Winner of the 100th Indy 500 to be Sold at Monterey
The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 justifiably received more hype, pomp and circumstance than any of the 99 editions that preceded this centennial celebration of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Only one car will ever be able to lay claim to capturing this historic event: the NAPA-sponsored 2012 Dallara DW12 Honda. Rookie driver Alexander Rossi drove this distinctive blue and yellow NAPA machine for Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian to a stirring victory that shocked the estimated crowd of more than 350,000 people. This significant piece of Indy 500 history will be crossing the auction block at Mecum’s Monterey sale on August 23–25.
Honda’s contributions to this fabulous machine were significant, as the company spent millions developing a slippery Speedway aerokit that was fitted around the car’s carbon-fiber/Kevlar/composite chassis. A stressed member of the chassis, the engine is coupled to an Xtrac sequential gearbox with six forward gears and paddle shifters. One unusual feature on the machine are the Firestone Firehawk tires with special sidewalls that contain the names of all 66 previous drivers that raced to victory in the Indianapolis 500 on Firestone tires. All of this high-tech speed is wrapped up in a package that weighs a mere 1,590 pounds. The end result is a machine capable of averaging 230 mph around the 2.5-mile oval track at Indianapolis.
For most of the afternoon on May 29, 2016, Rossi looked like a potential Rookie-of-the-Year (an award he also won), but to expect the then 24-year-old driver to win seemed to be too much to ask. Clever strategy and the talent to save fuel meant that what seemed a near impossibility became true, and as such, he became only the ninth first-year driver to ever win the race. Rossi stretched his final tank of fuel an amazing 36 laps to become a surprise winner and announce to the racing world that he had the skill to be a contender in America’s premier open-wheel series.
In truth, most of the crowd had their eyes on Rossi’s teammates. And why not? With 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, veteran Townsend Bell and Indy specialist Carlos Munoz, the Andretti team looked like a smart bet to win the 500. All three drivers had proven to be among the fastest on track all afternoon and most expected that one of these three would be drinking the milk at the end of the day. While his win was unexpected, Rossi did more than simply make his fuel last, he had been brilliant all afternoon, proving that he could make plenty of passes after an unscheduled pit stop near mid-race. Ultimately it was Rossi—not one of his more celebrated teammates—that set the fastest lap of the race at more than 225 mph, proving he ultimately did have the speed to win.
Although Dallara 037 was thoroughly updated with the new Honda aerokit and other assorted mechanical bits for the 2016 Indianapolis 500, it has a long and storied history in sport. It was raced in 2012 and 2013 by Alex Tagliani, in 2014 by Jack Hawksworth and in 2015 by Rookie-of-the-Year Gabby Chaves. Not only is this car a winning mount, but it also has the distinction of helping drivers capture two consecutive Rookie-of-the-Year awards, a fitting resume for a landmark machine. Dallara 037 will forever have the distinction of being the only car to win the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 and will be offered for sale at Mecum’s August 23–25 Monterey auction.