1995 Indy 500

1995 Indianapolis 500

79th Indianapolis 500
Location Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Date May 28, 1995
Winner Jacques Villeneuve
Average speed 153.616 mph (247.221 km/h)
Pole position Scott Brayton
Pole speed 231.604 mph (372.731 km/h)
Fastest qualifier Brayton
Rookie of the Year Christian Fittipaldi
Most laps led Mauricio Gugelmin (145)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthem Florence Henderson
Back Home Again in Indiana Jim Nabors
Starting command Mary F. Hulman
Pace car Chevrolet Corvette
Pace car driver
Honorary starter none
Attendance 250,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Paul Page, Sam Posey, Bobby Unser
Nielsen Ratings
Market share
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1994 1996

The 79th Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 28, 1995. Sanctioned by USAC, it was part of the 1995 CART Indycar season. Jacques Villenueve won in his second start. After dominating the 1994 race and the 1994 IndyCar season, Marlboro Team Penske failed to qualify for the race. Defending Indy 500 winner Al Unser, Jr. (too slow) and Emerson Fittipaldi (bumped) could not get their cars up to speed.

On lap 190, with the field coming back to green on a restart, leader Scott Goodyear passed the pace car in turn four, and was assessed a stop-and-go penalty. Goodyear refused to serve the penalty, and stayed out on the track. Officials stopped scoring him on lap 195, which handed Jacques Villenueve the lead of the race, and ultimately, a controversial victory.

The race was held under a growing cloud of uncertainty about the future of the sport of open wheel racing. The Speedway had already announced the formation of the rival Indy Racing League for 1996, and competitors, fans, and media alike, were apprehensive about the event's future beyond 1995. It ultimately would be the final Indy 500 which featured a field of CART-based drivers and teams. Due to retirements as well as the open wheel split months later, the race was the final Indy 500 for several drivers, including Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Teo Fabi, Scott Pruett, and Stefan Johansson.


Team Penske dominated the 1994 race with the 209-cid Mercedes-Benz 500I purpose-built pushrod engine. Fearing an unfair advantage, and the possibility of escalating costs, both USAC and CART separately evaluated the situation. Two weeks after the race, USAC announced that for 1995, the 209 cid purpose-built pushrod engines would be allowed 52 inHG of "boost" (down from 55 inHG). The traditional "stock block" production-based engines (e.g. Buick & Menard) would still be allowed 55 inHG. Meanwhile, the overhead cam 2.65L V-8 engines would stay at 45 inches.

During the summer of 1994, Tony George announced his plans to start the Indy Racing League in 1996, with an emphasis on cost-saving measures. On August 11, 1994, USAC changed its decision, and scaled back the boost for the purpose-built pushrod engines further to 48 inches; and outlawing it outright for 1996. The move was considered by Roger Penske as "politically motivated," and ultimately set back the Penske Team going into 1995.

Marlboro Team Penske won 12 (of 16) races in 1994, including five 1-2-3 finishes, and swept the top 3 in the final 1994 CART championship points standings. As the 1995 season started, Penske drivers Al Unser, Jr. and Fittipaldi each won a race prior to Indy. Despite the outward appearance that the team was still at the top of their game entering Indianapolis, insiders at the team were growing apprehensive, and were concerned that they were ill-prepared. A private test yielded poor results related to the chassis handling, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that the team had lost considerable ground after losing the use of the Mercedes 500I.

Other changes for 1995 included the return of Firestone tires, and a new Honda V-8 engine. Rahal-Hogan Racing dropped the Honda program, and instead, Tasman Motorsports became the prominent team involved. After a one-year sabbatical (spending time in broadcasting and in NASCAR), Danny Sullivan returned to Indy.

Practice - week 1

Saturday May 6

Opening day saw the Menard cars of Arie Luyendyk (233.281 mph) and Scott Brayton (232.408 mph) lead the speed chart for the day.

Sunday May 7

Menard cars once again were the top 2, with Luyendyk (232.715 mph) best of the day. Penske drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and defending Indy 500 winner Al Unser, Jr. took their first practice laps of the month, but neither were among the top ten.

Monday May 8

Arie Luyendyk posted the fastest practice lap in Indy history, 234.107 mph. With Scott Brayton second, Paul Tracy also was over 230 mph.

Tuesday May 9

Scott Brayton finally bumped Luyendyk off the top spot, with a lap of 231.410 mph for the day. Teo Fabi (230.716 mph) became the fourth driver over 230 mph for the month.

Wednesday 10

Rain delayed the start of practice until shortly after 1:30 p.m. Arie Luyendyk again led the speed charts at 232.468 mph.

At 3:31 p.m., Davey Hamilton crashed in turn four, suffering a broken ankle. The brief practice session was ended around 4 p.m. due to rain.

Thursday May 11

Arie Luyendyk upped the fastest practice lap in Indy history to 234.322 mph. Scott Brayton later bettered the time with a lap of 234.656 mph. Eight drivers were over 230 mph for the day.

Friday, May 12

At 5:12 p.m., Jacques Villeneuve went high in turn 2 and crashed into the outside wall. The car was heavily damaged, but Villeneuve was not seriously injured.

Arie Luyendyk set yet another unofficial track record, with a practice lap of 234.913 mph. The top nine drivers were all over 231 mph.

Time trials - weekend 1

Pole day - Saturday May 13

Rain delayed the start of time trials until late in the afternoon. At 4:45 p.m., pole day qualifying began. Arie Luyendyk in a Menard entry, took the provisional pole at 231.031 mph. A tight schedule saw several cars take runs, including Eddie Cheever (226.314 mph) and Paul Tracy (225.795 mph)

At 5:16 p.m., Scott Brayton, also driving for Menard, secured the pole position with a run of 231.604 mph. Before the close of the day, Michael Andretti (229.294 mph) tentatively squeezed his way onto the front row.

When the 6 o'clock gun sounded, 11 cars were in the field, and several drivers were still in the qualifying line. Pole day qualifying would be extended into the next day.

Second day - Sunday May 14

A windy but warm day was observed for the second day of time trials. Pole qualifying continued from the previous day. Several cars qualified, with Jacques Villeneuve leading the early cars at 228.397 mph.

At 1:07 p.m., Scott Goodyear (230.759 mph) qualified his Honda-powered machine for the third starting position, bumping Michael Andretti to the second row. At 1:12 p.m., the original pole day qualifying order was exhausted, and Scott Brayton was officially awarded the pole position. Among the cars who had not qualified included Rahal-Hogan drivers Bobby Rahal & Raul Boesel. Neither Penske entry (Emerson Fittipaldi & Al Unser, Jr.) made an attempt in the pole round.

Second day qualifying started at just before 1:30 p.m. Among the quicker runs were Hideshi Matsuda, Bobby Rahal and Raul Boesel. Buddy Lazier joined the two previous Menard entries and put a third team car in the field. At the close of the second day of time trials, the field was filled to 25 cars (8 vacant). After continuing problems getting up to speed, neither Penske entry attempted to qualify all weekend.

Practice - week 2

Monday May 15

Team Menard cars took their first day off since the Speedway opened for the month. Paul Tracy (228.339 mph) led the speed chart for the day. The fastest non-qualified car was Eric Bachelart at 227.261 mph.

At Team Penske, Emerson Fittipaldi wheeled out a year-old Penske chassis and practice 59 laps, with a top lap of 220.745 mph.

Tuesday May 16

Rain kept the track closed until 2:11 p.m. Team Penske borrowed a Reynard chassis from Roberto Guerrero's team, and Al Unser, Jr. took his first laps in the car. In 44 laps, Unser posted a top lap of 218.050 mph.

At 4:45 p.m., Bryan Herta spun and crashed hard in turn 2. The car became slightly airborne, and Herta momentarily lost consciousness. Herta was diagnosed with a minor concussion, and was sidelined for several days.

Teo Fabi (226.998 mph) posted the fastest lap of the day.

Wednesday May 17

Rain closed the track for the day.

Off the track, Rahal-Hogan Racing announced that they would supply Marlboro Team Penske with back-up Lola chassis, in a goodwill effort to help Penske's drivers get up to speed. A year earlier, Penske had loaned chassis to Rahal's team, when they were struggling to qualify the 1994 Honda-powered machines.

Thursday May 18

Driving the newly-acquired Lola, Emerson Fittipaldi was quickly up to 223.775 mph. Al Unser, Jr., however, remained in the Penske chassis, and was mired back at only 218.510 mph.

The practice session was brief, as rain kept the track closed until 2 p.m. Green flag conditions only lasted 53 minutes, and the track closed for rain at 3:21 p.m.

Friday May 19

The final full day of practice saw heavy action. Adrian Fernandez (228.397 mph) led the speed chart for the non-qualified cars. The attention of the afternoon was focused again on Team Penske, as they were making their final efforts to get their cars up to speed.

Emerson Fittipaldi driving the Rahal back-up car, quickly began to find speed, and within 10 minutes, was over 226 mph. At 11:26 a.m., Fittipaldi turned a lap of 227.814 mph, his fastest lap of the month, and the fastest lap by that car all month.

Al Unser, Jr., however, was still trying to salvage speed out of the Penske car. After several inconsistent times throughout the day, his best lap of 219.085 mph was completed with five minutes left in the session. That night, Rahal offered a second chassis to Penske for Unser, Jr. to drive.

Time trials - weekend 2

Third Day - Saturday May 20

At 5 p.m., Al Unser, Jr. made his first attempt to qualify in a Rahal back-up car. Unser had practiced just minutes earlier at over 227 mph. After two laps in the 224 mph range, the run was waved off.

Scott Sharp, in a Foyt backup also waved off his first attempt. At 5:14 p.m., Emerson Fittipaldi made his first attempt in a Rahal backup car. His third lap was up to 226.097 mph, but the crew waved off the run. The move angered Fittipaldi, and proved unwise, as the speed would have been fast enough to qualify.

Most cars failed to complete their attempts, as conditions were unfavorable for speeds. Al Unser, Jr. returned to the track for his second attempt at 5:46 p.m. This run, however, slower, and even more inconsistent, and the team waved it off as well.

Franck Freon completed a slow run of 224.432 mph, and tentatively placed himself as slowest in the field. Scott Sharp made one last attempt as time expired, but the crew again waved off the run.

The day ended with the field filled to 30 cars. Both Penske cars, along with Sharp, were still not qualified.

Bump Day - Sunday May 21

With only three positions remaining, bump day began with both Penske drivers struggling to get their cars up to speed. At noon, Carlos Guerrero completed a run of 225.831 mph, and filled the field to 31 cars. Davy Jones waved off a run, and the early qualifiers were through.

Over the next four hours, the Penske team practiced, in a futile search for speed. Fittipaldi completed one lap at 228.017 mph, while Unser, Jr. managed only 222.206 all afternoon.

At 5:07 p.m., qualifying resumed. Scott Sharp completed a run of 225.711 mph, slightly faster than his waved off run a day before. With only one position open, Emerson Fittipaldi took to the track. It was his second attempt to qualify. His four-lap run of 224.907 mph put him 32nd-fastest, and filled the field to 33 cars. Minutes later, Davy Jones completed a run of 225.135 mph, and bumped out Franck Freon. The move put Fittipaldi on the bubble.

After surviving two attempts, Fittipaldi still clung to the 33rd starting position at 5:30 p.m. His teammate Al Unser, Jr. then took to the track in his third and final attempt. He faced the grim possibility of missing the field, or bumping out his teammate to make the field. Unser's first lap of 221.992 mph drastically pulled down his average, and his speed was too slow to bump out Fittipaldi.

Fittipaldi survived three more attempts, and with 12 minutes left in the day, Stefan Johansson took to the track. Johannsson's speed of 225.547 mph bumped out Fittipaldi. The Penske team had three cars left in the qualifying line, but none had a realistic chance of bumping their way in, or even making it to the front of the line. As the 6 o'clock gun sounded, Fittipaldi and Unser, Jr., the winners of the previous three Indy 500s, were out of time, and had failed to qualify.

Race recap

The race began with a horrible turn one crash on the first lap that eliminated several cars and seriously injured Stan Fox. Early on in the race Jacques Villeneuve, unaware that he was the leader due to a series of pit stops, passed the pace car during a caution. Officials ruled a two-lap penalty for the infraction and Villeneuve dropped from contention. However, thanks to fortuitous timing of yellows and pit strategy, Villeneuve came back from two laps down to be in fourth position as the race neared crunch time. He was promoted to second when first Jimmy Vasser, and then Scott Pruett crashed out while battling Scott Goodyear for the lead. On lap 190 Goodyear mis-timed the last restart and passed the pace car before it entered pit-road. Goodyear was not scored after lap 195 because he failed to serve the black flag penalty in the pits. Villeneuve was the winner of the 1995 Indianapolis 500.

Starting Grid




  1. ^ Siano, Joseph (May 22, 1995). "AUTO RACING; After a Rough Month, Penske's Team Is Shut Out at Indy". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/22/sports/auto-racing-after-a-rough-month-penske-s-team-is-shut-out-at-indy.html?scp=19&sq=stefan%20johansson&st=cse.
  2. "Remembering the 1995 Indy 500". IndyStar.com. 2008-05-25. http://www.indystar.com/article/20080525/SPORTS0107/805250347/1112/NEWS10.
  3. "Auto Racing". The Washington Post. 1994-06-14. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-895954.html. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
  4. "Indy Racing League press release". Motorsport.com. 1994-07-08. http://www.motorsport.com/news/article.asp?ID=606&FS=INDYCAR. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
  5. "Indy Racing League announces engine specs". Motorsport.com. 1994-08-11. http://www.motorsport.com/news/article.asp?ID=708&FS=INDYCAR. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
  6. Siano, Joseph (1995-05-28). "At Indy 500, Parity Forges Way Into Driver's Seat". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/28/sports/at-indy-500-parity-forges-way-into-driver-s-seat.html?pagewanted=1.
  7. ^ "1995 Indianapolis 500 Daily Trackside Report for the Media". Indy 500 Publications. 1995. http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.
  8. "Official Box Score, 79th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway". 1995-05-28. http://www.indy500.com/stats/view/boxscore/year/1995. Retrieved 2009-05-28.
1994 Indianapolis 500
Al Unser Jr.
1995 Indianapolis 500
Jacques Villeneuve
1996 Indianapolis 500
Buddy Lazier

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