Three days after the Swiss Grand Prix, the teams were expected to move to the United States, in order to participate in the 35th edition of the Indianapolis 500. The latter will be held on May 30th and will also be valid for the Formula 1 World Championship as the second race of the 1951 season. However, just as in 1950, only American drivers took part in the competition. On Wednesday, May 30th, 1951, in Indianapolis - capital of the Indiana State, USA - the Indy 500, one of the world's most famous competitions, was held for the 34th time. It took place on a 4.023 - kilometers - long racetrack that consisted of two main straights connected by two banked turns. Its surface was made of bricks and tarmac. On the straights it was possible to proceed at a suchlike speed of 260 km/h. Both in 1929 and in 1940 an Italian car triumphed there, the Maserati 8CTF, led to victory by American driver Wilbur Shaw. Last year, back in 1950, the race had been interrupted due to a sudden rainstorm and victory was awarded to 35-year-old driver Johnny Pearson, who occupied the first position just as the race was put on a hold. The rewards were very prosperous and their value kept increasing every year: 104.000.000 Italian Liras in 1948; 118.000.000 in 1949; 120.000.000 in 1950. Even that year the sum had risen once again. Pearson's speed up to mid-race was impressive - 202.546 km/h. During the free practices ahead of the 1951 season, driver Duke Nalon, racing on an American car, broke the track record with an average speed of 222.33 km/h. Keep in mind - five hundred miles equals 804.858 kilometers; this resulted in drivers speeding at around 200 km/h for about 4 hours. This one particular race finds itself amongst the most arduous ones: it demands habit and predilection at the highest speeds and a great car management from the drivers, throughout both turns and straight lines. Last year drivers Farina and Rol registered for the competition, however their participation was postponed because their race cars were not declared fit to compete. In 1950 the Indy 500 was, indeed, considered valid for the purposes of the World Championship standings.
In 1951, European drivers were still unable to participate since they had been busy competing for the first World Championship race, held the preceding Sunday in Bern. Being admitted to the Indianapolis race was extremely difficult. It started off first by browsing through the qualifications. All the drivers accepted by the jury had to go through a series of long and complicated tests. On the first day it was mandatory to run a certain number of laps at a given speed; the next day the speed had to be increased. The day after even more so. It all unfolded under the attentive scrutiny of exacting stewards. Finally only three drivers were given consent to compete, almost all of them were of American origin. Indy 500 brings excellent technical relevance within itself, as it allows the test of both supplied materials and engines, constantly being under such violent and prolonged exertion. Also the advertising and selling effects were starting to be perceived quite a lot more. In 1951 forty-year-old American driver Lee Wallard, on a Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser, won the Indy 500, breaking the record at an average speed of 204.700 km/h. Wallard, battled fiercely with other racers up until the 80th lap, especially with Cecil Green and Faulkner, in the first positions, then he definitively took the lead of the race. No one was able to overtake him again. Halfway through the race, eleven out of the thirty-three starters had to retire. Among them there were Pearson, last year's race winner, and Chet Miller, one of the main frontrunners. In the second part of the race Mauri Rose’s car flipped. The driver, a three-time Indy 500 winner, reported only a few abrasions to his arm. Wallard's lead over second-place rookie Mike Nazaruk was of a full two laps. It was hot and sunny outside that day. About 200.000 people attended the race. The winner was awarded a $20.000 prize, whereas $10.000 were handed out to the runner - up. Drivers Manny Ayulo and Jack McGrath got to share 4 precious points valid for the Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship, while being bound for the third spot in the Indy 500 standings.
Translated by Sara Miconi