Denny Hulme became the first Kiwi driver to qualify for the Indy 500 in 1967 – the same year he won the Formula One world title.
This was during an era where it was rare to see more than a couple of international drivers in the race, if any at all.
Jimmy Clark and Graham Hill led the British invasion when they won the race in 1965 and 1966 respectively.
The following year Hulme joined the pair as well as Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt as the “outcasts” of the field. Hulme was fourth and Stewart the best of the rest in 18th.
In 1968, Hulme qualified 19th and finished fourth while fellow Kiwi Bruce McLaren failed to qualify.
In 1969, Hulme and Jack Brabham were the only international drivers and were classed as 18th and 24th respectively.
In 1970, Hulme missed the race after burning his hands in a methanol fire in practice. Three days later, his team boss Bruce McLaren was killed in a testing accident at Goodwood in England at the age of 32.
Hulme returned to Indy in 1971 in a McLaren and qualified fourth before a valve problem forced him to retire on lap 137 and saw him classified 17th.
The next Kiwi to qualify was Graham McRae in 1973 who started 13th as the only international in the field and was classed as finishing 16th with a broken header on lap 91 in a car entered by Pat Patrick.
The 1973 race was run over three days because of rain and the event claimed the life of two drivers (Swede Savage and Art Pollard) and also McRae’s pit board man Armando Teran.
Driver Salt Walther was also critically injured in an accident which which injured several spectators.
Teran was running up pit lane to assist after Savage’s crash when a fire truck was released into pit lane and hit him at speed. That incident resulted in a new rule restricting vehicles from traveling in a “reverse” direction in a pit lane.
Rob Wilson tried to qualify a Project Indy entry at the Speedway in 1996 without success.
Scott Dixon started his current run of 13 consecutive starts when he qualified fourth for Chip Ganassi in 2003 and finished 17th.
He won the race from pole in 2008 and took the pole again in 2015 and finished fourth. In 13 starts he has had an amazing nine top-10 finishes.
Wade Cunningham became the fourth Kiwi to qualify for the 500 when he got an A.J. Foyt entry into the show in 2012. He qualified 26th and was classified 31st after an electrical problem on lap 43.
Results by New Zealand Drivers
|2012||Dallara||Honda||AJ Foyt Enterprises||26||31|