1985 Indy 500 winner and former Tyrrell F1 driver Danny Sullivan is turning 60 today!
A former lumberjack and New York cab driver, Sullivan’s single season in F1 was in 1983 with Tyrrell, in which he scored two championship points with a fifth placed finish at that year’s Monaco GP in his fifteen appearances for the team.
After F1, Sullivan returned Stateside and competed in the CART championship, famously winning the 1985 Indianapolis 500. The “spin and win” footage of his red-and-white Miller American Penske spinning through 360 degrees after passing Mario Andretti for the lead on the 120th lap is one of the most commonly replayed pieces of motorsport footage (above).
Somehow managing to stay away from the walls, Sullivan recovered and pitted to replace his four flat-spotted tyres. He rejoined the circuit and managed to re-pass Andretti for the lead some 20 laps later to take an incredible win!
Danny would lead the Indy 500 again in 1988, leading 91 of the first 101 laps in a Penske until he slapped the wall at Turn 1. In spite of this disappointment, he would go one to win the CART series title that year.
Danny regularly competed in the series until the mid-1990s, and also (unsuccessfully) tried his hand at NASCAR. He announced his retirement from open-wheel racing in 1995 after a serious accident at Michigan International Speedway, in which he sustained a broken pelvis.
Sullivan held an active role in the Red Bull Driver Search program that was set up to launch an American driver into the F1 market – the scheme found Scott Speed, who competed for Toro Rosso in 2006-7.