The Newman/Haas glory days cover three
decades, five dominant drivers and eight
championships, but picking out the best
season from so many is tough.
Co-team founder Mario Andretti
delivered the first win and first pole in
1983, but the following year reaped the
first championship, along with eight poles
and six victories as Tony Cicale and Nigel
Bennett revamped the Lola.
At the start of the 1990s, Michael
Andretti took over as the front man,
winning 32 races in two stints with the
team. His 1991 championship included
eight Ws, eight poles and 965 laps led.
With Michael bound for F1 in 1993 (a
brief and unhappy detour), Nigel Mansell
headed the other way, taking his seat and
garnering five wins and the 1993 title.
Fast forward a few seasons and Cristiano
da Matta opened NHR’s account in the new
century with a seven-win title in ’02, before
Sebastien Bourdais took over.
With the open-wheel war still raging,
Bourdais reeled off four consecutive Champ
Car crowns (2004-’07), while racking up 28
everything but indy...
victories. In ’07, he scored eight wins and six
poles in 14 starts in the final split season
before Champ Car and the IRL called a truce.
But what’s almost as impressive as the
107 wins and eight titles for Newman/Haas
Racing are the ones that got away.
Mario had almost a two-lap lead at
Indianapolis in 1987 with the latest Lola
engineered by Adrian Newey before it
broke down, and he also led 610 laps
season long, only to suffer 10 DNFs.
Michael led an astounding 1,136 laps in
1992 (including 160 at Indy) and scored
five wins, but wound up second in the
standings thanks to five DNFs (including
Indy with a two-lap cushion).
And, had the 1992 F1 champ been
familiar with restarts on ovals, Mansell
would have won the ’ 93 Indy 500.
“We had a lot of great seasons and
results, but the one thing we could never
give Paul and Carl was a win at
Indianapolis,” says Mario Andretti, who
also led 107 laps at Indy in 1985, only to
get beat by Penske’s Danny Sullivan.
“That was the only blemish.”
Newman/Haas Racing won eight championships and 107 races, but success at the Brickyard proved elusive.
Nigel Mansell brought the drama
in 1993. The reigning Formula 1
champ came close to winning in his
Indy 500 debut, but made amends
by taking the overall championship.
The 2002 F3000 champ moved to Champ
Car with NHR in ’03, winning three races
and Rookie of the Year in his debut season.
was already a
proven race winner
with Kraco Racing,
but joining Newman/
Haas Racing in
his father, opened
the floodgates. RM