Harman Patil (Editor)

1950 Indianapolis 500

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Date  May 30, 1950
Winning Entrant  Frank Kurtis
Winner  Johnnie Parsons
Pole position  Walt Faulkner
1950 Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning body  AAA / World Championship
Average speed  124.002 mph (199.562 km/h)

The 34th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, May 30, 1950. The event was part of the 1950 AAA National Championship Trail. The race was also included as the third round in the inaugural 1950 World Drivers Championship, and paid points towards the World Championship. The event, however, did not attract any European entries for 1950. Giuseppe Farina originally planned to enter, but his car never arrived. The Indianapolis 500 would be included on the World Championship calendar through 1960.


The race was originally scheduled for 200 laps (500 miles), but was stopped after 138 laps (345 miles) due to rain.

A rumor circulated in racing circles during and after this race that Johnnie Parsons's team discovered an irreparable crack in the engine block on race morning. The discovery supposedly precipitated Parsons to charge for the lap leader prizes. Presumably, he set his sights on leading as many laps as possible before the engine inevitably was to fail. Furthermore, the race ending early due to rain supposedly saved Parsons's day allowing him to secure the victory before the engine let go. However, the engine block crack was proved to be an urban myth, and it was said to be a very minor but acceptable level of porosity, which did not significantly affect the performance.

Parsons' win saw him score 9 points move to equal first in the first ever World Drivers' Championship alongside Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio, and also saw him become the first American to win a World Championship race. Despite the 500 being his only race in the 1950 World Championship, it would be enough to see him finish 6th in points.

During the month, Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck were at the track to film scenes for the film To Please a Lady. Stanwyck was on hand in victory lane after the race for the traditional celebratory kiss to the winner.

Time trials

Time trials was scheduled for six days.

  • Saturday May 13: Walt Faulkner won the pole position with a record run of 134.343 mph.
  • Sunday May 14
  • Saturday May 20: The third day of time trials saw six cars complete runs. Bayliss Levrett (131.181 mph) was the fastest of the afternoon. Charles Van Acker was ruled physically disqualified, after a crash he suffered at the Speedway from 1949.
  • Sunday May 21
  • Saturday May 27: The day began with 11 spots open in the grid.
  • Sunday May 28: Only one driver managed to bump his way into the field. Johnny McDowell bumped Cliff Griffith, while 15 other cars failed to make the field. The two Novi entries failed to qualify - Chet Miller had engine trouble in one of the cars, while the other snapped a supercharger shaft. Rain and two crashes cut the track time to less than three hours. Cy Marshall was among the few left in line when time trials closed at 6 p.m.
  • Classification

    (W) = past winner
    (R) = rookie

    Championship standings after the race

    World Drivers' Championship standings
  • Note: Only the top five positions are listed. Only the best 4 results counted towards the Championship.
  • Radio

    The race was carried live on the Mutual Broadcasting System, the precursor to the IMS Radio Network. The broadcast was sponsored by Perfect Circle Piston Rings and Bill Slater served as the anchor. Sid Collins moved into the booth for the first time to serve as analyst, and conducted the victory lane interview at the conclusion of the race. The broadcast feature live coverage of the start, the finish, and live updates throughout the race.

    Prior to the race, it was reported that Slater might miss the race, due to illness. WIBC personality Sid Collins was named as a replacement, however, Slater was able to arrive in time for race day. Collins, who had previously served as a turn reporter, was invited to be the co-anchor in the booth. For the first time, Collins interviewed the winner in victory lane at the conclusion of the race. Collins claims he burned his trousers on Parsons's hot exhaust pipe during the interview, which took place in the rain.

    Because the race was shortened, Mutual had to interrupt Queen For A Day to cover the finish of the abbreviated event. This was cited by some as a reason why the Speedway would begin flag-to-flag coverage in 1953.


    The race was carried live for the second year in a row on local television on WFBM-TV channel 6 of Indianapolis. Earl Townsend, Jr. was the announcer, along with Dick Pittenger and Paul Roberts. After the race, Speedway management disallowed WFBM from broadcasting the race live again, feeling that gate attendance had been negatively affected.


    1950 Indianapolis 500 Wikipedia

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