Skip to content

Gordon’s Brickyard legacy superb, but can’t be compared to other Indy legends

Jul 27, 2014, 7:52 PM EDT

Jeff Gordon AP

Comparing apples to oranges to bananas is always going to come off as a bit pear-shaped.

Jeff Gordon became the first NASCAR driver to win five times at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

That in itself in an awesome feat, and it’s rather fitting that Gordon made it happen on the 20th anniversary of his first Brickyard 400 triumph all the way back in 1994.

But it simply cannot be compared, favorably or unfavorably, to the four Indianapolis 500 wins apiece from A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, and Al Unser Sr.

Or for that matter, the five Formula One wins that Michael Schumacher racked up when the United States Grand Prix (now at the Circuit of the Americas) was run on the original IMS road course.

To say that Schumacher and now Gordon are superior to Foyt, Mears, and Unser simply because five wins trump four is a foolish declaration to make.

In the end, we have to acknowledge all of the accomplishments as special on their own and resist the temptation to stack them against each other.

As these drivers created their Indianapolis legacies, they had to adapt as their cars moved along with the times.

Examples: Gordon’s won his Brickyards in what’s now known as “Generation 4″ and “Generation 6″ Cup cars; Foyt’s the only man to have won the ‘500’ in both front and rear-engined machines; and en route to all of his USGP wins, Schumacher had to get used to new chassis and engines each year.

And with the changing cars, the styles of racing obviously changed too. Then there’s the differences in the speeds and the tracks as well.

For the Indy 500 guys and Gordon, they constantly barrel (or barreled) around a 2.5-mile oval at speeds of 200 mph or more. For Schumacher, he drove on a 2.6-mile road course with 13 turns that only let him and his peers get close to those speeds perhaps once or twice during a lap.

Finally, there’s the time lengths involved. Schumacher won his five USGPs in the span of seven years. Foyt (17 years), Unser (18 years), and Mears (13 years) all went well beyond a decade for their respective four Indy 500s. And to get his five Brickyard wins, Gordon (21 years) went two full decades.

How can you possibly compare any of this without betraying your bias for a specific racing discipline – or just coming across real, real poorly?

It’s better to just look back and marvel at what these men have done at the world’s greatest race course.

No matter the form of racing, these five drivers make for one hell of a fraternity of speed.

Latest Posts
  1. Mallya stresses sustainability in bid to ‘uncrap’ F1

    Jul 4, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    NEW DELHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 11: UB group Chairman and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Mallya talking with media at Parliament House after attending the extended winter session on February 11, 2014 in New Delhi, India.(Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images) Getty Images

    The coinage of a new term took place at Silverstone on Thursday thanks for Force India’s owner.

  2. Raikkonen and Vettel downbeat as Ferrari lags to third row at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Both Ferraris will start behind Williams for the first time in 2015 on Sunday.

  3. Ricciardo disappointed to have qualifying times deleted

    Jul 4, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing prepares in the garage during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Red Bull driver will start tomorrow’s British Grand Prix from tenth place on the grid.

  4. GP2: Sirotkin claims maiden win as Rossi storms to second place at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    A lively GP2 race sees Sirotkin claim his first win in the series ahead of Rossi and championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne.

  5. McLaren reprimanded after tire mix-up in qualifying

    Jul 4, 2015, 12:19 PM EDT

    McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso drives during the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      
 AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A communication error caused one of Jenson Button’s tires to be fitted to Fernando Alonso’s car.

  6. Verstappen surprised by Q2 elimination at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Scuderia Toro Rosso's Belgian-Dutch driver Max Verstappen spins off the track during the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.       AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Dutchman admits to NBCSN that he thought he would easily make it through to Q3 in British GP qualifying.

  7. Massa delighted as Williams enjoys best qualifying of season at Silverstone

    Jul 4, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Massa will start tomorrow’s British Grand Prix from third place on the grid ahead of Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas.

  8. Rosberg: Narrow defeat to Hamilton in qualifying ‘annoying’

    Jul 4, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton (R) shakes hands with Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg after the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix. Hamilton took pole ahead of teammate Rosberg with Massa in third place.
 AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    German driver misses out on pole position by just 0.113 seconds on Saturday at Silverstone.

  9. Hamilton hails “a special day” after scoring Silverstone pole

    Jul 4, 2015, 9:47 AM EDT

    xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Hamilton thanks fans for support as over 100,000 come out for qualifying on Saturday at Silverstone.

  10. Hamilton storms to home pole position at British GP

    Jul 4, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates taking pole after the qualifying session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      
 AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton edges out Rosberg for top spot in Q3 on Saturday at Silverstone.

  11. WATCH LIVE: British GP Qualifying on CNBC and Live Extra from 8am ET

    Jul 4, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP walks to the garage from the motorhome during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 4, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Can Lewis Hamilton storm to his eighth pole position of the 2015 Formula 1 season on Saturday at Silverstone?

  12. Hamilton closes out British GP practice fastest

    Jul 4, 2015, 6:02 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton drives during the third practice session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 4, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    British driver back on top at Silverstone as Rosberg suffers another gearbox problem.

  13. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the British Grand Prix on Live Extra from 5am ET

    Jul 4, 2015, 4:45 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives in the pit lane during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Rosberg looks to make it a clean sweep of practice sessions on Saturday morning.

  14. GP2: Sirotkin on pole for Silverstone feature race

    Jul 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Sirotkin claims his first pole in the GP2 Series on Friday ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne and Richie Stanaway.

  15. Red Bull GRC: Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross excited for first race at military base

    Jul 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    SpeedDaytonaGRC Getty Images

    Foust seeks another win, Speed looks for bounce back from tough Daytona at MCAS.

  16. Filippi elated after first oval test, calling it “like a roller coaster x 10″

    Jul 3, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    DETROIT, MI - MAY 29:  Luca Filippi, of Italy,  is shown in the pits during practice for Verizon IndyCar At Detroit Belle Isle on May 29, 2015 in Detroit, MI, United States.  (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The street and road course specialist gets his first taste of an oval in Iowa this week.

  17. Alonso unsure McLaren will reach Q2 at Silverstone

    Jul 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso drives during the second practice session at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 2, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.      AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Spaniard expects a close fight with Sauber during qualifying on Saturday.

  18. Wolff enjoys final practice run-out of 2015 season

    Jul 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Wolff finishes eight-tenths of a second behind regular Williams driver Felipe Massa in FP1 on Friday.

  19. Hamilton more comfortable with old clutch setup

    Jul 3, 2015, 1:22 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    British driver switches back to the old setting on his Mercedes after struggling in the past four races.