Teddy Mayer, a remarkable man, passes away

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Edward Everett "Teddy" Mayer died on January 30, 2009, at his home in England, a sad loss to those in the racing community who knew him personally and those who knew of his accomplishments. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on September 8, 1935,...

Edward Everett "Teddy" Mayer died on January 30, 2009, at his home in England, a sad loss to those in the racing community who knew him personally and those who knew of his accomplishments. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on September 8, 1935, Mayer became one of the most successful team managers and owners in Formula One, IndyCars (CART) and the former Can-Am Series.

His career path in motorsports actually started while he was a law student at Cornell and working with his younger brother, Tim Mayer, who had returned to the USA after a stint in the US Armed Forces. The younger Mayer graduated from Yale and ventured into auto racing overseas, honing his craft as a racing driver.

Mayer received his degree from Cornell in 1962, following on his earlier degree from Yale, before his move to Europe to work with his younger brother Timmy and Peter Revson. After the loss of his brother two years later, in a racing accident in Tasmania, Mayer stayed in motorsports.

Mayer's own career took off like a rocket, with Mayer helping Bruce McLaren in the formation of the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing team for the 1966 F1 championship season, and managing the team jointly with McLaren.

When McLaren died in 1970, testing a Can-Am car at the Goodwood Circuit in England, Mayer stayed with the team, and under his direction in 1974, he led the team to their first F1 constructors' title with a Ford Cosworth DFV powerplant -- and team driver Fittipaldi earned the drivers' championship.

Even with F1 on their agenda, the team found time to compete in American open-wheel IndyCar (USAC and later CART) series, and was one of the top teams in Can-Am. In 1976, they pulled a double victory, with Johnny Rutherford winning the Indianapolis 500 and James Hunt taking the F1 driver's championship.

After that, though, the team gradually began to struggle in both series, and pulled out from CART after the 1979 season to focus on Formula One.

Less than a year later, McLaren was still struggling, and both the team's drivers -- John Watson and F1 rookie Alain Prost -- were shut out from podium positions throughout the season.

With the situation not improving, the team's main sponsor, Philip Morris, engineered a merger between Mayer's McLaren and Ron Dennis' Project Four team, which was on its way to winning its second consecutive Formula 2 championship.

Mayer stayed with McLaren, managing it jointly with Dennis, until 1982. With Dennis having bought out his shares, he then returned to Indy-style racing under the Mayer Motor Racing name based in England.

He formed the team with Tyler Alexander, who had also sold his McLaren shares to Dennis. Tom Sneva and Howdy Holmes were named as the team's drivers and they came close to taking the title in 1984, Sneva ending second by only one point after Mario Andretti took the win in the season finale.

He returned to F1 in 1985 in partnership with Alexander and Carl Haas, entering one car for Alan Jones for four races in preparation for a full campaign in 1986. With Jones joined by Patrick Tambay in 1986, the team showed promise, finishing 4th and 5th in the Austrian Grand Prix. However, the team's primary sponsor, Beatrice, pulled out at the end of the season, and the team was forced to close its doors.

Roger Penske brought Mayer back to CART following a one-year self-imposed hiatus. Mayer held the position of Vice-Chairman of Penske's racing endeavors through the 1990s. He remained in a consulting role with Penske after leaving the full-time role with the organization.

The magic between Penske and Mayer was noted in the first year; Danny Sullivan earned the 1988 championship while Rick Mears won the Indianapolis 500. In 1991, Mears earned his fourth Indy 500 victory. Fittipaldi took the Indy 500 win in 1993 and one year later, Al Unser Jr. earned the CART title plus handed Penske his 10th Indy 500 win. Gil de Ferran was the next of the talented pool of racers under Penske and in 2000, he delivered his first championship, a feat he repeated in 2001.

The team's success at Indianapolis was highlighted by three consecutive Indy 500 wins: Castroneves in 2001 and 2002, and de Ferran in 2003. Penske moved his team to the Indy Racing League's IndyCar series for the 2002 season, and in 2006, Sam Hornish Jr. won the title and the Indy 500.

Mayer's son Tim has followed in his father's footsteps into racing, and is currently the chief operating officer of IMSA and the American Le Mans Series, and a vice-president of ACCUS.

For those of us who had the honor to meet Mayer, two things stand out: his sense of humor and his ability to include anyone he saw at a race track with a warm hand-shake or a smile as he greeted them, be it a volunteer worker to the drivers to team owners and series chiefs.

It is with great sadness that we reflect on the remarkable racing icon but it is with a great deal of respect that we remember who he was and the type of person he showed to the world.

Our sympathy is extended to his son, Tim and his daughter Anne.

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Series F1 , INDYCAR , GENERAL
Article type Obituaries

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