Firestone Indy 400
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (April 2011)|
|Venue||Michigan International Speedway|
|First ICS race||2002|
|Distance||400 miles (644 km)|
|Previous names||Norton Michigan 500 (1981-1983), Michigan 500 (1984-1986), Marlboro 500 (1987-1996), U.S. 500 presented by Toyota (1997-1999), Michigan 500 presented by Toyota (2000), Harrah's 500 presented by Toyota (2001), Michigan Indy 400 (2002, 2004-2005), Firestone Indy 400 (2003, 2006-2007)|
Between 1970 and 2007, Michigan International Speedway (MIS) hosted at least one open-wheel race in every season, hosting 55 open-wheel races over 38 years. In July 2007, MIS announced that it would not hold an open-wheel auto race after the Indy Racing League was unable to provide a suitable date, and was not willing to return to the twin race format.
USAC Indy Car Years
In 1968, American open wheel racing debuted at the circuit with a 200-mile (320 km) USAC Champ Car event. In 1970, USAC returned with what would become a traditional July race date. In 1973, a second USAC race was added to the Champ Car schedule, a fall race usually held in September.
CART Champ Car years
In 1979, both MIS races switched to CART Champ Car sanctioning, remaining 150 - 250 miles (400 km) in length.
In 1980, Ontario Motor Speedway closed, and thus Indycar racing's quadruple crown lost one of its 500-mile (800 km) races. In 1981, the summer race at Michigan was expanded to a 500-mile (800 km) event, replacing Ontario. NBC agreed to broadcast the race live, making it the first 500-mile (800 km) Indy race to be broadcast live. Michigan joined Indianapolis and Pocono for the new Triple Crown of 500-mile (800 km) races. Following the 1986 CART season, the fall race was dropped from the schedule, leaving the Michigan 500 the track's lone Indycar event.
In 1987, the 500-mile (800 km) race began to sponsored by Marlboro. On network television, however, due to tobacco regulations, the race was still advertised as the "Michigan 500." From 1988-1991 the race was part of the Marlboro Million, a cash prize awarded to any driver who won the Marlboro Grand Prix, the Marlboro 500, and the Marlboro Challenge All-Star event in the same year. The prize was never won.
In 1996, the CART series held a second 500-mile (800 km) race, the U.S. 500, the same day as the Indianapolis 500. The race featured a capacity crowd of around 80,000, albeit aided greatly by corporate sponsors who encouraged—and allegedly, in some cases, ordered—their employees to attend. This race was dropped immediately after its only running, partially due to a hope of running the Indy 500 in 1997.
After debris from a crash on the track killed 3 spectators in 1998, corporate sponsorship dropped off drastically, and attendance started to wane. Worse yet, MIS started a massive grandstand expansion program to accommodate the NASCAR crowds, and the smaller crowd looked even smaller in the larger grandstands. In addition, Roger Penske sold the track to ISC in 1999, and ISC lacked the emotional and economic ties to CART.
In spite of a very memorable race—one of a long string of very memorable races—the 2001 CART race was the last sanctioned by that organization at MIS.
During the CART era, safety was always a major concern due to the high speeds of the CART cars. In fact, much of the discussion by the CART Board of Directors centered on safety issues when they approved increasing the race to 500 miles (800 km) in 1981. Crashes at MIS ended the careers of Chip Ganassi, Emerson Fittipaldi, Hector Rebaque and Danny Sullivan, and crashes injured Derek Daly, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Jr., Gordon Johncock, Mario Andretti and Bobby Rahal among others. Most crashes resulted in a total write-off of the vehicle, and high speeds resulted in many mechanical failures.
While no drivers have been killed at a MIS open-wheel event, many drivers expressed grave reservations about racing at such speeds during the CART years, and it is fair to say that few drivers looked forward to racing at MIS. Michael Andretti and Nigel Mansell both complained publicly about the high speeds; ironically, both won in the years that they complained the loudest.
In 1987, a dogleg was hastily built on the backstrech, but was never used, partially due to fear of gearbox failure, but mostly due to concern over fan reaction. No effort was ever made by CART to reduce horsepower and thus slow the cars, an approach NASCAR tackled in 1987 following a bad crash at Talladega Superspeedway that injured several spectators.
Al Unser, Jr. averaged 189.727 mph (305.336 km/h) in the 1990 Marlboro 500, which is still the fastest 500 race ever run at MIS. In 1996, Paul Tracy was clocked at 256.948 mph (413.518 km/h) during a practice session. In 1997, Richie Hearn was clocked at 249.018. Paul Tracy set the track record for qualifying at 234.949 in 2000, which is still a track record.
In 1998, the Hanford Device was introduced. It was a spoiler attached across the back of the rear wing to greatly increase of drag. The result was a massive increase in the slipstream, and suddenly became a powerful force in Indycars. It provided wheel-to-wheel competition as well as multiple lead changes per lap. In 1998, CART counted 62 official lead changes, but since lead changes were only counted at the start-finish line, the number was much higher.
Also in 1998, three spectators were killed, and six others injured, when debris from a single-car crash flew over the 15-foot (4.6 m) fence into the grandstands. All of the injured and dead were local residents from Michigan. In spite of the improvements to the fence, subsequent attendance in races declined greatly over previous totals.
By 2001, it was clear that change was needed. CART drivers and teams still complained about the high speeds, with the corresponding safety and cost concerns that it generated. The Hanford Device cost $50,000, and was blamed by some[who?] for the death of Greg Moore in 1999 at Fontana. In 2001, an early attempt at a "soft wall" was tried, using tires to line the exit to turn 2, but it was ineffective, as the lone crash into the tires resulted in a total loss to the car and a trip to the hospital for the driver. The popularity of the series was also in freefall with declining attendance.
In the final CART race at Michigan the lead changed 63 times.
Attrition during the CART era
Attrition has always been a factor in the 500-mile CART Michigan races.
In 1981 (the inaugural 500-mile race), only 10 cars out of 37 cars (still to this day the highest number of cars to start the Michigan 500) finished the race. The theme of the day was mechanical failures (engine, suspension, etc.), which claimed 21 cars. Crashes claimed four cars. Johnny Rutherford had a strange end to his day when he cut a tire and spun out; he did not finish. A pit fire claimed the entrant of Herm Johnson and stopped the race for over an hour.
1983 saw a spectacular finish and a bad wreck on the final lap; Rick Mears was lapping Chris Kneifel on the final lap when John Paul, Jr. drafted past entering Three; Mears spun out and was T-boned by Kniefel.
1984 was among the most brutal races of all. Phil Krueger's car was bent almost into itself in an early wreck, then Gary Bettenhausen was hit by Howdy Holmes and one car spun atop the other's rollbar. Chip Ganassi spun into Al Unser, Jr. and both tumbled into the backstretch guardrail, then on the final lap Pancho Carter tried to pass Rick Mears but shot head first into the backstretch armco, slicing off several foot-thick metal posts at their base as the car disintegrated and the cockpit tub tumbled to Turn Three.
In 1985 only 10 of 30 cars finished the race. It was an even mixture of problems as ten cars suffered mechanical failures (engine, suspension, etc.) while the other ten cars crashed. The most severe crash came when Danny Ongais tumbled down the backstretch like a stock car. Mario Andretti was forced out of a subsequent race following injury in a Turn Four crash.
In 1986 only 7 of 28 cars finished the race. That is still the Michigan 500 record for fewest cars to ever finish the race. Seven cars crashed out. The theme of the day was again mechanical failures, which took out 14 cars. Johnny Rutherford took his final Indycar win.
In 1988, 9 of 28 cars finished the race. Mechanical failures 16 cars. There was only 1 car taken out by a crash (Derek Daly). Howdy Holmes was too fatigued too continue. Johnny Rutherford's car was engulfed in flames and could not continue.
In 1994, 8 of 28 starters finished the race. Mechanical failures (engine, suspension, etc.) claimed 16 cars, crashes claimed 3 more cars and a severe pit fire (eerily similar to a severe pit fire during the inaugural Michigan 500 that stopped the race for over an hour) claimed the entrant of Adrian Fernandez. Also, at the same time this was happening Michael Andretti crashed in turn 2 (one of the 3 cars eliminated in a crashes) bringing out the yellow flag allowing the CART officials to stop the fire.
Indy Racing League years
Starting for the 2002 season, the race became an Indy Racing League Indycar series event. In addition, the race distance was changed from 500 miles (800 km) to 400 miles (640 km). In a very memorable race, Tomas Scheckter overcame bickering with team owner Eddie Cheever to beat team mate Buddy Rice. The race featured wheel-to-wheel racing, albeit at much slower speeds than the CART-sanctioned events. In addition, Sarah Fisher became the first female driver to pass for the lead under green flag conditions in an Indy-style race.
The IRL was unable to rebuild the event's attendance in spite of heavy support from the Jackson, Michigan community leadership. In many cases, the attendance for supporting stock car events was as great, if not greater, than the IRL race itself.
For 2007, the race had to move dates. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard was moved by ESPN up one week, and created a conflict. Originally the race at Michigan was to move to July 22, but after the Indy Racing League added a new event at Mid-Ohio for that date, the race was moved to the first weekend in August. The IRL was faced with the task of selling tickets for 3 events (Mid Ohio, Michigan, and Detroit) within 6 weeks of each other, at venues that are within easy driving distance of one other.
In July, 2007, ISC announced that they would not be hosting an IRL race in 2008. The track management was not offered their traditional date for 2008 due to the same constraints that led to the 2007 date. In addition, track management wanted to return to the twin 200-mile (320 km) race format in order to gain publicity, and the IRL refused to meet that request. Faced with very low attendance, as well as the task of a race only 2 weeks before a major NASCAR race, ISC terminated negotiations and announced that there would be no race in 2008.
|Season||Date||Race Name||Driver||Team||Chassis||Engine||Race Distance||Race Time||Average Speed
|USAC Championship Car history|
|1968||October 13||Michigan Inaugural 250||Ronnie Bucknum||All American Racers||Eagle||Offy||125||250 (402.336)||1:32:42||161.812||Report|
|1970||July 4||Michigan Twin 200s||Gary Bettenhausen||Bettenhausen Racing||Gerhardt||Offy||100||200 (321.868)||1:25:20||138.67||Report|
|1971||July 18||Michigan 200||Mark Donohue||Penske Racing||McLaren||Offy||100||200 (321.868)||1:22:09||144.898||Report|
|1972||July 16||Michigan 200||Joe Leonard||Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing||Parnelli||Offy||100||200 (321.868)||140.685||Report|
|1973||July 15||Michigan 200||Roger McCluskey||Lindsey Hopkins||McLaren||Offy||100||200 (321.868)||1:14:28||161.146||Report|
|September 16||Michigan Twin 125s||Bill Vukovich II||Jerry O'Connell||Eagle||Offy||63||126 (202.777)||0:56:24||134.026||Report|
|Johnny Rutherford||Bruce McLaren Motor Racing||McLaren||Offy||63||126 (202.777)||0:48:05||157.243|
|1974||July 21||Michigan 200||Bobby Unser||All American Racers||Eagle||Offy||100||200 (321.868)||1:14:41||160.695||Report|
|September 15||Norton 250||Al Unser||Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing||Eagle||Offy||125||250 (402.336)||1:45:32||142.135||Report|
|1975||July 20||Norton 200||A.J. Foyt||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Coyote||Foyt||100||200 (321.868)||1:15:31||158.907||Report|
|September 13||Michigan 150||Tom Sneva||Penske Racing||McLaren||Offy||75||150 (241.401)||0:51:05||176.16||Report|
|1976||July 18||Norton Twin 200s||Gordon Johncock||Patrick Racing||Wildcat||DGS||100||200 (321.868)||1:12:43||1:12:43||Report|
|September 18||Michigan 150||A.J. Foyt||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Coyote||Foyt||75||150 (241.401)||0:54:51||164.058||Report|
|1977||July 17||Norton 200||Danny Ongais||Interscope Racing||Parnelli||Cosworth||100||200 (321.868)||1:20:27||149.152||Report|
|September 17||Michigan Grand Prix||Gordon Johncock||Patrick Racing||Wildcat||DGS||75||150 (241.401)||0:51:21||175.25||Report|
|1978||July 16||Norton Twin 200||Johnny Rutherford||Bruce McLaren Motor Racing||McLaren||Cosworth||100||200 (321.868)||1:15:02||159.941||Report|
|September 16||Gould Grand Prix||Danny Ongais||Interscope Racing||Parnelli||Cosworth||75||150 (241.401)||1:01:32||146.246||Report|
|Indy Car / CART World Series history|
|1979||July 15||Norton Twin 125s||Gordon Johncock||Patrick Racing||Penske||Cosworth||63||126 (202.777)||0:44:13||170.796||Report|
|Bobby Unser||Penske Racing||Penske||Cosworth||63||126 (202.777)||0:48:40||155.342|
|September 15||Gould Grand Prix||Bobby Unser||Penske Racing||Penske||Cosworth||75||150 (241.401)||0:51:22||175.211||Report|
|1980||July 20||Norton 200||Johnny Rutherford||Chaparral Cars||Chaparral||Cosworth||100||200 (321.868)||1:20:48||148.515||Report|
|October 20||Gould Grand Prix||Mario Andretti||Penske Racing||Penske||Cosworth||75||150 (241.401)||0:53:44||167.494||Report|
|1981||July 25||Norton Michigan 500||Pancho Carter||Alex Morales Autosport||Penske||Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||3:45:45||132.89||Report|
|September 20||Detroit News Grand Prix||Rick Mears||Penske Racing||Penske||Cosworth||74*||148 (238.182)||1:10:30||125.957||Report|
|1982||July 18||Norton Michigan 500||Gordon Johncock||Patrick Racing||Wildcat||Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||3:14:54||153.925||Report|
|September 26||Detroit News Grand Prix||Bobby Rahal||TrueSports||March||Cosworth||75||150 (241.401)||1:04:03||140.515||Report|
|1983||July 17||Norton Michigan 500||John Paul, Jr.||VDS||Penske||Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||3:42:27||134.862||Report|
|September 18||Detroit News Grand Prix||Rick Mears||Penske Racing||Penske||Cosworth||100||200 (321.868)||1:05:49||182.235||Report|
|1984||July 22||Michigan 500||Mario Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||3:44:45||133.482||Report|
|September 24||Detroit News Grand Prix||Mario Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Cosworth||100||200 (321.868)||1:11:12||168.523||Report|
|1985||July 28||Michigan 500||Emerson Fittipaldi||Patrick Racing||March||Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||3:53:58||128.22||Report|
|September 22||Detroit News 200||Bobby Rahal||TrueSports||March||Cosworth||100||200 (321.868)||1:13:19||163.647||Report|
|1986||August 2||Michigan 500||Johnny Rutherford||Alex Morales Autosport||March||Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||3:38:45||137.139||Report|
|September 28||Pepsi Cola 250||Bobby Rahal||TrueSports||March||Cosworth||125||250 (402.336)||1:22:33||181.701||Report|
|1987||August 2||Marlboro 500||Michael Andretti||Kraco Racing||March||Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||2:54:56||171.493||Report|
|1988||August 7||Marlboro 500||Danny Sullivan||Penske Racing||Penske||Chevrolet||250||500 (804.672)||2:46:03||180.654||Report|
|1989||August 6||Marlboro 500||Michael Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Chevrolet||250||500 (804.672)||3:07:15||160.21||Report|
|1990||August 5||Marlboro 500||Al Unser, Jr.||Galles/Kraco Racing||Lola||Chevrolet||250||500 (804.672)||2:38:07||189.727||Report|
|1991||August 4||Marlboro 500||Rick Mears||Penske Racing||Penske||Chevrolet||250||500 (804.672)||2:59:23||167.23||Report|
|1992||August 2||Marlboro 500||Scott Goodyear||Walker Racing||Lola||Chevrolet||250||500 (804.672)||2:48:53||177.265||Report|
|1993||August 1||Marlboro 500||Nigel Mansell||Newman/Haas Racing||Lola||Ford-Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||2:39:24||188.203||Report|
|1994||July 31||Marlboro 500||Scott Goodyear||King Racing||Lola||Ford-Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||3:07:44||159.8||Report|
|1995||July 30||Marlboro 500 Presented by Speedstick||Scott Pruett||Patrick Racing||Lola||Ford-Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||3:07:52||159.676||Report|
|1996||May 26||Inaugural U.S. 500||Jimmy Vasser||Chip Ganassi Racing||Reynard||Honda||250||500 (804.672)||3:11:48||156.403||Report|
|July 28||Marlboro 500||André Ribeiro||Tasman Racing||Lola||Honda||250||500 (804.672)||3:16:33||152.627||Report|
|1997||July 27||U. S. 500 Presented by Toyota||Alex Zanardi||Chip Ganassi Racing||Reynard||Honda||250||500 (804.672)||2:59:35||167.044||Report|
|1998||July 26||U. S. 500 Presented by Toyota||Greg Moore||Forsythe Racing||Reynard||Mercedes||250||500 (804.672)||3:00:48||165.913||Report|
|1999||July 25||U. S. 500 Presented by Toyota||Tony Kanaan||Forsythe Racing||Reynard||Honda||250||500 (804.672)||2:41:12||186.097||Report|
|2000||July 23||Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota||Juan Montoya||Chip Ganassi Racing||Lola||Toyota||250||500 (804.672)||2:48:49||177.694||Report|
|2001||July 22||Harrah's 500 Presented by Toyota||Patrick Carpentier||Forsythe Racing||Reynard||Ford-Cosworth||250||500 (804.672)||2:54:55||171.498||Report|
|Indy Racing League IndyCar Series history|
|2002||July 28||Michigan Indy 400||Tomas Scheckter||Team Cheever||Dallara||Infiniti||200||400 (643.737)||2:14:03||179.044||Report|
|2003||July 27||Firestone Indy 400||Alex Barron||Mo Nunn Racing||G-Force||Toyota||200||400 (643.737)||2:12:39||180.917||Report|
|2004||August 1||Michigan Indy 400||Buddy Rice||Rahal Letterman Racing||G-Force||Honda||200||400 (643.737)||2:11:47||182.123||Report|
|2005||July 31||Michigan Indy 400||Bryan Herta||Andretti Green Racing||Dallara||Honda||200||400 (643.737)||2:23:33||167.197||Report|
|2006||July 30||Firestone Indy 400||Helio Castroneves||Team Penske||Dallara||Honda||200||400 (643.737)||2:03:44||193.972||Report|
|2007||August 5||Firestone Indy 400||Tony Kanaan||Andretti Green Racing||Dallara||Honda||200||400 (643.737)||2:49:38||141.481||Report|
- September 1981: Race shortened due to scoring error.
Indy Lights winners
|CART PPG Indy Lights|
|1996||May 25||David Empringham|
|1998||July 25||Tony Renna|
|1999||July 24||Philipp Peter|
|2000||July 22||Felipe Giaffone|
|IRL Indy Pro Series|
|2002||July 28||A.J. Foyt IV|
|2003||July 27||Mark Taylor|
|2004||August 1||P.J. Chesson|