CHAMPCAR/CART: Banquet Report

Zanardi, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honored At CART Awards Banquet Target/Chip Ganassi racing topped off three years of spectacular success. Fontana, CA (November 3, 1998) - It was an emotional - and a lucrative - evening...

Zanardi, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honored At CART Awards Banquet

Target/Chip Ganassi racing topped off three years of spectacular success.

Fontana, CA (November 3, 1998) - It was an emotional - and a lucrative - evening for Alex Zanardi and Target Chip Ganassi Racing Monday at the annual CART Awards Banquet at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

Zanardi, who won seven races en route to capturing the FedEx Championship Series title more quickly than any other driver in 20 seasons of Champ Car racing, picked up his $1 million bonus from PPG Industries to end the evening. His teammate, Jimmy Vasser, fresh off Sunday's $1 million win in the Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota at California Speedway, collected his $500,000 season-ending bonus for finishing second in the points standings. Dario Franchitti, the hottest driver in the final half of the Champ Car season, took home $300,000 for finishing third. Positions four through 10 also were recognized during the evening.

Of course, much of the program was spent honoring Bobby Rahal, who retired Sunday after 17 seasons of racing. Rahal, who won 24 times in his career while taking home three PPG Cups, was inducted into the CART Champion's Club along with 1989 CART champion Emerson Fittipaldi, who will serve as the promoter of CART's Rio 400 beginning in 1999, and Hiro Matsushita, who retired this season.

The banquet was hosted by television personality Roy Firestone and saw more than 1,110 people in attendance at the hotel on the fringes of Beverly Hills.

Other awards included the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Award, which went to Tony Kanaan; the CART Manufacturers Cup, which was presented to Honda; the Constructors Cup, which went to Reynard; the PPG Best Use of Color and Design Award, which was won by the Pacwest Racing Hollywood Reynard Mercedes driven by Mauricio Gugelmin; and the Nation's Cup, which went to the United States.

Zanardi was very emotional in many of his remarks, talking long and eloquently about his crew. He concluded his part of the program by recounting his special relationship with Vasser and giving him a huge hug in a very emotional moment. He closed by talking passionately about his family - wife Daniela, and recently born son Niccolo, and said he misses them very much and added he cannot not wait to get back to Europe where he looks forward to getting up in the middle of the night to calm his baby boy's cries.

The CART family now takes a break before getting its season started again February 2 at Homestead, Fla., with its annual Spring Training.

Source: CART Online

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing