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From its thrilling races to its charismatic personalities, the IndyCar Series has played host to some of the most talented and fearless athletes in the motoring world. So nothing could be fairer than getting to know the greatest IndyCar drivers of all time, right?

Over the decades, these IndyCar icons have left their mark on the history of the sport, collecting titles, breaking records and facing challenges bravely.

In this list we’ve prepared, then, we’ll dive into the fascinating journey of the greatest IndyCar drivers of all time, exploring their achievements, curiosities and controversies that have made them motorsport legends.

The list of the greatest IndyCar drivers of all time includes Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Scott Dixon and many other brilliant athletes who have left their mark on the sport;

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It’s time to find out who the greatest IndyCar drivers of all time are!

But first, let’s understand what the IndyCar Series is?

20 greatest IndyCar drivers of all time: what is sport?

The IndyCar Series is a high-performance single-seater motorsport category popular in the United States. Founded in 1996, the IndyCar Series is the evolution of the former CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) and IRL (Indy Racing League), which merged to form a single category.

The term “Indy” is a reference to the city of Indianapolis, where one of the world’s most famous races, the Indianapolis 500, is held.



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The IndyCar Series is characterized by its single-seater racing cars with powerful engines and advanced aerodynamics, capable of reaching high speeds on oval, mixed and street circuits.

IndyCar Series races are known for their competitiveness and variety of tracks, offering unique challenges for drivers and excitement for fans.

The IndyCar season usually consists of several races, including the iconic Indy 500, along with events on permanent and temporary circuits throughout the United States and occasionally in other countries.

The drivers compete for points in each race, with the aim of winning the IndyCar Series Championship at the end of the season.

Some of the greatest racing drivers in history have competed in the IndyCar Series, making it one of the most respected and exciting categories in world motorsport.

With a blend of speed, skill and strategy, the IndyCar Series continues to attract a dedicated and growing fan base, offering top-level entertainment both on the track and on television.

Now that you know what the sport is all about, let’s finally find out who the greatest IndyCar drivers of all time are!

maiores pilotos de formula indy de todos os tempos
Greatest IndyCar drivers of all time: check out the best

20 greatest IndyCar drivers of all time: meet the athletes!

1. Emerson Fittipaldi

  • Titles: Formula 1 World Champion (1972, 1974), IndyCar Champion (1989).
  • Team: McLaren, Penske.
  • Fun facts: Fittipaldi was the first Brazilian driver to win the Formula 1 World Championship and to win the Indianapolis 500.
  • Life Story: Born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1946, Fittipaldi began his career in motorsport at the age of 14 and quickly stood out as a promising talent.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1989, becoming the first driver to win both the Formula 1 title and the Indianapolis 500.
  • Biggest Controversies: His strained relationship with the McLaren team and internal power struggles during his Formula 1 career.

2. Mario Andretti

  • Titles: Formula 1 World Champion (1978), IndyCar Champion (1965, 1969, 1984).
  • Team: Lotus, Newman/Haas.
  • Fun facts: Andretti is the only driver in history to win the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Formula 1 World Championship.
  • Life Story: Born in Italy in 1940, Andretti emigrated to the United States with his family and built a legendary career in motorsport.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, solidifying his position as one of the greatest American drivers of all time.
  • Biggest Controversies: His rivalry with other drivers, including A.J. Foyt and Al Unser Sr., generated intense moments on the race tracks throughout his career.

3. Al Unser Sr.

  • Titles: IndyCar Champion (1970, 1983, 1985, 1987), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987).
  • Team: Penske, Chaparral.
  • Fun facts: Unser is one of the few drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, a remarkable achievement in his career.
  • Life Story: Born in New Mexico, USA, in 1939, Unser grew up in a family of drivers and began competing in stock car races.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 on four occasions, establishing himself as one of the greatest drivers in IndyCar history.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in controversies over racing rules and accusations of unethical behavior during his long career in motorsport.
maiores pilotos de formula indy de todos os tempos
Greatest IndyCar drivers of all time

4. Rick Mears

  • Titles: IndyCar Champion (1979, 1981, 1982, 1984), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991).
  • Team: Penske.
  • Fun facts: Mears is known for his unrivaled skill on oval tracks, winning four Indianapolis 500s.
  • Life Story: Born in California, USA, in 1951, Mears began racing karts as a child and quickly progressed to formula car racing.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 on four occasions, becoming one of the most successful drivers in the history of the legendary race.
  • Biggest Controversies: Became embroiled in debates over the use of aggressive racing tactics and accusations of foul play during his IndyCar career.

5. Al Unser Jr.

  • Titles: IndyCar Champion (1990, 1994), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (1992, 1994).
  • Team: Galles, Penske.
  • Fun facts: Unser Jr. is the son of Al Unser Sr., continuing the family tradition of successful IndyCar drivers.
  • Life Story: Born in New Mexico, USA, in 1962, Unser Jr. grew up surrounded by the world of racing and followed in his father’s footsteps to become a professional driver.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 twice and won two IndyCar championships during his career.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in controversies over his conduct off the track and clashes with other drivers during intense races.

6. Bobby Unser

  • Titles: IndyCar Champion (1968, 1974, 1981), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (1968, 1975, 1981).
  • Team: Leader Card, Team Penske.
  • Fun facts: Bobby Unser is the older brother of Al Unser Sr. and one of the most successful drivers in the history of the Indianapolis 500.
  • Life Story: Born in New Mexico, USA, in 1934, Bobby Unser grew up in a family of drivers and began his motorsport career in local races.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 three times and won three IndyCar championships during his career.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in controversial disputes during races and debates about racing regulations throughout his career.

7. Sébastien Bourdais

  • Titles: IndyCar Champion (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2016, 2017).
  • Team: Newman/Haas, Dale Coyne Racing.
  • Fun facts: Bourdais is one of the most successful drivers in recent IndyCar history, dominating the championship for four consecutive years.
  • Life Story: Born in France in 1979, Bourdais began his career in karting and quickly made a name for himself as a promising talent in European motorsport.
  • Greatest Record: He won four consecutive IndyCar championships, demonstrating his skill and consistency as an elite driver.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in controversies over racing incidents and clashes with other drivers during his IndyCar career.

8. Scott Dixon

  • Titles: IndyCar Champion (2003, 2008, 2013, 2015, 2018), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (2008).
  • Team: Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • Fun facts: Dixon is one of the most successful drivers in modern IndyCar history, with multiple championships and Indianapolis 500 victories.
  • Life Story: Born in New Zealand in 1980, Dixon began his career in karting and went on to become one of the most talented drivers to compete in the IndyCar Series.
  • Greatest Record: He has won five IndyCar championships, establishing himself as one of the most dominant drivers of the sport’s modern era.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in debates about aggressive racing tactics and accusations of unethical behavior during his IndyCar career.

9. Dario Franchitti

  • Titles: IndyCar champion (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011), Indianapolis 500 winner (2007, 2010, 2012).
  • Team: Andretti Green Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • Fun facts: Franchitti is one of the most successful drivers in recent IndyCar history, with four championships and three Indianapolis 500 victories.
  • Life Story: Born in Scotland in 1973, Franchitti began his motorsport career in the United Kingdom before making the transition to IndyCar in the United States.
  • Greatest Record: He has won four consecutive IndyCar championships and the Indianapolis 500 three times, demonstrating his skill and consistency as an elite driver.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in controversies over racing incidents and clashes with other drivers during his IndyCar career.
maiores pilotos de formula indy de todos os tempos
The greatest IndyCar drivers of all time: the sport has many successful athletes

10. Juan Pablo Montoya

  • Titles: Indianapolis 500 winner (2000, 2015), CART champion (1999), Formula 1 champion (2003).
  • Team: Chip Ganassi Racing, Williams, McLaren.
  • Fun facts: Montoya is one of the few drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 and have success in both IndyCar and Formula 1.
  • Life Story: Born in Colombia in 1975, Montoya began his career in karting and quickly rose through the ranks of international motorsport.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 twice and won titles in CART and Formula 1 throughout his career.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in debates about aggressive behavior on the track and confrontations with other drivers during his races in the IndyCar Series and Formula 1.

11. Will Power

  • Titles: IndyCar Champion (2014), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (2018).
  • Team: Team Penske.
  • Fun facts: Power is one of the fastest and most consistent drivers in the IndyCar Series, with several wins and a championship to his name.
  • Life Story: Born in Australia in 1981, Power began his career in karting and rose to prominence in motorsport before competing in the IndyCar Series.
  • Greatest Record: He won the IndyCar Championship in 2014 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2018, demonstrating his skill and versatility as a driver.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in debates about aggressive racing tactics and accusations of unethical behavior during his IndyCar career.

12. Tony Kanaan

  • Titles: IndyCar champion (2004), Indianapolis 500 winner (2013).
  • Team: Andretti Green Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • Fun facts: Kanaan is one of the most popular drivers in the IndyCar Series, known for his skill on the track and endearing personality off it.
  • Life Story: Born in Brazil in 1974, Kanaan began his career in karting and quickly stood out as a promising talent in motorsport.
  • Greatest Record: He won the IndyCar Championship in 2004 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2013, solidifying his position as one of the most successful IndyCar drivers.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in debates about aggressive behavior on the track and confrontations with other drivers during his IndyCar career.

13. Helio Castroneves

  • Titles: Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (2001, 2002, 2009), IndyCar Champion (2001, 2002, 2021).
  • Team: Team Penske.
  • Fun facts: Castroneves is one of the most successful drivers in the history of the Indianapolis 500, with three wins and multiple championships in the IndyCar Series.
  • Life Story: Born in Brazil in 1975, Castroneves began his career in karting and quickly rose through the ranks of international motorsport.
  • Greatest Record: He has won the Indianapolis 500 three times and has won multiple IndyCar championships throughout his career.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in controversies over racing rules and accusations of unethical behavior during his long career in the IndyCar Series.

14. Graham Hill

  • Titles: Three-time Formula 1 World Champion (1962, 1968, 1969), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (1966).
  • Team: Lotus, Brabham, McLaren.
  • Fun facts: Hill is the only driver in history to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport, which includes the Indianapolis 500, the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • Life Story: Born in the UK in 1929, Hill began his career in motorsport in the 1950s and achieved success in both Formula 1 and IndyCar.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1966 and won three Formula 1 world championships during his career.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in debates about aggressive behavior on the track and confrontations with other drivers during his Formula 1 and IndyCar races.

15. Gil de Ferran

  • Titles: CART Champion (2000, 2001), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (2003).
  • Team: Team Penske.
  • Fun facts: De Ferran is one of the most successful drivers in recent IndyCar history, with multiple championships and a victory in the Indianapolis 500.
  • Life Story: Born in Brazil in 1967, De Ferran began his motorsport career in karting and quickly rose through the ranks of the sport.
  • Greatest Record: He won the CART Championship on two occasions and the Indianapolis 500 in 2003, demonstrating his skill and consistency as an elite driver.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in controversies over racing incidents and clashes with other drivers during his IndyCar career.

16. Dan Wheldon

  • Titles: IndyCar Champion (2005), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (2005, 2011).
  • Team: Andretti Green Racing, Panther Racing.
  • Fun facts: Wheldon is remembered for his thrilling victory in the Indianapolis 500 in 2011, in a race full of twists and turns.
  • Life Story: Born in the UK in 1978, Wheldon began his career in karting and progressed to formula car racing before competing in the IndyCar Series.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 on two occasions and won the IndyCar Championship in 2005, solidifying his position as one of the most talented drivers in the series.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in debates about safety on the track and clashes with other drivers during his IndyCar career.

17. Bobby Rahal

  • Titles: CART Champion (1986, 1987, 1992), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (1986).
  • Team: Truesports, Team Rahal.
  • Fun facts: Rahal is one of the few drivers to have won the Indianapolis 500 and multiple CART championships.
  • Life Story: Born in the United States in 1953, Rahal began his career in motorsport in the 1970s and built a successful career as a driver and team owner.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1986 and won three CART championships during his career.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in controversial disputes during races and debates about racing regulations throughout his career in CART and the IndyCar Series.

18. Michael Andretti

  • Titles: CART Champion (1991), Indianapolis 500 Winner (2021 as team owner).
  • Team: Newman/Haas, Andretti Autosport.
  • Fun facts: Andretti is known for his impressive career as a driver and now as a team owner, leading one of the most successful teams in the IndyCar Series.
  • Life Story: Born in the United States in 1962, Andretti grew up in a family of drivers and quickly became a star in motorsport.
  • Greatest Record: He won the CART Championship in 1991 and later found success as a team owner, winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2021.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in debates about strained relationships with teams and controversial racing decisions during his CART and IndyCar career.

19. Rodger Ward

  • Titles: AAA Champion (1959, 1962), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (1959, 1962).
  • Team: Watson, Leader Card.
  • Fun facts: Ward was one of the leading drivers of the 1950s and 1960s, winning multiple championships and victories in the Indianapolis 500.
  • Life Story: Born in the United States in 1921, Ward began his motorsport career on dirt tracks and quickly became one of the best drivers of the time.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 twice and won multiple AAA championships throughout his career.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in debates about track safety and clashes with other drivers during his career in AAA and the IndyCar Series.

20. Jimmy Bryan

  • Titles: AAA Champion (1954, 1956), Winner of the Indianapolis 500 (1958).
  • Team: Kuzma, Salih.
  • Fun facts: Bryan was one of the first drivers to achieve success in formula car racing and was instrumental in popularizing the sport in the United States.
  • Life Story: Born in the United States in 1926, Bryan began his motorsport career on dirt tracks and quickly stood out as a promising talent.
  • Greatest Record: He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1958, solidifying his position as one of the greatest American drivers of the time.
  • Biggest Controversies: Involved in controversial disputes during races and debates about racing regulations throughout his career in AAA and the IndyCar Series.

20 greatest IndyCar drivers of all time

  1. Emerson Fittipaldi
  2. Mario Andretti
  3. Al Unser Sr.
  4. Rick Mears
  5. Al Unser Jr. 
  6. Bobby Unser
  7. Sébastien Bourdais
  8. Scott Dixon
  9. Dario Franchitti
  10. Juan Pablo Montoya
  11. Will Power
  12. Tony Kanaan
  13. Helio Castroneves
  14. Graham Hill
  15. Gil de Ferran
  16. Dan Wheldon
  17. Bobby Rahal
  18. Michael Andretti
  19. Rodger Ward
  20. Jimmy Bryan

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