2013 Indianapolis 500 winning driver, Tony Kanaan, posed with his winning car, the winner’s wreath and the famous Borg Warner Trophy Monday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  [Russ Lake Photo]

2013 Indianapolis 500 winning driver, Tony Kanaan, posed with his winning car, the winner’s wreath and the famous Borg Warner Trophy Monday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Russ Lake Photo]

Sam Hanks in his famous George Salih built laydown Offy roadster he drove to victory at Indianapolis in 1957.  [Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway]

Sam Hanks in his famous George Salih built laydown Offy roadster he drove to victory at Indianapolis in 1957. [Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway]

HAMMOND, IN: Fifty-six years ago, popular Championship winning racer Sam Hanks captured his first Indianapolis 500 victory on his 12th attempt. No one had waited longer to score his initial Indy triumph than the much loved Speedway veteran.Sound familiar?

Last Sunday, popular Championship winning racer Tony Kanaan captured his first Indianapolis 500 victory on his 12th attempt. No one (but our friend Sam Hanks) had waited longer to score his initial Indy triumph.

At the time of Hanks’sone-and-only trip to Indy’s Victory Lane, only three other drivers had even competed in more than twelve Indy 500′s. In those days, living long enough to merely race at Indy twelve times was considered to be a big deal. Sam was a smart, clean racer who had a background littered with victories throughout the country and laps led at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His legion of fans, coast to coast, clung to the belief that their hero would eventually find his way into Indy”s Victory Lane.

It only took a dozen years. The 42 year old veteran promptly retired after a big swig of milk.

Fast forward to 2013. Tony Kanaan, the most popular Indy Car racer of his era, leader of at least one lap in each of his first seven Indy 500 starts, finally found his way to that cold bottle of milk on his 12th try at the Speedway in a storming drive as good as any former Indy winner in history. Even the fact that the Race finished under the yellow flag did nothing to diminish the strength of Kanaan’s effort.

Like Sam Hanks so many years ago, Tony Kanaan really earned his place in Speedway history. And, unlike Hanks, Tony will continue on racing, providing his fans with more to cheer about in the coming years.

But, even if Kanaan never repeats his Indy 500 Victory, he got the job done. An Indy 500 victory. One time.

Just like Sam Hanks.