|Scott Goodyear in the pits at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Reuters file photo)
INDIANAPOLIS - There are many who consider the 1992 Indy 500 the greatest of all the races that have run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway over the past 100 years.
Canada’s Scott Goodyear finished second in that race, .043 seconds behind winner Al Unser Jr., after starting the race in the 33rd and final position.
This is the story of that race in Goodyear’s own words:
“They say winning the Indy 500 changes your life. I think for me finishing second in 1992 changed my life. Realistically I looked at it as a positive. For a couple of reasons.
“Number one, I didn’t do ovals in training at all. I went up through the Formula Ford ranks and Formula Atlantic and all that stuff did not have oval racing. I never had the opportunity to race in ovals. My first real oval experience was testing the IndyCar at Phoenix in January of 1990, my rookie season doing the full CART year and getting to Indy.
“So when I got to Indy in ‘92, it was probably my 12th to 14th oval race in my life. I did not have the knowledge or experience of really what to do with a car on an oval to properly take advantage of getting past Al.
“As I say that, I’m sitting in my office and I have a picture of the finish where his rear wheels are going across (the finish line) and my front wheels are going across at the same time.
“The neat thing about that though is coming from 33rd and the extreme cold conditions. And probably starting 33rd was lucky. If you remember, (Roberto) Guerrero spun the car and he was on the pole.
“Just before that happened, I was in the back, so I got extra room. I’m warming the tires up, and the car stood up from underneath me. Obviously we had a lot of horsepower back then compared to now. And I got on the radio and said to (team owner) Derek Walker: ‘I can’t believe how cold this track is. I can’t even get the tires warm, and we’re coming up to the start.’
“Two laps later, Guerrero spun. And Derek comes on the radio and says, ‘Is that you? Is that you?’ I said ‘What, what?’ He said ‘There is a yellow.’ And I saw what happened. I said, ‘No, somebody’s spun off inside the wall.’
“From that point onwards, I thought I’m going to take my time. I’m not going to be as aggressive on the starts as I usually would, and people were just sort of running around in front of me. I knew we had a good car. Probably didn’t know how to take advantage of it, and years later I certainly did.
“On the other side of that, Junior had many years of oval experience, and he had been there since 1983 so I guess I just went to school in that race.
“I thought I had a good run off of Turn 3 on the final lap and his car moved a little bit. I thought here’s an opportunity to pass him.
“When I go back and look at it I was searching around for grip. The car was sliding, and I didn’t know enough how to handle the car going to (turn) three, to get a good run coming out of four.
“It’s ironic. I do some work in the automotive business, and we just hired Al Jr. two months ago to come work on our program with us. He and I got to spend a few days riding back and forth to the track, and we touched on so many different things.
“We talked about ‘92, and we laughed about it. I just saw him the other day riding on a scooter and I was coming up behind him on a golf cart. I yelled to him and I do this all the time. I go, ‘Objects in your mirror are closer than they appear.’ “He knew exactly who it was right away and he turned around and laughed. That’s what we talk about all the time. He says: ‘I looked in my mirror and all I could see was the blue and silver, and I thought oh, man I think I’ve blown it.’
“I love to kid him about it.”
BEST INDY DRIVERS EVER
(The greatest 33 IndyCar drivers of all time as determined by fan balloting at Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
1. A.J. Foyt
2. Rick Mears
3. Al Unser
4. Bobby Unser
5. Helio Castroneves
6. Johnny Rutherford
7. Mario Andretti
8. Wilbur Shaw
9. Bill Vukovich
10. Emerson Fittipaldi
11. Al Unser Jr.
12. Louis Meyer
13. Mauri Rose
14. Parnelli Jones
15. Gordon Johncock
16. Arie Luyendyk
17. Rodger Ward
18. Jim Clark
19. Dario Franchitti
20. Tom Sneva
21. Bobby Rahal
22. Mark Donohue
23. Michael Andretti
24. Ralph DePalma
25. Ray Harroun
26. Tommy Milton
27. Danny Sullivan
28. Graham Hill
29. Dan Gurney
30. Jim Rathmann
31. Juan Pablo Montoya
32. Tony Bettenhausen
33. Scott Dixon