1996 Indianapolis 500

1996 Indianapolis 500

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1996 Indianapolis 500

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The 80th Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26, 1996. This was the first Indy 500 contested by the Indy Racing League, under the overall sanctioning umbrella of USAC. It was the third and final race of the 1996 IRL season. Buddy Lazier won the race, his first career victory in Indy car competition.

The race was surrounded by months of controversy. Most of the top teams and drivers in Indy car racing chose to boycott the race, protesting a perceived lockout of CART teams by the IRL. Rival teams instead staged a competing race the same day, the U.S. 500 at Michigan. Participants in the 1996 Indy 500 included several familiar Indy car teams such as Foyt, Dick Simon, and Menard. However, many of the drivers were inexperienced rookies from an obscure range of backgrounds, giving the impression of a field of replacement drivers.

Media attention of the open wheel "split" was highly critical going into the race, as the IRL participants were often ridiculed and the prestige of the Indianapolis 500 itself was brought into question. while the rival U.S. 500 suffered a humiliating multi-car pile on the opening lap.<ref...
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