10 Greatest Winners of the Indianapolis 500

Published On December 5, 2013 » 5230 Views» By admin » Blogs, Indy 500

The Indianapolis 500 was established over a century ago and it has become one of the most popular events in motorsports. The winner of the Indy 500 is awarded the coveted Borg-Warner Trophy. This list is a tribute to the 10 greatest winners on that trophy. This list is a tribute to the 10 greatest winners of the Indianapolis 500.

#10 Ray Harroun

Ray won only once at Indy but he gets a nod for taking the first ever checkered flag there on May 30, 1911. Harroun won the race driving a vehicle made by the Marmon Motor Company. Ray started over 60 races in his career and his win at the inaugural Indianapolis 500 has guaranteed his spot in racing history.

1911 Ray Harroun in cockpit

Ray Harroun – 1911


#9 Louis Meyer

Meyer was born in Manhattan in 1904 and he is the first driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500 three times. He also won the United States Driving Championship three times in 1928, 1929 and in 1933. Meyer took the Borg-Warner Trophy home in 1928, 1933 and 1936, making him #9 on my countdown. A picture of Meyer and his historic car can be seen below.


Louis Meyer – 1939


#8 Hélio Castroneves

Hélio is the first non-American to make an appearance on the list because of his trio of victories at Indy. Castroneves took the Borg-Warner home in 2001, 2002 and most recently in 2009. Hélio was born in Brazil on May 10, 1975 and he is already considered to be one of the Indianapolis 500 greats. When he won his second Borg-Warner in 2002 he became the second Brazilian born racer to accomplish that feat, joining Emerson Fittipaldi.


Helio Castroneves – 2009


#7 Bobby Unser

Bobby Unser is from the most famous family in IndyCar history. The Unsers have been called the Mannings of motorsports and Bobby was able to win the Borg-Warner Trophy in three different decades (1968, 1975, and 1981). Bobby was born in Colorado Springs in 1934.

Bobby Unser - 1981

Bobby Unser – 1981


#6 Johnny Rutherford

Sherman Johnny Rutherford III was born on March 12, 1938. This three time winner of the Indianapolis 500 was also known as Lone Star JR. in the racing circuit. Johnny also made 35 NASCAR starts in his illustrious career. Johnny Rutherford is truly one of the all-time greats.

Johnny Rutherford and crew - 1980

Johnny Rutherford and crew – 1980


#5 Wilbur Shaw

Shaw was born in Shelbyville, Indiana on October 31, 1902 and he won a trio of Borg-Warners in 1937, 1939 and 1940. Shaw eventually went on to become the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway until he passed away in 1954 in Decatur, Indiana.


Wilbur Shaw – 1937


#4 Dario Franchitti

Dario Franchitti is a Scottish born racer who may very well lead this list one day. He took home the Borg-Warner trophy in 2007, 2010 and 2012. He has been named man of the year twice by Top Gear magazine.


Dario Franchitti – 2010


#3 Rick Mears

Rick Ravon Mears is from Wichita, Kansas and he won the Indianapolis 500 an amazing four times in 1979, 1984, 1988 and 1991. Mears is the most recent driver to accomplish this amazing feat.


Rick Mears – 1988


#2 Al Unser Sr.

Another of the famous Unsers graces the list at the #2 spot. He is the younger brother of Bobby Unser who made the list at #5 and he is also the father of two-time Indy winner Al Unser Jr. Al won the Indy 500 in 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987.


Al Unser – 1971


#1 A.J. Foyt

It was tough not to give the top spot to Al Unser Sr. but A.J. gets the edge because it took him 17 seasons to win four Borg-Warners and it took Unser 18 years. A.J. Foyt may be the greatest racer of all times as he has also won the Daytona 500, the 24 hours of Daytona race and the Firecracker 400. Foyt took home the Borg-Warner Trophy in 1961, 1964, 1967 and 1977. A.J the day after winning the 1964 Indy 500 is shown below.


A.J. Foyt – 1961


– Bradley

Author Bio: Bradley Taylor is a freelance writer from Derby, England born in 1984 who writes about all aspects of the automotive industry. You can connect with Bradley on Google+ and follow him on Twitter.


About The Author


These are great champions but no BILL VUKOVICH? You should reconsider.


Leaving out Vukey is just ridiculous. He dominated qualifying and the race! He was leading the Race in 1952 when a piece of equipment broke, won in 53 and 54 and was leading the 55 Race when he was killed on the 57th lap. He dominated even more than Mears, in my opinion.

John Kirkman
John Kirkman

The plastic cars and plastic drivers do not belong on the same page with the real race drivers. I've seen Rex Mays and Ted Horn, Vukovich and Bettenhausen, heard about many others, the ones Hemmingway admired, like Lockhart and Murphy. There was a time when the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race was the most attended sporting event in the United States, and in second place was the first day of qualifying. Corporate entertainment doesn't qualify as racing. The fans know the difference, that's why they no longer come to the race.

Richard Harrell
Richard Harrell

You omitted one great accomplishment of A.J. Foyt. He and Dan Gurney teamed to win the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1967.

Don Mulder
Don Mulder

You can't just look at win numbers, add Harroun, and be done. Vukovich should be on the list, but a strong case can be made for Frank Lockhart or Jimmy Clark, who were one time winners.

Clifford E. Ellis Jr.
Clifford E. Ellis Jr.

Opinions are like AH ya !! those are yours and ok from your angle ! Dario and Helio ahead of Meyer and Shaw?? them in Spec cars of today ? the Megga Teams ,Indy's verson of NASCAR's Team Hendricks ? should be other way around in rank if top 10. Harroun over Vuky ? No Brainer on that one !! When you consider all the top 10 finishs of both Al Unser and Rick Mears not to mention Mears poles ,I think a tie is the best call .

Tonia Stout
Tonia Stout

With victory at the Indianapolis 500 comes the honor of having one’s face sculpted onto the 74-year-old trophy. Separate squares are affixed to its sterling-silver body, on which each winner’s face, name and winning year are permanently etched. A silversmith is commissioned each year to create the new champion’s portrait/sculpture in bas-relief for placement on the trophy.


You have a typo on Al Sr. You titled it Al Jr. What about Bill Vuchovich? In 1952, his sophomore year, he quickly moved up from his starting position in the middle of the third row to take the lead, and led 150 laps in dominant fashion before suffering steering failure on the 192nd of the 200 laps. He returned to win the race in consecutive years, 1953 and 1954. He led an astounding 71.7% of laps that he drove in competition at the track, and remains the only driver ever to lead the most laps in the race three consecutive years. Had a 17 second lead by the 57th lap in 1955 before the crash that killed him.

Mark Reid
Mark Reid

No Vuky, Al Senior or Dan Wheldon! Do you know anything about Speedway history?


Mark, You can count, can't you? Except for RH. all these drivers won 3 or more times. The category is Greatest Winning drivers, not favorite, not talented, most laps led etc....3 is greater than 2...