Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Larry Bisceglia a mechanic from Long Beach Ca became a legend by showing up first to wait in line for the Indy 500. See, waiting around for weeks to get tickets is nothing new

His 1st Indy 500 was in 1926

In 1948 he decided to arrive several days before the event and drove his 1933 DeSoto but was surprised upon his arrival that there were already two cars lined up at the gate. 

Striving to be first, in 1949 Larry again drove his DeSoto and left a few days earlier than before but was beat yet again, this time by one vehicle.

In May 1950 he finally achieved his goal, the first in line. He once said, “When I first drove to the Indy 500 in 1947, I thought if you got in line first you didn’t have to pay. I had to pay, but I just decided to be first for 10 years, then 20, then 30.’’ He continued to drive his DeSoto to and from the track every year through 1954.

By 1955 he had acquired this 1951 Chevrolet panel truck, which over the next few years he covered with hundreds of racing decals. In 1958 the Indianapolis Motor Speedway presented him with a lifetime pass to the Indy 500. He was awarded a key to the Speedway gates by Tony Hulman. Track officials even installed an electrical outlet outside the track for Larry to use in his truck for a more comfortable stay. He drove this Chevy to IMS for the next 12 years.

his 1933 DeSoto and dog Wiggles

As of 1962 he had been first in line for 14 year in a row, in 1965 or 66, IMS presented him with a new Ford Econoline Van with his name and accomplishments on it. From about that time until he was unable to attend, a place was 'saved' for him at the head of the line each year.

In 1986 he became ill and didn’t make it to opening day; his first-in-line streak ended at 37 years.

When he didn’t lead the pack into the IMS as he had done for nearly four decades, the Indianapolis media put out an all-points bulletin. He was found in Yuma, where he had been living in his van on a friend’s business parking lot.

 He immediately received several offers to fly him in for the race, one coming from a local contractor to Ford. Mario Andretti led a group of drivers contributing to the cause, chipping in $100. ​ Larry made it back to IMS in 1987 for his last race. He died Dec. 7, 1988, at age 90.


  1. What a cool post! I would love to see the inside of that rig. I'm a old "van man" myself. Not many real individuals like Larry around any more. Good one!

    1. thanks! It's one cool story. I'm often astonished at the stuff I stumble across, but have never heard of. Beats looking at Mustangs and Camaros

  2. Replies
    1. thanks! I got lucky and stumbled across it... I'm shocked I've never heard of Larry before

  3. He's drinking a PBR and wearing and engineers cap...hope the hipsters don't catch on to the cap! Haha!