The Indy 500 poleman who didn't live to raceday
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The Indy 500 poleman who didn't live to raceday

By:
, Mark Glendenning

6pm, May 11, 1996: Scott Brayton takes pole for the Indianapolis 500. 12:17pm, May 17, 1996: Scott Brayton dies in a practice crash. MARK GLENDENNING shares his story

It was getting deep into Happy Hour on Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and despite some morning rain, the crowd had got its money's worth. The 'fastest day in motorsport' had lived up to its name, with the track record having already fallen three times during the afternoon - first to Davy Jones, then to rookie Tony Stewart, then to Arie Luyendyk.

With just over 25 minutes left to run and nobody lining up to go back out, the battle for pole appeared to have been settled. Then Scott Brayton started to pull his helmet on.
The 1996 Indy 500 was the year of the CART boycott, and under the rules of the time - rules that contributed to the CART teams not being there in the first place - Brayton's #2 car had an Indy 500 entry guaranteed before it even turned a wheel, courtesy of a regulation that granted the top 25 in the IRL points standings an automatic place in the field.

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