It was the second-closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history. Last weekend, Ryan Hunter-Reay stole victory from under the nose of three-time winner Helio Castroneves on the 98th running of the legendary race. Hunter-Reay traded the lead with Castroneves four times in a tense last six laps. It took a dramatic passing move on the final lap to clinch matters.
Only Al Unser Jr’s victory over Scott Goodyear in 1992 was closer: 0,043 seconds vs last weekend’s 0,06.
For locals, there was to cheer about: the first American win in, oh, ages. For the old-timers, though, there was something to wax nostalgic about. Namely, the sight of Indianapolis 500 ace Johnny Rutherford at the wheel of the Maserati 8CTF “Boyle Special”.
Rutherford drove a lap of the Brickyard to commemorate the car’s back-to-back victories at the Indianapolis 500 seven decades ago. Wilbur Shaw drove the car to those wins in in 1939 and 1940. It is still the only Italian car to have won at Indy.
For the record, the 8CTF has been recognised by the Historical Vehicle Association (HVA). It is the first foreign-made car to be archived into the United States Library of Congress. This forms part of a new effort to authenticate historically significant automobiles.
Ernesto Maserati developed the supercharged 3-litre 8CTF in early 1938 to take on the European competition of the day. The company had been given renewed life by a financial injection from the Orsi family of industrialists. The car’s in-line 8-cylinder developed quoted power of better than 270 kW. It was fed by two Roots superchargers, one for each group of four cylinders. Bodywork was in aluminium, and the 8CTF was capable of 290 km/h.