CHAMPCAR/CART: Memories of first team Win - Haas, Andretti, Tzouanakis
Newman/Haas Racing was formed in the winter of 1982 by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas and began competing in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Series in 1983. In only their sixth event in the series at ...
Newman/Haas Racing was formed in the winter of 1982 by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas and began competing in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Series in 1983. In only their sixth event in the series at Road America, team driver Mario Andretti started on pole position and won the first race for Newman/Haas Racing. Since that time, the team has gone on to score 59 victories with drivers such as Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta. Three key people commented on the accomplishment.
Carl A. Haas, Team Co-Owner Newman/Haas Racing: "Over the years, my teams have won probably 20 or more events at Road America between the CART, Can-Am, USSRC, Formula 5000, Super Vee and other series we have competed in. Road America was the place that got me involved in racing. A friend of mine who was into foreign cars said 'Come to Elkhart Lake with me' and dragged me here. I wasn't into cars back then but I came anyway and the rest is history. I had a '51 Ford back then and the track was open so I kind of followed some Jaguars and Cunningham's around. There were some really fast cars here. It was great to watch. I also won one of the inaugural races here from the pole in a Porsche Speedster. This is a great track. Everything was SCCA in those days.
On the first win for Newman/Haas Racing in CART at Road America: "We had a lot of work to do in the winter before the season started in 1983. The car was bad at the beginning of the year and we kept working on it. It's always great to win your first race but to do it here in Elkhart Lake where I became interested in the sport made it even more special. That win opened the door for the rest. You never tire of winning. Each win makes you want to next one even more."
Mario Andretti, Newman/Haas Racing driver from 1983-1994 who amassed 18 wins and 26 poles: "Way into the fall of 1982, they were just discussing the car that we would compete with for 1983. Eric Broadley, who was with Lola at the time had just designed this thing. It was the first ground-effects, single-seater car he had designed. We struggled with the car because we were going against the March's, which were the state-of-the-art cars at that time. It was like David and Goliath. We just kept working hard and finally had the car working well here and then finally won in our sixth race. After getting the win here at Road America we won again in Las Vegas later in the season. It (Road America) was a good win. It wasn't handed to me. I had to fight hard for that win which always makes victory sweeter. The win was pivotal for us. It was our first year. A lot of things could have crumpled the team. A win always brings everybody together and immediately you gain momentum. You believe in yourself and the team. We ended up third in points at the end of our first season. The car was not even a good looking car but it started looking better and better when we started running up front. The next season, we were the first team to have a carbon fiber chassis (Lola) in CART. People started paying attention to what we were doing development wise. We ended up winning that Championship that season. You never forget the feeling of your first win with a team though."
John Tzouanakis, Team Manager of Newman/Haas Racing (employee since Day 1): "I was a front end mechanic and refueler the first season with the team. The car was totally new to both the team and to Lola and we struggled at the beginning of the season. Everyone worked hard because we knew the potential was there for success and the car gradually improved. When we came to Elkhart Lake for the sixth race ever for the team, we had scored one pole but our finishes weren't that good. To win the pole and also the race put us on the map and got the ball rolling for Newman/Haas Racing. We were the only team running a Lola and they worked non-stop making changes and modifications to the car. After our win in Elkhart Lake, we were competitive from then on. At that time, Carl wasn't involved with the Milwaukee Mile as promoter like he is now. Since the team started, we have considered this our home track because of Carl's involvement with the track and his history here so to win our first race for Newman/Haas Racing here was big. To win anywhere is good but to win at a track you have grown up with is special. Especially if the people who work non-stop in the shop and usually watch their hard work pay off on a TV set get to come to the race because it's close and celebrate with everyone."
This Week in Racing History (August 12-18)
NHRA's 50 Greatest Drivers: No. 15 -- Ronnie Sox