This picture captures a terrifying moment in the best day of Danny Sullivan’s racing career. A former New York City cabbie, Sullivan was leading the 1985 Indianapolis 500 when he lost control at 240 mph.
What does it feel like when the whole world spins around? In the weird year of 2020, I think all of us can answer that question. It’s disorienting, frightening, it makes you question why you do what you do. But then you adapt. You wear a mask, you learn to focus in video meetings, to manage your children’s schoolwork, to have a beer with friends from across the yard.
This is the first volume of the new Road & Track , the new evolution of the world’s most legendary magazine for car enthusiasts. Each bimonthly issue has a special theme. Volume 1 is Motorsports.
Road & Track’s production began in the middle of a global pandemic. We had reporters stranded for weeks—in England profiling McLaren’s Zak Brown , in Australia covering the first F1 Grand Prix of the seaso n , and South Africa writing about the illegal street racing scene. Eventually we got them home. With a touch of invention and improvisation, we produced a magazine that proudly carries Road & Track’s legacy.
Back to Danny Sullivan: He pitted to change his four flat-spotted tires, passed Mario Andretti, and won the race. And that’s what makes racing—and making magazines—so special.
Coming off a 212-mph run into Turn 1, Sullivan was carrying too much speed to keep the slide under control. The back end came around in an instant, sending him into a whirlwind spin that blanketed Andretti’s path with smoke. Andretti couldn’t see where the No. 5 car was or where it was headed.
Andretti dove left through the smokescreen and hoped for the best. Sullivan hit the brakes and braced for a wall impact, focused on survival more than recovery. Indy’s a tight track; if you lose control, expect an unpleasant encounter with a wall. For Sullivan, though, it never came.
After completing a full 360-degree spin, Sullivan spots the Turn 2 suite and lifts off the brakes. The car kicks sideways, a result of him being in the wrong gear, but he’s recovered and still moving. Twenty laps later, he passes Andretti and holds the lead until the checkered flag.