INDIANAPOLIS — The words were stunning as they flew out of announcer Paul Page’s mouth in the waning laps of the 1992 Indianapolis 500.

“Michael is slowing! Michael is slowing!” he declared. “The rest of the field is coming past. Michael Andretti is slowing down.”

Andretti was within 20 miles of earning a coveted Indianapolis 500 victory. He’d dominated the race, led 160 laps, had the field covered. Then just like that, his car slowed to a crawl because of a broken fuel pump and his heartbreak was complete.

“It was that close to being the greatest moment in my life and it turned out to be the worst moment,” he said. “Me breaking down with 10 laps to go with a totally dominant car, it was a killer.”

In the lead-up to the 100th running of the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” The Associated Press interviewed the 27 living race winners on topics ranging from the greatest driver to most memorable moment. Their answers to the best driver to never win the Indianapolis 500 gave Andretti a distinction he’d rather go to anyone else.

Andretti received 17 of the 27 votes, while Lloyd Ruby received four. Others mentioned were Tony Stewart, Jim Clark – who actually won the race in 1965 – Roberto Guerrero and Alex Zanardi.

“Being the best driver to have not won Indy is an unfortunate honor,” Andretti told the AP. “I think I’d much rather be one of the winners and not be honored in this category at all. But a lot of great drivers have raced here and never did win, so to be picked among those names is a real honor.”

Andretti built one of the most impressive careers in American open-wheel racing history. He ranks fifth in starts (317), third in wins (42) and laps led (6,607). But his career is widely defined by his oh-so-close moments at Indy that added to the lore of the “Andretti curse.”

All tickets for Sunday’s race have been sold and, for only the third time in history, local race fans will be able to watch the race live on television.

The race has traditionally been televised on tape delay in the Indianapolis market. But with all reserved seating, suite and general admission tickets sold out for the 100th running of the race, the blackout was lifted. The race has not been televised live locally since the 1950s.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence issued a statement in support of the decision to lift the blackout.

Tickets for Friday’s final practice and Saturday’s Legends Day are still available.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.