Indy journal: 1992

Historic Indy 500 journals, History — By on April 9, 2013 2:32 pm
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This year’s race will go down in history as one of the weirdest and most unexpected in history, highlighted by the large amount of caution time, cold weather, and the closest finish in the race’s history.

Four drivers made the most news at the Speedway this year.  They were Roberto Guerrero, Michael Andretti, Al Unser, Jr., and Scott Goodyear.

There was rain on the first day of time trials for the third consecutive year.

There was also a driver fatality for the first time in 10 years.

Due to a schedule change at school Paul was able to leave an hour early, so at 2:05 the two of us, on Friday, May 8, left to begin our trip to the time trials in our 1984 Chevrolet Caprice.  We went north on 11th Street to Washington Street, then east to the Clear Lake exit, and then got Clear Lake and onto I-72.  The weather was fine, the traffic wasn’t heavy, and we enjoyed visiting with each other.  When we reached Champaign, I was pleased to see that the highway had been repaved during the past year.  This made the drive through Champaign much better for both us and the car.

We continued east on I-74 and could hear Indianapolis radio station WIBC and its good racing coverage.  It was about 4:00 when we crossed the state line, and at 5:20 we stopped at the Amoco gas station across from the Howard Johnson Motel.  I filled the gas tank, washed the windows, and used the restroom.  We drove by the Speedway on Georgetown Road but didn’t go in because of the time.  We then went west on 25th Street, south on High School Road, and east to the Speedway Shopping Center.  It was about 6:00.

We parked and walked to the MCL Cafeteria.  There was a long waiting line, but it moved quickly.  Paul had cornbread, mashed potatoes and gravy, parsley potatoes, applesauce, fish, and Pepsi.  I had cornbread, potatoes, macaroni salad, and water.  Everything tasted fine, and we left feeling better than when we arrived.

From there we walked to the Kroger grocery store and bought our Saturday dinner.  It was a busy place as usual on this Friday night, but it didn’t take us long to get waited on.

With these three jobs done, we drove north on I-465 and I-65 until we came to the Holiday Inn Motel at Lebanon.  It was 7:30 when we arrived.  I had already paid for the room reservation, so all I had to do was fill out the registration form.

As soon as we got to our room, Paul changed clothes and left for the swimming pool.  I stayed in the room and checked to see that everything worked okay.  I watched TV for a few minutes, read for a few minutes, and then walked to the swimming pool.

The Holidome area was busy, and Paul was enjoying the swimming pool.  I stayed for several minutes and then left to check out the rest of the motel.  The lounge and restaurant were doing a good business, and every room was taken for the night.

It was about 9:15 when I returned to the room.  I turned on the TV set and then went through the suitcase and put everything in the tote bag that we would need for the next day. While I was doing this, Paul returned to the room.  He changed into warmer clothes and joined me for some TV viewing.

We watched the 10:00 news.  When it was over, Paul was ready to go to sleep.  I did some reading, but by 11:00 I was too tired and joined him for some sleep.

It was 5:00 when I woke up Saturday morning.  I lay in bed for a few minutes and then got up and washed and shaved and dressed.  At 5:30, I woke up Paul so that he could be getting ready.

While I was waiting for Paul, I opened the outside door and was unhappy to see rain.  We got to the motel restaurant at about 6:05 and were shown to our seats.  Paul wanted the buffet breakfast but it wasn’t ready yet, so we waited a few minutes and I decided to have it, too.  We had scrambled eggs, hashed brown potatoes, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, coffee, and orange juice.  I was hoping there would be more on the menu, but it was enough to fill us up.  I paid the bill, and then we went back to our room to brush our teeth and get the tote bag.  I checked to see that we had everything, and at 6:51 we left for the Speedway.

It rained all the way but not very hard.  When we got onto Crawfordsville Road, the traffic got heavier and slowed quite a bit.  While we waited on the traffic we listened to WIBC and watched the activity around us.

At long last, we got onto Georgetown Road and up to Gate 7 where we entered and were directed to a parking space on the infield.  It was 8:12.

I made sure the windows were rolled up and we had the tote bag.  The walk to our seats was wet, but it was not as bad as in some other years.  We walked the length of the pit area from the Gasoline Alley entrance to the pit entrance near the fourth turn.  There was no activity in the pit area, but many people were doing the same thing we were.  We browsed through two gift shops and then walked through the tunnel to the grandstand area.

Our seats were behind the start/finish line and gave us a good view of activity on the track.  Because there was no activity either on the racetrack or in the pit area, the spectators had to entertain themselves.  We read the newspaper and listened to the radio for a few minutes and then decided to go walking for a few minutes.

Paul had been wanting to buy a new stopwatch since we had come over here one weekend in January and gone through the museum gift shop and seen it.  We had a serious talk about the cost and care of the stopwatch.  He said he would take good care of it, so we went in and bought it.

As we were walking back to the grandstand area, we walked by the infield hospital.  The Speedway Medical Director, Henry Bock, was being interviewed on ABC-TV by Jack Arute.  We stopped and watched the event, and then Dr. Bock consented to Paul to have him take a couple of pictures.

We took our time walking to our seats.  When we got there, we listened to the radio and tried to answer the questions that came on the electronic score boards every so often.

The rain quit falling at about 9:00, but it remained dark and cool for a long time.  The main problem at that point was water coming from under the track.  For some reason, the maintenance crews were unable to get the leaks stopped.

It was between 2:30 and 3:00 when the track was pronounced dry enough for use.  A huge cheer erupted from the crowd as announcer Tom Carnegie said the track was open for practice.

The cars were allowed 30 minutes of green light practice, but it took a long time to get in those 30 minutes due to several yellow light periods.

Before this happened, Paul and I ate our box lunches.  Paul’s lunch was mostly chicken, while I had an apple, brownie, ham sandwich, baked beans, and two pieces of chicken.  It tasted good and would hold us over until supper.

The drivers finally got their 30 minutes of green practice time.  The cars were pushed back to the garage area for refueling, and then at 4:00, five hours after the scheduled time, the track was opened for qualifying as the audience roared its approval.

Eighteen cars qualified during the two hours available for runs.  The top star of the show was Roberto Guerrero.  Roberto had been among the fastest during practice runs, and when it came time to get serious he came through like a champion.  Driving the Quaker State 1992 Lola Buick, he turned four record-breaking laps of 232.186, 232.516, 232.618, and 232.606 mph for an average of 232.482 mph.  He was given a huge applause by everybody as he came through the pit area to the photographers’ stand.

The second-fastest qualifier was Mario Andretti, almost 3 mph slower than Guerrero.

Probably the biggest disappointment was AJ Foyt.  AJ’s first three qualifying laps were in the 226 mph range, 3 mph faster than his practice laps, but about halfway through his fourth lap his engine quit running.  When Tom Carnegie made the announcement, a huge moan came from the crowd.

When qualifying ended at 6:00, the 18 qualifiers were only a tentative lineup as several drivers didn’t get a chance to qualify, including Eddie Cheever, Michael Andretti, Jim Crawford, and Danny Sullivan.  They would be heard from on Sunday.

I checked to be sure we hadn’t left anything, and then we left for the car.  The cars in the area where we parked were going nowhere, and it stayed that way for a long time.  Finally, after too long a wait, we started moving.  Once we got out of the Speedway the traffic moved quite well, and it was about 7:30 when we arrived at the MCL Cafeteria.

There was almost no waiting line, so that was a big help.  Paul had baked cod, baked potato, applesauce, cornbread, and Pepsi.  I had chopped steak, lima beans, Harvard beets, tossed salad, and cornbread.  Everything tasted good, and when we finished we were ready to leave for the motel.

Paul changed his clothes and left for the swimming pool while I took off my shoes and watched TV for a few minutes.  Then I walked to the Holidome and joined Paul and the other motel guests there.  There were more people than the night before, not only in the swimming pool but also in the exercise room, the game room, and playing ping-pong.

I stayed for 15-20 minutes or so and then checked out the rest of the motel.  Like the night before, the desk clerks were turning away potential customers because all the rooms were full.

I returned to my room and turned on the TV set to see the 10:00 news.  A few minutes later Paul returned and got out of his wet clothes.

The TV station we watched had good time trial coverage, including the entire four-lap run of Roberto Guerrero.  When the program ended at 10:00, Paul said goodnight and went to sleep.  I did some reading until 11:15, and then I discovered I couldn’t go any longer.  I checked the door, turned off the lights, and got into my big double bed.

It was about 5:30 on Sunday morning when I awoke.  I did some reading and watched TV while Paul continued sleeping.  I tried going back to sleep, but it was no use.  At about 7:00 I went to the motel lobby and bought an Indianapolis newspaper.

Shortly after getting back to my room, Paul woke up and turned on the TV set.  He turned on ESPN, and it was showing USAC championship car racing from the early 1960s.  It showed some racing at the defunct Longhorn Speedway and featured such drivers at AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Rodger Ward, Jim Hurtubise, Jim McElreath, and Don Branson.  One of the announcers was Chris Economaki, editor of National Speed Sport News.

We decided it was time for breakfast, so we walked to the motel restaurant.  Business was good, but we were able to get seated right away.  Both of us had the buffet breakfast.  Paul limited himself to biscuits and gravy and orange juice while I had a more diversified meal of eggs, ham, hash browned potatoes, toast, orange juice and coffee.

After eating we returned to our room, brushed our teeth, watched TV for a few minutes, and then went outdoors and used the playground equipment for a while.  We always have fun and get a few laughs from doing this, and we did so this year, too.

When we finished having our fun, we went back to the room, got our equipment put in the suitcase and tote bag, and left to check out of the motel.  We turned in our room keys to the desk clerk and then started our drive home.  It was 10:07.

We took a different route for the first part of our trip.  Instead of going south on I-65 to I-465 to Route 36, we took Indiana Route 39 from the motel to its intersection with I-74.  From there we went west on I-74 to its intersection with Route 150 at Danville and then south on 150 to Route 36.  While we were traveling we listened to radio station WIBC and its live broadcast from the Speedway.

Because of the huge Mother’s Day crowd at the Colonial Kitchen, we drove on to the Dixie Truck Stop at Tuscola for dinner.  There was a waiting line there too, but it was shorter and moved quickly.  Paul had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, jello cubes, and Coke, while I had meat loaf, baked potato, green beans, and coffee.  The waitress, service, and food were all really good, and it made for an enjoyable time.

When we finished eating we browsed in the gift shop for a few minutes as we usually do.  Paul found a little figurine entitled “World’s Greatest Mom” and asked if we could buy it for Dixie.  I thought it was a good idea, so we bought it for her.

We continued west on Route 36 all the way to Springfield.  It was 3:25 when we arrived home.  In spite of the Saturday morning rain and the trouble it caused at the track, it had been another enjoyable trip for Paul and me.

During the week before the race Paul and I got our suitcases packed, and at 10:11 on the morning of Saturday, May 23, we left on our trip to the race in our 1984 Chevrolet Caprice.  Paul hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, so we stopped at the Hardee’s restaurant at Jefferson and Walnut Streets and he ordered two sausage and cheese biscuits.  I gave the attendant a $10 bill and then received over $15 in change.  I told him I had given him only a $10 bill, but he said it was a $20 and the change was correct.  I felt wrong in accepting the change but did so to avoid an argument and not delay the line of customers behind us.

I drove on Walnut Street to North Grand Avenue, east to 8th Street, north to Sangamon Avenue, and then east out of town.  I took Old Route 36 to Decatur.  The weather was cloudy and overcast with rain a possibility.  At Decatur, we got on regular Route 36 and continued eastward.  It was 12:38 when we arrived at the Colonial Kitchen.

The restaurant was doing a good business, but it wasn’t filled.  We were shown to our table and decided to have the buffet dinner.  Between the two of us we had cabbage, new potatoes, corn, green beans, hot rolls, beef and noodles, lettuce salad, carrots, celery, and potatoes and gravy with Coke and coffee to drink.

While we were eating I looked out one of the windows and saw that it was raining.  When we finished eating we used the restroom and paid the bill.  It had already quit raining.

It was 1:15 when we left the restaurant and started our drive north to Danville.  Within five minutes it started getting brighter, and in a few more minutes we were back in dry territory.  Everything went smoothly along the way, and it was 1:54 when we arrived at the Ramada Inn Motel at Danville.

I had already paid for the reservation, so all I had to do was fill out the registration form.  When we got to our room Paul made the coffee and changed into his swimming trunks while I looked the room over to see if everything was working okay.

While Paul was swimming I did a little reading and TV viewing and then decided to see what was going on elsewhere at the motel.  There were a few customers in the restaurant, but the lounge was closed.  When I went by one of the ballrooms, I saw something that looked interesting.  A tool company from somewhere in Indiana was showing all their merchandise and a few other items, too.  It was an interesting show.

While I was looking around Paul had returned to the room, changed his clothes, and left to find me, which he did.  We stayed for quite a while and made two purchases.  Paul bought a pair of sunglasses, and I bought a bundle of potpourri for Dixie.

When we returned to our room, we noticed that the temperature was dropping and the wind was increasing.

The ESPN channel had a lot of coverage of the 500-Mile Race, not only from this year but from many other years.  It was good programming.  At around 5:00 I took a bath, shaved, and changed clothes, and at 5:50 we left the motel and drove into town to do our usual three jobs.

The first place we stopped at was the Famous Recipe chicken place.  Instead of getting only chicken as we did in other years, we got boxes with chicken and biscuits in them.

After getting the chicken, we changed our routine a little bit.  Several times while in Danville on race weekend I had seen a family steakhouse that looked like a nice place to eat.  For some reason I couldn’t find the restaurant this year, so we went to a Ponderosa steakhouse.  It was a big mistake.  There was only a small buffet to choose from, and many of the items I didn’t like.  Also, the restaurant wasn’t clean.  There were food scraps and dirt on the floor throughout the building.  Our waiter wasn’t so good and got us the wrong drinks.  Both of us were glad to leave and were still hungry when we left.

We drove north on Vermillion Street and stopped at a Hardee’s restaurant and got cheeseburgers, french fries, and an ice-cream cone.

The weather started to change before we left the motel, and it was dark and gloomy, windy, and cold.  We had on short-sleeve shirts and light jackets and we were chilly.

Before we stopped at Hardee’s I saw a gasoline station that was selling gasoline for $1.08 per gallon while most other stations were charging $1.15.  It was a short distance from Hardee’s, so after leaving there I took advantage of the low price and filled the tank.

With our three jobs done and the weather being what it was, we were glad to return to the comfort of our motel room.  It was 7:43 when we arrived.

At 8:00 we watched an interesting program on ESPN.  It was a pre-race program telecast live from the Speedway museum with Dave Despain and Derek Daly as the broadcasters.  They showed a lot of the action from the practice and time trial periods and discussed the possibilities of what could happen in the race.  It was really interesting.

After the race program we watched some more TV programming while I got the tote bag ready for the big day.  We watched the 10:00 news, and then I checked to be sure the door was locked and chained.  I also checked the alarm clock to be sure it was set and working, turned off the lights, said goodnight to Paul, and got under the sheets.

It was 4:15 when the alarm clock rang indicating that race day had begun.  I lay in bed for a couple of minutes, then got up and dressed, washed, and shaved.  While doing this I woke up Paul.  It took him several minutes to get up, but he made it and quickly got dressed and ready to eat breakfast.

The air was brisk, and it was 4:55 when we arrived at the motel restaurant.  We were among the first customers, and the restaurant employees were putting the buffet items on display.

The hostess showed us to our table and told us to help ourselves to the buffet table.  We had biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, hashed brown potatoes, and pancakes.  I had coffee and orange juice to drink while Paul had orange juice.

We ate a big breakfast because it would be a long time until we ate dinner.  Business increased considerably while we were eating, and I could tell by the way the people looked and talked that they were going to the same place we were.

When we were full I paid the bill, and then we returned to the room.  We cleaned our teeth and then checked to be sure everything was put away, got the tote bag, and walked to the car.  It was 5:37 when we left our parking space and started our trip to the race.

A couple pf minutes later we were in Indiana.  I turned on both the radio and the heater.  Station WIBC had up-to-the-minute traffic and weather reports, while the warmth of the heater protected us from the unusually cool weather.  The traffic moved well, and most of the travelers were headed for the same destination.  It was about 6:50 when we reached I-465 and traffic came to a halt.  From there on the traffic moved slowly and only a few feet at a time.  I turned left onto 20th Street and then left again to the end of a dead-end street.  The owner of the house directed us to his backyard where there were a few other cars.  It was 7:08 when I turned off the engine.

Because of the urgency of the occasion, I asked the man if we could use his restroom.  He was most accommodating and told us to help ourselves.  His wife was just as pleasant as he was.  When we were ready to leave I thanked them again for their hospitality, and they responded by wishing us a nice day and a good race.

We walked back to Crawfordsville Road and then toward the Speedway.  The cool weather was really playing havoc with some of the revelers along the way.  Instead of drinking beer and making loud noises, many of them were wrapped up in heavy blankets and drinking coffee or some other warm drink.

The sights along the road were much like any other year with one big exception.  The White Castle hamburger place, located at the three-street intersection across from the Speedway’s main entrance, was gone and the lot was vacant.  It had been there for many years, and I thought back to the many years Bobby, Dad, and I stopped there and got our Thermos bottles filled with coffee before entering the Speedway grounds.

We stood for a few minutes and watched some of the thousands of persons going through the turnstiles, and then we decided to join them.

The first thing I did was buy two Speedway souvenir programs, one for us and one for my post office racing friend, Fred Fry.  From there we proceeded to the gate on the outside wall of the track at the entrance to the first turn.  Many people stop and take pictures from there.  It is the only time that most race fans get to walk on the racetrack itself.

From there we went to the garage area.  It was a busy area.  The sight of the cars and roar of the engines were attracting a large crowd.  The crews were pushing their cars to their pit areas.  We stayed there until we didn’t see or hear any more cars and then started our walk to our seats.  It was then that I had one of my most unpleasant experiences in all my years at the Speedway.  When we reached the entrance way to Gasoline Alley, we were stopped by the Speedway patrol to allow the crews to push their cars to the pit area.  After a few minutes a few spectators had turned to a crowd of several hundred, and they became more and more impatient at not being able to cross the entrance and get to their destinations.  As the minutes ticked away, it was becoming harder for me to understand that the Speedway management would allow this situation to exist.  I could hear the bands marching on the racetrack, and I was unhappy at not being able to see them.  As the size of the crowd increased, panic and impatience also increased.  After an hour-and-ten-minute wait (longer for some people), the barriers were removed and the mob surged forward.  I put my hand around and held tightly to Paul’s arm as near hysteria broke out.  We hurried along and went straight to our seats.

We sat for a few minutes and then took a walk along the fence behind the pit area.  Pit crews were busy with their last-minute jobs as hundreds of spectators watched.  At 9:45, the command was given to push the cars to their starting positions on the track, so we returned to our seats.

As the cars were pushed through the pit area and onto the racetrack, the parade of celebrities started slowly around the track.  In addition to the human celebrities, there was a parade of 11 front-engine Offenhauser roadster race cars.  Four of the drivers were former race winners.  Jim Rathmann, Rodger Ward, and Parnelli Jones drove their 1960, 1962, and 1963 winning cars, while 1952 winner Troy Ruttman drove the 1961 winning car of AJ Foyt.  The remaining cars were driven by drivers of the 1962 race, including Len Sutton, Johnny Boyd, Gene Hartley, Roger McCluskey, and Chuck Hulse.  Seeing these cars tour the track brought back fond memories to thousands of fans like me who could remember seeing them in action here at the Speedway.

Other stars of the parade were Mickey Mouse and his friends, who were also the stars of the 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis the day before.

At 10:30, Chief Steward Tom Binford and other USAC officials made the final inspection trip of the track.  At 10:35, Florence Henderson sang America the Beautiful and was followed at 10:40 by Sandi Patti singing The Star-Spangled Banner.

At 10:45, Father Michael Welch delivered the invocation.  Father Welch was a newcomer to race day activities, replacing Bishop O’Meara who had passed away since last year’s race.

To regress a little bit, my race companion since 1977, Malcolm McKean from Central Baptist Church, had joined us at about 10:00 to join in the day’s festivities.

The invocation was followed by Taps played by the Purdue University Band in observance of the meaning of Memorial Day.  This was followed by a flyover of US Navy jets going from north to south.

The solemnity of the occasion became more relaxed as Jim Nabors was introduced to the crowd to sing Back Home Again in Indiana.  While Jim was singing, the multitude of balloons behind the Tower Terrace area was released and made a beautiful sight as they sailed skyward.

A couple of minutes later, the pre-race tension and excitement reached its climax as Mary Hulman gave a varied version of the famous command, “Lady and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!”  The change in command was necessitated by the qualification of Lyn St. James.

The engines came to life, and a huge applause erupted from the audience.  A member of each pit crew raised his arm to indicate his car was ready to go, and a minute or so later the two Cadillac Allante pace cars, one driven by former winner Bobby Unser, slowly pulled away.

Two cars, those of Gordon Johncock and John Paul, Jr., had trouble getting started and were left at the starting line.  Gordy’s car fired up a few seconds later, but it was a minute or more before John could get going.

The first pre-race lap went off without incident, although the field looked really ragged, but on the second lap the first of a long series of mishaps occurred.  Pole-sitter Roberto Guerrero was starting down the backstretch when he suddenly lost control and spun to the left.  He bounced over an earth bank and damaged his rear suspension, not badly but enough to prevent him from getting into the race.  When I heard the news, first from Malcolm McKean and then from Tom Carnegie, I, along with everybody else, was thoroughly stunned.

A few seconds later, there was another spinout when rookie Philippe Gache spun coming through the fourth turn.  Everybody got by him okay, and he was able to drive to his pit.  The race was already started when he got going again.

The two pre-race spinouts necessitated the running of two extra pace laps with second-place starter Eddie Cheever charged with bringing the field to the start.  Obviously the race didn’t start at 11:00, but a couple of minutes later Bobby Unser came charging through the pit area.  A few seconds later the field came through the fourth turn as another cheer came from the crowd.  Cheever and third-place starter Mario Andretti came down together, and then Duane Sweeney waved his two green flags.  At last, the race had started.

Cheever led into the first turn but was passed immediately by Michael and Mario Andretti.  As they came by us for the first lap, the standings were Michael, Mario, Arie Luyendyk, Cheever, Gary Bettenhausen, Scott Brayton, Danny Sullivan, Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, and Rick Mears.

Michael increased his lead on each succeeding lap as those behind him changed positions.  As Michael completed his fifth lap, Gache finally left his pit and entered the race.

On the sixth lap, the first yellow flag of the race came out when rookie Eric Bachelart blew his engine going through the first turn.  The yellow remained on for four laps and then the green reappeared but only for two laps.

Coming through the fourth turn, Tom Sneva, driving the #59 Menards-Glidden Lola Buick, crashed into the fourth turn wall.  I saw the last few seconds of the crash, and it looked potentially bad.  Parts were flying in all directions as the car slid along the outside wall.  Rescue personnel were on the scene within seconds.  Luckily, no other cars were damaged by the debris and Tom was not injured.

The accident provided a chance for the new “open” and “closed” pit procedure to be used.  Under this plan, all cars had to be lined up single-file behind the pace car before any of them could make a pit stop.

It took about 15 minutes to get the track cleared of debris and Tom taken to the infield hospital.

On the 20th lap, the green flag appeared and racing speeds resumed.  The first 10 positions were held by Cheever, Michael Andretti, Scott Brayton, Luyendyk, Fittipaldi, John Andretti, Scott Goodyear, Danny Sullivan, and rookie Ted Prappas.

One of the biggest surprises so far was Scott Goodyear.  In 20 laps, he had gone from 33rd to 7th.

Michael maintained his comfortable lead as Cheever, Brayton, Luyendyk, and Fittipaldi fought among themselves behind him.  As the first 100 miles were completed, the pit area became a busy place as the second round of pit stops took place.

When John Andretti came in, he couldn’t stop in time and slid.  When he did so, two of his pit crew members were injured and required hospitalization.  John had to make another lap around the track, which was costly.

The standings at 40 laps were Michael, Cheever, Brayton, Luyendyk, Fittipaldi, Rahal, Gary Bettenhausen, Jim Crawford, John Andretti, and Al Unser, Jr.

The next car out of the race was that of Scott Pruett in the #10 Budweiser Truesports entry.  His engine blew after 52 laps, but he was able to get into the infield and not bring out the yellow light.

Michael continued his fast pace, staying about 30 seconds ahead of Cheever while Brayton, Luyendyk, and Fittipaldi waged a battle for third place.  Michael’s pace was such that he was able to lap Brayton and Luyendyk and then on the 62nd lap also Fittipaldi.

Also on the 62nd lap, the yellow flag came out for the third time when the #92 Lola Buick of former winner Gordon Johncock expired with engine problems.  Four laps later, on the leader’s 66th lap, the green returned.

It remained on for less than 30 seconds, though.  As he came through the first turn, Philippe Gache spun, hit the outside wall, and stopped in the middle of the track.  He was then hit by Stan Fox, whose right front wheel hit the left front part of Gache’s car, sending it into another half-spin.  Fox’s car became airborne twice as he slid down the track, into the infield, and back onto the track in turn two.  Fox got out of his car immediately, but Gache had to be freed by rescue personnel.  There was a large amount of debris around his car.  The yellow flag remained out until the 75th lap, but the green flag was out for only 23 seconds.

Going through the first turn, Jim Crawford, in the #26 Quaker State Lola Buick, lost control and spun directly in front of Rick Mears.  As Crawford’s car backed into the wall it took the front of Mears’s car with it, and both of them crashed into the wall and out of the race.

At the same time, Fittipaldi spun in the turn and crashed into the wall, eliminating himself from the race as well.

It took 14 minutes to clean up the mess, and the green came out a few seconds before Michael Andretti finished his 83rd lap.

The standings at 80 laps, 200 miles, were Michael, Cheever, Luyendyk, Rahal, Unser, Jr., Brayton, Goodyear, Tracy, Al Unser, and Sullivan.

The green flag was out for 11 seconds when Mario Andretti spun in the fourth turn, caused apparently by tires losing traction because of the cool weather.  The car crashed almost head-on into the outside wall, forcing Buddy Lazier and Dominic Dobson to take evasive action to avoid the debris.  Mario suffered extensive injuries to both of his feet.

The yellow flag remained out until the 89th lap.  Michael continued to lead, and then on the 94th lap, while running in the top five, Scott Brayton lost his engine while going down the backstretch.

The green flag came out on Michael’s 97th lap, but it had been out only a few seconds when rookie Jimmy Vasser crashed in turn one.  Jimmy was unhurt, but his car was badly damaged as he stopped in the south short chute.

At the same time, rookie Paul Tracy was having race-ending trouble with his #7 Penske Chevrolet and finally pulled into the infield.

Michael completed 100 laps in 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 10 seconds, for an average speed of 126.321 mph — a long way from being a new