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Indy 500 : 1980
Indy 500 : 1980
1-DVD (142 minutes)
1980 Indianapolis 500 – (142 min)
The 64th Indianapolis 500 was held on Sunday, May 25, 1980. Johnny Rutherford won the pole position, led 118 laps,
and won the race by a commanding 29.92 second margin. After failing to finish the race the year before, Jim Hall’s radical
new Chaparral 2K chassis (with Rutherford at the wheel) drove a flawless race, and was a heavy favorite entering the
month. Rutherford, the winner in 1974 and 1976, became the sixth driver to win the Indy 500 three times. Tom Sneva
broke an Indy 500 record by becoming the first driver to start last (33rd) and lead the race. Sneva led two times for 16
laps, and finished the race in second position. Sneva likewise became the first driver in Indy history to start last and finish
second (a feat tied by Scott Goodyear in 1992). It was Sneva’s third runner-up finish in four years.
The starting lineup featured 10 rookies, a sharp contrast from 1979, which had only one. Many of the veteran drivers
protested, as they felt it was a safety issue to have so many rookies in the race. But the major controversy was with the
cars themselves, as the sanctioning body decided to limit turbo boost to 48″ instead of the usual 60″ in order to slow the
cars down and keep the racing closer. Al Unser would end up retiring from the race with an engine problem, and he was
very vocal about the “slower cars” on only 48″ of boost, insinuating that was why he had an engine failure. After running a
spectacular race, Bobby Unser would suffer the same fate as his brother, and again, Bobby was not happy with the new
rule. But the most vocal was A.J. Foyt, who, after also destroying an engine, used profanity on national TV stating that
they (the sanctioning body) wanted “taxi cabs out there”. Most of the veterans were very unhappy about the new rule.
The 1980 Indy 500 was still being run without pit lane speed limits, so the speeds these cars attained coming in and out of
the pits is quite amazing. As a sidenote, the Pace Car this year was the 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am.
This is an original ABC-Sports broadcast, on tape delay (which is how they used to always broadcast the Indy 500 in order
to get prime time coverage), and the commentators are Jim McKay and Jackie Stewart, with pit/garage reporters Chris
Economaki and Same Posey. There are interview segments on Tim Richmond, Johnny Rutherford, and Mario Andretti, as
well as an interesting segment on the cost of an Indy Car.
Quality Note : This footage is not as clear as we’d like, but it’s the best quality we’ve seen.