The year is 1971 and Peter Revson is making his second start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with McLaren, his third overall in the Indianapolis 500. Piloting the No. 86 McLaren M16, Revson has spent most of the month being overshadowed by Penske driver Mark Donohue, who is driving the only non-factory McLaren. Heading into qualifying, Donohue was clearly the driver to beat, having already unofficially become the first driver in history to break the 180 mph barrier at the Brickyard.
Revson on the other hand had been struggling with his practice runs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that May. The day before pole day, Revson’s engine blew, forcing him to adapt to the new turbocharged Offenhauser during Saturday morning practice. Meanwhile, Donahue had already completed a four-lap qualifying run with an average speed of 177.0887 mph, over three miles per hour off his top speed from earlier in the month. With a glimpse of the coveted pole position and front-row start in sight, Revson and his McLaren crew worked tirelessly to prepare his new engine for his four-lap, 10-mile qualifying effort on the 2.5-mile oval.
At 1:02 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, 1971, with 250,000 spectators in the grandstands, Revson told his crew, “If this thing runs, I’ll burst their bubble!”
He did just that. Opening with a starting lap of 178.05 mph, Revson and McLaren set their sights not just on the pole but on the track record itself. With a fast lap of 179.354 and a four-lap average of 178.696, the No. 86 McLaren captured the top spot in qualifying and shattered the existing track record by over seven mph, completing his 10 miles in just 3:21.46.
Revson’s surprising run and pole win was one of the largest upsets in qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When the storm of media asked Revson, “What do you think made the big difference today: the car, your driving, or what?”, he replied without hesitation: “The McLaren is a great car, I’m not kidding myself on that.”
That day not only put Revson and McLaren in the record books for decades to come, it also gave fans at Indianapolis a new driver and number to cheer for in the historic race.
50 years later, the No. 86 makes its return to McLaren, once again with a legendary driver behind the wheel. The No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet will be piloted by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion and motorsport legend Juan Pablo Montoya, making his sixth attempt at the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’.
Montoya’s first victory came at his first attempt in 2000, becoming the first rookie to win the 500-mile race since 1966. After his historic win, Montoya made a name for himself in motorsport, including success in Formula 1 with McLaren, where he won three races in 2005.
Montoya eventually made his return to the Indianapolis 500 in 2014, finishing fifth. Proving time was no factor, he went on to win the Indy 500 just a year later, putting his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy for the second time in three attempts. 15 years after winning for the first time, he was back in victory lane celebrating with the signature bottle of milk.
Racing at the Brickyard for the first time since 2017, Montoya has his eye on win number three, which would put him in even more elite company, including McLaren legend Johnny Rutherford. The No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and Montoya are supported by two key partners of the team, Arrow Electronics and Mission Foods. Montoya joins AMSP’s full-time entries of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet driven by Pato O’Ward and the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet driven by Felix Rosenqvist.
Later on in the day, the team also announced that Montoya will run in the GP as well.