• Indianapolis 500 1952

Youth wins out as Rutmann takes Indy 500

Martin Williamson January 17, 2011
Thirty-three competitors in the Indianapolis 500-mile race approach the first curve © Associated Press
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The 1952 Indianapolis 500 again counted towards the FIA World Championship although had absolutely no bearing on it as only one of the drivers featured in any other races. That one was Alberto Ascari, the first serious contender for the championship to make the journey across the Atlantic along with his Ferrari. It was a fruitless trip as he was forced to retire after 34 of the 200 laps with wheels problems.

The race itself, staged on a Tuesday, was the beginning of a brief period of complete dominance by Bill Vukovitch. Starting from seventh place on the grid he quickly took the lead and held it for 150 laps before suffering steering problems which forced him to retire nine laps from the end. He returned to win in 1953 and 1954, and was in the lead in 1955 when he fatally crashed.

Vukovitch's withdrawal allowed 22-year-old Troy Rutmann, driving a Kuzma-Offenhauser, through to take the win. He was the youngest driver to win an FIA world championship race until Fernando Alonso in 2003, and remains the youngest winner of the Indy 500.

Freddie Agabashian became the first driver to use a turbocharged engine in the race and the move seemed to pay off when he took pole. But his diesel-powered Cummins was unable to match the acceleration of other competitiors and he finished eighth.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA

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Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA Martin Williamson, who grew up in the era of James Hunt, Niki Lauda and sideburns, became managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group in 2007 after spells with Sky Sports, Sportal and Cricinfo