Jul 27, 2014, 7:52 PM EDT
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.
May 28, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
25 years on from Mark Blundell’s pole position at Le Mans, Nissan pays homage with a retro livery on its third car for the race.
May 28, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
Alan Permane claims the data on Grosjean’s car shows he did not brake-test Verstappen and cause their crash in Monaco last Sunday.
May 28, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
FIA president responds to calls for a stricter policy on alcohol sponsorship in F1.
May 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
Andreas Bakkerud will fill in for Piquet while he’s on Formula E duty in Russia.
May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff took part in a Twitter Q&A earlier this week.
May 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
Two-time series champion looks ahead to a big year in Red Bull GRC with Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross.
May 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Gossage and Walker are in contact about how to best move forward with super speedway aero kits ahead of June 6 IndyCar race.
May 28, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT
No. 63 driver tops $61,000 raised for Susan G. Komen this month.
May 27, 2015, 4:57 PM EDT
The last seven races held in Detroit have been won by a different driver.
May 27, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT
Penalties doled out after the Indy 500, most notably to the No. 19 and 98 teams for pit incidents.
May 27, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT
Gonzalez returns to No. 18 car after running it in the Grand Prix of Alabama.
May 27, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT
After three straight top-five finishes, Graham Rahal returns to the site of his only 2014 podium.
May 27, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Ahead of the Red Bull GRC season, Tanner Foust and Scott Speed look for better luck in the pair of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetles.
May 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EDT
Charlie Kimball says his team has hit its stride after two straight top-five finishes.
May 27, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT
Hinch heads home.
May 27, 2015, 10:41 AM EDT
Wilson and Andretti continue relationship at FE race in Moscow.
May 27, 2015, 9:23 AM EDT
Racing for Cancer to make trip to this year’s Le Mans, with Derek DeBoer in an Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
May 27, 2015, 8:16 AM EDT
The Red Bull GRC season kicks off in Fort Lauderdale this weekend.
May 27, 2015, 7:44 AM EDT
Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.
- Gossage to Walker: “We need a more competitive race this year than last year” 2
- Volkswagen Andretti pair of Foust, Speed seek better fortunes, consistency 0
- Hinchcliffe released from hospital, expected to make full recovery (VIDEO) 5
- Fast Facts: Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit 0
- Drivers ponder why cars didn’t go airborne during the Indianapolis 500 5
- Bell: “A wild Indy 500 without the finish we desired” 0
- Ryan: Juan Pablo Montoya comes full circle at Indianapolis 1