Friday Five: Hot cars of the Indianapolis 500

Published On February 27, 2015 » 2291 Views» By John Schwarb » Blogs, Friday Five, IMS, IMS History, Indy 500

For previous installments of Friday Five, click here.

With all due respect to those beautiful pictures of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in winter, we’re ready for racing weather. Enough of the sub-zero temperatures and ice crunching under our feet, we want 80 degrees and sunshine.

On The Blog, we’ve been supplementing our daydreaming with trips to the photo vault for old Indianapolis 500 connections to warm destinations or just anything hot. What do you think of these “hot” cars?

Not featured below: Cliff Hucul’s 1977 Team Canada car, Jaques Lazier’s 2007 Indiana Ice car or 15-time Indianapolis 500 starter Russ Snowberger. Nor did we consider Matt Kenseth’s Smirnoff Ice Triple Black Ford from the 2003 Brickyard 400. We’re all about warmth and being over this freezing winter.

ONE: The Del Webb Sun City Special. In 1960, real estate developer Del Webb created an Arizona retirement community that became a sensation and, in the years after, spawned many similar communities in Arizona and other winter-friendly states. In 1961, it was good business for Webb’s community to ride with Rodger Ward, the 1959 “500” winner and 1960 runner-up. He went on to finish third.


TWO: The Domino’s Pizza “Hot One” car. Remember the old commercials for Domino’s Pizza where your pizza was guaranteed to your door in 30 minutes? The company leveraged that at Indy by fielding the No. 30 car, first driven by Howdy Holmes in 1982 and then in subsequent years by Danny Sullivan, Al Unser Jr., Raul Boesel and Arie Luyendyk. The car was indeed hot, frequently finishing in the top 10 and winning it all with Luyendyk in 1990, though his No. 30 didn’t say “Hot One” on it like Holmes’ original (see bottom of sidepod).


THREE: The Konstant Hot Special. Finishing two spots behind Ward’s Sun City car in ’61 was Al Keller in the Konstant Hot Phillips/Offy, named for an electric water heater. In subsequent races at Indy, Bud Tinglestad, Roger McCluskey, Bobby Grim and Arnie Knepper also drove Konstant Hot cars.


FOUR: The Spirit of Orange County Special. California native Jerry Grant’s loyalties well displayed on his 1975 car, with plenty of oranges on the front wing and sidepods. And check out the crew’s shirts, not the kind you’d see every day in Central Indiana.


FIVE: Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Sun Drop/DHL car. Three years before the Floridian broke through to win the Indianapolis 500, he made the first of two appearances in a Dallara sponsored by Sun Drop Citrus Soda. Sun Drop? Hey, give us a break. We’re cold.


Honorable mentions: The Hotel Tropicana Las Vegas Novis of Bobby Unser and Jim Hurtubise in 1963, Bill Cheesbourg’s 1964 Arizona Apache Airlines Special, Joe Leonard’s 1969 City of Daytona Beach Special, Mike Groff’s 1991 Hawaiian Tropic Lola.


About The Author

John Schwarb

I joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway communications team in July 2014 and love sharing stories from the World Capital of Racing, particularly its rich history. Most of my professional career has been in racing or golf, so if I'm not in the IMS media center, the office at 16th and Georgetown or milling around Gasoline Alley, maybe I'll be standing over a birdie putt at Brickyard Crossing. Follow us at @IMS or drop me a line at @JohnSchwarb and come back to the blog often for more stories.