American Championship car racing
American Championship car racing
American Championship 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 2017, the top-level American open wheel racing championship is sanctioned by IndyCar.
Competitive events for professional-level, single-seat open-wheel race cars have been conducted under the auspices of several different sanctioning figures since 1902. A season-long, points-based, National Championship of drivers has been officially recognized in 1905, 1916, and since 1920. The Indianapolis 500, which itself debuted in 1911, is the marquee event of Indy Car racing.
The open-wheeled, winged, single-seater cars have generally been similar to those in Formula One, however there are significant differences. The fame of the Indianapolis five hundred leads many to colloquially refer to the cars that contest on the American Championship circuit as “Indy cars.”
This form of racing has experienced high levels of popularity over the years, particularly in the post-World War II time framework. The “golden era” of the 1950s was followed by a decade of transition and innovation in the 1960s, which included enhanced international participation. The sport experienced considerable growth and exposure during the rising popularity of the CART PPG Indy Car World Series in the 1980s and early 1990s. Two organizational disputes, in one thousand nine hundred seventy nine and 1996, led to a “split” that divided the participants (and fans) among two separate sanctioning bods. However, an official unification took place in two thousand eight that brought the sport back together under one single sanctioning bod.
AAA (1902–1955) Edit
The national championship was sanctioned by the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association (AAA). The AAA very first sanctioned automobile motorsports events in 1902. At very first it used the rules of the Automobile Club of America (ACA), but it formed its own rules in 1903. It introduced the very first track season championship for racing cars in 1905. Barney Oldfield was the very first champ. No official season championship was recognized from 1906-1915, however, single races were held. Official records regard one thousand nine hundred sixteen as the next contested championship season.  [Two] Years later, retroactive titles were named back to 1902. [Three] [Four] These post-factum seasons (1902-1904, 1906-1915, and 1917-1919) are considered unofficial and revisionist history by accredited historians.
Racing did not cease in the United States during WWI, but the official national championship was suspended. The Indianapolis five hundred itself was voluntarily suspended for 1917–1918 due to the war. In 1920, the championship officially resumed, and despite the difficult economic climate that would later go after, ran continuously via the Depression. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, all auto racing was suspended during World War II. From one thousand nine hundred forty two to one thousand nine hundred forty five no events were contested, banned by the U.S. government primarily on account of rationing. Racing resumed in total in 1946. The one thousand nine hundred forty six season is unique, in that it included six Champ Car events, and seventy one “Big Car” races, as organizers were originally unassured about the availability of cars and participation.
AAA ceased participation in auto racing at the end of the one thousand nine hundred fifty five season. It cited a series of high-profile fatal accidents, namely Bill Vukovich at Indianapolis, and the Le Boy’s disaster. [Five]
Through one thousand nine hundred twenty two and again from one thousand nine hundred thirty to 1937, it was commonplace for the cars to be two-seaters, as opposed to the aforementioned standard single-seat form. The driver would be accompanied by a railing mechanic (or “mechanician”).
USAC (1956–1978) Edit
The national championship was taken over by the United States Auto Club (USAC), a fresh sanctioning assets formed by the then-owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony Hulman. Championship racing continued to grow in popularity in a stabilized environment for over two decades, with the two traditional disciplines of paved oval tracks and mess oval tracks. During the 1950s, front-engined “roadsters” became the superior cars on the paved oval tracks, while “upright” Champ Filth Cars continued to predominate on mess tracks. In the 1960s, drivers and team owners with road racing backgrounds, both American and foreign, began creeping into the series and the paved oval track cars evolved from front-engine “roadsters” to rear-engine formula-style racers. Technology, speed, and expense climbed at a rapid rate. The schedule continued to be predominated by oval tracks, but a few road course races were added to assuage the newcomers. Filth tracks were dropped from the national championship after 1970.
During the 1970s, the enhancing costs began to drive some of the traditional USAC car owners out of the sport. The superior teams became Penske, Patrick, Gurney, and McLaren, all run by people with road racing backgrounds. There was a growing dissent inbetween these teams and USAC management. Events outside of Indianapolis were suffering from low attendance, and poor promotion. The Indy five hundred was televised on a same day gauze delayed basis on ABC, however, most of the other races had little or no coverage on television.
Towards the end of the decade, the growing dissent prompted several car owners to consider creating a fresh sanctioning figure to conduct the races. Meantime, two events had a concomitant effect on the situation. Tony Hulman, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and founder of USAC, died in the fall of 1977. A few months later, eight key USAC officials were killed in a plane crash. By the end of 1978, the owners had violated away and founded Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) to wrest control of Championship racing away from USAC.
CART & USAC (1979–1981): Very first open wheel “split” Edit
Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) was formed by most of the existing team owners, with some initial assistance from the SCCA (in order to be recognized by ACCUS). Therefore, there were two national championships run each by USAC and CART. The Indianapolis five hundred remained under USAC sanction. The top teams allied to CART, and the CART championship quickly became the more prestigious national championship. USAC ran a “rump” one thousand nine hundred seventy nine season, with few name drivers — the only exception being A. J. Foyt. In 1979, USAC denied several of the entries from the CART teams at the one thousand nine hundred seventy nine Indianapolis 500. The controversy eyed a court injunction during the month, which permitted the CART-affiliated entrants to participate.
In one thousand nine hundred eighty USAC and CART jointly formed the Championship Racing League (CRL) to jointly run the national championship, but IMS management disliked the idea. USAC pulled out of the CRL arrangement in July.  CART continued with the schedule for the remainder of the season.  Both CART and USAC awarded separate national championship titles that year, and Johnny Rutherford happened to win both.
In 1981–1982, the Indianapolis five hundred remained sanctioned by USAC. The preeminent national championship was now the one being sanctioned by CART. The Indy five hundred field would consist largely of CART teams, as well as numerous independent, “Indy-only” teams. Indianapolis was not included as a points-paying round of the CART national championship. In addition, by that time USAC had designated Indianapolis an “invitational” race, suggesting entries only to invited teams. That moved to prevent the uproar over denied entries which occurred in 1979. One further race in one thousand nine hundred eighty one was run by USAC at Pocono. This race was not supported by many CART teams, and featured a mixed field packed out by converted mud track cars. USAC soon stopped sanctioning championship races outside of the Indianapolis 500.
CART & USAC (1982–1995) Edit
Stability returned and the national championship was now run by CART full-time. The Indianapolis five hundred was sanctioned singly by USAC, but points were paid towards the CART season championship. The cars and engines used in the CART races and USAC-sanctioned Indy five hundred were the same, with only relatively minor rules differences. The Indy five hundred field would consist of the CART regulars, and numerous one-off (“Indy only”) entries. On occasion, some of the “Indy only” entries also elected to participate in the Michigan five hundred and Pocono five hundred (both sanctioned by CART) given the enlargened stature and exposure of those two events.
USAC’s Gold Crown Championship continued, lodging into an unusual June through May schedule calendar. This provided that the Indianapolis five hundred would be the final race of the respective season. However, during that period, the USAC Gold Crown schedule never included more than one race (i.e., Indianapolis). As such, the winner of the Indy five hundred would automatically win the USAC Gold Crown Championship.
CART & IRL (1996–2003): 2nd open wheel “split” Edit
In 1994, Tony Hulman’s grandson, Tony George, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, founded the Indy Racing League (IRL), to begin competition in 1996. It would exist as a separate championship, and leveraged the fame of the Indianapolis 500, which was placed as its centerpiece. The CART teams interpreted the budge as a perceived “lockout”, and boycotted the one thousand nine hundred ninety six Indy five hundred as a result. It was the beginning of the 2nd open wheel “split.” Primarily, USAC sanctioned the IRL, however after officiating controversies in one thousand nine hundred ninety seven at Indianapolis and Texas, the USAC was substituted by the IRL’s in-house officiating.
CART, which had been licensing the trademarked “IndyCar” name for several seasons, subsequently entered into a legal battle with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (the trademark possessor) over the use of the moniker. Eventually a settlement was reached in which CART gave up use of the name, but the IRL in turn could not use it until 2003. CART rebranded themselves with the CART name, and began referring to their machines as Champ Cars.
CART’s existing national championship remained superior after the split for some time, originally retaining the top drivers, teams, and sponsors. In 1998, CART went public and raised $100 million USD in its stock suggesting. However, in 2000, CART teams began to comeback to the Indy 500, eventually defecting permanently to the IRL. CART also suffered negative publicity over the cancellation of the Firestone Firehawk six hundred in 2001. For 2003, it lost title sponsor FedEx and engine providers Honda and Toyota to the IRL.
IRL IndyCar Series & Champ Car World Series (2004–2007) Edit
After steadily losing teams and drivers, sponsors, and manufacturers, and after a series of major financial setbacks, CART filed for bankruptcy in 2003. The assets were purchased by a consortium called Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) in two thousand four and the series was renamed the Champ Car Open Wheel Racing Series, later renaming it to Champ Car World Series. However, the sanctioning figure continued to be plagued by financial difficulties, In 2007, CCWS’s presenting sponsors Bridgestone and Ford Motor Company withdrew and CCWS lacked the resources to climb on the two thousand eight season.
During this time, the IRL was now operating under the moniker IndyCar Series, and leisurely beginning to establish itself as the more preeminent national championship trail. In 2005, the IRL added road/street courses, and began picking up several former CART venues.
IndyCar (2008–present): Unification era Edit
Prior to the begin of the two thousand eight season, the CCWS Board authorized bankruptcy and Champ Car was absorbed into the IRL, creating a unified series for the national championship for the very first time since 1978. The unified series competed under the name IndyCar Series. The two calendars were merged into one schedule, with the top Champ Car races surviving. Some of the other races from the Champ Car schedule were dropped or put on hiatus for a few seasons.
All historical record and property of CART/CCWS was assumed by the IRL. In 2011, the sanctioning figure dropped the Indy Racing League name, becoming IndyCar to reflect the merged series. The series operated under the name IZOD IndyCar Series from 2010-2013, then became known as the Verizon IndyCar Series beginning in 2014.
Race cars participating in national championship events have been referred to by various names. Early nomenclature was to call the machines “Championship Cars,” which was later shortened to “Champ Cars.” The ambiguous term “Big Cars” was also used by some in early years; a term that reflected the machines being larger and quicker than junior formulae such as sprints and midgets. That term quickly disappeared from use and was instead largely used to describe Sprint cars. In the post-World War II era, the term “Speedway Cars” was also used, a loosely descriptive term, distinguishing the machines as those driven at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other major speedways, as opposed to those driven at smaller filth tracks, for example.
In most years since the USAC era, the term “Indy cars” (after the Indy 500) has been the preferred moniker. Apropos to that, when CART was founded in 1979, its acronym stood for Championship Auto Racing Teams, which reflected the historical use of the term “Championship Car.” Soon thereafter, CART embarked exclusively marketing itself with the two-word “Indy Car” term, advertising itself as the “CART Indy Car World Series.”
Through the 1980s, the term “Indy car” referred to machines used to challenge in events sanctioned by CART, as well as the machines rivaling in the Indianapolis five hundred (singly sanctioned by USAC). All references to the name “CART” were being increasingly discouraged as the series sought to eliminate possible confusion from casual fans with Kart racing.
In 1992, the CamelCase term “IndyCar” was trademarked by IMS, Inc. It was licensed to CART through 1997. After the inception of the IRL in 1996, the terms of the contract were voided after a lawsuit. As part of the settlement, the term was shelved by a six-year non-use agreement. Following the settlement, and the lack of direct connection to the Indianapolis 500, CART determined to revert to the former term. It re-branded itself as Champ Car and the machines were referred to as “Champ cars.”
Complicating the situation resulting from the open-wheel split, Champ Car races held outside the United States were still permitted to use the Indy moniker (e.g., Molson Indy Toronto and Lexmark Indy 300). Foreign venue promoters took advantage of the marketing power of the Indy five hundred name for their events, even however the Champ Car series they were promoting no longer had any ties to that race. The exceptions created confusion, and Champ Car step by step phased out the usage to distance itself further from the IRL.
After the settlement expired in 2003, the IndyCar term was brought back. The top level of the Indy Racing League was re-branded as the “IndyCar Series.” The machines in the series were also referred to as “Indy cars.” Despite the official acknowledgment, media and fans alike would proceed to use the term “IRL” to describe the series, and to a lesser extent, “IRL cars” to describe the machines. Removing the “IRL” term from use proved difficult.
With two series (IndyCar and Champ Car) still challenging separately, the umbrella term “Open Wheel Cars” witnessed enlargened use during the split and post-split era. Many drivers during the era competed in both series at one time or another. The term was mostly used as a way to combine a driver’s career accomplishments without being series/machine specific.
In 2008, when Champ Car merged into the Indy Racing League, the term “Champ Car” was abandoned, and all open wheel racing fell under the “IndyCar” name once again. On January 1, 2011, the name “Indy Racing League” (and “IRL”) was officially abandoned, with the sanctioning figure re-branded as IndyCar.
At very first, American and European open-wheel racing were not distinct disciplines. Races on both continents were mostly point-to-point races, and large ovals tracks emerged on both continents. But in America, racing took off at horse-race tracks and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while in Europe, racing from point to point and around large circuits gained in popularity. Grand Prix racing (which became Formula One) and rally racing then diverged in Europe. Formula One was established after World War II as the World Championship for road racing, and F1 cars became increasingly specialized and high-tech.
In the 1960s, road racing gained popularity in North America, and Formula One-style design ideas switched IndyCars, which until then had all been classic-styled front-engined roadsters. When North America’s road racing championship, Can-Am Challenge, collapsed in the 1970s, the IndyCars were ready to pack the void. IndyCar was a combination road- and oval-racing championship from this time until the Split. Compared to F1 cars, IndyCars were partly specialized for oval-racing: they were larger and had other safety features, [ citation needed ] and were designed to run at the higher speeds necessary for oval racing. Because IndyCars were usually “customer” cars that the teams purchased from constructors, and because of rules to contain costs, they were considerably less expensive than F1 cars, each model of which was designed by the team that used it. After the Split in the 1990s, CART maintained the old formula while the IRL drifted toward the “spec” design that has been the only IndyCar model since two thousand three (which switched in 2012, with specialized aero kits available embarking in 2015).
As engine formulas have switched, and as engine technology has developed over time, F1 cars and IndyCars have each produced more power than the other at different times. But for the foreseeable future, F1 cars will have considerably more power than the spec IndyCar.
Alex Zanardi, who drove both in F1 and CART, said that the lighter, naturally aspirated F1 car was more responsive and accelerated off the turns quicker, while the turbocharged CART car was more stable and accelerated to top speed quicker.
There is debate on which series is more requesting, [ citation needed ] . Some point out that champions that retired from F1 have won CART championships, and that drivers that did not excel in F1 have continued their careers and succeeded in IndyCar, while successful IndyCar drivers have attempted but failed to get a seat in even a low level Formula One team. In fact, since IndyCar’s heyday in the 1990s, the difference inbetween the money and attention spent on IndyCar and on F1 has become more pronounced. Others, [ who? ] argue that IndyCar is more requiring because the cars are more difficult to drive as they do not treat as well, IndyCar races on both road/street courses as well as high-speed ovals, as well as the similarity inbetween the cars places more requests on the drivers and engineers to come up with competitive car setups rather than simply having better equipment.
Caution periods are also done differently in Formula One and IndyCars. Largely because of IndyCar’s oval-racing heritage, incidents that leave a hazard on or near the track always draw a full-course caution period. Because the entire field of cars gathers behind the leader for each restart, IndyCars that have fallen back in the field can earn a chance to challenge the leaders by making strategic pit stops. IndyCar-style caution periods also force the leader to withstand a possible challenge with every restart. By contrast, caution periods are usually only called in F1 for hazards on the track itself, so F1 drivers are by comparison more likely to be judged by their lap driving capability alone than by their pit strategy or aggression during restarts. However, with a latest switch in racing tyre for F1, pit strategies have played a much larger role in more latest races and have contributed to a more varying and unpredictable race.
Open-wheel cars Edit
- “Indy car” is a generic name for championship open wheel auto racing in the United States. “Indy car” primarily described an open-wheel car that participated in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. Originally, the cars were generally referred to as “Championship cars”. However, as the result of the genre’s fundamental link to Indianapolis, many people began to use the Indy car name in order to differentiate the Indianapolis-style open-wheel cars from other types of open-wheel cars, such as those used inFormula One.
- In general, Indy cars of both CART and IndyCar are slower on street and road courses, being less expensive and technology-centric platforms than their Formula One counterparts. This was even the case during the CART PPG era during the mid to late 1990s. Presently, with the bid to keep costs down around teams, a competitive Indy car team like Newman/Haas Racing operates on approximately US$20 Million per season, while the McLaren-Mercedes F1 team has an annual budget of US$400 million.  In particular, the Formula One chassis was required to be built by their respective team/constructor, whereas an Indy car chassis could be purchased. The dominance of a select few manufacturers has essentially turned the IndyCar Series into a spec series. CART/CCWS became a spec series more intentionally for cost savings purposes.
Racing description Edit
- Indy car racing historically tended to take place on high speed ovals, while Formula One used primarily permanent road courses. Recently, however, Champ Car had no oval tracks for the two thousand seven season which was its last, while the IRL added street courses to what was originally an all-oval series, and presently IndyCar has a almost equal balance of ovals and non-ovals. Recently, however, IndyCar has seen fewer ovals on its schedule than non-ovals.
- Indy car racing was predominated by North American drivers until the 1990s, which spotted incursions from European and South American drivers. This led to Tony George forming the IRL in order to promote American drivers. Conversely, American drivers have never found superb success in Formula One since the 1970s, the last American drivers’ champ and race winner was Mario Andretti (who was born in Europe).
- Due partly to the lack of American drivers, Formula One has struggled to establish itself in that market, at certain years not having a United States Grand Prix on the calendar (before the comeback of F1 to the United States in 2012,  the most latest was from two thousand to 2007). In a parallel, CART/CCWS/IRL has made little headway outside of the United States and Canada, even however it regularly has a handful of tracks around the world.
The American National Championship is notable for the broad multitude of racetracks it has used compared to other series, such as Formula One and the various forms of Stamina sports car racing. The mainstays of the championship are as go after:
Until one thousand nine hundred seventy the championship frequently raced on filth and clay tracks, but all such tracks were liquidated permanently by USAC before the one thousand nine hundred seventy one season.
From one thousand nine hundred fifteen to one thousand nine hundred thirty one board tracks were frequently used for championship races, however safety concerns and cost of maintenance, especially with the onset of the Fine Depression, and almost all were demolished in the 1930s.
The Pikes Peak Hillclimb was a round of the championship in the years 1947—1955 and 1965—1969.
In one thousand nine hundred nine a point-to-point race from Los Angeles to Phoenix was included in the championship.
Airport runways have also been used to create makeshift circuits. The most notable used for open wheel racing was the Cleveland Grand Prix at Burke Lakefront Airport. St. Pete and Edmonton also utilize airport runways for parts of the course, however, they lead back to streets for the rest of the lap.
Events outside of the United States Edit
For the majority of the National Championship, the races have been held inwards the United States. American championship cars raced at the Monza oval in one thousand nine hundred fifty seven and one thousand nine hundred fifty eight alongside Formula One and sports cars in the non-championship Race of Two Worlds. [Ten] Also, in one thousand nine hundred sixty six there was a non-championship USAC race at Fuji Speedway in Japan. The very first championship events outside of the U.S. took place in one thousand nine hundred sixty seven at Mosport and Saint-Jovite in Canada. In 1971, the USAC season-opening race was held at Rafaela. In the autumn of 1978, two races were held in England, the very first at Silverstone, then a week later at Brands Hatch.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, CART expanded across North America, venturing into Mexico (Mexico City) and Canada (Sanair, Toronto and Vancouver). In the 1990s and early 2000s, international expansion reached overseas with events at Surfer’s Paradise, Rio de Janeiro, Motegi, Lausitz, and Rockingham.
Towards the end of its run, Champ Car ran races at European tracks such as TT Circuit Assen and Zolder Circuit, intentionally scheduled in regions and dates that would not challenge with Formula One.
Astor Cup Edit
In two thousand eleven IndyCar revived the Astor Cup, very first awarded in one thousand nine hundred fifteen as the series championship trophy. A black granite base has been added displaying the names of all the American Championship car racing series winners since 1909.
Vanderbilt Cup Edit
The 1916, one thousand nine hundred thirty six and one thousand nine hundred thirty seven Vanderbilt Cup races were included in the National Championship. The 1909–1915 races were retrospectively added to the championship in 1926. CART resurrected the Cup in one thousand nine hundred ninety six as the winner’s trophy for the US500 race. When that race was discontinued in 2000, the Cup switched roles and became the championship trophy. Champ Car retained the rights to use the trophy after CART’s bankruptcy, but use of the trophy was discontinued after Champ Car’s merger with the Indy Racing League.
From its inception in 1911, the Indianapolis five hundred has been considered the marquee event of Championship/Indy Car racing. The race has been held every year from 1911-2016, with the exception of 1917-1918 (World War I) and 1942-1945 (World War II). The Indianapolis five hundred has been part of an official National Championship in 1916, 1920-1941, and 1946-2016. In the years from 1911-1915, as well as 1919, the race was held, but it was not affixed to an officially recognized national championship.
Winning the Indianapolis five hundred has frequently been considered at near or equal profile to winning the National Championship. However, direct comparisons are difficult as many of the national champions are also Indy five hundred winners in their own right. In many instances, drivers have won both the five hundred and the championship in the same calendar year.
During the very first USAC/CART open wheel “split,” which encompasses the period from 1979-1995, the status of the Indianapolis five hundred as part of the National Championship switched somewhat. The Indy five hundred was sanctioned by USAC, and during that time, was officially part of the USAC Gold Crown Championship calendar. However, the bulk of the field was CART-based teams and drivers. The Indy five hundred paid points to the CART title in one thousand nine hundred seventy nine and 1980, but did not count towards the CART title in one thousand nine hundred eighty one and 1982. By 1983, an arrangement was made such that the Indy five hundred would proceed to be sanctioned singly by USAC, but be it would be recognized on the CART schedule, and pay championship points towards the CART title.
Beginning in 1996, the Indianapolis five hundred became part of the fresh Indy Racing League championship. All ties to the CART championship were severed. It was beginning of the 2nd open wheel “split.” In 2008, when the two series unified as IndyCar, ending the “split,” the Indianapolis five hundred was now part of the unified IndyCar national championship.