1982 Indianapolis 500

1982 Indianapolis 500

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1982 Indianapolis 500

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The 66th Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 30, 1982. Gordon Johncock, who had previously won the rain-shortened 1973 race, was the winner. Rick Mears finished second by a margin of 0.16 seconds, the closest finish in Indy 500 history to that point.

Time trials

Pole day

On pole day, Saturday May 15, Kevin Cogan, driving for Penske Racing set a new one-lap track record of , and a record four-lap average of . A few minutes later, he was beaten by his Penske teammate Rick Mears. Mears secured the pole position with a four-lap average of .

About an hour later, the time trials were marred by the horrific fatal accident of Gordon Smiley. At 12:15 p.m., Smiley left the pits to start his qualifying run. On his second (of two) warm up lap, he approached turn three. The back-end became loose, and Smiley overcorrected. The front wheels suddenly gained traction, the car turned and crashed head-on into the outside wall at about . The fuel tank exploded with a large fireflash, the car disintegrated into at least three sections, and went airborne for at least . Smiley's exposed body tumbled amongst the debris for hundreds of feet through the short-chute connecting turns 3 and 4. Smiley died instantly from massive trauma inflicted by the severe impact. Nearly every bone in his body had been shattered. His helmet was pulled from his head, and the top of his skull was scalped by the debris fence and asphalt. His death was the first at Indy since...
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