Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden reached 239.5mph entering Turn 3 last week during practice for the Indy 500, and while that figure is undoubtedly impressive, there are a few drivers from the 1990s who know what it's like to soar higher.
Young Newgarden, from Tennessee, used all of the 650hp his 2.2-liter twin-turbo Honda V6 had to offer as he edged close to 240mph. He also had the benefit of a significant tow to reach that mind-boggling number, but some of his Indy 500 predecessors managed to tick past 240mph with ease and a few, select individuals actually managed to break through the somewhat mythical 250mph barrier.
The heart of Indy's short-lived flirtation with 250mph top speeds came during a tight window of insane power and even crazier speeds in the early 1990s as the Speedway, with special rules for the 500, allowed extra turbo boost for stock block engines, in the case of the Buick, and also for pushrod engines, as Roger Penske and Ilmor Engineering produced for 1994. Those 3.4-liter (209 cubic inch) single-turbo monsters, different in every way from the purebred 2.65-liter single-turbo V8 engines they competed against, started life with Buick's explosive V6, which propelled Pancho Carter to pole at Indy in 1985.
Cracking 250mph, as 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever managed to do with Buick's brute a few years earlier, felt as dangerous as it looked (continued)...