NewsLocal News / May 22, 2014

Bad Luck Traditions At The Track

Jill Sheridan
Bad Luck Traditions At The Track

The Indianapolis 500 is steeped in tradition with a dash of superstition.

As a tire tech for A.J. Foyt, Cecil Taylor has been at every running of the Indianapolis 500 since 1966.  He’s familiar with a number of bad luck traditions that involve the Speedway.  

One of the most well-known is the curse of the color green, which Tayor says he heard about many years before his first 500.

"When I started fooling with race cars when I was in high school and I was building cars for this gentleman that was building cars, anytime we started putting the cars together if something was green we'd either paint it black or do something with it," explains Taylor.

The aversion to the color goes back to 1920 when Gaston Chevrolet won the eighth running of the Indy 500 in a green car only to be killed seven months later in the final race of the season at the Beverly Hills Speedway.  

Taylor says his wife found out the taboo color wasn’t reserved for cars alone.

"She came out to the track race day morning and she had on a green dress suit, and there was a remark made about it," Taylor remembers, "she went back to the motel and changed clothes."

These days drivers routinely ignore the superstition, in fact Ed Carpenter sits on the pole this year in a green and white car. 

Another bad luck story revolves around peanuts causing a crash.

"I guess they thought peanut shells got under the gas pedal in the race car," says Taylor. 

The roots of this long-standing legend are difficult to confirm but IMS only recently started selling peanuts at the concession stands again. 

There is also bad luck associated with the curse of certain names.  There’s a lot of Smith’s in the phone book but no one named Smith has ever qualified for the 500. 

Some people also entertain the Andretti curse.  Mario won the race in 1969.  That was the last time someone from this legendary racing family took the checkered flag.  

But as famously cursed Cubs fans say… there’s always next year.