Champ Car Series

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on What wasthe Champ Car Series? This is meant be be a historial document since Champ Car basically went out of existance when they merged with IRL.

Comparison with Formula One car
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Learn more: ChampCar, 5350 Lakeview Parkway South Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46268 or 317.715.4100 or fax at 317.715.4110.

Champ Car, a shortened form of "Championship Car", was the name for a class of cars used in American Championship Car Racing for many decades. It was also the common name for the Champ Car World Series, an Open Wheel World Championship mainly based in North America that was formerly known as CART, or Championship Auto Racing Teams. The series was formerly known as the CART PPG IndyCar World Series and the CART FedEx Championship Series. CART was founded in November 1978 by Roger Penske, Pat Patrick, Dan Gurney, and several other team owners who had been participating in USAC events involving cars known as Champ Cars and IndyCars. They oversaw the day-to-day business and sanctioning of Champ Car racing at locations that today include the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia. The Champ Car organization runs the Champ Car World Series and the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. Champ Car also operated the Trans-Am Series in a cooperative agreement with SCCA Pro Racing from 2003 until 2005 before dropping it in November of 2005.

Comparison with Formula One car

A Champ Car is a single seater (commonly called open wheel) racing car. For much of their history Champ Cars have been similar to Formula One cars, although there have traditionally been several key differences between the two.

For many years Champ Cars were also called "Indy Cars" after the Indianapolis 500. However, since 1996 they have not run at the Indianapolis 500 as that race became part of the separate Indy Racing League which uses different specifications for its cars. The term IndyCar is now trademarked to the IRL in the United States, but Champ Car races in Australia and Canada may continue to bear the Indy name.

In November of 2005, Molson Canada transferred control of the Molson Indy Toronto to the Grand Prix Association of Toronto, which is owned by Champ Car series principals Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe. The Toronto race, one of the most popular and prestigious on the Champ Car circuit, is now known as the Molson Champ Car Grand Prix of Toronto.

In February of 2006, the Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by U.S. Bank (formerly owned by Champ Car) was bought out by Mi-Jack Conquest Racing under the ownership of Michael Lanigan. Mi-Jack is recognized as an industry leader and innovator in Travelift rubber tire gantry crane manufacturing, sales, service and support. It also became the owner of the Grand Prix of Houston in 2006.


Nigel Mansell racing in a Champ Car in 1993In 1909 the American Automobile Association (AAA) established the national driving championship and became the first sanctioning body for auto racing in the United States. In 1956, the United States Automobile Club (USAC) was founded to take over sanctioning from the AAA which ceased sanctioning auto racing in the general outrage over motor racing safety that followed the Pierre Levegh disaster at Le Mans Sarthe. USAC controlled the championship until 1979. In that year, CART began operating its own competing series, which quickly became dominant.

The split away from USAC in 1979 was spurred by a group of activist car owners who had grown disenchanted with what they saw as an inept sanctioning body. Complaining of poor promotion and small purses, this group coalesced around Dan Gurney, who, in early 1978, wrote what came to be known as the "Gurney White Paper", the blueprint for an organization called Championship Auto Racing Teams. Gurney took his inspiration from the improvements Bernie Ecclestone had forced on Formula 1 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, doing the job where the sanctioning body wouldn't. The group would also work to negotiate television rights 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 demands to USAC's board and were turned down flat. This rejection turned disenchantment into defiance. In 1979, the rebel team owners laid plans to run CART, their own racing series, competing with the established USAC National Championship. The new series quickly gained the support of the vast majority of USAC Champ Car team and track owners, with the only notable holdout being A.J. Foyt.

As the morning of March 11, 1979 dawned, the open-wheel landscape had been transformed. The formerly all-powerful USAC was left with a slim, hodge-podge schedule of seven races, while CART could lay claim to the sport's notable drivers and tracks—except Foyt and Indianapolis. On that day, CART—sanctioned then by the Sports Car Club of America—dropped the green flag on its very first race, the Arizona Republic/Jimmy Bryan 150 at Phoenix International Raceway. Gordon Johncock would claim the checkered flag, but it was Rick Mears who would go on to capture the inaugural CART championship. USAC's competing championship was dominated by Foyt, but it would be the last National Championship for both the driver and the sanctioning body, as USAC relented at the end of the season and folded its National Championship Trail.

Champ Car, like its predecessor USAC, was dominated by North American drivers until the 1990s. Many road-racing stars, including Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, and Danny Sullivan found success in the then-PPG IndyCar World Series. After former F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi won the series title in 1989, the floodgates of talented South American and European drivers began to open. These pilots discovered that competing in Champ Car could often be more lucrative than an average career in F1 and consequently there was an increased presence of non US drivers (from mainly F1 and the European Formula 3000).

After British driving star Nigel Mansell's successful battle with Emerson Fittipaldi for the 1993 World Championship, a lot of people interpreted his victory as evidence of the superiority of non-US drivers. This, combined with CART's move to include more road racing on the schedule, led to a split of the series after the 1995 season due to a dispute between egos at CART and Tony George, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. George went on to form a new racing series, the Indy Racing League (IRL), which initially included an all-oval schedule, all races on US soil, and mostly American drivers.


Champ Car garage area, Brands Hatch, 2003A Champ Car has a Ford (Cosworth) turbocharged, 2.65 litre (162 in³) displacement V8 engine, fuelled by methanol to produce about 650 kW (850 horsepower). It has a top speed of about 390 km/h (240 mph). The car is 4.8 to 5.1 m (190 to 199 inches) long, weighs 700 kg (1,550 pounds), and sits on a 3.0 to 3.2 m (120 to 126 inch) wheelbase.


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