1956 Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 1956 took place on 30 May 1956 performed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis and was the third race of the Formula 1 season 1956 and the first round of the USAC season 1956.

  • 3.1 Start -up
  • 3.2 race
  • 4.1 Drivers' Championship



The Indianapolis 500 race counted as in previous years, the Formula 1 World Championship. The race, however, was completely ignored by the European teams and considered void result. Also from the organizers of the Formula 1 race was very low esteem, the Belgian Grand Prix in 1956 was scheduled just four days after the Indianapolis 500, so it was for the teams and drivers of Formula 1 logistically impossible at Indianapolis take 500 without having to miss the next race in Europe.

After the withdrawal of the American Automobile Association of the United States Auto Club took over the organization of the first Indianapolis 500 The route was paved for the most part, only on the start line was a section with paving stones. In the run up to the race it rained a few days very violent, whereby parts of the course and the access tunnels were flooded. The race was immediately before the cancellation, served as a short-term initiative of the racetrack operator Clarence Cagle pumping out the water masses in the way. On the morning of the race, the condition of the track was so dry that a race without safety concerns was possible.

Most teams put on the racing cars Kurtis Kraft, who won the Indianapolis 500 in previous years. Kuzma were numerically also strongly represented, Watson, Phillips, Lesosvky and Stevens were each represented once.


The starting grid was determined using four time trial competitions. The first time trial was held on May 19 and, among other rules, the pole position. The second time trial was held to determine the positions from grid position 18. A week later there were two more time trials, which are still allowed to qualify four riders for the race. Due to heavy rain the time trial but dropped out on Saturday.

With a time of 1:01,82, Pat Flaherty brought in a Watson pole position and set a new course record. This was Flaherty's only Formula 1 pole position.

Behind Flaherty, Jim Rathmann, Pat O'Connor and Dick Rathmann qualified, each in a Kurtis Kraft cars. Last year's winner Bob Sweikert reached starting tenth.


The first laps of the Indianapolis 500 were characterized by the three-way battle between the pole sitter Flaherty, Paul Russo and Pat O'Connor. Paul Russo struggled while starting from position eight prior to tip, but decreased after 21 laps the first driver out. He lost by a tire blowouts control of his car and crashed into the barriers. A subsequent burning car he escaped unharmed. One lap later, Johnny Thomson and Troy Ruttman secreted by Dreher, on lap 49 crashed Ray Crawford. After a quarter of the race distance and several caution periods by the accidents the drivers taking advantage of the opportunity for pit stops. Also, the leaders came to the pits, so Johnnie Parsons took over the lead from Don Freeland.

On lap 74, the third accident of the race, in which Al Herman retired occurred. Some laps later, Flaherty again took first place. Halfway through the race were behind him Freeland, Sweikert and Parsons. Two other accidents occurred on lap 134 and 160, where Jimmy Daywalt and Tony Bettenhausen were eliminated.

Sam Hanks, who damaged his car during the crash of Russo passed successively Parsons, Sweikert and Freeland and fought his way to second place before. Flaherty, meanwhile, built on his lead and put a second pit stop. Despite this safety pit stops he kept the lead and won the race. Both Flaherty and for its Watson- car it was the only Formula 1 victory, and the only Indianapolis 500 victory. Thus, the years of dominance by Kurtis Kraft car was broken that every Indianapolis won the early 50's 500.

Hanks was 20 seconds behind Flaherty second place finish, Freeland completed with a Philip's car the podium. More points for the Formula 1 drivers' championship Parsons received for fourth place and Dick Rathmann for fifth place. One point for the fastest lap achieved Paul Russo.

Flaherty rose in the championship of Formula 1 on fourth position, but participated in no other race of the Formula 1 season 1956. In the USAC season 1956 Flaherty occupied at the end of the season in second place. He was the last winner of the Indianapolis 500, which was only wearing a T- shirt. In the following years, fireproof clothing sat in the drivers through more and more.

Message list

In the message list, only the vehicles listed that have managed the qualification.





Standings after the race

The first five of the race were 8, 6, 4, 3, 2 points. The driver with the fastest lap of the race also received 1 point. It included only the five best results from the eight races.

Drivers' championship