Indy 500 History: Two Famous Curses
What's keeping people named Smith out of the Indianapolis 500? Is a 48-year-old hex to blame for all the bad luck the Andretti family has had at Indy?
Check out the backstories behind 'The Curse of the Smiths' and 'The Andretti Curse' and decide for yourself!
The Curse of the Smiths
Of the nearly 800 drivers who have qualified for the Indianapolis 500, not a single one of them has had the last name Smith, the most popular surname in the United States. More than two million Americans claimed Smith as their surname in the 2000 Census.
The last driver to try and break “The Curse” was CART driver Mark Smith, who failed to qualify for the race in 1993 and 1994.
Only two people named Smith have ever competed professionally at IMS. NASCAR driver Regan Smith drove in the Brickyard 400 from 2008 to 2013 and motorcyclist Bradley Smith competed in the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.
The Andretti Curse
The only way the Andretti family could be more cursed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is if their last name was Smith.
The “Andretti Curse” is believed to have started with patriarch Mario Andretti in 1970. According to legend, the wife of former car owner Clint Brawner put a hex on Mario that year, promising an Andretti would never win the Indianapolis 500 again.
Did it work? Hex or no hex, the Andrettis have had terrible luck at Indianapolis ever since.
Mario never won the race again after his victory in 1969. His sons, Michael and Jeff, also finished their careers without an Indy win, and Michael still holds the record for most laps led at Indy without a victory. Mario’s grandson Marco lost the lead to Sam Hornish, Jr. with two laps to go in 2006.
Michael Andretti has seen considerable success as an owner and Marco is starting Sunday’s race in twelfth position, meaning 2018 could be the year that 'The Andretti Curse' is finally broken.
(Photo by Walter Kuhn/Getty Images.)