Trisha Shetty (Editor)

1959 Indianapolis 500

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Date  May 30, 1959
Winning Entrant  Leader Cards
Winner  Rodger Ward
Pole position  Johnny Thomson
1959 Indianapolis 500
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:

  • Saturday May 16 – Pole Day time trials
  • Sunday May 17 – Second day time trials
  • Saturday May 23 – Third day time trials
  • Sunday May 24 – Fourth day time trials
  • Alternates

  • First alternate: Rex Easton (R) (#39, #45)
  • Championship standings after the race

  • Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Also, points scored in the 500 did not count towards the F1 constructors championship.
  • Radio

    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.


    1959 Indianapolis 500 Wikipedia