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 rebirth | The ultimate “500” playlist | David Letterman, pit reporter | Indy 500 on Atari 2600 | On “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?
“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.