The 1913 Indianapolis 500 was the third running of the race. Frenchman Jules Goux and his riding mechanic Emil Begin were driving a Peugeot. And during every pitstop they drank champagne to stay hydrated. Yeah. It's said they drank six bottles. Must have been thirsty. But is it true?
Goux was the first Frenchman and European to win the 500 mile sweepstakes, and is certainly the only man who thought alcohol was a good idea for a quick in-race beverage.
The story is that during pitstops, Goux and Begin would drink a pint of Champagne at each to quench their thirst. Many claims had the duo drinking six one pint bottles during the course of the race, while historians believe that the duo drank four or five bottles between them during the race.
Just four or five? Even one bottle would be a big deal. I won't drive after two glasses of anything.
Goux was leading the race by the 5th lap. On the 15th lap he pitted with a shredded right rear tyre. Two tyres were changed and an order was placed by Jules for some chilled wine (Thanks to members of the French Alliance, who had gathered from several points to root for the Peugeot team, wine - properly chilled - was on hand the next time Jules pitted.) When Goux pitted the next time he had two bottles of champagne. At 200 miles he stopped again for tyres and fuel and another bottle of wine. He was in the pits for the last time after 310 miles, another tyre change, another bottle of champagne.
And here is what is believed by Donald Davidson, the historian of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, from his book The Official History of the Indianapolis 500:
The conclusion, based on a variety of opinions, including from some who were there, is that champagne was indeed consumed, but in restricted quantity. The containers were small 'half-bottles', containing just under half a pint each, and it is believed that Goux requested one on four of his stops rather than on all six. While Goux and [riding mechanic Emil] Begin apparently did finish all of the first half-bottle between them, the other three occasions merely consisted of either just a swallow or two, or perhaps mere use of the champagne as a form of mouthwash.
Because of the drinking during the pitstops, the AAA outlawed the ingestion of the alcohol during the race.
Not that the ingestion of Champagne mattered. Goux was ahead by a record 13 minutes (yes, minutes, not seconds) when he crossed the finish line and won the 500 mile sweepstakes.
How did he do it? "Without the good wine, I would not have won," is his famous quote.
So was Goux drunk? Probably not. Does he know how to hydrate properly? Not really. Is it more fun to believe that a man drank six entire magnums of Champagne on his way to victory at Indy? Way more fun.