The 36th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 30, 1952. The event was part of the 1952 AAA National Championship Trail, and was included in the 1952 World Drivers Championship.
Troy Ruttman won the race for car owner J.C. Agajanian. Ruttman, aged 22 years and 80 days, set the record for the youngest 500 winner in history. It was also the last dirt track car to win at Indy. Ruttman's win also saw him become the youngest winner of a World Drivers' Championship race, a record he would hold for 51 years until the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix when Spanish driver Fernando Alonso won at the age of 22 years and 26 days.
Bill Vukovich led 150 laps, but with 9 laps to go, he broke a steering linkage while leading. He nursed his car to a stop against the outside wall, preventing other cars from getting involved in the incident.
In the third year that the 500 was included in the World Championship, Ferrari entered the race with Alberto Ascari. The effort gained considerable attention, but Ascari spun out and finished 31st. It was the only World Championship race in 1952 that Ascari entered and did not win.
Fifth place finisher Art Cross was voted the Rookie of the Year. Though at least one rookie starter was in the field every year dating back to 1911, this was the first time the now-popular award was officially designated.
Time trials was scheduled for four days, but rain pushed qualifying into a fifth day.Saturday May 17 – Pole Day time trials
Sunday May 18 – Second day time trials (rained out)
Saturday May 24 – Third day time trials
Sunday May 25 – Fourth day time trials (rained out)
Monday May 26 – Fifth day time trials (rain make up day)
The race was carried live on the radio on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. During the offseason, the Speedway management created the network to handle broadcasting duties in-house. The arrangement was under the flagship of 1070 WIBC-AM of Indianapolis, and featured a crew consisted mostly of WIBC talent. Sid Collins served as booth announcer. Jim Shelton was among the turn reporters, reporting from turn 4.
Like previous years, the broadcast featured live coverage of the start, the finish, and 15-minute live updates throughout the race.World Drivers' Championship standings
Note: Only the top five positions are included. Only the best 4 results counted towards the Championship.