Sunday, May 24, 2009

Remembering The Great Armenian Race!

Today, as I guess no one has to be reminded, is the Indianapolis 500. All ready with the munchies?

Pistachios (check). Twisted cheese (check). Hummus (check).

What's that? You don't care about America's most famous automobile race?

Well, I don't really care either.

But did you know that there was a time -- 1952, to be exact -- when two Armenians dominated the Indy 500?

Fred Agabashian, a California racer, stunned the crowd by winning the pole. Not only was Agabashian an outsider at Indy, he was driving the Cummins Diesel Special. Nobody figured a diesel-powered car could top the speed charts, not even with one of those new-fangled turbochargers.

Agabashian's pole speed of just over 138 miles an hour sounds slow compared to this year's 223-plus, but it was scary fast in the age of skinny tires and skimpy helmets.

Unfortunately for Fred, that speed-pumping turbocharger got all gummed up during the race and he didn't finish. The winner was Troy Ruttman.

But what about that second Armenian? Ruttman's car owner was legendary race promoter/pig farmer J.C. Agajanian! It was the first of two Indy victories for the cars known as Agajanian Specials.

Unfortunately, there's no Agajanian Special in today's race. J.C.'s son entered a car but it failed to qualify. So Armenian race fans will just have to wait a while for a reason to cheer.

Actually, about three weeks.

One of the favorites to win France's 24 Hours of LeMans next month is Nicolas Minassian. And that's not just my humble opinion. Nick and his Peugeot teammates won the major lead-up race, the 1000 km of Spa, earlier this month.

So get the munchies ready!

Basturma! (Check)

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