Friday Five: ‘Your city here’ on Indy 500 cars

Published On October 16, 2015 » 2397 Views» By John Schwarb » Friday Five, IMS, IMS History, Indy 500

Two weeks ago in the Friday Five, we reviewed a few “500” cars with sponsorship ties to Indiana cities. No surprise that Hoosiers from some hamlets pooled money together to help get cars into “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Over the years, cities far outside Indiana also got in the act by serving as sponsors on cars. Here’s a look at five of those cars and how they arrived on the grid at Indy.


ONE: 1950 City of Glendale Watson/Offy, driven by Dick Rathmann

This car was nicknamed the “Pots and Pans Special” in honor of the hardware stores and other businesses in Glendale, Arizona, that pooled donations (some as little as $25) to get the rookie Rathmann in the show.


TWO: 1958 City of Daytona Beach KKG500G/Offy, driven by Paul Goldsmith

In 1958 and again in 1967 with driver Dennis Hulme, the Florida city appeared on Smokey Yunick’s cars. Can you imagine this today? Yeah, we can’t either.


THREE: 1968 City of Seattle Eagle/Ford, driven by Johnny Rutherford

This city-sponsored car was a beauty – note the nose with the Space Needle. Alas, the car didn’t finish the race in one piece as Rutherford was involved in a crash after 125 laps.


FOUR: 1975 Spirit of Orange County Eagle/Offy, driven by Jerry Grant

This was another city car that hit the grid thanks to a number of donors. And between the oranges on the car and colorful crew shirts, there was no doubt that this was a California car.


FIVE: 1991 Vail/Beaver Creek Lola/Buick, driven by Buddy Lazier

A quarter-century ago, Lazier was an Indy rookie trying to get enough dollars together with owner Ron Hemelgarn. Help from the hometown was welcome, and Lazier made his first “500.” Four years later, he would win.


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.

The "Your city here" article was good, but missed on a very close and to me important entry. The 1968 Mel Kenyon driven "City of Lebanon Special" which I believe he drove to 3rd place! I was one of many people who gave only a dollar to help get the car entered.  


The city I always associate with the Indianapolis 500 is Novi, Michigan thanks to the engine.  I've never been to Novi.