McLaren Racing has today announced that two-time Formula 1 world champion, Fernando Alonso, will use the number sixty-six when he competes in this year’s Indianapolis 500. The Spaniard, who will be taking part in the NTT IndyCar Series event for the second time, will be hoping to emulate Mark Donohue, who took a #66 McLaren to the Indianapolis 500 victory back in 1972.
It was announced in November last year that Fernando Alonso and McLaren would be making a return to the Indianapolis 500 in 2019, having previously shocked the world of motorsport back in 2017 when the two parties announced their first attempt at the famous race together.
Alonso, of course, will be attempting to secure the final leg of the famous “triple crown” of motorsport. Having already won the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 hours of Le Mans, Alonso only needs to win at Indianapolis to become only the second person to have won all three events; joining the legendary Graham Hill.
Alonso’s first attempt at the race in 2017 started phenomenally, with the Spaniard qualifying in a superb fifth place before going on to lead many laps over the course of the race. Sadly, Alonso’s Honda engine would expire toward the end of the race, forcing Fernando into retirement.
For Alonso’s second attempt at the Indianapolis 500, he will once again be racing with McLaren. This time, however, McLaren will be their own entity instead of being in a major partnership with Andretti Autosport, as was the case in 2017. The team will also be using Chevrolet engines instead of Honda engines.
Fernando Alonso will race the historic number 66 at this year's #Indy500, honouring McLaren's first success at the Brickyard with the M16 back in 1972.
— McLaren Indy (@McLarenIndy) February 26, 2019
Due to this, McLaren has not had to use one of Andretti’s usual race numbers. In 2017, Alonso used the number twenty-nine, fitting in with the other Andretti entries. For this year’s Indianapolis 500, as a result, McLaren will field Alonso in the #66 Chevrolet.
The number sixty-six is a synonymous number with both McLaren and American motorsports in general. The particular reason for McLaren’s choice to use the number sixty-six dates back to when Mark Donohue won the 1972 Indianapolis 500 in a car entered by both McLaren and Team Penske. The win was McLaren’s first at the Indianapolis 500, with both the team and Alonso hoping that history will repeat itself this time around in 2019.
The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 will be the sixth round of the upcoming 2019 NTT IndyCar Series. The first major test for the event will take place at the end of April, with the race itself taking place on Sunday, May 26. The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series will kick-off with it’s season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 10.