The best weather in several years, including the first day of time trials, the first driver fatality in nine years, the four mph increase in the qualifying record, the four-car crash just a few seconds before the start of the race and, perhaps most of all, the unbelievably close finish for first place between Gordon Johncock and Rick Mears were the outstanding attractions at the Speedway this year.
On Friday morning, May 14th, at 9:30, I left home to begin my trip to the Speedway to see the first day of time trials. My mother came to the house to babysit John and Paul so that I could go.
I stopped at her house before I left town and ran into a former high school classmate of mine, Don Aldrich, who was doing some repair work on the house of mother and dad’s neighbor, Eleanor Berry. We hadn’t seen each other for several years, and we visited with each other until 10:15.
I traveled old Route 36 to Decatur, where I arrived at about 11:15. I continued east on Route 36 until I arrived at the Chrisman intersection at 12:28. It felt good to get out of the car and stretch my legs and arms.
There were a few dinner patrons in the Colonial Kitchen and the usual table of farmers drinking their coffee. My snack was a barbecue sandwich and a cup of coffee, which tasted good and refreshed me somewhat. I used the restroom, paid the bill, and at 12:50 began the second leg of my journey to the Speedway.
The bright, pleasant weather made driving a pleasure, and I enjoyed seeing the emerging farm crops and green trees along the highway. The traffic grew increasingly heavy as I approached Indianapolis, and at 2:28 I stopped at the Lynhurst Drive intersection and filled the gas tank. I drove north on Lynhurst until I came to 16th Street. From there, I drove east to Georgetown Road, north on Georgetown to 30th Street, and east to the Speedway entrance. The traffic was bumper to bumper all the way but moved quite well, and it was 3:00 on the minute when I turned off the engine in the museum parking lot.
My first stop was the museum building. It was busy inside with wall-to-wall people in the gift shop and a steady line going into and out of the display area of race cars. The ticket office had an occasional customer, but since all race tickets had already been sold, the business was slight. I wanted to get my gifts for Dixie and the boys bought early, but I was frustrated in trying to find quality merchandise at reasonable prices and decided to wait until I checked in other gift shops before buying anything.
There was a carnival atmosphere everywhere with thousands of persons shopping, touring the museum, playing football, baseball, and volleyball in the infield, eating, and of course, watching the practicing race cars on the track. The weather was almost perfect with a warm but not hot sun and very little breeze. I walked to the intersection where the hospital is located and then to the garage area. Activity was at a high pitch with cars being pushed both to the pit area and back to the garages.
A crowd of several hundred occupied the Tower Terrace and pit areas as pit crews, mechanics, and drivers worked diligently to get the most out of their cars. Having rested my feet for a few minutes, I decided to take a stroll to the first turn area and see the new seating area which was installed there last year. The area was filled with young people dancing to loud rock music, smoking, drinking beer, and having a good time.
I returned to the pit area for a few minutes to watch the activity and then shopped in the gift shops behind the Tower Terrace area for a while. After much deliberation, I chose four gifts which I hoped would be liked when I arrived home.
With that job done, I went back to the pit area and stayed there until 6:00 when the gun sounded ending all racing activity on the track until the following morning.
The frolicking crowd seemed in no hurry to leave its big playground, as attested to by loitering around and trying to get one last look at everything. By the time I arrived at my car, the parking lot was almost vacated. Getting onto 16th Street and then Crawfordsville Road was no problem, and a few minutes later I was at the MCL Cafeteria in the Speedway Shopping Center.
The waiting line was long, but it moved quickly. By the time I arrived at my table, I had acquired a meal of chicken and noodles, beets, chunky potatoes, cornbread, tossed salad, Pepsi-Cola, and water. Everything tasted fine, and when the food was gone I felt much better.
When I left the cafeteria, I walked off some of my fullness by walking through the shopping center. I bought my fried chicken dinner for Saturday at the Kroger store and a thermos bottle at Horn’s Drug Store. By now, dusk was beginning to settle, so I decided to go to the motel.
It was about 8:30 when I arrived at the Holiday Inn at Lebanon. Since I had already paid for my room, all I had to do was sign the guest registration card, get my key, and go to my room, which was on the second floor adjacent to the Holidome. I made a quick check to see that everything in the room worked and then took a stroll through the motel. The Holidome, bar, and restaurant were all doing a good business.
When I went back to my room, I read some of the newspapers and a magazine I had brought, watched the 10:00 news, did a little more reading, and at about 11:30 retired for the night.
My alarm clock did its job between 5:30 and 5:45 Saturday morning to start a long day for me. I lay in bed for a couple of minutes, then got up and got cleaned up so that I could start the day properly. Now it was time for breakfast at the motel restaurant.
It was about 6:15 when I arrived at the restaurant, where I had a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, sausage, orange juice, and coffee. The food and service were both excellent, and I felt much better when I left. The size of the crowd had increased steadily while I was there, and I think the majority of them were going to the Speedway.
Before leaving for the Speedway, I returned to my room to brush my teeth and pick up my supplies to take with me.
It was about 7:30 when I arrived at the Speedway. I came into the infield off Georgetown Road via the same entrance I used last year when I came with Dixie and the boys and also parked in about the same location. The size of the crowd increased as I got closer to the Tower Terrace and garage area, where I meandered for a couple minutes before finding a seat.
There was much activity to watch as both the human and race car population in the pit area increased. I managed to get some of the morning paper read between PA announcer Tom Carnegie’s announcements and the 8:30 start of practice.
A new rule was implemented this year. Odd-number cars practiced then even-numbered ones, and then all of them together for a few minutes. The pre-qualifying ceremonies started at 10:15, and at 11:00 the track was opened for qualifications.
Kevin Cogan was the first driver out and, as expected, did a fine job with a 204.082 mph average and a high lap of 204.638 mph, both of which were new records. The records didn’t last long, however, as Cogan’s teammate, Rick Mears, in the Penske Gould Charge, was next on the track, and his first lap was 206.801 mph. His second lap was faster, and the third lap was his fastest at 207.612 mph. The four lap average speed was an almost unbelievable 207.004 mph.
Roger Mears, Gordon Johncock, Bobby Rahal, Johnny Rutherford, Danny Ongais, Howdy Holmes, and Danny Sullivan all made qualifying runs. While Sullivan was being interviewed on the PA system, Gordon Smiley went out for his practice laps prior to his qualifying run.
Going through the third turn on his second practice lap, he lost control and crashed into the outer wall almost head-on. Upon impact, the car exploded into several pieces. Gordon was thrown several feet through the air and onto the track and received immediate fatal injuries.
The crash caused damage to the track and so it was necessary to close the track until the needed repairs were performed. Before qualifying resumed, Jerry Sneva and Don Whittington made test runs in their cars to see if the track was fit for use.
The long intermission came at an appropriate time for most people to eat their dinner without missing any of the action on the track. I was one of those persons and my fried chicken and rolls tasted real good. It had been a long time since I ate breakfast. The intermission also provided a chance to stretch the arms and legs and walk around for a while.
After the test driving by Sneva and Whittington, race officials checked the affected area again and at 2:32, the track was reopened for qualifying. Pancho Carter qualified easily at 198.950 mph, and then Mario Andretti put the No. 40 STP Wildcat solidly in the field with a 203.172 mph average.
Al Unser qualified at 195.567 mph, which was quite disappointing and indicative of the trouble his crew had been having with the car.
Don Whittington made the show with an impressive 200.725 mph run, and rookie Chip Ganassi also looked good with a 197.704 average. Chip was followed by another rookie, Mexican Hector Rebaque, who put the Forsythe-Brown March machine in the field with a 195.684 average.
Herm Johnson put his Eagle Chevy in at 195.929 mph, and then Bill Whittington joined the 200 mph club with a 201.027 trip around the track.
Tom Sneva had a fine, although disappointing, average of 201.027 mph. His first lap was over 203 mph, but the other three were quite slower.
A few minutes later, a cheer came from the fans as AJ Foyt went onto the track. He made a fine showing with a 203.332 mph average and two laps over 204 mph. Only the Penske cars qualified faster.
Rookie Chip Mead qualified his entry at 193.819 mph, but that proved to be too slow and he was bumped. Jerry Sneva and Geoff Brabham took practice runs but weren’t up to qualifying speed, and they came in without taking the green flag. There were no more attempted qualifications, and at 6:00 the track was closed. It was an exciting day with 17 completed runs, only one of which would not start the race.
I arranged all my belongings in my tote bag and started my walk back to the car. The traffic was heavy but moved well. Unfortunately, when I exited the tunnel under the south chute, the police were making all cars go east instead of having one lane for each direction. I drove to the first street past the underpass and went north to 20th and then east to Lafayette Road. There I turned left and went to 30th Street where I turned left again and went to Georgetown Road. There I turned left and went south to 25th Street, then west to the Speedway Shopping Center.
It was between 6:30 and 6:45 when I arrived at the MCL Cafeteria, and although there was a long waiting line, it moved quickly. For my supper, I chose turkey and dressing, cabbage, cornbread, corn, tossed salad, and Pepsi-Cola. It had been a long time since I had turkey and dressing and cabbage, and it tasted real good.
After supper I did some window shopping, and then at about 7:45 left for my trip to the motel, arriving at about 8:15. I took my equipment to my room and then took a stroll through the motel to see what was happening. The Holidome area, lounge, and restaurant were all quite busy.
I went back to my room and read some more of the magazines and newspapers I brought and then watched the 10:00 news. The station had good coverage of the activity at the Speedway, including on-the-spot coverage of the Gordon Smiley crash. When the news ended, I did some more reading and at about 11:00 took a hot bath and then went to bed.
I had a good night’s sleep, and it was shortly after 6:30 when I awoke to begin the new day. I lounged around for a few minutes, then got cleaned up and ready to eat breakfast at the motel cafeteria.
Breakfast was the same as yesterday — scrambled eggs, toast, sausage, orange juice, and a pitcher of coffee. While waiting for the food, I read a little bit of the Indianapolis newspaper, which was full of articles and pictures of yesterday’s time trials. By the time I left, several more race fans had come in and were reading their newspapers while waiting for their breakfast.
With that important job done, I went back to the room, brushed my teeth, got everything packed and taken to the car, and then went back and checked everything to be sure I hadn’t left anything. The only thing left to do was to turn in the room key at the registration desk, so I did that on my way out.
It was 9:30 when I left and drove out to catch I-65 going south to Indianapolis. The traffic moved well with no tie-ups, and shortly before 10:00 I reached the US 36 turnoff and turned right. Along the highway there were a few farmers doing field work and other persons cutting grass, but for the most part everything was pretty quiet.
I reached the state line about 11:15, and at 11:30 I stopped at the Colonial Kitchen. Unlike most years, it was not Mother’s Day today, so I didn’t have to worry about the large crowd of people converging here for dinner. There were several customers but nothing like the usual crowd.
My selection for a snack was coffee and a toasted cheese sandwich. The snack was refreshing, and after using the restroom and paying the bill, at 12:00 I took to the road again for the last leg of my trip.
The fine weather and light traffic made for an enjoyable trip, and at about 1:15 I arrived at Decatur. A few minutes later I was through the city and onto old US 36. It was 2:30 when I pulled into my driveway and finished my trip.
I gave Dixie and the boys their presents and then unpacked my suitcase. Another safe, enjoyable trip to the Speedway was completed.
During the morning of Saturday, May 29th, I did several little jobs around the house to get it cleaned up. Dixie and the boys had gone to Mohrs’ for the weekend, so I wanted to be sure of coming home to a clean house. I checked and rechecked my list of items to take and then put my equipment in the trunk of the car. I didn’t want any mail left in the mailbox, so I waited for the mailman, who came at about 11:40. I scanned the mail for anything that needed immediate attention, and then at 11:47 left the house for my 28th trip to the race.
It was about noon when I left town on Sangamon Avenue and Camp Butler Road and then caught Old Route 36 at Riverton. As I was leaving the Riverton area, I almost had my first wreck in race trip history. A car coming from I-72 did not stop at the stop sign and just slowed somewhat. I quickly swung to the left to avoid being hit broadside. Fortunately, there was no car coming at me from the other lane of Old Route 36. Otherwise, I may have had a head-on collision, as all my attention was focused on the car coming at me from the right. When I got back to my side of the road, my heart felt as if it was beating through my chest, and it didn’t return to normal until I reached Dawson.
I stayed on Old Route 36 all the way to Decatur, where I arrived about 12:45. Traffic was heavy on Eldorado Street as it usually is when I go through town, and it was about 1:00 when I left there.
The drive from here to Chrisman was real pleasant, as it usually is. The straight road, pleasant weather, and moderate traffic combined to make an enjoyable early afternoon trip for me.
It was between 1:30 and 1:45 when I went through Tuscola, and at 2:16 I arrived at the Colonial Kitchen. Business was light with only a dozen or so customers. I ordered a barbecue sandwich and cup of coffee. It was just a little snack, but it tasted fine and would hold me over until supper. I used the restroom, paid the bill, and at 2:37 started my trip to Danville.
The traffic through the little towns was heavy, and when I reached Danville I took I-74 and went east until I reached exit 220, which went to the motel, where I arrived at 3:18.
This was the first time I stayed at the Ramada Inn, and the parking lot was almost empty. I had mailed in my money for confirmation of my first night’s stay, so all I had to do was register at the front desk. From there, I went to my room and checked to see that everything worked okay. I was particularly interested in seeing if channel 17 came in clear on the TV set so I could see the telecast of the race the following night.
Everything checked out okay, so then I took a tour of the motel facilities. It had many more facilities than the old Danville Inn, where I had stayed for the last six years. There was a wedding reception taking place in the main ballroom. It was a big event with live music, refreshments, and a large, noisy crowd in attendance.
I went back to my room and watched the Chicago Cubs baseball game for a few minutes and then got cleaned up and ready to go out for supper. The road along the east side of the motel went north and then west and became Vorhees Avenue.
My first stop was the Famous Recipe Fried Chicken place. There I bought my Sunday dinner, and then I drove to the Derby filling station and got the gasoline tank filled. With those two important jobs done, I drove a couple blocks to George’s Buffet for supper.
For supper, I had potatoes, lettuce salad, corn, cornbread, chicken livers, rolls, cake, and coffee. Everything tasted real good, and I had second helpings of almost everything. It was one of the best meals I could have eaten anywhere for the price, which was less than five dollars.
The supper gave me a feeling of fullness, and I returned to my motel room feeling as if I couldn’t eat anything for quite some time. Attendance at the motel had increased considerably since my arrival a few hours ago. The swimming pool, restaurant, lounge, and lobby all were well-populated.
When I arrived back at my room, I arranged all my equipment in my tote bag so that it would be ready in the morning, and then read some of the newspapers and magazines I had brought with me. At 10:00, I watched the news on one of the Indianapolis stations. There were highlights from the 500 Festival Parade, the drivers’ meeting, and fans frolicking around the Speedway area in anticipation of the 5:00 opening bomb, plus the all-important weather forecast.
With the latest news fresh in my mind, I did a little more reading and shortly after 11:00 decided it was time to call it a day. I set the alarm for 4:00 and turned off the lights. As usual, the night before the race I had trouble going to sleep, partly because of the excitement of the race and partly because I feared the alarm clock wouldn’t work. I finally dozed off, only to be awakened at 1:00 by a crowd of young, loud partygoers about four rooms from mine. Their merriment lasted about 30 minutes, and luckily I went back to sleep.
Less than three hours later the alarm clock did its job, and at 4:15 I was awake again, this time to stay. It was Sunday, May 30th, 1982 — race day at Indianapolis.
I lay in bed a couple minutes and then got up and washed, shaved, and dressed. A few minutes before 5:00, I left for the motel restaurant to be sure I was there when it opened for business. I was happy to see there wasn’t a long line of customers.
At 5:00, the hostess opened the doors for business and showed the customers to their seats. It was a buffet breakfast, and I had pancakes with syrup, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice, and coffee. It was one of the best race-morning breakfasts I ever had, and I ate enough to make sure it would be several hours until I needed to eat again. The price was less than $5, which I thought was real reasonable. I went back to my room to brush my teeth and then checked to see that I had my tote bag. I then left the room and went to the parking lot.
It was 5:38 when I backed out of my parking space and started my trip to the Speedway. I got onto I-74, and a few seconds later I was in Indiana. I turned on the radio and listened to Indianapolis station WIBC with its usual excellent coverage of activity at the Speedway. It gave periodic traffic reports plus reports of what had been happening during the practice and time trial sessions and what might be expected during the race. It was a pleasant way to pass the time away as the miles rolled by.
I saw many out-of-state license plates, and I’m sure almost all of them were going where I was going. It was 7:00 when I reached the I-465 intersection and the traffic slowed to a crawl. The bank parking lot at the Lynhurst intersection was already full, so I kept moving and parked in a private lot about a block away. It was 7:30 to the minute when I turned the key off to finish the trip. I had made it.
I paid the parking attendant my $5 fee and started my walk to the Speedway. There were the usual sights to be seen — people, beer cans, cars, cameras, Styrofoam ice chests, and other items by the dozens. It was about 8:15 when I walked through one of the main entrance turnstiles. Now I had to contend with an even larger crowd of people on my way to my seat. By the time I reached the tunnel entrance to the infield, a person could hardly raise an arm. This condition improved considerably when I arrived on the infield and open space.
The area behind the Tower Terrace area was alive with pre-race activity. The garage area was attracting hundreds of fans as the cars were being pushed from here to the pit area. One of those I was able to see was the pole position Gould Charge car of driver Rick Mears. Owner Roger Penske was alongside as the crew pushed the car to its assigned pit area. I strolled around observing for a while the many sights and sound of pre-race activity, and then I decided to go to my seat, where I arrived about 9:15.
It felt good to get off my feet for a few minutes. There was activity aplenty along the straightaway as the thousands of seats slowly became occupied, as did the pit area with pit crews, race officials, and just interested viewers.
When I felt rested, I started my walk behind the pit area, hoping to get some pictures of race cars and celebrities I might recognize. There were several race cars I recognized but not many celebrities. Pit crews and mechanics were busy with last minute preparations of their cars. It was 9:45 when I started back to my seat, and while doing so announcer Tom Carnegie asked all pit crews to push their cars to their starting position on the race track. This brought a cheer from the spectators as the prerace activities shifted into high gear. The Purdue University band also played the first of the prerace songs, On the Banks of the Wabash.
Between 10:00 and 10:30, the usual parade of 500 Festival Princesses and TV and movie personalities toured the track. Among the celebrities were Indiana native Phil Harris and Merle Olson, star of the TV show Father Murphy and former player with the Los Angeles Rams.
Among the highlights of the pre-race ceremonies was a parade lap driven by the race winners of 30, 25, and 20 years ago in their winning cars. These drivers were, in order, Troy Ruttman, Sam Hanks, and Rodger Ward. In addition, Fred Agabashian drove his pole-winning car from 1952. I thought this was a good idea and showed the change in car design during the last 30 years.
At 10:20 pit crews were allowed to run their engines for five minutes to catch any last-minute malfunctions, and at 10:30 chief steward Tom Binford made a final inspection trip of the track and said it was ready for racing.
The huge crowd rose in unison at 10:40 as the national anthem was sung by Louis Sudler, former singer with the Chicago Civic Opera, and played by the P.U. band.
A minute or so later, the crowd rose again for the invocation, which was given by Rev. James Bonke, pastor of the local Church of the Nativity. This was followed immediately by the playing of Taps by the Armed Forces Color Guard as an act of homage to war dead in keeping with the solemnity of Memorial Day.
Now came the traditional final song of the pre-race ceremonies, Back Home Again in Indiana. As the band finished its work for this year, thousands of multi-colored balloons were released from a tent behind the control tower.
The tension and excitement reached their zenith a minute later when Mary Hulman, Speedway Board Chairman, gave the traditional command, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
The crowd erupted in cheering and applause as the engines came to life. About a minute later, the pace cars pulled away. The first one was driven by Tony George, and he was accompanied by his mother, Mari George, and Bob Forbes of the Speedway Radio Network. The second car was driven by GM VP Bob Stemple, and the third Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 was driven by 1960 race winner Jim Rathmann with USAC steward Bob Cassaday and ABC-TV commentator Jack Whittaker as his passengers.
The George and Stemple cars returned to the pit area after two trips as Jim Rathmann increased his speed a little bit. The cars weren’t lined up as they should have been, and Malcolm and Barbara McKean, my race companions for the sixth consecutive year, were doubtful there would be a start the next time around unless they lined up real quickly.
With all eyes focused on the fourth turn, the pace car appeared and headed down the pit area. Rick Mears paced the field slowly, and starter Duane Sweeney had the green flag ready to wave the instant Tom Binford gave him the signal.
Suddenly, perhaps 100 yards from the starting line, confusion on a grand scale erupted violently. Second-place starter Kevin Cogan in the Norton Spirit suddenly veered to the right and struck AJ Foyt’s car. It then spun around to the inside wall just behind Rick Mears and directly in front of Mario Andretti. Mario had no alternative but to tee-bone Cogan’s car, which he did on its left side. The collision caused Andretti’s car to spin backwards toward the starting line. Cogan’s car spun again back to the outside wall and stopped facing south.
Further back in the field, rookie Dale Whittington lost control and collided with another rookie, Roger Mears. Whittington’s car stopped nose-first against the inside wall directly in front of me.
The reaction of the crowd was shock and disbelief. Nobody, including me, could believe what was happening. The race hadn’t even started and already four cars had been eliminated.
The red flag was displayed, and the remaining cars returned to their pits. Emergency crews cleaned up the mess and then the cars were lined up again in their starting positions.
The pace car led the field again, and this time the green flag come out for a good start. For the first time in his 25-year career at Indy, AJ Foyt jumped into the lead at the start. At the end of the first lap, he was 1.5 seconds ahead of Mears. The remainder of the first 10 included Gordon Johncock, Tom Sneva, Bill Whittington, Don Whittington, Pancho Carter, rookie Danny Sullivan, rookie Chip Ganassi, and Johnny Rutherford.
Foyt’s first-lap speed was 194.342, almost nine mph faster than the previous record set by Danny Ongais in 1978. AJ continued his fast pace until he made his first pit stop on his 23rd lap. By then, he had made new records for 2, 4, 10, and 20 laps.
The leaders at 20 laps were Foyt, Johncock, Mears, Sneva, Don Whittington, Carter, Ongais, Bill Whittington, Rutherford, and Al Unser.
Meanwhile, Josele Garza and Geoff Brabham had been forced out of the race. Garza completed only one lap before encountering disabling engine trouble. After his outstanding rookie year last year, nothing seemed to go right for Josele this year. He had engine problems all month long and couldn’t qualify until the last day. Now he was finished before he had hardly started.
Like Garza, Brabham had an excellent rookie year last year and finished fifth in the race. He had a fine qualifying speed of 198.906 mph this year, but he ran only 12 race laps before engine trouble eliminated him.
Foyt lost the lead momentarily when he made his first pit stop, but he regained it and led laps 27-35. Mears finally got around AJ and led for six laps until the first yellow flag of the race was shown.
Coming down the front straightaway, Tony Bettenhausen lost control when a half shaft broke. He spun several times and hit the outside wall three times before stopping against the inside wall just south of me. Tony was uninjured, but the car left much debris to be picked up by emergency crews before the green flag could be shown again.
The caution period brought on the second wave of pit stops as Tom Sneva worked his way into the lead, which he maintained through the 59th lap. At 50 laps the standings were Sneva, Johncock, Mears, Foyt, Carter, Ongais, Don Whittington, Jerry Sneva, Bill Whittington, and Rutherford.
In the meantime, Dennis Firestone and Pete Halsmer had been forced from competition. Firestone’s car had a broken ring gear after 37 laps, and Halsmer was done for the day with transmission trouble. With the race a quarter gone, 24 cars were still going.
Sneva led laps 42-59 but Mears had been gaining on him, and on lap 60 Mears passed Tom for the lead. He had led for three laps when the yellow light came on because of trouble in the second turn.
Danny Ongais, running in fifth position, crashed into the outside wall and then slid into the infield. Rookie Chet Fillip slowed to avoid hitting Ongais, and he was hit by Jerry Sneva. Jerry spun into the infield and was out of the race, as were Ongais and Fillip, although Fillip was able to drive his car to the pit area before retiring it. The Ongais car was damaged quite heavily, but Danny got out of the car by himself, which was a much better situation than his bad crash a year ago.
The yellow flag brought about several pit stops, including AJ Foyt. As his car was being serviced, fuel was accidently spilled into the cockpit. The fuel settled into both the car’s and Foyt’s seats. It went through his uniform and irritated his skin. He loosened his seat belt and shoulder harness to get out of it and then stopped again his next time around. His crew threw some cold water into the cockpit and AJ returned to competition.
The green flag came out again as Mears completed his 71st lap. He was in the lead now and stayed there through the 94th lap. At 80 laps, the first five positions were held by Mears, Sneva, Johncock, Carter, and Foyt. AJ was running strong again and in the last few laps had passed Rutherford, Unser, and Hector Rebaque to get up to fifth position.
The caution flag come out again on the 96th lap when George Snider’s car stalled and had to be towed in. George was finished for the day with transmission trouble.
Foyt pitted on his 92nd lap and again had trouble. He had to return on his 94th, 95th, and 96th lap. He and his crew worked feverishly on the car, but it proved hopeless. He was through for the day with transmission problems. He had done an excellent job while his car was running.
As the halfway mark passed under yellow because of the Snider tow-in, the first 10 cars were those of Johncock, Mears, Sneva, Carter, Rebaque, Rutherford, Unser, Bobby Rahal (a rookie), Sullivan, and Bill Whittington.
In the meantime, Tom Bigelow, starting in his ninth consecutive race, was done for the day with engine trouble and was awarded 18th place.
The green flag reappeared on the 103rd lap. Johncock held the lead until the 109th lap when Mears took it from him. Gordon started losing time and in a few laps was trailing Sneva and Carter as Mears increased his first place position.
As 120 laps, 300 miles, were recorded, the first 10 positions were held by Mears, Sneva, Johncock, Carter, Rebaque, Rutherford, Unser, Rahal, Sullivan, and Don Whittington. Back in the pit area, Mike Chandler, driving a Dan Gurney Eagle, was out of the race after 104 laps with gear box failure. He was the fastest qualifier on the third