Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tribute to Newman-Haas

Michael Andretti. Mario Andretti. Nigel Mansell. Sebastien Bourdais. Paul Tracy. Cristiano da Matta. Christian Fittipaldi. Justin Wilson. James Hinchcliffe. Graham Rahal. What do these drivers all of in common? They raced for the legendary team Newman/Haas Racing.

Legendary actor and racer Paul Newman, and racer from Chicago (woot) Carl Haas, who were both competitors in racing at one point, decided to form an Indycar team in 1983, with Mario Andretti behind the wheel (not a bad first driver at all). In only his second season with team, Mario Andretti brought home the championship, winning six out of the sixteen races that season.

With great drivers, excellent staff members, and reliable, fast equipment, Newman/Haas was always in the hunt to win races. Mario's son, Michael, who joined the team in 1989, won the title in the 1991 season. In maybe the coolest move in Indycar history, the team signed F1 legend Nigel Mansell in 1993. Nigel won five of the sixteen races in his innagural season on his way to winning the championship. He returned in 1994, but had a much tougher time, finishing eighth in the points. He then chose to leave the sport to go back to Europe. Still, those two years of Nigel in Indycar were gold.

More success followed heading into the new millennium. "The Split" created sour times for CART and Indycar, but Newman/Haas soldiered on. In 2002 with Cristiano da Matta behind the wheel, the team led the team to their fourth championship. CDM captured seven wins in the nineteen race season. Then the Sebastien Bourdais Champ Car era started, with Bourdais taking four straight titles for the team between 2004-2007. Utter domination. In his five years with the team, Bourdais won 31 races, 31 poles, and finished on the podium 44 times.

The team saw its last hoorah with Champ Car and Indycar merging back together. Wins came for both of their drivers in 2008 (Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson), but they have not won a race since. The team closed up shop in 2011 due to the economic climate that surrounds us.

I think I speak for everyone when I say we miss them. They fielded some great drivers. They employed some fine people. And they showed us how to win. They are the second most winningest team in Indycar history with 105 wins. I always hope that when I wake up in the morning and scroll through my Twitter timeline that I will see a tweet from @Indy44 saying that Newman/Haas has re-opened their doors. Maybe one day. I hope to see that soon.

So here's to one of my all favorite teams in all forms of racing, Newman/Haas. Here are the full-time drivers that drove for the storied team in chronological order:

Mario Andretti 1983-1994 (Photo: LAT)

Michael Andretti 1989-1992, 1995-2000 (Photo credit not listed)

Nigel Mansell Newman/Haas
Nigel Mansell 1993-1994 (Photo credit not listed)

Paul Tracy 1995 (Photo credit not listed)

Christian Fittipaldi - Entrevista
Christian Fittipaldi 1996-2002 (Photo: Arquivo Pessoal)

Cristiano da Matta 2001-2002 (Photo: LAT)

Sebastien Bourdais 2003-2007 (Photo: LAT)

Bruno Junqueira 2003-2006 (Photo credit not listed)

Graham Rahal - Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Graham Rahal 2007-2010 (Photo: Marc Serota)

Justin Wilson - Nikon Indy 300
Justin Wilson 2008 (Photo: Robert Cianflone)

Robert Doornbos - Suntrust Indy Challenge Practice and Qualifying
Robert Doornbos 2009 (Photo: Darrell Ingham)

Hideki Mutoh - Cafe do Brasil Indy 300 Practice and Qualifying
Hideki Mutoh 2010 (Photo: Jonathan Ferry)

Oriol Servia - Baltimore Grand Prix - Day 2
Oriol Servia 2005, 2009, and 2011 (Photo: Robert Laberge)

James Hinchcliffe - Honda Indy Toronto
James Hinchcliffe 2011 (Photo: Robert Laberge)


Cheers to Newman-Haas! We miss you guys.

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

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