The end of an amazing five-year run. Bourdais celebrates his 31st and final win with Newman/Haas at Mexico city in ’07, having already clinched his fourth title.
in 2011. “What more can you say? They
were the best.”
Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson scored
a win apiece when U. S. open-wheel racing
unified in 2008, despite all the ex-Champ
Car teams’ unfamiliarity with the Dallara
chassis. That says it all about the quality
of the NHR operation. At Indy in May,
Newman, who was dying of cancer, sat
on the pit wall and chuckled: “We’re
going to win this race some day. Probably
not in my lifetime, but we’ll do it.”
It didn’t happen. PLN died four months
later and Carl’s failing health has kept him
away from the track the past two years.
His wife Bernie called the shots and paid
the bills before finally pulling the plug
on the IndyCar program in November.
Last year, James Hinchcliffe was Indycar’s
rookie of the Year and Oriol servia finished
fourth in the title race. Yet even those results
weren’t enough to attract strong sponsorship.
34 FEBRUARY 2012 racer.com
With both Penske and Ganassi having quit CART for the
Indy Racing League at the end of 2001 and ’02, respectively,
Newman/Haas became almost peerless in the rebranded
Champ Car World Series. Reigning Formula 3000 champion
Bourdais scored three wins in his rookie year and, despite
strong opposition from Paul Tracy, AJ Allmendinger, Justin
Wilson, and Will Power, as well as Forsythe Racing, RuSPORT
and Walker Racing, Seb and NHR then crushed the
opposition with four straight titles and 28 more victories.
I had is that Dad or I couldn’t get them a win in the Indy 500.”
Coffeen says the team setup was perfect. “Bernie ran the
business, Carl ran the team and Paul stayed in the background
but did so many things that nobody knew about. I have nothing
but great memories working for those people. It was a pleasure.”
The patriarch of the Andretti family, who had a two-lap lead
at Indy in ’87 before the engine blew, embraces the fact his 12
years with Newman/Haas were some of the best days of his career.
“Paul really got into racing and always wanted to do whatever it
took to be successful,” says Mario, “and what I really liked about
Carl is that he’s 100 percent racer. It was his only interest and he
was in the shop every day. When it came to the key factors, the
important things, he spared nothing. I always appreciated that.”
Oriol Servia cherished his three tours of duty with NHR –
2005, ’09 and ’ 11 – and marveled at how things never changed.
“If you wanted anything for the car to make it faster, they
would do it,” says the man who finished second in points in
Champ Car in ’05, and fourth in IndyCar this past year, in what
proved to be NHR’s last hurrah. “They made you work very
hard, but they worked even harder for you, and everybody
pushed together. You never found yourself fighting anybody
else going in the other direction. A true team. In fact,
Newman/Haas Racing was the dream team for every driver.”