Chip Ganassi

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Chip Ganassi
Chip Ganassi.jpg
Ganassi at a race in 2006
Born Floyd Ganassi, Jr
(1958-05-24) May 24, 1958 (age 56)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Residence Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania
Other names Chip Ganassi
Education B.A. Finance
Alma mater Duquesne University
Occupation Owner and CEO, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
Years active 1990–present
Employer Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
Home town Pittsburgh
Website
ChipGanassiRacing.com

Floyd "Chip" Ganassi, Jr (born May 24, 1958) is a former American racing driver and a current team owner. He has been involved with the North American auto racing scene for over 30 years and is considered one of the most successful as well as innovative owners.

He is currently the owner and CEO of Chip Ganassi Racing which operates teams on the IndyCar Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and Tudor United SportsCar Championship. His NASCAR operation was formerly under the banner Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, after a partnership with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in 2009.

Racing Driver[edit]

Ganassi attended the Bob Bondurant Driving School in 1977, and quickly working his way through the junior categories. He won his first auto race in a Formula Ford at the age of 18. He began his CART (Champ Car) racing career in 1982 upon graduating from Duquesne. Through a broken camshaft kept him from completing his first CART race at Phoenix, Ganassi qualified with the fastest speed, 197 mph, and competed in the Indianapolis 500 five times, with a best finish of 8th in 1983. He was voted the Most Improved Driver in 1983, and took 9th position in the CART standing. During that season, he took Patrick Racing’s Wildcat onto the podium twice, the first at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, then again at Laguna Seca. The following season, he would go on and finish a career best second in to 1984 Budweiser Grand Prix of Cleveland, however, his career was cut short in his next race, by a big crash that injured him at Michigan.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Although he returned to race briefly in CART and IMSA in 1986. It was in a the 1986 Kodak Copies 500 at Watkins Glen that Ganassi scored his top sportscar result, taking the Camel Light class victory, with his race partner, Bob Earl (7th overall). He also recorded a seventh place finish a month early in the Löwenbräu Classic, at Road America, assisted by David Sears. Both times driving for Spice Engineering, in one for their Spice-Pontiac SE86CL. In what was to be his last international race outing, Ganassi was entered into the 1987 24 Hours of Le Mans, as a member of the Kouros Racing. One of his team mates for the event, Johnny Dumfries set the fastest lap of race prior to be handing the car over to Ganassi upon whom the gearbox broke.[7][8]

1984 Michigan 500[edit]

In the 1984 Michigan 500, Ganassi cut a tire and got into Al Unser Jr. on the backstretch. They drifted into the infield. Unser hit the inside guardrail nose-first, while Ganassi's car got airborne and slammed top-first into the guardrail with Ganassi's head hitting the rail. Ganassi's car disentigrated in midair. Ganassi suffered smoke inhalation, a concussion, a broken sternum and collarbone and many contusions. This effectively ended Ganassi's driving career.

Team Owner[edit]

Main article: Chip Ganassi Racing

Ganassi purchased an interest in Patrick Racing in 1988 - a team he had raced with before in 1983 and 1984 - and was part of the team that saw Emerson Fittipaldi win the 1989 Indianapolis 500 and CART PPG Indy Car World Series. In 1990, he split off and formed his own team, Chip Ganassi Racing [CGR] with Target as the principal sponsor. He also became active in the NASCAR circuit. Since then, Ganassi’s racing teams has grown from a one-car CART team, to one of the most renowned organizations in the history of motorsport.[2][3]

Although the team were winless in the first three years of competition, those season were not without their highlights – Arie Luyendyk’s second place in the 1993 Indianapolis 500 – but by the middle of ’93, Ganassi knew big changes were necessary. For the following season, he added a second car, hired Michael Andretti and Mauricio Gugelmin and forged a lasting partnership with Reynard, bring the English chassis-manufacturer into Indycar racing. More changes for ’95, when Ganassi switched tyre supplier from Goodyear to Firestone, as well as Ford to Honda engines; and for ’96 he hired two new drivers, a young promising American driver, Jimmy Vasser and relatively unknown Italian, Alessandro Zanardi.[3]

It wasn’t until the 1994 Australian FAI Indycar Grand Prix that Andretti scored the team’s first victory, fully four seasons after their CART debut. Once Chip and his team tasted success, there’s been no looking back, as the team trophy cases in their race shop facilities in Indianapolis, Brownsburg and Concord are full with the spoils of victories and championships from Daytona to Indianapolis, CART to NASCAR, IMSA and Grand-Am.[3]

The changes to the team in 1996, enabled CGR to form one of the most celebrated partnership in motorsport. After winning four of the opening six races of the 1996 PPG Indy Car World Series season, Vasser would go on to capture Ganassi’s first title. There was no stopping CGR, as Zanardi stormed to consecutive titles. This third straight title for Ganassi, saw he elected into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. When Zanardi returned to Formula One, Ganassi needed someone who would jump straight into the car. That driver was Juan Pablo Montoya, who won in only his third CART start. He would add six more victories as he claimed the ’99 CART title, CGR’s fourth consecutive championship.[3][4]

Complacency is not word you would label against Ganassi. He proved this once again, by switching from Honda to Toyota power, while changing to Lola chassis for the start of 2000. Despite the split between CART and the Indy Racing League, which effective prevented Ganassi from racing at Indianapolis since 1995, he formed a parallel program with just one aim, to win the Indy 500. This was an unqualified success, with Montoya winning the team’s first Indianapolis 500, and Ganassi’s second as team owner.[3]

The NASCAR and Sportscar division of the team was formed in 2001, when Ganassi bought the majority shareholder in Felix Sabates’ Team SABCO racing team. The team was re-christened Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates [CGRFS]. During 2008, Ganassi formed a partnership with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., merging their NASCAR operations in one outfit, co-owned by Ganassi, Sabates and Teresa Earnhardt, and raced under the name, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. However, in 2014, the partnership was absorbed by Ganassi and the team’s name reverted to Chip Ganassi Racing. When Ganassi was asked why the team released her, he replied "Teresa was a good partner but she was no longer there. So I just bought her share of the team and reverted the name." Sabates is not connected to the IndyCar team.[9][10]

In CGRFS’s first season in NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series, Sterling Marlin drove his Dodge Intrepid to victory lane at Michigan and Charlotte, then led championship for most in 2002 before suffering a season-ending injury. Still Ganassi kept change coming, at a dizzy pace, first added a third Dodge entry in the Winston Cup. Chip was aware the major change in happening in Indycar, so CGR and Toyota shifted their focus from CART to IRL for 2003, winning the series in their first full season with Scott Dixon, scoring three wins. While in stock cars, Ganassi became the first owner to have three drivers claim “Rookie of the Year” honours in the same season, with Jamie McMurray in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, David Stremme in the NASCAR Nationwide Serries and Reed Sorenson in the ASA Series. New for 2004, Ganassi and Sabates entered Grand-Am’s Rolex Sports Car Series with a Riley Daytona Prototype for Scott Pruett and Max Papis, who stormed to the title before capturing Ganassi’s first Rolex 24 at Daytona triumph, the following January.[3][11]

With Ganassi, nothing even stood still for long. On the IRL front, 2006 saw CGR switched to a Dallara chassis, with a return to Honda power, coupled with the defending champion, Dan Wheldon joining Dixon. By mid-season, Ganassi pulled another shocker, he announced the return of Montoya, to spearhead the NASCAR program. The Colombian wasted no time paying Ganassi back. He’d joined Pruett and Salvador Durán to retain the Rolex 24 at Daytona crown, and winning his first NASCAR victory at Sonoma in the middle of 2007.[3]

Seldom one to go the conventional route, Ganassi signed the driver beat Dixon to the 2007 IndyCar title, Dario Franchitti for the ’08 campaign, however, the Scotsman was signed to join Montoya in NASCAR. Although Franchitti would form part of CGR’s third Rolex 24 at Daytona win, alongside Pruett, Montoya and Memo Rojas, his NASCAR experiment was not a success as hoped, and he was switched into the IndyCar squad for ’09, leading the team to a one-two finish in the end of year standings, after he and Dixon took five wins apiece. As for NASCAR, following the merger with Earnhardt, the team switched to Chevrolets.[3]

On February 14, 2010, McMurray won the Daytona 500 in a Ganassi/Sabates-owned car, and on May 30, 2010, Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500 in one of Ganassi's cars, making him the first owner to win both races in the same year and joining Roger Penske as the only owners to win both races. On July 25, 2010, McMurray won the Brickyard 400, also held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making Chip Ganassi the first team owner to win the "Triple Crown" of American auto racing. On January 30, 2011 his Rolex Sports Car Series team won the 24 Hours at Daytona, making Ganassi the first owner ever to win the Daytona 500, the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400, and the 24 Hours at Daytona inside a 12 months period. Meanwhile, Pruett and Rojas reeled of nine wins in a dozen starts in Grand-Am, despite the changing to BMW power, to claim a fourth title. On October 16, the Ganassi organisation scored another “double" when McMurray won at Charlotte just hours before Franchitti victory in the IndyCar finale at Homestead toc clinch the team’s eight title. 2010 would prove to be Ganassi most successful season, with two titles, two major victories at Daytona and Indianapolis, and a total of 19 wins across IndyCar, stock and sport cars. Small wonder Chip won the John Bolster Lifetime Achievement Award at the Autosport Awards.[3][12]

Just one month later, CGR won their fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona. Now Ganassi had won all four of America’s premier races within a 12-month period, finishing off the “Grand Slam”, becoming the first owner to hold all four titles at one time. By the end of the year, CGR had retained both the IndyCar and Grand-Am titles. 2012 would see Pruett and Rojas scored their third straight Grand-Am title (CGR’s sixth overall), while Franchitti added another Indy 500 title. 2012 also saw Chip being named by Complex Magazine as one of the “50 most influential people in the Auto Industry”, his with ranking of 17th being highest North American from the racing industry. 2013 would see the team’s fifth Rolex 24 win, however the IndyCar and NASCAR team would struggle early on. Following the team’s return to form to finish one-two-three in the 2013 Pocono IndyCar 400, Dixon would go on to clinched his third title – not before Franchitti’s terrifying career-ending crash at the Grand Prix of Houston [3][13]

Along with success, Ganassi constantly changed things with his teams. The biggest change for 2014 was when he and Montoya parted ways after a remarkable partnership that produced a CART title, 10 CART race wins, Indianapolis 500 (IRL), 3 Rolex 24 at Daytona wins, a NASCAR Nationwide Series and two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins. As a result of all this, Ganassi was awarded the inaugural Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for his contributions to motorsports by the NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation and Watkins Glen International.[3][14][15]

By any measure, Chip Ganassi Team have produces a host of remarkable achievements, to say nothing of the monumental success of 2010.

Throughout Ganassi’s career as an owner, he has continued to the innovation bar with a constant search for a better way of doing things. He was one of the owners to create both highly successful driver and pit crew development programs; create an advanced research and development group that supports all of his race programs across the organisation; an in-depth information technology partnership with a number of his technology sponsors to best utilize their expertise in order to benefit the team.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Ganassi was formerly a vice president of FRG Group, his father's organization involved in commercial real estate, transportation and other areas.[1] In addition to his racing interests, he is also a former minority owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates major league baseball team. Ganassi is a strong supporter of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, to which his teams have donated over US$500,000.[13]

On August 19, 2013, Ganassi's father Floyd died at the age of 87.[16][17]

He graduated with a degree in finance from Duquesne University in 1982.[18] He received an Honorary Doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University in 2011.

He currently resides in the Pittsburgh suburb of Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania.

Racing record[edit]

Career highlights[edit]

Season Series Position Team Car
1981 Robert Bosch Formula Super Vee Championship [19][20] 6th March-Volkswagen 79/80SV
Ralt-Volkswagen RT5
1981-82 USAC Gold Crown Series [21][22] 37th First Commercial Corp. Wildcat-Cosworth
1982 PPG Indy Car World Series [23][24] 34th Rhoades Racing Wildcat-Cosworth
1982-83 USAC Gold Crown Series [25] 16th Patrick Racing Wildcat-Cosworth
1983 PPG Indy Car World Series [26][27] 9th Patrick Racing Wildcat-Cosworth
1983-84 USAC Gold Crown Series [28][29] 32nd Patrick Racing March-Cosworth 84C
1984 PPG Indy Car World Series [30][31] 20th Patrick Racing Wildcat-Cosworth
March-Cosworth 84C
1986 IMSA Camel Light Championship [32][33] 35th Spice Engineering Spice-Pontiac SE86CL

American open–wheel racing results[edit]

(key)

CART[edit]

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Rank Points
1981 Brayton Racing United States
PHX1
United States
MIL1
United States
ATL1
United States
ATL2
United States
MIS
United States
RIV
United States
MIL2
United States
MIS2
United States
WGL
Mexico
MEX
United States
PHX2
DNQ
NC -
1982 Rhoades Racing United States
PHX1
Ret
United States
ATL
United States
MIL1
United States
CLE
Ret
United States
MIS1
Ret
United States
MIL2
United States
POC
Ret
United States
RIV
United States
ROA
United States
MIS2
16
United States
PHX2
34th 10
1983 Patrick Racing United States
ATL
United States
INDY
8
United States
MIL
United States
CLE
Ret
United States
MIS1
8
United States
ROA
Ret
United States
POC
Ret
United States
RIV
United States
MDO
Ret
United States
MIS2
6
United States
LVG
3
United States
LS
3
United States
PHX
5
9th 56
1984 Patrick Racing United States
LBH
Ret
United States
PHX1
11
United States
INDY
Ret
United States
MIL
11
United States
POR
Ret
United States
MEA
9
United States
CLE
2
United States
MIS1
Ret
United States
ROA
United States
POC
United States
MDO
Canada
SAN
United States
MIS2
United States
PHX2
United States
LS
United States
LVG
20th 24
1985 A.J. Foyt Enterprises United States
LBH
United States
INDY
Ret
United States
MIL
United States
POR
United States
MEA
United States
CLE
51st 0
Machinists Union Racing United States
MIS1
Ret
United States
ROA
United States
POC
United States
MDO
Canada
SAN
United States
MIS2
United States
LS
United States
PHX
United States
MIA
1986 Machinists Union Racing United States
PHX1
14
United States
LBH
United States
INDY
Ret
United States
MIL
United States
POR
United States
MEA
United States
CLE
Canada
TOR
United States
MIS1
United States
POC
United States
MDO
Canada
SAN
United States
MIS2
United States
ROA
United States
LS
United States
PHX2
United States
MIA
43rd 0

Indianapolis 500[edit]

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1987 Switzerland Kouros Racing United Kingdom Johnny Dumfries
New Zealand Mike Thackwell
Sauber-Mercedes C9 C1 37 DNF
(Gearbox)

Complete 24 Hours of Daytona results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1986 United States RC Buick Hawk/Conte United States John Paul, Jr.
Italy Ivan Capelli
United States Whitney Ganz
March-Buick 85G GTP 310 DNF
(Engine)

Complete 24 Hours of Spa results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1980 Belgium I.M.C. Toyota Belgium Emmanuel Remion
Belgium José Close
Toyota Corolla GT ser.T1.6 DNQ

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Vettraino, J.T. (September 17, 2012). "Inside His Mind". Autoweek 62 (19): 70–75. 
  2. ^ a b Wicker, Ned. IndyCar Champion - A Season with Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorbooks International, 1997, page 10
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l http://www.chipganassiracing.com/About-CGRT/History -of-CGRT.aspx
  4. ^ a b http://www.niashf.org/inductees/chip-ganassi/
  5. ^ http://www.racing-reference.info/drivdet/ganasch01/1983/R/
  6. ^ http://www.racing-reference.info/drivdet/ganasch01/1983/R
  7. ^ http://www.racingsportscars.com/drivers/archive/Chip-Ganassi-USA.html
  8. ^ Ken Wells, “Jaguar vs. Porsche – The Battle for Le Mans 1987" (William Kimberley Limited, ISBN 0 946132 43 7, 1987)
  9. ^ Chip Ganassi Racing
  10. ^ Teresa Earnhardt
  11. ^ a b http://nfsjamiemcmurrayfansite.tripod.com/main/bio_cganassi.html
  12. ^ https://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Chip_Ganassi_makes_American_motor_sports_history
  13. ^ a b http://www.chipganassiracing.com/About-CGRT/Chip-Ganassi.aspx
  14. ^ http://www.racing-reference.info/driver/Juan_Pablo_Montoya
  15. ^ http://www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2014/8/4/mike-helton-chip-ganassi-award-watkins-glen.html
  16. ^ Cain, Holly (2013-08-19). "Floyd Ganassi passes away at 87". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  17. ^ Cavin, Curt (2013-08-19). "Chip Ganassi's father Floyd dies at age of 87". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  18. ^ Wicker, Ned. IndyCar Champion - A Season with Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorbooks International, 1997, page 9
  19. ^ https://www.driverdb.com/championships/standings/formula-super-vee-usa-robert-bosch-valvoline-championship/1981/
  20. ^ http://www.teamdan.com/archive/www2/superv/81svrob.html
  21. ^ http://racing-reference.info/yeardet/1981/UO
  22. ^ https://www.driverdb.com/championships/standings/usac-national-championship/1982/
  23. ^ http://racing-reference.info/yeardet/1982/R
  24. ^ https://www.driverdb.com/championships/standings/champ-car-world-series/1982/
  25. ^ http://racing-reference.info/yeardet/1982/UO
  26. ^ http://racing-reference.info/yeardet/1983/R
  27. ^ https://www.driverdb.com/championships/standings/champ-car-world-series/1983/
  28. ^ http://racing-reference.info/yeardet/1983/UO
  29. ^ https://www.driverdb.com/championships/standings/usac-national-championship/1984/
  30. ^ http://racing-reference.info/yeardet/1984/R
  31. ^ https://www.driverdb.com/championships/standings/champ-car-world-series/1984/
  32. ^ http://www.champcarstats.com/atlantic/year/1995.htm
  33. ^ https://www.driverdb.com/championships/standings/imsa-camel-lights/1986/

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Adrian Newey
John Bolster Lifetime Achievement Award
2010
Succeeded by
Gian Paolo Dallara
Preceded by
n/a
Cameron R. Argetsinger Award
2014
Succeeded by
n/a