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1955 Indianapolis 500

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Date  May 30, 1955
Winning Entrant  John Zink
Winner  Bob Sweikert
Pole position  Jerry Hoyt
1955 Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning body  AAA / World Championship
Average speed  128.209 mph (206.332 km/h)

The 39th International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday, May 30, 1955. The event was part of the 1955 AAA National Championship Trail, and was included in the 1955 World Drivers Championship.


The race is notable to many as the race in which Bill Vukovich was killed in a crash while seemingly on his way to an unprecedented third consecutive Indy 500.

Time trials

Time trials was scheduled for four days.

Saturday May 14 – Pole Day time trials

Gusty winds, as well as the threat of rain, was observed on pole day, therefore nearly all of the competitors stayed off the track. Around the garage area, the drivers and teams agreed amongst themselves to sit out time trials for the afternoon, and instead qualify together in better conditions on Sunday. However, in the final 20 minutes, Jerry Hoyt, who had not been informed about the agreement, suddenly put his car in line, and pulled away for an unexpected qualifying attempt. His speed of 140.045 mph was not spectacular, but as the fastest (and only) car thus far of the day, he sat on the pole position. Without hesitation, Tony Bettenhausen, Sr. took to the track moments later. After two fast laps, he was slowed by a gust of wind, and qualified second. Sam Hanks and Pat O'Connor got their cars ready, but neither were able to complete attempts. The day closed with only two cars in the field, and Hoyt the surprising pole winner – to the dismay of several in the garage area.

Sunday May 15 – Second day time trials

Qualifying resumed in better conditions, and most of the drivers who stayed off the track Saturday took to the track on Sunday. Jack McGrath (142.580 mph) was the fastest qualifier, and lined up third. Hoyt's pole-winning speed from the day before ended up being only the 8th-fastest overall in the field – a record slowest ranked pole speed.

Near the end of the day, Manny Ayulo crashed due to a possible steering fault and died the following day.


* Points towards the 1955 World Drivers' Championship


  • First alternate: Len Duncan (#24, #73)
  • Radio

    The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. The broadcast was carried by 237 affiliates in all 48 states, as well as Armed Forces Radio. The broadcast was dedicated to the memory of Wilbur Shaw, who was killed in a plane crash in October.

    Luke Walton reported from the north pits for the third year. Charlie Brockman, in his fourth appearance on the network, conducted the winner's interview in victory lane.

    All five of the major radio stations in the Indianapolis area carried the broadcast. The broadcast was notable as it reported the fatal crash of Bill Vukovich.

    Championship standings after the race

    World Drivers' Championship standings
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included.
  • References

    1955 Indianapolis 500 Wikipedia