1985 CART PPG Indy Car World Series
|1985 CART season|
|PPG Indy Car World Series|
|Start date||April 14|
|End date||November 10|
|Drivers' champion||Al Unser|
|Nations' Cup||United States|
|Rookie of the Year||Arie Luyendyk|
|Indianapolis 500 winner||Danny Sullivan|
The 1985 CART PPG Indy Car World Series season was the 7th national championship season of American open wheel racing sanctioned by CART. The season consisted of 15 races. Al Unser, Sr. was the national champion, and the rookie of the year was Arie Luyendyk. The 1985 Indianapolis 500 was sanctioned by USAC, but counted towards the CART points championship. Danny Sullivan won the Indy 500, in dramatic fashion, a race that became known as the "Spin and Win."
In the fall of 1984, Rick Mears suffered serious leg injuries in a crash at Sanair. Mears drove only a part-time schedule in 1985, racing at Indianapolis, and subsequently on ovals only. Al Unser, Sr. took Mears' full-time seat at Penske Racing as a substitute for the season. Unser, Sr. had one win, ten top fives, and one other top ten, en route to the championship, a battle that climaxed in dramatic fashion in the final race of the season.
Defending series champion Mario Andretti won the season opener, finished 2nd at Indy, and won the next two races, jumping out to the early points lead. A mid-season slump, however, saw him have only one top five finish the remainder of the year. He then broke his collarbone in a crash at Michigan, and was forced to sit out one race. The driver of the season became Al Unser, Jr., who won the next two races (Meadowlands and Cleveland), and finished the year with nine finishes in the top 4.
At the midpoint of the season, Mario Andretti's points lead had dwindled, while Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser, Sr., and Al Unser, Jr. were all closing in. At the Pocono 500, Rick Mears triumphantly returned to victory lane after his leg injuries. Finishing second and third were Al Jr. and Al Sr., respectively, with Al Sr. now taking the points lead. Unser, Jr. ate away at the points lead over the next four races, and the Unsers were neck-and-neck approaching the season finale. Meanwhile, Bobby Rahal was making a championship run of his own, winning 3 of 5 races, and closing within 13 points of the points lead.
With two races to go, Unser, Jr. led Unser, Sr. by 3 points. Father and son finished 1st and 2nd at Phoenix, and the standings were flipped. Al Sr. led Al Jr. by 3 points going into the finale at Miami. Rahal finished a distant 6th at Phoenix, and was mathematically eliminated from the championship.
The season finale at Tamiami Park ended in dramatic fashion. Danny Sullivan and Bobby Rahal finished 1st and 2nd, respectively, but the attention of the day was focused on the Unsers. Late in the race, Al Unser, Jr. was running third, and Al Unser, Sr. was running 5th. At the moment, Al Jr. was leading the hypothetical title race by one point. Unser, Sr. caught and passed Roberto Moreno for 4th place in the closing laps, and thus won the championship by 1 point over his son. Unser, Sr. afterwards expressed some regret about snatching the championship title from his son, but felt it was his responsibility to his own team and his own sponsors to race to his ability all the way to the end, and it was also in the best interests of sportsmanship to all competitors not to give favor to his son. Unser, Sr. also knew his days were numbered as a competitive driver on the circuit, while he knew Unser, Jr. had many years ahead to have another chance at the title (Al Jr. would indeed win the championship twice - 1990 and 1994).
The 1985 season saw two controversies at two separate races. The Michigan 500 had to be postponed for a week due to tire issues. In September, the race at Sanair came to a bizarre conclusion when the pace car, leading the field on the final lap under caution, suddenly veered into the pits on the final turn. Leader Johnny Rutherford was not informed, and second place Pancho Carter accelerated past him and beat him to the finish line. Officials initially awarded the victory to Carter, and Rutherford protested. After review, Rutherford was eventually restored the victory.
Drivers and Teams
- - The number in parenthesis is the number the car used at the Indianapolis 500, if a different number was used.
Notable team and driver changes
- Rick Mears was sidelined due to injuries for much of the season. Danny Sullivan leaves Doug Shierson Racing.to join Team Penske.
- Al Unser Jr. leaves Galles Racing to replace Sullivan at Doug Shierson Racing. He is replaced at Galles Racing by Geoff Brabham, who previously drove for Kraco Racing.
- Mayer Motor Racing, which ran 1984 with drivers Tom Sneva and Howdy Holmes, does not run in 1985. Tom Sneva moves to All American Racers, which expands to a two car team, while Howdy Holmes moves to Forsythe Racing, who had run 1984 without a steady driver.
- Galles Racing expands to a two car team. Joining Geoff Brabham, the second car is run by Pancho Carter on the ovals and rookie Roberto Moreno on the road courses.
- Bignotti-Cotter Racing changes it's name to Team Cotter, continuing to field a car for Roberto Guerrero.
- Bill Whittington, who did not have a ride in 1984, joins Arciero Racing, replacing Pete Halsmer. Halsmer only runs a few races that year.
- Rookie Arie Luyendyk runs his first full season, driving for Provimi Veal Racing. He replaces Derek Daly, who is left without a full-time ride.
- Geoff Brabham is replaced at Kraco Racing by Kevin Cogan.
- Gordon Johncock retires shortly before the 1985 Indianapolis 500. He is replaced at Patrick Racing by rookie Bruno Giacomelli.
- Johnny Rutherford returns to full-time driving, replacing Al Holbert at Alex Morales Motorsports. Holbert returns to sports cars.
- Dick Simon scales back to part time driving. His ride at Dick Simon Racing is split with Raul Boesel.
- Stan Fox, who ran full-time in 1984, does not run in 1985. A variety of drivers are run at Leader Card Racing.
- Interscope Racing and driver Danny Ongais only run part-time in 1985.
- Tom Hess Racing, which drove most of 1984 with Dick Ferguson, also scales back to part-time.
*The Michigan 500 was scheduled for July 21, but postponed a week due to tire concerns.
- Indianapolis was USAC-sanctioned but counted towards the CART title.
Drivers points standings
In the Sanair race (Molson Indy Montreal), Roberto Guerrero had a strong lead until he lost control and spun. Late in the race Jacques Villeneuve collided with leader Bobby Rahal in attempt to challenge for the lead, taking both out. The race finished under a yellow flag, but the safety car entered pit lane on the final lap, and thinking there would be a final restart, Pancho Carter passed Johnny Rutherford after the safety car entered pit lane and before the finish line. CART initially declared Carter the winner, but an appeals panel later overturned the decision and confirmed Rutherford's victory. In many codes of motorsport (typically FIA Code) the safety car enters pit lane as the field is on the final lap, and the cars cross the checkered flag together without the safety car on course. However, this practice is not accepted in North America, where the safety car leads the leaders to the finish line if the safety car situation exists.
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