Did you see the Indy 500 on any of these old TV shows?

Published On March 31, 2016 » 2707 Views» By Jeff Vrabel » Blogs, IMS, Indy 500

We’re chronicling 100 days of Indy 500 history on #SpeedRead leading up to the historic 100th Running. With 57 days to go, Jeff Vrabel continues exploring the many tie-ins between the Indy 500 and pop culture.

More Vrabel: “500” in silent movie | In “Cars” | In “Turbo” | The Beatles at IMS | Pace Car drivers | Snake Pit rebirthThe ultimate “500” playlist | David Letterman, pit reporter | Indy 500 on Atari 2600On “Jeopardy!”More 100 days blogs

We’ll be honest — there is pretty much no thread connecting the shows that have featured the Indy 500 in some way or another over the years, and we like it that way. See if you happened to catch any of these random appearances of the Speedway on the small screen:

“The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”: On a Season 4 episode of the cartoon classic, Mr. Peabody and Sherman head in the WABAC machine to find “the man who won the first Indianapolis auto race,” and I think we all know who that is: Barnaby Victor. (What’s a little revisionist history among friends?)

“The Flintstones”: Fred and Barney enter the — say it with us — “Indianrockrolis 500,” which is a total stretch but we’ve been sitting here for 10 minutes and can’t think of anything better. (Fred’s driver name is “Goggles Pisanno,” just in case that ever comes up in conversation.)

Surely these cars ran on Firestones, right?

Surely these cars ran on Firestones, right?

“M*A*S*H”: Two episodes mention the “500.” In the first, Corporal Klinger tells Major Winchester he can’t drive a Jeep any faster because “there’s a reason you don’t see these things racing at Indianapolis.” And in the second, an ambulance flips over leaving the base, leading Col. Potter to shout, “When are the boys gonna realize this isn’t the Indianapolis 500?”

“The Brady Bunch”: In the 1971 episode “The Wheeler-Dealer,” Greg climbs into a car he dubs “the hottest set of wheels this side of Indianapolis!” It’s probably not, but we appreciate the shout.

“Beavis and Butt-Head”: This is such a stretch we feel bad including it, but it’s also “Beavis and Butt-Head” so we have to: On an episode titled “Bus Trip,” a school bus driver gets all mad at another driver and yells, “This isn’t the Indy 500, you moron!” That was cool.

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”: It’s not a sitcom, but it’s a good story: On Nov. 19, 1999, the fastest-finger question was “Put the following races in order according to their length,” and the “500” was one of the options. John Carpenter, who correctly answered the question, went on to become the first U.S. player to claim the $1 million grand prize. You’re welcome, John.

Hint: The London Marathon is shorter than the 500. The dog race and bike race are not.

Hint: The London Marathon is shorter than the 500. The dog race and bike race are not.


About The Author

Jeff Vrabel

I’m an Indiana native and former resident of Chicago and Hilton Head Island who’s written for for such outlets as GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post and my hometown Indianapolis Monthly. I spent decades listening to the 500 on the radio and have run two Mini-Marathons around the IMS track, but only dropped a packet of energy beans on Turn 3 during one of them. And I live near Indianapolis with my family; my oldest son just stole bacon off your plate and the youngest was personally approved by Springsteen (long story). Find me at the cleverly named http://jeffvrabel.com or http://twitter.com/jeffvrabel.

In the 1987 "Books & Reading" episode of Nickelodeon's "You Can't Do That On Television," the kids talk about their bus driver getting his favorite racing magazine and pretending that he's in the Indy 500.  The bus driver then drives the bus wildly while shouting, "Yeehaw!  Let's see A.J. Foyt do this!"

See it here:  https://youtu.be/7cXAI-l1gzU?t=22m59s