|Date May 30, 1959|
Winning Entrant Leader Cards
|Winner Rodger Ward|
Pole position Johnny Thomson
|Sanctioning body AAA / World Championship|
Average speed 135.857 mph (218.641 km/h)
The 43rd International 500-Mile Sweepstakes was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 30, 1959. The event was part of the 1959 USAC National Championship Trail, and was included in the 1959 World Drivers Championship.
Rodger Ward won the first of two career Indy 500 victories. A record sixteen cars completed the full 500 miles.
All cars were required to have roll bars for the first time.
Practice and time trials
Two drivers, Jerry Unser and Bob Cortner, were killed in separate crashes during the month. On May 2, Unser lost control in Turn Four, spun, and flipped down the main stretch. The car caught fire and Unser suffered significant burns; he died from complications of his burns on May 17. On May 19, rookie Cortner crashed in turn three after being pushed by a wind gust. He was killed instantly of head injuries.
Time trials was scheduled for four days:
Championship standings after the race
The race was carried live on the IMS Radio Network. Sid Collins served as chief announcer. Fred Agabashian joined the crew for the first time as "driver expert."
Lou Palmer (turn 3) and Jim Shelton (turn 4) were part of the broadcast team.