While on location for the Mustang Club of America’s 35th anniversary celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we made a beeline for the Speedway’s incredible museum. As usual, we picked our favorite cars from the museum for your perusal.
1973 Porsche 917/30
Nope, this isn’t a well-done replica — this is the actual famous Can-Am racer you’re thinking of. This is the monstrous 917 that legend Mark Donohue wrangled to victory in the 1973 Can-Am season, packing a tremendously potent 5.4-liter twin-turbocharged flat-twelve engine. This wild powertrain supposedly sent around 1,500 hp in qualifying trim to the rear wheels resulting in a 0-100 mph time of 2.9 seconds.
Did you think that all the cars that competed in the early days of Indy were American? In reality, the field of competition was so diverse that the first decade of competition saw Mercedes and Peugeot take home the first-place laurels. Indy icon Wilbur Shaw piloted this Maserati to his second and third victory in 1939 and 1940, making this car one of the most successful cars in Indy’s history.
1911 Marmon Wasp
If you see just one car at the museum, make sure it’s this bright yellow Marmon. It’s the first car to win the race, and believed to be the first implemented use of a rear-view mirror. Underneath the bus-sized bodywork beats a massive inline-six cylinder engine, a far-cry from Marmon’s top-spec V-16 engine that could be found in the automaker’s production cars.
1977 Foyt Coyote
In 1977, motorsports history was made when A.J. Foyt claimed his fourth victory at the Indianapolis 500. This wicked orange wedge was the car that claimed the gold, featuring a potent Ford-based turbocharged V-8. According to the museum, this is the last Indy winner to have both a U.S-built chassis and engine.
Maserati MC12 Goodwood Cent 100
Built as a commemorative showpiece for the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed, this MC12 is a rare sight in the U.S. Essentially, the MC12 is a slightly detuned Ferrari Enzo in a new set of clothes, carrying the same 6.0-liter V-12 engine and transmission. Just over 60 of these were produced, including the wild “Corse” and “GT1” spec track and race-only cars.
1980 Chaparral 2k Pennzoil
This is the first Indy winner to rely heavily on “ground effects” for stability during high speeds. The car made its competitive debut in 1979, but its crowning moment was the 1980 Indy victory at the hands of Johnny Rutherford, taking home his third win.
In 1921, buoyed from its competition success in the States, Duesenberg shipped four open-wheeled racers to Europe for the French Grand Prix, where American Jimmy Murphy won. This caused quite a stir, and when Murphy arrived back home, he purchased one of the cars from Duesenberg. He ripped out the Duesy motor and supplanted it with a stout Miller engine, taking victory at the 1922 Indy 500 at an average speed of 94.484 mph.
1952 Ferrari 375
Even the mighty Ferrari tried its hand at the Indy 500, if only for a moment. Four “updated” Grand Prix cars were shipped to the U.S., where one was campaigned by Ferrari itself, and three were given out to privateers. None of the cars ever won, but it’s a great reminder on how influential and world-reaching the Indy 500 is.
1996 Ford-Cosworth Reynard
Despite being almost old enough to drink, this pointy Indycar still holds the track record for average speed during qualifying and the highest unofficial top speed during practice. In 1996, Arie Luyendyk maintained a record-breaking 236.986 average speed over four laps. His fastest qualifying lap had a blistering average of 237.498 mph. During practice, Luyendyk saw an incredible 239.260 mph average.