Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

1921 Indianapolis 500

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Sanctioning body  AAA
Winner  Tommy Milton
Pole position  Ralph DePalma
Date  May 30, 1921
Winning Entrant  Louis Chevrolet
1921 Indianapolis 500
Average speed  89.621 mph (144.231 km/h)

The 9th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 30, 1921.


Ralph DePalma dominated yet another early running of the 500, but again fails to win. He led 109 laps, and had a two-lap lead at the halfway point. A connecting rod broke, and he dropped out on lap 112. DePalma retires with one win, and 612 laps led in the "500." His laps led record would not be matched for 67 years until Al Unser, Sr. tied it in 1987.

Tommy Milton won the first of two 500 victories. he was accompanied by riding mechanic Harry Franck. The only European car to finish was a 1921 Grand Prix Sunbeam driven by Ora Haiba who was placed fifth.

Time trials

Time trials was scheduled for five days, May 25-29. Four-lap (10 mile) qualifying runs were utilized. A short field of only 26 cars submitted entries, but only 23 cars arrived and prepared to qualify. Mervin Headley's entry was disallowed because only half the entry fee was paid. Two other entries were no-shows.

Ralph De Palma completed his qualifying run on Wednesday May 25, at an average speed of 100.75 mph. He won the pole position as the only driver over the 100 mph mark. None of his four laps matched the track record (104.78 mph) set in 1919.

This would be the first 500 that featured the familiar starting grid of rows of cars three-abreast.

Race details

  • For 1921, riding mechanics were required.
  • First alternate: none
  • References

    1921 Indianapolis 500 Wikipedia