IMS Museum Opens Unser/Rutherford Anniversary Exhibit

The positioning of Johnny Rutherford’s 1980 winner (left) and Al Unser Senior’s from 1970 illustrates the advances in aerodynamics over a decade. Photo: Fritz Frommeyer

Indianapolis, IN — Two dominant drivers from the 1970s and 1980s at Indianapolis — Al Unser Sr. and Johnny Rutherford — are being commemorated for the 50th and 40th anniversaries of their victories in the 500-Mile Race with their winning cars on display in the IMS Museum.

Both cars won from the pole and were powered by V8s: Unser’s 1970 Johnny Lightning P.J. Colt with a turbo Ford and Rutherford’s 1980 Chaparral by a Cosworth. There are rudimentary aerodynamics on Unser’s car versus ground effects on Rutherford’s “Yellow Submarine,” giving him a qualifying advantage over Unser, 192.526 mph to 170.221. The winners’ shares of the purses grew from Unser’s $271,698 for his first victory to Rutherford’s $318,820 a decade later when he won his third Indy 500.

Together, these two Hall of Famers won seven 500s, with Unser taking four of those races. Their cars and memorabilia will be on display through Nov. 30.

Thank you to VM columnist Fritz Frommeyer for the info and the photo. Look for his column Museum Piece in each issue of Vintage Motorsport.