Indy 500 Drivers With the Most Winnings

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The 105th Indianapolis 500, sponsored by the online financial services platform Gainbridge, is scheduled for Sunday, May 30, this year. The race is the crown jewel of the NTT IndyCar Series, and the largest single-day spectator sporting event on the globe (though this year, the in-person audience will be limited to 40% of the usual, due to COVID-19 restrictions).

In the history of the Indianapolis 500, three drivers have won four times each: A.J. Foyt (1961, 1964, 1967, 1977); Al Unser (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987); and Rick Mears (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991). Of those three, Mears totaled the most in career winnings, with $2.7 million. However, the driver who’s taken home the most cash in the course of his career — $6.9 million — is Dario Franchitti, who won the race a mere three times. These are the most exciting races in Indy 500 history.

In addition to prize money, the winner takes possession of the 5-foot-4-inch Borg-Warner Trophy, named after the Borg-Warner Automotive Co., which commissioned it in 1935. Two-time winner Louis Meyer first held the trophy on the occasion of his second triumph, in 1936.

The same year, the victorious Meyer sipped from a bottle of buttermilk to cool down after the race, and milk became part of the post-race ritual. Although the practice was abandoned between 1947 to 1955, it started up again in 1956. Every winner since then has been splashed with milk — a practice that won Indiana its place on our list of the famous, unique, and even weird traditions in the state.

Driver names and information on car numbers, career wins, and career winnings all come from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Indianapolis 500 Historical Stats.