Champ Car

Last updated
Champ Car
Champ Car logo.svg
Category Single seaters
CountryInternational
Inaugural season1979 (as CART)
2004 (as Champ Car)
Folded 2008
Engine suppliers Cosworth
Last Drivers' champion Flag of France.svg Sébastien Bourdais (2007)
Last Constructors' champion Flag of the United States.svg Panoz (2007)

Champ Car was the trade name for Open Wheel Racing Series Inc., a sanctioning body for American open-wheel car racing that operated from 2003 to 2008.

A governing body is a group of people that has the authority to exercise governance over an organization or political entity. The most formal is a government, a body whose sole responsibility and authority is to make binding decisions in a given geopolitical system by establishing laws. Other types of governing include an organization, a socio-political group, or another, informal group of people.

American open-wheel car racing Category of professional-level automobile racing in North America

American open-wheel car racing, also known as Indy car racing, is a category of professional-level automobile racing in the United States and North America. As of 2019, the top-level American open-wheel racing championship is sanctioned by IndyCar.

Contents

It was the successor to Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), which had been founded in 1979 by United States Auto Club Championship Division team owners who disagreed with the direction and leadership of USAC, with the then-novel idea of car owners sanctioning and promoting their own series collectively instead of relying on a neutral body to do so. Starting in 1979, CART sanctioned the Indy Car World Series, which through the 1980s evolved into the pre-eminent open-wheel auto racing series in North America, featuring street circuits, road courses, and oval track racing. CART drivers continued to compete at the USAC-sanctioned Indianapolis 500.

United States Auto Club Auto racing sanctioning body in the United States

The United States Auto Club (USAC) is one of the sanctioning bodies of auto racing in the United States. From 1956 to 1979, USAC sanctioned the United States National Championship, and from 1956 to 1997 the organization sanctioned the Indianapolis 500. Today, USAC serves as the sanctioning body for a number of racing series, including the Silver Crown Series, National Sprint Cars, National Midgets, Speed2 Midget Series, .25 Midget Series, Speed Energy Formula Off-Road, TORC: The Off-Road Championship, and Pirelli World Challenge.

Street circuit motorsport track composed of public roads of a city

A street circuit is a motorsport racing circuit composed of temporarily closed-off public roads of a city, town or village, used in motor races. Facilities such as the paddock, pit boxes, fences and grandstands are usually placed temporarily and removed soon after the race is over but in modern times the pits, race control and main grandstands are sometimes permanently constructed in the area. Since the track surface is originally planned for normal speeds, race drivers often find street circuits bumpy and lacking grip. Run-off areas may be non-existent, which makes driving mistakes more expensive than in purpose-built circuits with wider run-off areas. Racing on a street circuit is also called "legal street racing".

Oval track racing

Oval track racing is a form of closed-circuit automobile racing that is contested on an oval-shaped track. An oval track differs from a road course in that the layout resembles an oval with turns in only one direction, almost universally left. Oval tracks are dedicated motorsport circuits, used predominantly in the United States. They often have banked turns and some, despite the name, are not precisely oval, and can have unique variances in shape.

Even as the series prospered, concerns about costs, competitiveness, and revenue sharing began to create opposition to CART's organizational structure. Attempts at reform, which saw the company rebranded as IndyCar in 1992 [1] and a compromise board formed, failed. In 1996, an open wheel "split" saw the newly created Indy Racing League (IRL) take full control over the Indianapolis 500 and start a competing oval-based open-wheel series. CART ceased using the IndyCar name but continued its series without participating in the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar Auto racing sanctioning body for North American open wheel racing

Indy Racing League, LLC, doing business as IndyCar, is an American-based auto racing sanctioning body for Indy car racing and other disciplines of open wheel car racing. The organization sanctions four racing series: the premier IndyCar Series with its centerpiece the Indianapolis 500, and developmental series Indy Lights, the Pro Mazda Championship and the U.S. F2000 National Championship, which are all a part of The Road To Indy. IndyCar is recognized as a member organization of the FIA through ACCUS.

The "split" saw a dramatic fall in sponsorship and general interest for open wheel racing, which was compounded by the growing popularity of NASCAR. After a series of setbacks in the early 2000s saw the departure of major racing teams and engine manufacturers to the IRL, CART went bankrupt at the end of the 2003 season. A trio of team owners acquired the assets of the series renamed it the Champ Car World Series. Continuing financial difficulties caused Champ Car to file for bankruptcy before its planned 2008 season; its assets and history were merged into the IRL's IndyCar Series, reuniting both series of American open-wheel racing.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock-car racing. Its three largest or National series are the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Regional series include the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, the Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Pinty's Series, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, and NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series. NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 48 US states as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Europe. NASCAR has presented races at the Suzuka and Motegi circuits in Japan, and the Calder Park Thunderdome in Australia. NASCAR also ventures into eSports via the PEAK Antifreeze NASCAR iRacing Series and a sanctioned ladder system on that title.

The IndyCar Series, currently known as the NTT IndyCar Series under sponsorship, is the premier level of open-wheel racing in North America. Its parent company began in 1996 as the Indy Racing League (IRL), which was created by then Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George as a competitor to CART. In 2008, the IndyCar Series merged with the Champ Car World Series. The series is self-sanctioned by IndyCar.

Vehicles

Emerson Fittipaldi in a Penske-Chevrolet at Mid-Ohio, 1993 Emerson-fittipaldi mid-ohio keyhole.jpg
Emerson Fittipaldi in a Penske-Chevrolet at Mid-Ohio, 1993

Champ Cars (before 1997, advertised as IndyCars) were single-seat, open-wheel racing cars, with mid-mounted engines. Champ cars had sculpted undersides to create ground effects and prominent wings to create downforce. The cars would use different aerodynamic kits depending on whether they were racing on an oval or a road-course.

A mid-engine layout describes the placement of an automobile engine between the rear and front axles

Downforce

Downforce is a downwards thrust created by the aerodynamic characteristics of a car. The purpose of downforce is to allow a car to travel faster through a corner by increasing the vertical force on the tires, thus creating more grip.

Teams typically purchased chassis constructed by independent suppliers such as Lola, Swift, Reynard, and March, with some owners, such as Dan Gurney and Roger Penske, constructing their own. The series exclusively used Goodyear tires until 1995, when Firestone entered, creating a spirited competition between the brands. Firestone ultimately became the exclusive supplier in 2000, with their parent company Bridgestone taking over the role in 2003 and maintained it until 2007.

Rolling chassis portion of a motor vehicle including chassis and running gear

A rolling chassis is the chassis without bodywork of a self-propelled motor vehicle; car or truck, bus or other commercial vehicle, assembled with its final engine and drivetrain, able to move under its own power.

Lola Cars International Ltd. was a racing car engineering company founded in 1958 by Eric Broadley and based in Huntingdon, England. Enduring more than fifty years, it was one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of racing cars in the world. Lola Cars started by building small front-engined sports cars, and branched out into Formula Junior cars before diversifying into a wider range of sporting vehicles. Lola was acquired by Martin Birrane in 1998 after the unsuccessful MasterCard Lola attempt at Formula One.

Swift Engineering

Swift Engineering is an American engineering firm, most notable for producing racing cars for a variety of open-wheel racing series, including Formula Ford, Formula Atlantic, the Champ Car World Series and Formula Nippon. From 2000 it diversified into Aerospace/Aviation markets. Swift Engineering is ISO 9001, AS9100D approved and Nadcap Composites accredited and has a voting member on the Nadcap Supplier committee. Quality manuals, operating procedures, forms, and records are written in compliance to ISO 9001, AS9100 Rev D, and Nadcap Accredited for Composites. First article inspections are performed per AS9102, with First article inspection(FAI) reports also provided, when required. Quality inspection checkpoints are written into manufacturing work instructions at key steps and processes to ensure the overall quality of the completed product if required.

Champ Cars used turbocharged engines that ran on methanol fuel. Cosworth (branded as Ford), Ilmor (branded as Chevrolet), and Buick engines were common until the mid-1990s, which saw Mercedes-Benz take over as Ilmor's branding and Honda and Toyota enter factory efforts. Until 2003 engines were typically leased from manufacturers, who conducted research and development during the racing season; one engine could easily dominate competition in the first part of the season and then fall behind. The exclusive availability of more advanced versions of engines to certain teams in the early-1990s became a major source of contention within the organization, and manufacturers fiercely resisted proposals to have engines simply be purchased by teams.

Starting in 2003, after the withdrawal of Honda and Toyota, Champ Car purchased a series of identical engines from Cosworth and leased them to teams under Ford branding. In 2007, Champ Car was effectively a "spec" series, with all teams running a Panoz DP01 chassis and a Cosworth engine.

Champ Cars were visually similar, and often compared to, Formula 1 cars, which also featured wings, mid-engines, and an open-wheel design. Due to their use on ovals, Champ Cars weighed more and were more substantial in size, but typically had more powerful engines. Both series tended to downplay comparisons for commercial reasons, but 2002 saw a rare occurrence in both series running the same track (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal) within a month of each other. Juan Pablo Montoya won the pole position for the Formula One race with a lap time of 1'12.836, with the slowest being Alex Yoong's 1'17.34; Several weeks later, Cristiano da Matta won the pole position in a Champ Car race with a lap time of 1'18.959.

History

Foundation

A. J. Foyt car in 1984. AJFoyt1984Pocono.jpg
A. J. Foyt car in 1984.

In 1905 the AAA established a national driving championship and became the first sanctioning body for auto racing in the United States. The AAA ceased sanctioning auto racing in the general outrage over motor racing safety that followed the 1955 Le Mans disaster. In response, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony Hulman formed the United States Auto Club (USAC) to take over the sanctioning of what was called "championship" auto racing, or open wheel racing, whose biggest event was the annual Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. USAC sanctioned the championship exclusively until 1978.

A group of activist car owners coalesced around Dan Gurney who had grown disenchanted with what they saw as an amateur, hobby organization sanctioning their events and not properly promoting them or compensating teams. Notable incidents included the loss of a lucrative sponsorship by Marlboro in 1971 after USAC failed to enforce the brand's exclusivity at events and purses that teams said would result in a loss in money even if the team was successful. In early 1978, Gurney wrote what came to be known as the "Gurney White Paper", the blueprint for an organization called Championship Auto Racing Teams. [2] Gurney took his inspiration from the improvements Bernie Ecclestone had forced on Formula One with his creation of the Formula One Constructors Association. The White Paper called for the owners to form CART as an advocacy group to promote USAC's national championship. The group would also work to negotiate television rights, sponsorship agreements, and race purses, and ideally hold seats on USAC's governing body.

Gurney, joined by other leading team owners including Roger Penske and Pat Patrick, took their requests to USAC's Board, but the proposal was rejected in November 1978. USAC's rejection led the owners to form a new series, called CART, in late 1978 under the principles laid out in the Gurney White Paper. The first race was held in March 1979, with the Sports Car Club of America sanctioning the series.

USAC initially tried to ban all CART drivers from the 1979 Indianapolis 500, informing CART teams by telegram during their event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, until CART succeeded in obtaining an injunction to allow its cars to qualify. [3] Of the 20 races held in 1979, 13 were part of the 1979 CART Championship. An attempt by USAC and CART to jointly sanction races in 1980 as the Championship Racing League saw USAC withdraw after 5 races, and by the end of 1981 the only USAC sanctioned asphalt championship race was the Indianapolis 500.

CART PPG Indy Car World Series

IndyCar branding (1992-96) IndyCar Logo (1992-1996).jpg
IndyCar branding (1992-96)
Nigel Mansell racing in CART in 1993 Mansell cart.jpg
Nigel Mansell racing in CART in 1993

By 1982, the CART PPG Indy Car World Series was universally recognized as the American national championship in open wheel racing. In 1983, USAC agreed to allow CART to add the Indy 500 to its schedule and have drivers be awarded points in the CART championship in return for retaining the authority to sanction the 500. Many racing stars, including Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, and Danny Sullivan found success in CART, which pioneered sanctioning street races, taking over the Detroit Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Long Beach from Formula One, as well as having success in venues like Miami, Toronto, Vancouver, and Cleveland. CART also founded the first full-time driver safety team that traveled with the series, instead of depending on local staff provided by promoters.

Despite the considerable increases in attendance, TV revenue, and purses, CART's egalitarian governing structure did not stop ownership struggles. CART owners were incredibly diverse: For example, billionaire Roger Penske owned speedways, manufactured chassis, and had generous contracts with tire and engine manufactures, while other teams simply purchased older cars and ran the races they could afford to attend. The diversity of interests and owner involvement on the board led to annual fights and accusations of real and apparent conflicts of interest with regard to rules, sponsorship, driver safety, track selection, and other matters.

In 1988, CART joined ACCUS, allowing foreign drivers to compete without risking their FIA superlicenses. [4] This, combined with former F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi's series title in 1989, attracted drivers from South America and Europe to join the series. While the Indianapolis 500 had always obtained some international attention, Fittipaldi's victory and the growing contingent of international drivers helped make the series a valuable television property for growing sports cable networks worldwide. CART would host its first race outside North America, in Surfer's Paradise, Australia, in 1991.

As the larger teams and engine and chassis manufactures competed for victories, costs were rapidly increasing, pricing out smaller teams. Tony George, by 1989 the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and others viewed foreign drivers and street circuits as discouraging USAC American sprint racing talent, such as popular Indiana driver Jeff Gordon, from competing in IndyCars. [5] NASCAR, which ran predominantly on ovals, was gaining in popularity in IndyCar's traditional Midwestern US market.

CART was regularly accused of serving only the interest of team owners and not of the sport as a whole, while CART owners believed that the teams, who took the most risks, paid the drivers, and expended the most cash, should control the general direction of the sport. CART owners also resented George, and felt that his close relationship with USAC meant he could jeopardize the series involvement in the Indianapolis 500 on a whim. Debate continued for a number of years over the proper oversight mechanism for the sport, with George resisting giving any oversight over Indianapolis and owners not wanting to give too much power to track promoters.

In 1992, CART rebranded as IndyCar, and later in 1992 formed a compromise board with owners electing five members with voting rights, with the IndyCar CEO (representing the other owners) and George having non-voting seats.

1993 would see British driver Nigel Mansell, the 1992 F1 Driver's Champion, switch to IndyCar and beat Fittipaldi for the championship. The new board collapsed at the end of the season after a series of controversial decisions, mainly shutting out Japanese manufacturers, cancelling a planned race at Brands Hatch, and keeping the schedule exactly the same, that were seen as driven by conflicts of interest of George and the five owners elected to serve.

The "Split"

Target-Chip Ganassi Racing would win four consecutive CART drivers championships with Jimmy Vasser (1996, car pictured), Alex Zanardi (1997 and 1998), and Juan Pablo Montoya (1999). Reynard 96I right Honda Collection Hall.jpg
Target-Chip Ganassi Racing would win four consecutive CART drivers championships with Jimmy Vasser (1996, car pictured), Alex Zanardi (1997 and 1998), and Juan Pablo Montoya (1999).

In March 1994, George announced his resignation from IndyCar's board. That year, Team Penske introduced a Mercedes-Benz engine specifically designed solely for the 1994 Indianapolis 500 that exploited a rule difference between the USAC and CART, promptly dominating the race and starkly highlighting the concerns participants had regarding cost control in the sport. [6] In July, IMS announced the founding of the Indy Racing League, which would be cost controlled and race solely on American ovals and be sanctioned by USAC. [7]

After the controversial 1995 Indianapolis 500 saw driver complaints about USAC's oversight, George announced that for the 1996 Indianapolis 500 the top 25 drivers in IRL points would be guaranteed a spot in the race, leaving only eight of the 33 grid positions available to others. This was known as the "25/8 Rule," [8] and was unprecedented, as the 500 had traditionally always put every spot up for open qualification. [8] CART declared they had been locked out of the event and would no longer race at Indianapolis, while George declared that CART was boycotting. [9] To placate sponsors who contractually required the accommodation of large contingents to attend Indianapolis, CART created a rival showcase event, the U.S. 500, at Michigan International Speedway on the same day as the Indy 500 in 1996. [9]

In March, Indianapolis Motor Speedway attempted to terminate CART's license to their "IndyCar" trademark, [10] eventually leading to a settlement in which CART agreed to revert to their formal initialism following the 1996 season and that the IRL would not use the name before the end of the 2002 season. [11]

The lead-up to Memorial Day 1996 saw fans witness, instead of the usual pre-race hype for the 500, a scorched-earth public relations war pitting the owners and drivers of CART against George and IMS. Michael Andretti publicly stated that allowing the IRL regulars to run the race and compensating by increasing turbo boost would provoke injury, calling it "unconscionable." [12]

Logo, 1997-2002 Cart.gif
Logo, 1997–2002

The 1996 Indianapolis 500 did see a series of accidents, with 1/4 of the race under caution, but also an exciting finish that saw Buddy Lazier win his first race. [12] The US 500, starting halfway through the Indy 500, had a disastrous start with a twelve-car crash, delaying the race for an hour. [12] Jimmy Vasser, who won by 11 seconds, quipped "Who needs milk?" while exiting his car for the podium. Both at the time and in retrospect, the weekend was seen as a fiasco that began a serious decline in open-wheel racing, with both the Indy 500 and other Indycar events seeing drastic decline in prominence, TV viewership, and attendance.

In the early years after the launch of the IRL in 1996, CART was in a far stronger position: It controlled most of the prestigious races, sponsorship money, TV contracts, and most of the "name" drivers and teams, while George's primary asset was Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its 500. 1996 and 1997 saw generally well regarding racing with stars such as Jimmy Vasser, rookie sensation Alex Zanardi, and Michael Andretti leading the points standings, while the IRL experienced growing pains, including a rain-soaked 1997 Indianapolis 500, off-putting engine sounds from their new normally-aspirated engines, and the abandonment of USAC sanctioning due to incompetence. [13]

CART, in further contrast to George's sole ownership of the IRL, opted to proceed with a public stock offering, and raised $US100 million by selling 35% of the company. While this allowed CART to have sufficient cash reserves to expand, commentators suggested it was short-sighted to subject the notoriously secretive and fluctuating finances of the auto racing industry to public trading requirements. [14]

Greg Moore in a 1996 Reynard-Mercedes. Moore's death in 1999 left the series without one of it's rising stars. Greg-moore mid-hio-cart 08-10-1996.jpg
Greg Moore in a 1996 Reynard-Mercedes. Moore's death in 1999 left the series without one of it's rising stars.

1998 and 1999 saw a dramatic increase in revenue for CART due to the stock offering. On the other hand, television ratings were anemic, and traditional American events such as Michigan and Nazareth began to see attendance declines, with speculation that NASCAR's increasing popularity was the primary cause, and CART believing that substandard marketing was to blame. Efforts, led mostly by engine manufacturers, to pressure CART and the IRL to at least adopt uniform engine standards were met with a cold refusal from the IRL, which started to carve a niche in the motorsports landscape by leveraging close relationships with the new NASCAR spec ovals and more affordable sanction fees. [15]

CART's championship battle in 1999 between young stars Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti was dramatically overshadowed by the deaths of drivers Gonzalo Rodríguez and Greg Moore within two months of each other. Moore's death at the 1999 Marlboro 500 especially raised serious concerns about safety in the 500 mile races conducted in Fontana and Michigan that saw Champ Cars hit 240 mph.

In 2000, in an attempt to recover domestic market share, CART owners removed Andrew Craig as CEO, and popular driver/owner Bobby Rahal stepped in as interim CEO. One of his first acts was to replace the PPG Cup (used from 1979–1999) with the Vanderbilt Cup as the series championship trophy. Chip Ganassi, under pressure from his main sponsors, also persuaded the board to leave Memorial Day open on the schedule and returned to the Indy 500 with Vasser and Montoya. Montoya put on a dominating performance at Indy, leading 167 of the 200 laps to win. The Ganassi team's primary advantage was the greater engineering put into their IRL-spec car. 2000 would see Team Penske's return to prominence as Gil de Ferran won the driver's title.

Decline

Adrian Fernandez in a 2002 Lola-Honda. Adrian Fernandez - 2002 Sure For Men Rockingham 500 (1).jpg
Adrian Fernandez in a 2002 Lola-Honda.

For 2001, CART unveiled their most ambitious schedule yet, with 22 races in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. The loss of Homestead-Miami and Gateway to the IRL was to be offset by the addition of Texas Motor Speedway, which had seen an exciting IRL race the year prior. Rahal retired to head Jaguar Racing in Formula 1, leading to marketing expert Joseph Heitzler taking the helm. [16]

Brazil was cancelled after disagreements with track promoters. The race at Texas Motor Speedway had to be cancelled on race day, due to concerns of drivers blacking out at the high G forces created by Champ Cars on the heavily banked course during qualifying. While applauded for putting driver safety first, the cancellation was a publicity disaster, and CART was criticized for not testing cars on the track earlier as requested. A resulting lawsuit, while settled, produced a quarterly loss for CART's stock and forever harmed its relationship with Speedway Motorsports. [17] [18] [17] [19]

Despite CART teams sweeping the top 6 positions in the 2001 Indianapolis 500 and a highly competitive four-way points battle among Gil de Ferran, Kenny Brack, Hélio Castroneves, and Michael Andretti, headlines centered on a technological controversy regarding a turbo pop off valve that Honda and Ford had developed, prompting complaints by Toyota. [20] When CART mandated changes in the valve to help equalize the competition, Honda successfully obtained an injunction barring the change, leading to all three manufacturers being upset. Toyota would announce it would move to the IRL for 2003 at the end of the season. [21]

The series' first foray into Europe, the German 500, was overshadowed by the 9/11 attacks. With the teams unable to leave due to the aircraft situation, CART decided to run as scheduled after some controversy. The race would see popular former champion Alex Zanardi lose both legs in a dramatic accident. The series inaugural event in the United Kingdom would come close to being cancelled due to track concerns. [22]

To keep coverage of the Indianapolis 500, ABC/ESPN signed an exclusive television deal for 2002 onwards with the IRL, forcing CART to turn to Speed Channel for cable coverage and buy time on CBS to maintain a broadcast presence. [23] Team Penske announced after the season that they would became permanent entrants in the IRL for 2002 due to pressure from sponsor Marlboro resulting from the American tobacco settlements that prevented cigarette advertising in multiple series. [24]

The loss of ESPN/ABC's exposure and engine manufacturer sponsoring began a downward spiral for the series, as race promoters began demanding reduced sanctioning fees for 2002 and sponsors began to review their agreements. [25] Heitzler was fired by the CART board in the offseason, being replaced by Chris Pook, the well-regarded CEO of the Long Beach Grand Prix. [26] Making matters worse was CART's growing ownership instability due to the public offering: Despite an initial agreement for the car owners to maintain 65% of the stock, agreements allowed owners to divest shares in the company. [25] As car owners began to sell off their shares, the board's chronic issues grew more complicated with aggressive stockholders beginning to pressure the board alongside owners. [27]

During the 2002 season, Honda announced that it would move to the IRL the following year, causing a drastic decline in CART's stock and leaving Cosworth/Ford as the sole engine manufacturer for 2003. [28] Attempts to subsidize teams to have enough cars racing to avoid breaching sanctioning contracts led to a further decline in cash reserves and the stock price. [29] Team owner Gerald Forsythe was able to purchase enough stock to control 22.5% of the voting shares in concert with the board. [29] Star driver Michael Andretti purchased the prominent Team Green and moved them to the IRL, citing shrinking fields, and Chip Ganassi Racing left due to pressure from its primary sponsor, Target.

Beginning in 2003, after the withdrawal of FedEx as series sponsor, CART re-branded itself as Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford . [30]

Champ Car

Bourdais driving a Panoz-Cosworth in 2007. Sebastien Bourdais 2007.jpg
Bourdais driving a Panoz-Cosworth in 2007.

CART, running out of cash reserves, declared bankruptcy after the 2003 season and its assets were liquidated. The IRL made a strategic bid to keep the series dormant, while a trio of CART owners (Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi, and Kevin Kalkhoven) along with Dan Pettit made a bid as Open Wheel Racing Series, LLC. The bankruptcy court ruled in favor of the OWRS bid as more beneficial to creditors than the IRL bid, despite it being smaller.

While some prominent teams, such as Team Rahal and Fernández Racing moved to the IRL for 2004, the CCWS was able to maintain a full field and most of CART's street circuit sanctioning agreements. The series would see a pitched multi-season battle between Newman/Haas Racing and Forsythe Racing, including a heated personal rivalry between three-time champion Sébastien Bourdais and veteran Canadian Paul Tracy.

The IRL began to race on road and street circuits in 2005, creating competition for the series' traditional road racing tracks, but both series began to suffer smaller fields and dismal television ratings. In 2007, with the withdrawal of Bridgestone and Ford as presenting sponsors, the official name of the top-tier series became simply the Champ Car World Series. Several races in the 2007 season were canceled before they were held. In early February 2008, the CCWS Board of Managers authorized bankruptcy. On February 22, 2008, an agreement in principle was reached that merged the Champ Car Series with the IRL. [31] The memorandum sold the CCWS's sanctioning contracts, the Champ Car Mobile Medical Unit, the series history, and goodwill to the IRL for $6 million. The document also included a non-compete agreement for Forsythe and Kalkhoven in exchange for $2 million each. [7]

The first "merged" event of the rechristened "IndyCar Series" was the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 from Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 29, 2008. Due to a scheduling conflict with the IndyCar Series' Motegi event, the CCWS Long Beach race was held on April 20, 2008 as an IRL points-paying event using the CCWS-spec Panoz DP01 cars, and was contested entirely by CCWS teams, with the event described as a final celebration of CART/CCWS.

Television

In its early years, television coverage of CART races were shared by NBC, ABC and ESPN. NBC left after the 1990 season, and returned for the 1994 Toronto race only. CBS also aired races from 1989 to 1991 and also aired the 1995 race at Nazareth. ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 continued as broadcasters until 2001.

In the 2002 and 2003 Champ Car seasons, coverage was split between CBS and Speed Channel (Fox aired the 2002 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach), while Spike TV aired the competition in 2004. Also from 2002 to 2004, select races aired on high definition channel HDNet.

In 2005 and 2006, coverage was split among NBC, CBS, and Speed Channel. In 2007, coverage was split among NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic.

Outside the United States, Eurosport aired CART and Champ Car in Europe from 1993 until its demise. In Latin America, ESPN aired CART and Fox Sports aired Champ Car.

Champions

SeasonDriverTeamChassis/Engine Cup Jim Trueman
Rookie of the Year
SCCA/CART Indy Car Series
1979 Flag of the United States.svg Rick Mears Penske Racing Penske/Cosworth Ford Flag of the United States.svg Bill Alsup
CART PPG Indy Car World Series – sanctioned by CART
1980 Flag of the United States.svg Johnny Rutherford Chaparral Racing Chaparral/Cosworth Ford Flag of Australia (converted).svg Dennis Firestone
1981 Flag of the United States.svg Rick Mears Penske Racing Penske/Cosworth Ford Flag of the United States.svg Bob Lazier
1982 Flag of the United States.svg Rick Mears Penske Racing Penske/Cosworth Ford Flag of the United States.svg Bobby Rahal
1983 Flag of the United States.svg Al Unser Penske Racing Penske/Cosworth Ford Flag of Italy.svg Teo Fabi
1984 Flag of the United States.svg Mario Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola/Cosworth Ford Flag of Colombia.svg Roberto Guerrero
1985 Flag of the United States.svg Al Unser Penske Racing March/Cosworth Ford Flag of the Netherlands.svg Arie Luyendyk
1986 Flag of the United States.svg Bobby Rahal Truesports March/Cosworth Ford Flag of the United States.svg Dominic Dobson
1987 Flag of the United States.svg Bobby Rahal Truesports Lola/Cosworth Ford Flag of Italy.svg Fabrizio Barbazza
1988 Flag of the United States.svg Danny Sullivan Penske Racing Penske/Chevrolet Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg John Jones
1989 Flag of Brazil.svg Emerson Fittipaldi Patrick Racing Penske/Chevrolet Flag of Mexico.svg Bernard Jourdain
1990 Flag of the United States.svg Al Unser, Jr. Galles-Kraco Racing Lola/Chevrolet Flag of the United States.svg Eddie Cheever
1991 Flag of the United States.svg Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola/Chevrolet Flag of the United States.svg Jeff Andretti
1992 Flag of the United States.svg Bobby Rahal Rahal/Hogan Racing Lola/Chevrolet Flag of Sweden.svg Stefan Johansson
1993 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Nigel Mansell Newman/Haas Racing Lola/Cosworth Ford Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Nigel Mansell
1994 Flag of the United States.svg Al Unser, Jr. Penske Racing Penske/Ilmor Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Jacques Villeneuve
1995 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Jacques Villeneuve Team Green Racing Reynard/Cosworth Ford Flag of Brazil.svg Gil de Ferran
1996 Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Vasser Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard/Honda Flag of Italy.svg Alex Zanardi
PPG CART World Series – sanctioned by CART
1997 Flag of Italy.svg Alex Zanardi Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard/Honda Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Patrick Carpentier
FedEx Championship Series – sanctioned by CART
1998 Flag of Italy.svg Alex Zanardi Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard/Honda Flag of Brazil.svg Tony Kanaan
1999 Flag of Colombia.svg Juan Pablo Montoya Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard/Honda Flag of Colombia.svg Juan Pablo Montoya
2000 Flag of Brazil.svg Gil de Ferran Penske Racing Reynard/Honda Flag of Sweden.svg Kenny Bräck
2001 Flag of Brazil.svg Gil de Ferran Penske Racing Reynard/Honda Flag of New Zealand.svg Scott Dixon
2002 Flag of Brazil.svg Cristiano da Matta Newman/Haas Racing Lola/Toyota Flag of Mexico.svg Mario Domínguez
Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford – sanctioned by CART
2003 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Paul Tracy Player's/Forsythe Racing Lola/Cosworth Ford Flag of France.svg Sébastien Bourdais
Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford – sanctioned by OWRS
2004 Flag of France.svg Sébastien Bourdais Newman/Haas Racing Lola/Cosworth Ford Flag of the United States.svg A. J. Allmendinger
2005 Flag of France.svg Sébastien Bourdais Newman/Haas Racing Lola/Cosworth Ford Flag of Germany.svg Timo Glock
2006 Flag of France.svg Sébastien Bourdais Newman/Haas Racing Lola/Cosworth Ford Flag of Australia (converted).svg Will Power
Champ Car World Series – sanctioned by OWRS
2007 Flag of France.svg Sébastien Bourdais Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Panoz/Cosworth Flag of the Netherlands.svg Robert Doornbos
2008 After "unification", Champ Car sanctioned a race at Long Beach where drivers scored points towards IndyCar title

By team

TeamChampionshipsLast
Flag of the United States.svg Penske Racing 92001
Flag of the United States.svg Newman/Haas Racing 82007
Flag of the United States.svg Chip Ganassi Racing 41999
Flag of the United States.svg Truesports 21987
Flag of the United States.svg Chaparral Racing 11980
Flag of the United States.svg Galles-Kraco Racing 11990
Flag of the United States.svg Team Green Racing 11995
Flag of the United States.svg Rahal/Hogan 11992
Flag of the United States.svg Patrick Racing 11989
Flag of the United States.svg Player's/Forsythe Racing 12003

Fatalities

Four drivers died in CART-sanctioned events:

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References

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  17. 1 2 "The writing was on the wall long ago". ESPN.com. 2001-04-29. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
  18. Cup drivers identify with CART brethren
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See also