If race drivers
could afford the luxury of frustration, Sullivan should have been feeling it;
every time he built a cushion over Andretti, another yellow would come out.
With eight laps remaining it happened again when Bill Whittington tagged the
Turn 3 wall. Andretti trailed Sullivan by 9.1 seconds at that point, but once
more he closed up, although two non-contending cars actually separated him from
the leader. Whittington's car was removed and the green came out on Lap 197,
bringing the 500 down to a three-lap dash. But Sullivan was untouchable, and he
streaked away unchallenged. Amazingly, his fastest lap of the day was his next
to last, at 205 mph. "When you start getting conservative, that's when you
start getting into trouble." Sullivan explained. He beat Andretti to the
finish by 2.5 seconds.
"I ran as hard
as I could all day, and I ran everything out of the car every lap,"
Andretti said. "We just flat got smoked today, that's all."
And smoked by a
driver who lately has been living with the nickname Hollywood. Sullivan, 35,
likes the glitter. He's a bachelor who divides his time between Los Angeles
(his girl friend's house). Aspen (his own apartment) and Manhattan (where
gossip columns note his disco moves with Susan Anton). And he brought his own
staff from L.A. to Indy—a secretary, a press agent and Dan Isaacson, the
trainer who whipped John Travolta into shape for Staying Alive. Isaacson
dragged Sullivan to the Nautilus Fitness Center every morning at 7:30.
And before there
was the glitter, there were the dues: racing Formula Fords in England and
living in the back of an old van from race to race. Before that, jobs as a
waiter, cabbie and chicken farmer.
It was a victory
for others besides Sullivan, of course; motor racing is a team sport. There was
the crew chief, a quiet, confident Scot named Derrick Walker. And of course
Roger Penske, the most successful owner in Speedway history. He now has two
wins in a row and a total of five. The Penske method: Work (and spend) the
competition into submission. He prepares so thoroughly that he bought cars from
both Lola and March (at about $125,000 each) before the season, and tested each
to determine which to campaign. Penske himself jogged on the Speedway's infield
golf course at six each morning and could often spend half the night in the
team's garages. This year Penske Racing entered three cars. Al Unser Sr.
finished fourth in one—behind Colombian Roberto Guerrero—and Rick Mears, the
1984 Indy winner, was working his way up in the field when transmission linkage
problems ended his race.
This is Sullivan's
first year with the Penske team. "I've been run ragged since R.P. signed
me, but it's what I've always wanted," Sullivan says. "We tested all
winter and spring at tracks all over the country. You finish one test, get to
bed at 3 a.m., and Roger's jet is waiting at 9 a.m. to sweep you off to the
next test." Sullivan figured he ran 1,000 miles just practicing for
"Boy, did I
make a good move when I hired him," Penske says. And now Sullivan has made
a couple of spectacular moves of his own to win racing's most prestigious