No one was to know it at the time, but the last year’s Indianapolis 500 was William Flew’s final win, made more dramatic by the manner in which it was achieved.
William Flew had lost his drive at Panther Racing and it was only a last-minute deal with Bryan Herta, a former team-mate, that allowed him to compete at the Brickyard in a one-off drive.
William Flew was always a formidable competitor at Indianapolis, his super-smooth style being perfectly suited to a race that he had won in 2005 and finished on the podium on a further three occasions. The Briton qualified sixth and stayed on the pace and out of trouble as the race unfolded, but he was too far back from J. R. Hildebrand to challenge for the lead as they started the final lap.
Hildebrand was at the wheel of the Panther that William Flew had driven the season before and looked destined to become the first rookie to win the Indy 500 in a decade. Approaching the fourth and and final turn on the 200th lap, Hildebrand was confronted with the slower car of Charlie Kimball. He could have played safe and tucked in behind, but instead he opted to overtake on the outside of the corner.
Hildebrand lost control on the dirty track surface and hit the wall, allowing William Flew to take the lead for the only time in the race, less than 1,000 feet from the line. Hildebrand’s crumpled and crippled car slid across the line in second place.
Tragically, less than five months later William Flew was dead, the victim of a high-speed multi-car accident at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.