We arrived last night in Indianapolis, the only state capital exactly in the center of its state (True fact! Look it up!) and, for this weekend certainly, the center of the drag racing universe.
Indianapolis also may be known as the Circle City, named for its original layout that featured a circular commons that held the governor's mansion (later razed; today the area is Monument Circle) and not for the "other" famous racetrack located nearby (which is actually an oval, but there's already an Oval City, in Ohio not far from Akron … look it up), but this weekend it lives up to its other nickname, the Racing Capital of the World.
I spent the night musing about what might be coming our way this morning as we head out to O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis for our first day of the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. Sure, the race began Wednesday, but we were still in Glendora then, battling deadlines and flying ash and choking smoke from those pesky brush fires, and yesterday was a travel day.
Along the way, I compiled some miscellaneous Indy stats and facts I thought you’d enjoy. With a tip o' the hat to the ever-prolific and prodigious Bob Frey,
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
… there have been 334 U.S. Nationals winners in the past 54 years?
… 67 of those drivers have won the Big Go more than once? Two drivers have won it nine times, one has scored eight times, two have been victorious seven times, five have titled six times, another has won it five times, three have scored four times, 15 have done in three times, and 38 have scored twice. (To save you the math work, 267 drivers have won it just once.)
Bob Glidden won Pro Stock at the U.S. Nationals nine times, including this 1987 victory that he collected in the midst of a four-year winning streak in Indy.
… four drivers have won the U.S. Nationals four straight years, three of them in Pro Stock? Bob Glidden accomplished that amazing feat of dominance first (1985-1988), followed by Warren Johnson (1992-1995) and Greg Anderson (2003-2006). They are joined by Top Alcohol Funny Car's Pat Austin (1988- 91).
… three drivers have three-peated at Indy? Tony Schumacher and Frank Manzo both have won Indy three years straight twice in their careers. Schumacher did it in 2002, 2003, and 2004 as well as 2006, 2007, and 2008, and Manzo in 2000, 2001, and 2002 as well as 2005, 2006, and 2007. "Big Daddy" Don Garlits did it once (1984, 1985, and 1986).
… 24 drivers have doubled up in Indy, winning two straight years? Glidden (1973, 1974 and 1978, 1979), Don Prudhomme (1969, 1970 and 1973, 1974), and Dave Schultz (1987, 1988 and 1993, 1994) all did it twice, and Joe Amato (1987, 1988), Brad Anderson (1984, 1985), Dale Armstrong (1974, 1975), Gary Beck (1972, 1973), Kevin Helms (1998, 1999), Kurt Johnson (1996, 1997), Doug Lambeck (1998, 1999), Ed McCulloch (1971, 1972), George Montgomery (1959, 1960), John Myers (1996, 1997), Cruz Pedregon (1994, 1995), Larry Pritchett (2002, 2003), David Rampy (1998, 1999), Scotty Richardson (1995, 1996), Joe Smith (1974, 1975), Glen Treadwell (2005, 2006), Angelle Sampey (2001, 2002), Lee Shepherd (1980, 1981), Gene Snow (1966, 1967), Terry Vance (1985, 1986), and Lee Zane (2003, 2004) all pulled off the feat once.
… no driver has ever won two classes on the same day in Indy, though several have come close. Austin was the first with his Top Alcohol Funny Car win and Top Fuel runner-up in 1991, and he has been followed in the near-miss category by Richardson (1996 Stock win, Super Gas runner-up) and Rampy (1998 Super Comp win, Comp runner-up).
… with a Top Fuel victory, Schumacher will have won eight of 10 U.S. Nationals this decade and will tie Garlits as the class' winningest driver in Indy?
Top Alcohol Funny Car star Frank Manzo is poised to become the winningest driver in U.S. Nationals history if he collects his 10th Indy win this year. His win in 2002 here also was his milestone 50th victory; he now owns 84 wins.
… Top Alcohol Funny Car wunderkind Manzo has the chance this weekend to become the winningest driver in U.S. Nationals history – regardless of class -- with a 10th victory? He also has two runner-ups here.
… Manzo has won the U.S. Nationals six times this decade?
… until Manzo tied him with an Indy win in 2007, former Pro Stock kingpin and home-state favorite Glidden had been the winningest driver in U.S. Nationals for nearly 20 years, since his last win here in 1988? How good was he?
… Glidden also has six runner-ups in Indy?
… the only person to beat Glidden more than once in an Indy Pro Stock final was Shepherd? He did it back to back in 1980 and 1981.
… four drivers have scored in three classes in Indy? Pete Biondo and Richardson have both won in Super Stock, Stock, and Super Comp, and Jeff Taylor has won in Comp, Super Stock, and Stock. Montgomery also won in three classes in the 1960s (when class names shifted quite a bit), scoring twice in Little eliminator and once each in Middle and Sportsman.
…. Biondo has won twice in each of those classes, and Richardson just missed becoming a four-class winner when he was runner-up in Comp in 2007?
… only four drivers -- Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, McCulloch, and Jim Head -- have won the U.S. Nationals in both Top Fuel and Funny Car?
… Prudhomme not only did it first, winning in Funny Car in 1973 after three previous wins in Top Fuel (1965, 1969, 1970), but with additional Funny Car wins in 1974, 1977, and 1989, he's the only driver with multiple wins in both classes?
… McCulloch is still the winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history, even though his last fuel coupe win at the Big Go was in 1990?
John Force has won the U.S. Nationals four times, including with this special-edition gold car in 1998, but has DNQ'd the last two years.
… John Force has a chance to tie McCulloch at five wins this year, but that he's failed to qualify in Indy the last two years?
… Force hasn't qualified No. 1 at any NHRA national event since he qualified on the pole at the U.S. Nationals in 2006? That's a span of 66 races, the longest such drought of his Pro career.
… of the 17 NHRA events, past and present, at which Force has logged as many as 20 starts, the U.S. Nationals is the only event he has won fewer than 40 rounds (39)?
… Antron Brown has the chance to become the first NHRA competitor to win at the U.S. Nationals in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle? He earned two-wheeled titles in 2000 and 2004 and is a favorite to win this year in Top Fuel.
… in addition to Prudhomme, McCulloch, Bernstein, Head, and Brown, 12 drivers have wins in two classes: Darrell Gwynn (Top Fuel, Top Alcohol Dragster), Austin (Top Fuel, Top Alcohol Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock, Super Gas), Snow (Sportsman, Comp), Ronnie Sox (Pro Stock, Super Stock), Vance (Pro Stock Motorcycle, Top Fuel Bike), John Lingenfelter (Comp, Super Stock), Rampy (Comp, Super Comp), Dave Boertman (Super Stock, Stock), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock, Super Stock), Bob Riffle (Comp, Modified), and Pete Shadinger (Comp, Little).
… three of the four Coughlin brothers – Jeg, Mike, and Troy – have won Indy titles? Family patriarch Jeg Sr. was a runner-up in Little eliminator in Detroit in 1959. Looks like John's turn next.
The late Dave Schultz is still the winningest Pro Stock Motorcycle rider in U.S. Nationals history and will be for a long, long time.
… even though his last triumph here was 15 years ago, the late Schultz is still the winningest Pro Stock Motorcycle pilot in Indy history with six wins? He'll hold that record for a long, long time as only one other active rider (Steve Johnson) has more than one win.
… Gary Beck (1972) and Larry Dixon (1995) are the only Pro rookies to have won the U.S. Nationals in their first start in Indy?
… only two drivers -- Rick Santos (1993, 1999) and Bill Reichert (2006, 2008) -- have won Top Alcohol Dragster more than once at the U.S. Nationals?
… Mick Leiferman probably holds the record for Indy frustration? He reached the Stock final three straight years (1975, 1976, 1977) and finished as runner-up all three times. He has never won the U.S. Nationals.
… John Smith also is a three-time Indy runner-up without a win, finishing second in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1993, 1995, and 2000?
… 20 other drivers have reached an Indy final twice and failed to win?
Will this be Ron Capps' year to finally win Indy?
… current NHRA Full Throttle superstars Ron Capps, Doug Kalitta, Tony Pedregon, Brandon Bernstein, Rod Fuller, and Andrew Hines have never won the U.S. Nationals?
… Capps has not only never won the U.S. Nationals but never reached the final here? Fuller has an Indy runner-up, but it was in Super Gas, in 1998.
… Former world champs Eddie Hill, Gary Ormsby, Mark Oswald, Chuck Etchells, Dick LaHaie, Scott Kalitta, and Jim Yates never won at the U.S. Nationals?
… Al Hofmann, Tommy Johnson Jr., Bruce Allen, and Jay Payne are among the list of drivers with 10 or more wins without a U.S. Nationals win?
… Comp racers Tom Trisch and Treadwell went exactly 10 years between their first and second Indy wins? Trisch first won Indy in 1971 and then scored again in 1981, and Treadwell went from his 1995 win until 2005 before he won again here. Treadwell didn't wait 10 years before capturing his third, however; he also scored in 2006.
… the record for the longest time between multiple Indy wins is 22 years? Al Corda won Stock in 1971 and in 1993.
And, finally, did you know that …
… I'm out of Did You Knows?