It is a list of drivers who have reached dizzying heights in their careers, yet fallen painstakingly short when it comes to success at the Brickyard.
Collisions, engine failures and fuel strategy have all stolen victory from some of motor racing’s greatest talent, but who has made the top 10 list of best drivers never to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
6. Dan Gurney
Upon hearing those words, Gurney was reported to have been visibly shaken and said, "Jimmy didn't fear anyone."
Clark’s dad replied, "No, on several occasions he told me that you were the only one he truly feared."
Praise does not get higher than that.
Dan Gurney participated in nine Indy 500s, finishing second in '68 and '69 and third in 1970. Despite such strong finishes, he only managed to lead two laps at the famous oval.
Alongside his career in IndyCar, Gurney was a race winner in Formula 1, NASCAR, Can- Am, Trans-Am series and Le Mans. Only Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya have equaled the feat.
On a side note, Dan Gurney spontaneously started the tradition of spraying champagne on the podium following his victory at the 1967 Le Mans 24 hours. He also became the first driver to wear a full-face helmet at the 1968 German Grand Prix.
7. Ted Horn
Reread that opening sentence and soak it in.
Ted got into racing in perhaps the most bizarre way imaginable. Whilst working for the Los Angeles Times, Horton was pulled over for speeding on his commute. His punishment was to travel to the San Jose Speedway and participate in a race in order to get the speed out of his system. Alas, a race driver was born.
Horn’s only retirement came in 1935, his debut race. The following year, he finished second and led 16 laps. He came closest to victory in 1948, when he led 74 laps on his way to a fourth-place finish.
Horn would have competed in more Indy 500s were it not for the outbreak of World War II and his premature death in October 1948.
In a race at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, Illinois, Horn crashed on the second lap and died later in hospital. He was aged 38.
8. Sir Jackie Stewart
Sir Jackie participated in two race starts in 1966 and 1967 and were it not due to misfortune, he may have won them both. In his Indy debut, Stewart led Jim Clark and Graham Hill until a mechanical failure thwarted him into sixth place.
The following year, Stewart retired with 32 laps to go, trailing Parnelli Jones and eventual winner A.J. Foyt in third position. Engine failure prevented the Scot from finishing the race.
Stewart is remembered in many circles as one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time. Born of humble birth, Stewart won three world championships in an era where he had a one-in-three chance of death. His campaign to improve safety in motorsport has left an endearing legacy to this day.
9. Nigel Mansell
The British driver won the 1992 Formula 1 world championship before winning the 1993 CART IndyCar World Series at the first time of asking. He is the only person in history to hold both titles simultaneously, although Jacques Villeneuve came close.
Mansell participated in the Indy 500 twice, finishing third in 1993 and crashing at turn three on Lap 92 the following year. He led a total of 34 laps at the brickyard.
In 1993, Mansell found himself leading with 16 laps to go, but he misjudged a race restart, which made him a sitting target for Emerson Fittipaldi, who went on to win the race.
Were it not for inexperience on oval circuits, Mansell may have won the Indy 500 as a rookie.
Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk and Mansell completed the top three, the first time in the history of the race that an American failed to secure a top-three finish.
10. Michael Andretti
The second-generation racer has led a combined total of 431 laps at Indy, placing him 10th on the all-time list. Four-time champion Rick Mears and three-time winners Louis Meyer and Johnny Rutherford have led fewer laps.
In his debut race in 1984, Andretti was recognized as rookie of the year by qualifying fourth and finishing fifth, aged 20. In 1986, he led the opening 41 laps after qualifying third, but ultimately had to settle with a sixth-place finish.
Andretti finished fourth in 1988 and suffered an engine failure in the 1989 edition whilst leading on the 163rd lap.
In 1991, he led six times for combined total of 97 laps but was taken by Rick Mears on Lap 187 before finishing second by 3.149 seconds. In 1992, Andretti’s car suffered a broken fuel pump on 160 and was able to continue until Lap 190 when it came to a stop. Andretti had led 160 laps of the oval. In the same race, his father and brother suffered bad crashes.
His final Indy 500 brought a third-place finish in 2006. Racing alongside his son, Marco, Michael found himself leading with three laps to go but was overtaken by his son and Sam Hornish, Jr.
“I should have won it so many times, but Indianapolis was a race track where everything seemed to go wrong for me,” Andretti once said.
Since becoming a team owner, Michael has had the opportunity to drink the winner’s milk, winning in 2005 with Dan Wheldon and 2007 with Dario Franchitti.[source]