Patrick Racing

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Gordon Johncock driving for Patrick Racing at Pocono in the familiar red and blue STP colors.

Patrick Racing was an auto racing team in both Champ Car and the Indy Racing League. Patrick Racing was started by Pat Patrick in the 1970s. The team is best known for winning the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions (1973, 1982, 1989), and the Indy car title twice (1976, 1989).

The team fielded its own cars from 1975 to 1983 under the name Wildcat.

Over its history, the team has had three distinct manifestations.


First stint[edit]

The team won the 1973 and 1982 Indianapolis 500 with driver Gordon Johncock. Johncock also won the 1976 USAC National Championship. The team was closely associated with STP sponsorship.

In the mid-1980s, the team expanded to two cars, featuring drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and Kevin Cogan. The team parted ways with STP, and 7-Eleven became their primary sponsor for 1985. In 1986, Marlboro joined the team. Cogan won his first and only race of his career in 1986 at Phoenix. Fittipaldi won his first CART race, the Michigan 500, in 1985. Cogan finished a heartbreaking second place in the 1986 Indianapolis 500, after being passed with just over two laps to go.

For 1987, the team secured the use of the new Ilmor Chevy Indy V-8 engine. Fittipaldi won two races, and finished 10th in points. After dropping back down to a one-car effort, Fittipaldi won two more races in 1988, finished 2nd at Indy, and improved to 7th in points.

In 1989, Chip Ganassi joined Patrick as co-owner. Patrick was preparing to retire from the sport, and began putting the pieces in place to sell the team at season's end. Patrick struck a lucrative deal with Ganassi and Penske Racing. Penske would supply Patrick with two PC-18 chassis for 1989, and in return, Penske would take driver Fittipaldi and sponsor Marlboro starting with the 1990 season. For 1990, Ganassi would take over the assets of Patrick Racing (including the PC-18 chassis, as well as the important Chevrolet engine lease), which he would use to start his own team.

After winning the 1989 Indianapolis 500 and the 1989 CART championship, at some point Pat Patrick changed his mind about retiring. With the wheels already in motion to dissolve his existing team, he decided to explore options, and was coaxed out of retirement for 1990.

Second stint[edit]

Alfa Romeo Indycar engine

As planned, Ganassi split off to form his own team in 1990 (Chip Ganassi Racing). Pat Patrick took over the upstart Alfa Romeo Indycar project previously run by Alex Morales Motorsports. Roberto Guerrero signed on as primary driver with Al Unser, Sr. driving a second car at the Indy 500, as well as Michigan. The team landed sponsorship from Miller, which had previously been with Penske. The team saw little on-track success, and even less success in the engine development. Unser in fact missed the Michigan 500 when he wrecked in practice, suffering a broken leg. Unser then quit the team.

For 1991, Danny Sullivan took over as primary driver, and the team continued to fail miserably. By the end of the 1991 CART season, Patrick was in financial and legal trouble. As the team was collapsing, rumors surfaced that Patrick had shipped one of the Ilmor Chevrolet engines over to the Alfa-Romeo engine developers,[1] who in turn, tore the engine down to examine it and allegedly stole design ideas.

At the conclusion of the 1991 season, Danny Sullivan left the team, and was replaced by Bobby Rahal. Sullivan went to Rahal's old seat at Galles-Kraco Racing. Due to the possible fraudulent actions by Patrick against Chevrolet, the team was refused a Chevy engine lease, despite inking the popular Rahal. Facing a decidedly uncompetitive powerplant situation for 1992, and escalating legal problems, in December 1991, Patrick sold the team outright to Bobby Rahal and Carl Hogan. They formed Rahal-Hogan Racing, which is now known as Rahal Letterman Racing.

Third stint[edit]

In the mid-1990s, Patrick began to rebuild his team from scratch. In 1994, Patrick formed a testing team for Firestone tires, and spearheaded Firestone's return to Indycar racing for 1995. They did not enter any races in 1994, and instead tested all year. Scott Pruett signed on as the driver, and won the 1995 Michigan 500.

In the next few years, Patrick experienced moderate success in CART.

Due to money issues and the constant uncertainty of racing in Champ Car, Patrick Racing jumped over the IRL in 2004. They ran Al Unser, Jr. until his mid-season retirement and then Jeff Simmons, Jaques Lazier, and Tomáš Enge. With no sponsorship for 2005, the team ceased operations and the assets were put up for sale.

CART drivers[edit]

IRL drivers[edit]

All IRL drivers drove in 2004 only.


  1. ^ IndyCar Engine Woes have Deep Roots, More Front Wing, May 17, 2012, Retrieved 2013-01-18