Sunday, May 30, 2021

1963 – Parnelli Jones Wins Record 500

Parnelli Jones basks in the glory of winning the Indianapolis 500.

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 30, 1963) – Favorite Parnelli Jones dodged nine crackups and shook off Scotland's Jimmy Clark in the final laps Thursday to win the richest and fastest 500-mile speedway auto race in history.

A record crowd of nearly 300,000 gave the 29-year-old Torrance, Calif., speedster a thunderous ovation as he roared across the finish line in record speed and became the seventh pole winner to win the Memorial Day classic.

Clark, a rookie here but runner-up in last year's Grand Prix world road racing standings, made a game try of it in his highly-touted British Lotus powered by an American eight-cylinder Ford engine. At one time he cut Jones’ lead to 3.5 seconds, but the Californian won by 33 seconds at a record clip of 143.13 miles per hour. The old record, set by Rodger Ward last year, was 140.293 miles per hour.

The first four finishers all beat Ward's old record. A. J. Foyt, driving the same car in which he won the grind two years ago. was third, Ward was fourth, and teammate Don Branson was fifth. Jim McElreath was sixth, the same as last year. Unofficially the top 10 were rounded out by Dan Gurney in the other Lotus-Ford. Chuck Hulse, Al Miller, and Dick Rathmann.

Only 16 of the 33 starters were running at the finish. Despite the rash of accidents which turned on the yellow caution light more than 50 minutes, no driver was injured.

It was a tremendous victory for Jones, the speedway's fastest qualifier both this year and last. It was also sweet revenge for last year when faulty brakes halted Jones' dash toward victory lane, and he finished seventh.

The race, run in sunny and mild weather, had four leaders, with Parnelli in front most of the time. He took the lead from Jim Hurtubise on the second lap, held it through the 63rd, surrendered to Roger McCluskey on his first pit stop, and took it from Clark on lap 96. That was when Clark, the race's only foreign entry, made his lone pit stop.

Clark took the lead from McCluskey, who led but four laps, on the 68th circuit.

Jones made three evenly spaced pit stops — his last two after 126 and 162 laps. He used up 72.4 seconds in the pit and retained the lead after his last two stops for tires and fuel.

Jones won $25,050 in lap prize money alone and his total earnings, to be announced at Friday night's victory banquet, could reach $200,000 from a jackpot of about $500,000 — both records.

Jones was driving a conventional, 4-year-old four-cylinder roadster built by A. J. Watson, who handled four winners in recent years. Jones could have had a new car. but decided to stick with the "old buggy" because it handled so perfectly.

It was also a great victory for J. C. Agajanian. Jones’ car owner, whose only other previously winner was driven by Troy Ruttman in 1952.

Results –

1. Parnelli Jones
2. Jim Clark
3. A.J. Foyt
4. Rodger Ward
5. Don Branson
6. Jim McElreath
7. Dan Gurney
8. Chuck Hulse
9. Al Miller
10.Dick Rathmann
11.Dempsey Wilson
12.Troy Ruttman
13.Bob Christie
14.Ebb Rose
15.Roger McCluskey
16.Bobby Marshman
17.Eddie Sachs
18.Paul Goldsmith
19.Lloyd Ruby
20.Eddie Johnson
21.Chuck Stevenson
22.Jim Hurtubise
23.Duane Carter
24.Jim Rathmann
25.Bobby Grim
26.Bob Veith
27.Allen Crowe
28.Bud Tinglestad
29.Johnny Rutherford
30.Elmer George
31.Art Malone
32.Johnny Boyd
33.Bobby Unser

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