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CART history

By Times staf

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2003


1978

Eighteen car owners seek more control over the sport and form CART to sanction races. The U.S. Auto Club, which had governed America's premier Indy-car series, had just one car owner on its 21-member board.

1979

CART stages its first race at Phoenix International Raceway with Gordon Johncock winning by one second over Rick Mears.

Mears wins the first series championship.

1982

Mears wins his third series title and second in a row.

1983

Paul Newman and Carl Haas form Newman-Haas racing and lure 1978 Formula One champion Mario Andretti to drive.

1984

Andretti wins the series title, becoming the first driver with both CART and F1 championships.

1985

Al Unser Sr. wins the title by one point over his son, Little Al.

1986

Bobby Rahal wins the championship and becomes the first driver to surpass $1-million in single-season earnings.

1989

Emerson Fittipaldi joins Andretti as a former Formula One champion who wins the CART title.

CART restructures its board of directors.

1991

CART holds its first international event, racing in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

1992

CART institutes a seven-member board that includes Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George as a non-voting member.

Rahal becomes the only owner/driver to win the title, his third championship.

1993

Rather than defend his Formula One championship, Nigel Mansell switches to CART and wins the series title.

After 18 months, CART ends the seven-member board and returns to a team-owner based board.

1996

CART stages the U.S. 500 as a competitor to the Indianapolis 500 because George reserved most of the spots at Indy for drivers in his new Indy Racing League. Jimmy Vasser wins the event and its $1-million prize.

1997

Mauricio Gugelmin records the first 240 mph lap in history at California Speedway.

1998

CART becomes a publicly traded company, offering stock under the ticker symbol MPH. With proceeds from the stock offering, CART purchases smaller racing series to serve as a feeder program.

Rahal retires as a driver.

1999

Juan Montoya and Dario Franchitti finish the season tied for the points championship. Montoya is awarded the title on a tiebreaker because he won seven races to Franchitti's three.

2000

Gil de Ferran sets a closed-course world record with a qualifying lap of 241.426 mph at California Speedway. He also wins the season title.

Chip Ganassi becomes the first CART owner to return his team to the Indianapolis 500 since the IRL was formed. Montoya, driving for Ganassi, wins the race.

Rahal becomes interim CEO, believed to be the first time a former athlete is named head of a major sports league.

2001

More CART teams return to the Indianapolis 500, including Team Penske, whose drivers Helio Castroneves and de Ferran finish first and second.

Alex Zanardi loses both legs in a crash at the American Memorial Grand Prix in Lausitz, Germany. CART's medical team is lauded for its response, saving Zanardi's life.

CART announces plans to change to non-turbocharged engines and use chassis similar to those in the IRL beginning in 2003.

At the urging of sponsor Marlboro, Roger Penske announces his team will leave CART for the IRL in 2002.

CART announces plans to race in St. Petersburg in 2003.

Chris Pook, longtime head of the successful Grand Prix of Long Beach, becomes CART's president and CEO. He is the fourth head of the company in less than two years.

2002

CART moves its headquarters from Troy, Mich., to Indianapolis.

CART reverses its engine decision and announces it will stay with turbocharged engines.

Cristiano da Matta ties a series record with four consecutive victories on his way to winning the title. He then leaves for the Toyota F1 team.

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