When talking about the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds, there’s room for a mention about the great Arnold Palmer.
The golf icon, who died Sunday at the age of 87, played in the 500 Festival Open that was held in the 1960s at Speedway Golf Club (what we now call Brickyard Crossing Golf Course). In 1961, if Doug Ford wasn’t just a bit better on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, Palmer’s name would be on the list of those who won events at IMS.
Palmer did have a moment with an IMS champion in 1984, however, when Rick Mears won the Indianapolis 500 in his Pennzoil-sponsored March-Cosworth for owner Roger Penske. Palmer, of course, was a longtime Pennzoil pitchman, and that created an irresistible photo opportunity.
“He was just a great guy,” Mears told #SpeedRead earlier this year. “We did a couple of commercials intertwined with Pennzoil, and we’d see him at pro-am golf tournaments we’ve been involved in over the years. He was just a super guy, period. Besides being a helluva golfer.”