This Sunday will be the 100th time the Indy 500 race has run.  Here are the five most awesome races according to 27 living Indy 500 champions.

What makes for an unforgettable race?  Unforgettable final lap!

Rick Mears Indy 500 winner print by Thierry Thompson

Rick Mears in Marlboro Penske PC/20 Chevrolet powering through turn 4 on way to winning his 4th Indy 500 (1991).  Art print by super realist Thierry Thompson. 

Think of over a century worth of the Brickyard portraits.  Faces of legendary drivers stare back at us as they pose in front of their cars.  Think of the pictures of finish lines, where only an eyeblink separates the winner from second place.

Well, not in 1911 when the first race ran.  Then the race took almost 7 hours to complete for the winner in a Marmon Wasp.  Second place crossed the finish line 2 minutes later. These days the 500 miles and 200 laps around the oval take more like 3 hours.  Imagine facing 3 hours of intense focus, uncertainty and danger, competing every second in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

For the 100th race, Associated Press interviewed 27 living champions and asked them to choose which among the 100 was the most unforgettable.  Five got multiple votes.

  • 1992: UNSER Al Unser’s victory in the crash-filled 1992 race.  It came down to the last 12 laps with Andretti leading as he had for 160 laps and with a 28 second lead.  Fuel pump shuts down and Unser wins his first.  By .04 seconds.
  • 1989: FITTIPALDI  Fittipaldi made an astounding recovery after touching tires with Unser Jr. and they both nearly ended up in the wall.
  • 2006: HORNISH  Michael Andretti and Marco Andretti both led in the final laps.  But father faltered and son was passed by Hornish who had brilliantly weaved through traffic only 450 feet from the finish.
  • 1982: JOHNCOCK Johncock and Mears spent the final 40 laps engaged in a two-man race, putting an entire lap between them and the rest of the field. Johncock won by 0.16 seconds.
  • 2011: WHELDON J.R. Hildebrand hit the wall while trying to avoid slower traffic in the final turn, allowing Wheldon to sneak by for his second victory — and a stunning one for his small Panther Racing team. Wheldon died in an October crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Will this year’s race be one for the ages?  Will there be the Great Finish, Great Escapes, Great Rivalry Ripening?  Or merely the latest Indy 500.

If you want to see the historic Indy 500 cars and drivers revered in artwork and prints by seriously talented automotive artists.  Click on INDY 500 ART.

Don’t overlook the Thierry Thompson print of four-time winner Rick Mears.  Legendary motorsport super realist artist Thierry Thompson has memorialized Mear’s epic fourth Indy 500 win in 1991.  It captures the moment when he blasts out of turn four in his iconic Marlboro-liveried Penske PC-20 Chevrolet.
Only 500 were produced and they sold out immediately.  We have only one left.

This print is hand signed by both Rick Mears and Thierry Thompson. The area below the image contains a record of all of Rick’s Indycar victories and also includes an incredibly unique touch: an embossed imprint of Rick’s Simpson racing shoe.

One left!  Click on RICK MEARS.  It’s discounted $50 until right before the race on Sunday.