DETROIT (October 10, 2000) - The most illustrious group of Champ Car legends and CART champions has been assembled to celebrate the sport's rich heritage during the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at California Speedway and the...
DETROIT (October 10, 2000) - The most illustrious group of Champ Car legends and CART champions has been assembled to celebrate the sport's rich heritage during the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at California Speedway and the FedEx Championship Series Awards Banquet in Los Angeles.
The stellar group consists of 17 of the sport's greatest stars who have combined for 19 CART series championships, 26 Indianapolis 500 titles, 9 USAC championships and 406 career Champ Car triumphs. Those expected to attend the festivities include Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Wally Dallenbach, Emerson Fittipaldi, Dan Gurney, Gordon Johncock, Rick Mears, Juan Montoya, Bobby Rahal, Johnny Rutherford, Danny Sullivan, Al Unser, Al Unser Jr., Bobby Unser, Jimmy Vasser, Rodger Ward and Alex Zanardi.
The Champ Car legends will be honored throughout the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota race week of Oct. 26-Oct. 29 as well as the FedEx Championship Series Awards Banquet on Monday, Oct. 30 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
"This is an excellent opportunity for us to honor and show our appreciation to the legends who have helped carry the sport to where it stands today,'' said Mike Zizzo, CART Group Manager of Competition Public Relations. "We look forward to the legends renewing old friendships, starting new ones among the CART community and giving fans a thrill of a lifetime. This should be a dream come true for the Champ Car fans attending the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota since they will have the opportunity to meet many of the greatest drivers our sport has to offer in a single weekend. I would like to thank Philip Morris, Toyota and California Speedway in partnering with CART in this program to celebrate the heroes of our sport."
The legends, who will be available for media interviews and photo opportunities throughout the weekend, will be featured on a free commemorative poster and participate in a special free Legends Autograph Session on Saturday, Oct. 28, at California Speedway. The session will be held from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. at the Toyota tent opposite Gate 16 on the grandstand side of the speedway. The Legends also will participate in Sunday's pre-race ceremonies as well as the pre-race Heritage car parade.
All of the legends will be acknowledged as special guests at the FedEx Championship Series Awards Banquet the evening following the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota. All former CART champions also will participate in a special on-stage segment of the crowning of the new champion known as the "Legacy of Champions". Each former champion will be introduced, honored with a video clip and share in the coronation of the new 2000 champion.
The illustrious group of attendees is paced by two of the most world-renowned and versatile drivers in history, Mario Andretti and Gurney. Andretti, acknowledged as racing's greatest driver of all time, enjoyed his most prolific career in Champ Cars. He owns four series championships - the 1984 CART crown and USAC titles in 1965, '66 and '69 - as well as a victory in the 1969 Indianapolis 500. He holds the Champ Car all-time records for starts (407), pole positions (67) and laps led (7,587) and ranks second all time in victories with 52. He enhanced his legendary status with a Formula One championship in 1978, Daytona 500 triumph in 1967 and by helping Ferrari to the 1972 World Manufacturers Championship in sports car competition.
Gurney, one of the founders of CART and former series team owner of All American Racers, earned seven wins and 10 poles in his Champ Car career, but was heralded for his ability to win in any type of car. Gurney won 37 races in 10 countries with 25 different makes of cars, winning seven events in Champ Cars, seven in Formula One, six in stock car and three in endurance (Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona). He also finished runner-up in the Indy 500 twice. He also owns the only win in modern Grand Prix history by an American driver in an American-made car, winning the F1 Belgian Grand Prix in a Gurney AAR Eagle in 1967.
Two of the most famous names in racing - Andretti and Unser - will enjoy a family affair at the Legends festivities. Mario will be joined by his son, Michael. Michael, the 1991 CART series champion and in the hunt for his second title this season, is CART's all-time winningest driver with 40 victories and ranks third in all-time Champ Car history behind A.J. Foyt (67) and Mario (52). He also ranks fifth in all-time history with 32 poles.
Al Sr. returns with his son, Al Jr., and brother, Bobby, for the festivities. The family has combined for four CART series titles, nine Indianapolis 500 crowns and 105 career Champ Car wins.
Al Sr. is a two-time CART champion (1983, '85), a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1970-71, '78, '87) and 1970 USAC champ. He ranks fourth in all-time Champ Car history with 39 victories and sixth with 27 poles. Bobby is a three-time Indy 500 winner (1968, '75, '81), two-time USAC champ (1968, '74) and ranks fifth in all-time Champ Car victories (35) and third in poles (49). Al Jr. is a two-time CART champion (1990, '94), a two-time Indy 500 champ (1992, '94) and ranks sixth all time in career Champ Car wins with 31.
In addition to the Unsers, Penske Racing/Marlboro Team Penske had another trio of legends - Mears, Fittipaldi and Sullivan - spend their entire careers or a good portion with the winningest Champ Car organization in history.
Mears became the first of only two three-time series champions in CART history with titles in the inaugural season of 1979, '81 and '82. He also captured four Indy 500 crowns (1979, '84, '88, '91) and ranks seventh in all-time wins (29) and fourth in poles (40).
Fittipaldi was the second driver in history to garner series championships in Formula One and CART, following up a pair of F1 titles in 1972 and '74 with the CART crown in 1989. He also won the Indy 500 that season for Patrick Racing before moving to Penske Racing for the remainder of his career. He went on to win the 1993 Indy 500 and concluded his career with 22 wins and 17 poles to rank 14th and 12th, respectively.
Sullivan captured the CART series championship in 1988 to add to his famous "Spin and Win" 1985 Indy 500 triumph. He concluded his career with 17 wins and 19 poles to rank 20th and ninth, respectively.
Joining Mears as the only three-time champion in CART history is Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Team Rahal who currently is serving as CART's interim President and Chief Executive Officer. Rahal captured series crowns in 1986, '87 and '92 as well as an emotional 1986 Indy 500 title dedicated to Jim Trueman. He ranks 11th in all-time Champ Car wins with 24 and 11th with 18 poles.
Three other multiple Indy 500 champions also grace the field of legends. Rutherford heads the group as he owns a CART championship in 1980 to go along with his Indy titles in 1974, '76 and '80. He also ranks eighth all time in wins with 27 and seventh in poles with 23.
Johncock landed Indy 500 titles in 1973 and '82 as well as a USAC championship in 1976. He ranks 10th in all-time Champ Car wins with 25 and eighth with 20 poles. He also owns the honor of winning the inaugural CART race held March 11, 1979 at Phoenix.
Ward was the first among this outstanding class of legends to earn an Indy 500 title. He won in 1959 and again in '62, the same years he also went onto USAC crowns. He also ranks ninth in Champ Car history with 26 victories.
Dallenbach is well known as CART's long-time chief steward who retired following the 1999 season, but he also enjoyed a successful driving career. He earned five career victories and finished among the top 10 in the USAC championship 10 times, including a career-best second in 1973 and third in '76.
Rounding out the list are the youngest of the legends that powered Target/Chip Ganassi Racing to the past four FedEx Championship Series titles. Vasser ignited the run with the title in 1996 and has accumulated nine victories and seven poles in his career.
Zanardi followed his rookie-of-the-year honors in 1996 with consecutive CART championships in '97 and '98. In a brief yet outstanding three-year career, he compiled 15 wins and 10 poles.
Montoya, who replaced Zanardi as Vasser's teammate, became the youngest champion in CART history (24 years, 1 month, 11 days) and only the second rookie in history to take the crown with his stunning run in 1999 that included seven wins and seven poles. This season he added an Indy 500 crown to his resume as well as three more FedEx Championship Series wins heading into this weekend's Hondy Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia.
In addition to the Legends, the heritage of the Champ Cars themselves will be featured throughout the weekend with the fourth annual Victory Lane Historic Champ Car Showcase. More than two dozen historic Champ Cars from every decade dating to 1926 will be on display as well as on track for parade runs throughout the weekend. Several that will be showcased are the former Champ Cars of the legends in attendance. Among some of the Champ Cars participating are a 1926 Ford Rajo, 1938 Lencki Miller Offy, 1948 Kurtis Offy, 1958 Epperly Roadster, 1966 Eisert Harrison Special, 1972 Gurney Eagle, 1981 Penske Cosworth, 1993 Lola T9300.