to have one reporter in each of the four turns.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network
Booth Announcers Turn Reporters Pit reporters

Chief Announcer: Sid Collins
Analyst: Charlie Brockman

South turns: Bill Frosch
Backstretch: Bernie Herman
North turns: Jim Shelton

Luke Walton
Greg Smith
Bob Rhodes (garages)

Championship standings after the raceEdit

World Drivers' Championship standings
Pos Driver Points
  1   Jean Behra 10
  2   Juan Manuel Fangio 9
  3   Stirling Moss 8
  22 4   Pat Flaherty 8
  21 5   Sam Hanks 6
Source: [7]
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included.

See alsoEdit

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Campbell, Don G. (May 31, 1956). "Race Fans Battle, Slosh Through And Sit In Mud". The Indianapolis Star. p. 2. Retrieved June 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. 
  2. ^ "Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500" Donald Davidson, 2006, page 138
  3. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley1070-AM WIBC, May 14, 2004
  4. ^ "1956 International 500 Mile Sweepstakes". ChampCarStats.com. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  5. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley1070-AM WIBC, May 13, 2007
  6. ^ Brockman, Charles (May 30, 1956). "5 Radio Stations Broadcast '500'". The Indianapolis Star. p. 33. Retrieved March 7, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. 
  7. ^ "Indianapolis 1956 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 18 March 2019.

External linksEdit


Previous race:
1956 Monaco Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1956 season
Next race:
1956 Belgian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1955 Indianapolis 500
Bob Sweikert
1956 Indianapolis 500
Pat Flaherty
Next race:
1957 Indianapolis 500
Sam Hanks