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Indy 500 : 1974


Indy 500 : 1974


1-DVD (87 minutes)

1974 Indianapolis 500 – (90 min)

The complete 1974 Indianapolis 500 as broadcast by “ABC’s Wide World Of Sports”, as re-broadcast by ESPN a few years
ago. When the race originally aired on May 26th 1974, it was on tape delay (as all Indy 500’s were at the time) and aired
later in the day to allow additional editing and special segments to be added.

The race was run relatively clean, with no major crashes or injuries, a sharp contrast from the tragic 1973 race a year
earlier. In order to increase safety, significant improvements were made to the track, and the cars. Wings were reduced in
size, and pop-off valves were added to the turbocharger plenums in order to reduce horsepower and curtail speeds. For the
first time in Indy history, the race was scheduled for the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. This ended the “never on a
Sunday” policy previously held from 1911-1973.

At the start, Wally Dallenbach blasted from the middle of the front row to take the lead into turn one. He set a new race
record for one-lap of 191.408 mph on lap 2, as he pulled out to a sizable lead. The lead was short-lived, however, as
Dallenbach broke a piston and coasted to a stop on lap 3. Attrition was very high early on, as eight cars dropped out with
mechanical problems by lap 11. Mario Andretti and Gary Bettenhausen each broke a valve. Rick Muther pulled into the pits
with problems during the pace lap, but rejoined the race, only to lose a piston after 11 laps.

A. J. Foyt took the lead when Wally Dallenbach dropped out. Johnny Rutherford was charging dramatically from the 25th
starting position, and by lap 23, he was running third. On lap 24, he passed Bobby Unser to take 2nd, and on lap 45
Rutherford was driving very aggressively in traffic to catch up to leader A.J. Foyt. The two cars ran nose-to-tail over the next
several laps. During the second sequence of pit stops around lap 50, teammates Gordon Johncock and Steve Krisiloff both
ran out of fuel. They coasted back to the pits and lost considerable time on the track. On lap 64, the first caution came out
when Larry Cannon spun. Foyt had a terrible pit stop of 53 seconds, which allowed Rutherford to take the lead for the first
time. On the next green flag pit stop around lap 90, Rutherford was on the receiving end of good luck. He ducked into the
pits under green, but seconds later the caution came out for a crash by Jan Opperman, which allowed Rutherford to pit with
little time lost. Jerry Karl crashed in turn 3 after completing 115 laps. During the caution, Johnny Rutherford exited the pits
right in front of second place A. J. Foyt, and held the lead. Seconds later, the green light came back on while the drivers
were in the south chute. Foyt got the jump on the restart, and passed Rutherford for the lead in turn 2. At lap 130, Foyt,
Rutherford, and Bobby Unser were running 1st-2nd-3rd. Al Unser dropped out on lap 131 with a broken valve, bringing out
the caution for a tow-in. Foyt ducked into the pits, and Rutherford was now the leader again. On lap 138, the green light
came back on. A. J. Foyt diced through traffic and passed Johnny Rutherford for the lead down the main stretch. A lap later
though, Foyt’s car began smoking, and he was issued the black flag for leaking oil. After two pits stops, Foyt dropped out
with a broken turbocharger scavenger pump. Johnny Rutherford took over the lead on lap 141, and Bobby Unser was the
only other car on the lead lap, and nearly 20 seconds behind. Rutherford gave up the lead only one more time on lap 176
during a pit stop. He led the final 24 laps to win his first Indianapolis 500. David Hobbs was the only foreign driver in this
race, and finished 5th. It would be the only top ten finish at Indianapolis for a foreign driver throughout the 1970s.

Great coverage by ABC, and the usual excellent commentary by Jim McKay, with color commentary by Sam Posey (his first
time in the booth for this race, as Jackie Stewart was covering the 1974 Monaco Grand Prix for ABC-TV). Quality of the
video is just Very Good (VG+) for this one, but it’s the best available, and the version ESPN chose to re-air.