The 1951 Indianapolis 500 was the second race of the 1951 Formula One Season. It was the second time (of 11 in total) the Indianapolis 500 was held as part of the Formula One World Championship, although none of the regular drivers (who had taken part in the previous race) entered the 1951 event. Instead, the field was made up of 33 Americans, including Johnnie Parsons who won the previous year's event.

The event was won by Lee Wallard in his second and last Indy 500 start (Wallard entered the race in 1954 but failed to qualify). Second place was claimed by Mike Nazaruk while Manny Ayulo crossed the line in third, having relieved Jack McGrath at the halfway point; the two drivers shared the points for third place. Polesitter, Duke Nalon retired from the race with 49 laps to go. Nalon was among 25 drivers who failed to finish the race, with only 8 seeing the chequered flag.


Making his return to the Indianapolis 500 after suffering a serious injury in 1949, Duke Nalon made a comeback to the sport when he scored the pole position.



Qualifying for this event was scheduled to take place over six days, but was extended to seven as the sixth day was washed out. Grid order was determined by aggregate time over four laps, with earlier runs counted ahead of later ones.

Pole position was decided on the first day, as were the rest of the top-11, 12th and 13th on day 2, 14th-24th on day 3, 25th and 26th on day 4, 27th on day 5, and the remaining 6 places on day 7. Despite setting a time faster than the polesitter, Walt Faulkner only qualified 14th as his time was set on a later day.


PosNo.DriverConstructorTimeGap%Avg Speed
118Duke NalonKurtis Kraft-Novi4:23.74100% 136.50
299Lee WallardKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:26.59 +2.85101.1% 135.04
39Jack McGrathKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:28.05 +4.31101.6% 134.30
427Duane CarterDeidt-Offenhauser4:29.16 +5.42102.1% 133.75
516Mauri RoseDeidt-Offenhauser4:29.82 +6.08102.3% 133.42
698Troy RuttmanKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:32.08 +8.34103.2% 132.31
783Mike NazarukKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:32.35 +8.61103.3% 132.18
83Johnnie ParsonsKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:32.41 +8.67103.3% 132.15
95Tony BettenhausenDeidt-Offenhauser4:32.83 +9.09103.4% 131.95
104Cecil GreenKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:32.92 +9.18103.5% 131.91
1159Fred AgabashianKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:36.61 +12.87104.9% 130.14
1225Sam HanksKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:30.68 +6.94102.6% 133.00
1344Walt BrownKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:32.92 +9.18103.5% 131.91
142Walt FaulknerKuzma-Offenhauser4:23.02 -0.7299.7% 136.87
1573Carl ScarboroughKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:25.46 +1.72100.7% 135.61
1610Bill SchindlerKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:28.59 +4.85101.8% 134.03
171Henry BanksMoore-Offenhauser4:28.86 +5.12101.9% 133.90
1823Cliff GriffithKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:28.98 +5.24102% 133.84
198Chuck StevensonMarchese-Offenhauser4:29.13 +5.39102% 133.76
2081Bill VukovichTrevis-Offenhauser4:29.21 +5.47102.1% 133.72
2122George ConnorLesovsky-Offenhauser4:29.96 +6.22102.4% 133.35
2269Gene ForceKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:30.47 +6.73102.6% 133.10
2319Mack HellingsDeidt-Offenhauser4:30.83 +7.09102.7% 132.92
2468Carl ForbergKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser4:30.90 +7.16102.7% 132.89
2548Rodger WardBromme-Offenhauser4:26.93 +3.19101.2% 134.87
2612Johnny McDowellMaserati-Offenhauser4:31.75 +8.01103% 132.47
2776Jimmy DaviesPawl-Offenhauser4:29.63 +5.89102.2% 133.52
2832Chet MillerKurtis Kraft-Novi4:25.10 +1.36100.5% 135.80
2952Bobby BallSchroeder-Offenhauser4:28.46 +4.72101.8% 134.10
3026Joe JamesWatson-Offenhauser4:28.82 +5.08101.9% 133.92
3157Andy LindenSherman-Offenhauser4:32.26 +8.52103.2% 132.27
326Duke DinsmoreSchroeder-Offenhauser4:32.78 +9.04103.4% 131.97
3371Bill MackeyTemplate:Hall-Offenhauser4:33.82 +10.08103.8% 131.47

Failed To QualifyEdit



Sam Hanks has some trouble starting his car as it is being pushed from the pit lane to begin the pace lap. Just before crossing the white line at which all drivers must have there cars started, Hanks' car starts and he roars away to join the rest of the pack.

1951 Indy500 Accident

Mauri Rose spinning the grass, just moments before his car begins to flip.

The race begins and Lee Wallard takes the lead from Jack McGrath and the pair begin to pull away from the remain front runners. At the rear of the field, it has become clear which cars are off of the pace as they begin to break off from the pack. At the end of lap two, McGrath steals the lead and wins a $100 lap prize. However, Wallard isn't making it easy to lead as the pair swap positions again on the fourth lap.

After only eight laps, Joe James is forced to retire from the race because of transmission issues. Johnny McDowell would not be far behind after he ruptured his fuel tank in the pits on the fifteenth lap. And then three laps later, Mack Hellings pulls off into the pits because of damage to his engine.

Duke Nalon makes a horrible judgement error as he rolls past his crew and has to wait to be pushed back to his box. Meanwhile Cecil Green is right on the rear of McGrath and challenging for the lead. He can't get it done and McGrath maintains his lead.

McGrath pulls into the pits on the one hundredth lap to make a driver change. Manuel Ayulo will take over the second half of the race, but by this point Wallard has taken the lead, putting a victory out of the picture for Ayulo.

1951 Indy500 Battle

Lee Wallard (back) and Andy Linden (front) battling for the lead.

There is trouble as Mauri Rose loses control of his car in the corner. He skids down into the grass and he car goes sideways. The tyres dig into the ground and his car is sent into a flip. Rose walks away from the car uninjured, but his race comes to an end, as he is the first car to flip in the race.

Approuching lap 179, Wallard and Andy Linden are neck and neck racing around the corner. They swap positions, but Linden is not able to lead a lap as Wallard retakes his first position. Behind them, Tony Bettenhausen has spun his car in the corner. He spins down into the grass and comes back up on the track, but does an excellent job to put the car back down into the grass.

1951 Indy500 Win

Lee Wallard celebrating his first victory as his car coasts into the pits.

Trouble for Wallard who is currently leading the race. In the closing laps of the race, he loses his shock absorbers and brakes. Despite these bumpy and dangerous circumstances, he muscles onward and crosses the finish line in first place to earn his first and only win in Formula One. After his visit in the victory lane, Wallard is taken directly to the circuit's medical facility where he is treated for severe chafing, caused by his fire retardant suit.

The race proves to be one of the safest Indianapolis 500's in history, with no driver injuries. However, only eight drivers finished the race.


PosNo.DriverConstructorLapsTime/GapAvg Speed
1 99Lee WallardKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser2003:57:38.05 126.23 2 9
2 83Mike NazarukKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser200+1:47.24 125.29 7 6
3 9 Manny Ayulo Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser 100 +2:51.39 124.73 2
Jack McGrath1003 2
4 57Andy LindenSherman-Offenhauser200 +4:40.12 123.80 31 3
5 52Bobby BallSchroeder-Offenhauser200 +4:52.23 123.70 29 2
6 1Henry BanksMoore-Offenhauser200 +5:40.02 123.29 17
7 68Carl ForbergKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser193 +7 Laps24
8 27Duane CarterDeidt-Offenhauser180 +20 Laps4
9 5Tony BettenhausenDeidt-Offenhauser178Spin9
10 18Duke NalonKurtis Kraft-Novi151Engine1
11 69Gene ForceKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser142Oil pressure22
12 25Sam HanksKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser135Spin12
13 10Bill SchindlerKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser129Connecting rod16
14 16Mauri RoseDeidt-Offenhauser126Spin5
15 2Walt FaulknerKuzma-Offenhauser123Camshaft14
16 76Jimmy DaviesPawl-Offenhauser110Gearbox27
17 59Fred AgabashianKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser109Clutch11
18 73Carl ScarboroughKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser100Wheel bearing15
19 71Bill MackeyTemplate:Hall-Offenhauser97Clutch33
20 8Chuck StevensonMarchese-Offenhauser93Fire19
21 3Johnnie ParsonsKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser87Magneto8
22 4Cecil GreenKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser80Connecting rod10
23 98Troy RuttmanKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser78Camshaft6
24 6Duke DinsmoreSchroeder-Offenhauser73Overheating32
25 32Chet MillerKurtis Kraft-Novi56Ignition28
26 44Walt BrownKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser55Magneto13
27 48Rodger WardBromme-Offenhauser34Oil line25
28 23Cliff GriffithKurtis Kraft-Offenhauser30Transmission18
29 81Bill VukovichTrevis-Offenhauser29Oil leak20
30 22George ConnorLesovsky-Offenhauser29Engine21
31 19Mack HellingsDeidt-Offenhauser18Engine23
32 12Johnny McDowellMaserati-Offenhauser15Fuel leak26
33 26Joe JamesWatson-Offenhauser8Transmission30
Non-qualifiers: see above


  • Lee Wallard's first and only Formula One Grand Prix victory
  • Lee Wallard's first and only fastest lap in Formula One
  • Duke Nalon's first and only pole position in Formula One
  • The Novi engine's first and only pole position in Formula One

Standings after raceEdit

Pos. Driver Pts +/-
1 Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio 9
2 United States Lee Wallard 9
3 Italy Piero Taruffi 6 ▼1
4 United States Mike Nazaruk 6
5 Italy Nino Farina 4 ▼2
6 Italy Consalvo Sanesi 3 ▼2
7 United States Andy Linden 3
8 Switzerland Toulo de Graffenried 2 ▼3
9 United States Jack McGrath 2
10 United States Manuel Ayulo 2
11 United States Bobby Ball 2


V T E United States Indianapolis 500
Circuit Indianapolis Motor Speedway
IMS oval
Races 1911 • 1912 • 1913 • 1914 • 1915 • 1916 • 1919 • 1920 • 1921 • 1922 • 1923 • 1924 • 1925 • 1926 • 1927 • 1928 • 1929 • 1930 • 1931–1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961–2015
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