INDIANAPOLIS — official release — Team Penske photo — The “Yellow Submarine” returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 98th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will drive the No. 3 Pennzoil car with the iconic yellow, black and red scheme in the May 25 race.
“For me, it’s an inspiration,” Castroneves said. “I remember Rick Mears going down the straightaway and into Turn 1. You could spot the car – anywhere … but I am going to drive the car. What a tradition and what a great honor.”
Pennzoil’s presence in Indy car racing began in the 1930s with Russell Snowberger and, based on his success, more teams began to use Pennzoil racing oil in their race cars. In 1979, Pennzoil joined Johnny Rutherford and the team painted the Pennzoil-sponsored car bright yellow. The look was so bright and distinctive that fans and competitors nicknamed it the “Yellow Submarine.” The next year, Rutherford won at Indianapolis.
After joining Team Penske in 1983, Pennzoil won Indianapolis 500 races in 1984 and 1988 in a similar yellow, black and red scheme with Rick Mears behind the wheel.
Mears and Castroneves have combined for seven of team owner Roger Penske’s record 15 Indianapolis 500 victories. Castroneves will attempt to join Mears, Al Unser and A.J. Foyt as the only four-time Indy 500 winners. Castroneves, whose next victory will tie Mears for 11th all time, also will wear a throwback-style helmet in honor of Mears.
“I feel like a small fish in a big ocean right now with those two legends over here,” said Castroneves, who also will have the color scheme on the car for the Shell & Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston in late June. “At the end of the day, Penske has a great history here at the Speedway. I can’t wait to be sitting in that car at the beginning of practice and I can’t wait to go race with these colors. I’m extremely thankful and honored to be wearing not only the Pennzoil colors but Rick’s helmet colors, too.”
Mears said memories flashed through his mind when he saw the car on display at the Speedway.
“It’s a gorgeous car. It brings back a lot of memories. You wish you could do it again, but you know you can’t,” he said.
The 1980 car was the start of the ground effects era.
“Jim Hall had three cars built in England and brought them over and he had a tight connection with Pennzoil. He went to them to try and get them to be a sponsor and, of course, their colors are yellow. It was just natural,” said Rutherford, a three-time Indy 500 winner.
“It was fun, enjoyable, the car was great. It opened up a whole new avenue of the way you drove them and the way things happened.”