The Penske PC-10 Kevin Cogan. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
“anything can happen in a Grand Prix, and often happens”. This beautiful redundancy is one of the remembered phrases of Murray Walker, the legendary commentator Formula 1 in the United Kingdom. That is perfectly applicable to the 500 Miles of Indianapolis, with more reason if it is. Is it possible that four pilots, two of them winners in the Brickyard, are removed before they wave the green flag that marks the start of the race? The answer is yes, and it happened in 1982.
The grid of 33 cars was headed by the Penske Rick Mears. To his side his team-mate Kevin Cogan, and, closing the first row, the March of the legend A. J. Foyt, four-times winner of the race. In the second were the Wildcat, Mario Andretti and Gordon Johncock and the March Bill Whitington. It was the second presence of Cogan in the legendary event. The american, who was 26 years old, had failed in two attempts to qualify for a Formula 1 Grand Prix: in 1980, in Canada, with a Williams private computer’s RAM, and in 1981, in Long Beach, with Tyrrell.
The knights turned on their engines and the return of recognition booted normally. But once in the home straight, just moments before the green flag fly, the car of Cogan moved suddenly to the right, struck against Foyt, and was thrown to the inside of the track to collide with Andretti. Both were eliminated in the act. The chain reaction did not affect the first few rows, but further back there was another incident that eliminated Dale Whitington and Roger Mears.
“This is what happens when there are children doing men’s work”, commented Andretti. Foyt also came up short in their criticisms, although they might take the second exit. “it Was something stupid, the guy had his head stuck in the ass”, were his words. However, there were those who attributed part of the blame to Rick Mears having slowed down too much the pace of the cars. Among them, the Foyt in his book of memoirs.
in The end, the race is resolved in favor of Johncock, who beat Mears by 160 thousandths of a second in which up to 1992 was the final closer in the history of the 500 Miles of Indianapolis.