1987 Indianapolis 500
The 71st Indianapolis 500 was held Sunday May 24, 1987 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After dominating practice, qualifying, and most of the race, leader Mario Andretti slowed with mechanical problems with only 23 laps to go. Five laps later, Al Unser, Sr. assumed the lead, and won his record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 victory. During the month of May, an unusually high 25 crashes occurred during practice and qualifying, with one driver in particular, Jim Crawford, suffering serious leg injuries.
Unser's victory is considered one of the biggest upsets in Indy 500 history. Unser entered the month of May without a ride and without sponsorship money, which left him on the sidelines for the first week of practice. After Danny Ongais suffered a concussion in a practice crash, Unser was hired by Penske to fill the vacant seat. Unser proceeded to win the race with a year-old March chassis, and the venerable Cosworth DFX, the powerplant's tenth consecutive Indy victory. Unser's car, originally entered as a back-up, had been sitting in a hotel lobby in Reading, Pennsylvania as a show car just weeks prior.
The race was sanctioned by USAC, and was included as part of the 1987 CART/PPG Indy Car World Series. Of the notable statistics, the 1987 Indy 500 was the first such where the entry list did not include a single car built in the United States.
During the race, a spectator was killed when an errant tire was hit into the grandstand, the first spectator fatality at the event in a racing-related incident since 1938.