33 Greatest Non-Winners

Do you read Mike Silver’s blog The First Fifty Races are the Hardest? If so you are familiar with his poll he is doing a series of blog posts on about who are the greatest drivers to have never won the Indy 500. I had such a good time compiling my list and just thought I’d share some information about it. 
First, I took the drivers I knew and ordered them. That was fairly easy. Michael Andretti number one- no question. Scott Goodyear followed. Robby Gordon was up there. Teo Fabi- well I’m going to have to research him a bit more before I decide. Danica and Will Power will go somewhere towards the middle.  Once I had the drivers I knew listed in an order I liked I started researching everyone even some of the drivers I knew- like Fabi. The list Mike gave us had 50 drivers so the next part was to narrow my list down to 33. That was fairly easy. Mike gave us a spreadsheet with each driver listed and the number of times they raced, won the pole, led laps and top 5 and top 10 finishes. If a driver didn’t do well on the spreadsheet and I couldn’t find much information about him online he was off my list. 

I took notes and narrowed my list to 33.  Then I wrote down my 33 on individual papers so I could make my list and easily switch driver positions. Michael Andretti was still on top- that was still the easy choice. Johnny Boyd was last- again an easy choice for me. He barely made my list. 

So why am I sharing all this?  To tell you how much fun I had and what I learned. 

My number 2 pick ended up being Harry Hartz. Mike had actually blogged a neat story about meeting Hartz and I had read it but didn’t know who Hartz was so while I enjoyed the story I didn’t remember that he was a non- winner and didn’t know anything about his career. Turns out I was most impressed with Harry Hartz. I hope to research him some more in the future. 
I also really enjoyed learning more about Mel Kenyon. 

Then I circled back to some drivers I knew. Danica Patrick was going to be hard. She ran well at Indy but was she one of the greatest non-winners? Perhaps that was a stretch? In the end I decided she truely was. Other females had attempted the 500. None had lead it or finished as well as Danica.  Danica proved women could run just as well as men and for me that put her on the list. I put her in 17th. 

I put Will Power right behind her however I’m guessing that within a couple years Power won’t be on this list as he will have won the 500. 

Others to note- 

Eddie Sachs- His story breaks my heart. He was so desperate to win the 500. He was a good driver but I might have put my heart above my head a bit in his placement. 

Rex Mays- Another driver I didn’t know much about but was very impressed with. He was high on my list. 

Kevin Cogan- He had some impressive stats but I didn’t think I would have been a fan. He is in the last row. 

Dan Gurney- I originally had him towards the back.  He seemed to be a great driver but I wasn’t impressed with his stats at Indy and I was mostly looking at how they did at Indy and should they have won there and not at how good of a driver they were overall. I wasn’t impressed with Gurney’s Indy 500 stats so I put him in the back. However, during Long Beach weekend there was a lot of coverage on Gurney and his Racing accomplishments and after watching interviews and hearing stories I moved him up closer. Gurney finished 16th on my list. 

Joe Leonard – watched a video on him that made me smile. Here the sweet old song here.

It was also so sad to see how many died in racing accidents. Too many to count. I’m so thankful the sport is so much safer now. 
Here is my list- 

1- Michael Andretti

2- Harry Hartz

3- Scott Goodyear

4- Lloyd Ruby

5- Gary Bettenhausen 

6- Rex Mays

7- Ted Horn

8- Eddie Sachs

9- Marco Andretti

10- Robby Gordon

11- Carlos Munoz

12- Tony Stewart

13- Roberto Guerrero 

14- Vitor Meira

15- Tony Bettenhausen 

16- Dan Gurney 

17- Danica Patrick

18- Will Power

19- Ed Carpenter 

20- Ralph Hepburn

21- Mel Kenyon

22- Paul Tracy

23- Joe Leonard

24- Pancho Carter

25- Eddie Hearne

26- Johnny Thomson

27- Jack McGrath

28- Duke Nalon

29- Tomas Sheckter

30- Danny Ongais 

31- Kevin Cogan

32- Teo Fabi

33- Johnny Boyd

So sorry if I bored you. Just thought I’d share some thoughts. Make sure to check out Mike’s blog. He hopes to have a final list (from all his readers lists) before the GP of Indy. I think it will be fun to see where everyone ends up and how they did compared to my list. Thanks for reading. I promise soon to have more race reviews up and my boys and I will be attending the GP of Indy so there will be posts about our time there. 


6 thoughts on “33 Greatest Non-Winners

  1. Didn’t bore me at all. Great list. I’m glad you have a number a modern-day drivers up here too, a lot of people I’ve talked to just don’t have the respect for some of these newer drivers, sadly.


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