Which Indy 500 winners remind us of Super Bowl quarterbacks?


Working as a turn announcer and pit reporter for the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network is a dream job, one I had thought about long before I ever grabbed a microphone.

While it is an exhilarating adrenaline rush to describe the sleekest and sexiest machines known to man as they maneuver into action, the reality is this: The job involves a lot of down time. Frankly, time to think.

There are several ways to kill idle time at a racetrack. I’ve eaten my body weight in Tootsie Rolls and media center cold cuts, and I always try to come up with ways to keep things moving. That includes my mind.

I’m lucky to work with a group of great friends that makes each weekend a joy. Much of that fun comes in our off-air conversations. That is how it came to be that fellow pit reporter Nick Yeoman and I began compiling lists equating figures in varying walks of life to Indianapolis 500 winners.

It’s not an exact science, mind you, and brainstorming certainly may lead to turbulence, so feel free to disagree or add your own commentary. That’s the fun of the exercise.

Without further ado, how do Indy 500 winners compare to Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks? Let’s begin with the four-time Indy 500 winners:

Rick Mears

The master. California guy. Tanned with feathered hair. He won four Indy 500s in a 12-year span and was a master at precision. Sounds like a quarterback who would win four Super Bowls in nine years, totaling 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. With feathered hair and a tan. For a California team. The match: Joe Montana

Rick Mears and Joe Montana

Al Unser

He made 27 Indy 500 starts and was second to join the four-time winner club, nine years after his third win. He won his first two “500s” in back-to-back fashion.  A runner-up three times, he could have easily been a six- or seven-time winner. He is virtually void of controversy, although he did once (allegedly) have his son block for him in the late stages with the lead. Sounds like a quarterback with four Super Bowl wins, two in back-to-back fashion, two runner-up finishes and enough controversy for both. The match: Tom Brady

Al Unser and Tom Brady

A.J. Foyt

I have gone over this one in my mind 150 times. Tom Brady gets credit for being the one constant in a system that wins. When it comes to the Patriots, Brady seemingly IS the team. Foyt got out of his car and started banging wrenches, he was his team’s owner and started more Indy 500s than anyone in history. Brady’s made six Super Bowl starts, more than any QB in history, but I already assigned him to Big Al. The match: None. It’s A.J. freakin’ Foyt.

A.J. Foyt

Some multiple Indy 500 winners:

Johnny Rutherford

The consummate gentleman and the Texan known as “Lone Star,” he took Indy three times. Patience was a virtue for J.R., as he didn’t win his first until his 10th attempt. Sounds like a five-time Super Bowl participant who had to finish military service before beginning his professional career. He won two Super Bowls with a Lone Star on his helmet. The match: Roger Staubach

Johnny Rutherford and Roger Staubach

Bobby Unser

Gregarious and loquacious, younger generations knew him as much for his television personality as his driving record. He won Indy three times, finishing last in his first and first in his last. His good ol’ boy nature and candid demeanor have endeared him to fans nationwide. Even with his amazing record – 19 Indy 500 starts, five top-3 finishes and a pole – he is often thought of behind his famous brother and nephew. Sounds like a QB whose teams went 11-19 his first two years, but went on to win four Super Bowls. Nonetheless, the guy is often overshadowed by his famous running back, receivers and defense. His personality is also perfect for TV. The match: Terry Bradshaw

Bobby Unser and Terry Bradshaw

Rodger Ward

He made 15 “500” starts and won a pair of them in a four-year span. After his racing career, he transitioned into ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and his son is a native of Indiana. Sounds like a quarterback with Hoosier roots who has carried a mic for ABC, after a 14-year career that netted two Super Bowl wins. The match: Bob Griese

Rodger Ward and Bob Griese

More comparisons of Indy 500 winners and Super Bowl quarterbacks to come in Part 2 tomorrow.

From the fans