INDIANAPOLIS Nineteen of the 27 living Indianapolis 500 winners attended the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Era Gala on Friday, Feb. 27 at the Indiana Convention Center: Mario Andretti, Kenny Brack, Eddie Cheever Jr., Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon, A.J. Foyt, Dario Franchitti, Gordon Johncock, Parnelli Jones, Buddy Lazier, Arie Luyendyk, Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal, Jim Rathmann, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Al Unser, Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Unser.
Those champions combined during their careers at Indianapolis to write major portions of the “500” record book, including 35 victories, 29 poles, 312 starts and 5,050 laps led.
1997 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Ricky Rudd also attended, while multiple Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winners Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart participated in Gala festivities via satellite from Las Vegas, where they were racing in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.
Other Indianapolis 500 veterans attending the Gala included Janet Guthrie, Sarah Fisher, Lyn St. James, Bill Puterbaugh, A.J. Foyt IV, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Briscoe and Will Power.
A variety of team and racing officials also joined the festivities, including Pat Patrick, Jim McGee, Tim Cindric of Penske Racing, Scott Roembke of Rahal Letterman Racing, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree of Andretti Green Racing, and Al Speyer of Firestone Racing.
The IMS Radio Network community also was well represented, with all living “Voices of the 500” in attendance Paul Page, Bob Jenkins and Mike King. But Jenkins, who served as Gala master of ceremonies, noted after introducing legendary IMS Public Address Announcer Tom Carnegie that Carnegie “always will be the real Voice of the ‘500.’”
Other VIP’s at the Gala included artist Thomas Kinkade, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and famed racing beauty queen Linda Vaughn.
All Gala attendees had the opportunity for a picture taken with the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy, presented to the winners of the main auto races in 1909 and 1910 at IMS, which preceded the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.