Options exist for Hinchcliffe and Mann to make Indy 500
The two series stalwarts were ”bumped” from the 33-car field in Saturday’s qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hinchcliffe is a popular Canadian ranked fifth in the IndyCar standings. The British Mann was to join Danica Patrick as the only females in the field. Mann is an Indy mainstay and was trying to make the race for the sixth time.
Patrick is retiring after next Sunday’s race and the pioneering driver is the only woman to lead laps in the Indy 500 and Daytona 500. Only nine women have competed in the Indy 500, the first was Janet Guthrie in 1977. The others: Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Patrick, Milka Duno, Ana Beatriz, Simona de Silvestro, Mann and Katherine Legge.
Mann likely doesn’t have the funds to buy a seat from another driver. That is an option for Hinchcliffe, who drives for anchor team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and is funded. The team could try to move its sponsorship to another car to get Hinchcliffe in the race.
But, IndyCar could also consider widening the field to accommodate all 35 cars.
According to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 40 cars started in the inaugural race in 1911. The Contest Board of the American Automobile Association, the sanctioning body at the time, mandated a formula for limiting the size of a starting field according to the size of the track and settled on 33 cars.
From 1912 to 1914, track president Carl Fisher mandated only 30 cars, so the 33 maximum was not adopted until 1915.
The field was not a full 33 cars numerous times between 1912 and 1928, and the allowed number was increased during the Depression years to 40 cars between 1930 and 1932, and 42 in 1933.
The maximum has been at 33 ever since 1934, ”although extenuating circumstances expanded the field to 35 starters in 1979 and 1997,” IMS said.