1996 Indy Racing League season

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1996 Indy Racing League season
1996 Indy Racing League
Indy Racing League
Season
Races 3
Start date January 27
End date May 26
Awards
Drivers' champion United States Buzz Calkins
United States Scott Sharp
Indianapolis 500 winner United States Buddy Lazier
Chronology
Previous season Next season
1995 (ICWS) 1996–97

The 1996 Indy Racing League season, the first in the history of the league, consisted of only three races, as the season concluded in May with the 80th Indianapolis 500. Walt Disney World Speedway was completed in time to host the first race of the season, and the first ever event of the IRL, and Phoenix International Raceway switched alliances from CART to IRL and hosted the second event of the season. At the conclusion of the three-race schedule, Scott Sharp and Buzz Calkins ended up tied for first place in the season championship. With no tiebreaker rule in place, the two drivers were declared co-champions.

On January 23, 1995, at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort the IRL announced the dates for two of the races scheduled for the inaugural 1996 season. The Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway was scheduled for January 27, 1996 and 80th Indianapolis 500 was set for May 26, 1996. On April 3, the IRL announced that Phoenix International Raceway and the then-under construction Las Vegas Motor Speedway would be on the 1996 schedule, but no dates were confirmed. Later that month, on April 13, 1995, the respective dates were finalized for Phoenix (March 24, 1996) and Las Vegas (September 15, 1996). On May 30, 1995, New Hampshire Motor Speedway officially switched alliances from CART to IRL, and scheduled their race for August 18.

The original plan was to have every Indy Racing League season end with the Indianapolis 500. Thus the IRL champion would be awarded at the conclusion of the Indy 500, and quite possibly could be the Indy 500 winner. The next season (in this case the 1996–97 season) would begin immediately after the Indy 500, and spread over two calendar years to conclude at the next Indianapolis 500. As a result, the two races at New Hampshire and Las Vegas, already announced, would in fact open the 1996–97 season. The schedule format, however, went against the traditional motorsports grain, and the idea was eventually scrapped in October. The 1996–97 season was expanded in order to bring the schedule back in sync with the rest of the motorsports world for 1998.

The season was contested with 1995 and older CART chassis produced by Lola and Reynard with a fixed limit on how much a team could spend on its combination. In addition, nearly every car was powered by a Ford Cosworth XB, Menard V6 or Buick V6 engine. Despite the short season, only fifteen drivers competed in all three. All races were well-attended by competitors as a legal chassis and engine combination could be acquired for well under $100,000.

Teams and drivers[edit]

Team Chassis Engine Tires No. Drivers Rounds
United States ABF Motorsports Lola T92 Buick Goodyear 96 United States Paul Durant 2–3
United States A. J. Foyt Enterprises Lola T95 Ford Cosworth Goodyear 11 United States Scott Sharp[N 1] All
14 United States Davey Hamilton All
41 United States Mike Groff[N 2] 1–2
Lola T94 Brazil Marco Greco 3
84 United States Billy Boat[N 3] 3
United States Beck Motorsports Lola T94
Reynard 94I
Ford Cosworth Firestone 52 Japan Hideshi Matsuda 3
54 United States Robbie Buhl[N 4][N 5] All
United States Blueprint Racing Lola T93 Menard Firestone
Goodyear
16 United States Johnny Parsons All
27 United States Jim Guthrie[N 6] 2–3
United States Bradley Motorsports Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth Firestone 12 United States Buzz Calkins All
United States Brickell Racing Lola T93 Menard Goodyear 77 United States Tyce Carlson[N 7] 3
United States Byrd-Cunningham Racing Reynard 95I
Lola T94
Ford Cosworth Firestone 75 United States Johnny O'Connell[N 8] All
United States Byrd-Treadway Racing Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth Goodyear
Firestone
5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk[N 9] All
United States Della Penna Motorsports Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth Goodyear 4 United States Richie Hearn All
44 United States Scott Harrington[N 10] 3
United States DeLorto Motorsports Lola T92 Buick Goodyear 81 United States Rick DeLorto 1
United States Galles Racing Lola T95 Mercedes-Ilmor Goodyear 70 United States Davy Jones 3
United States Hemelgarn Racing Reynard 95I
Reynard 94I
Ford Cosworth Firestone 9 France Stéphan Grégoire All
10 Australia Brad Murphey[N 11] 3
91 United States Buddy Lazier All
United States Leigh Miller Racing Lola T94 Ford Cosworth Firestone 17 United States Stan Wattles[N 12] 1–2
United States Loop Hole Racing Lola T92 Buick Goodyear 36 United States Dan Drinan[N 13] 2–3
United States Pagan Racing Reynard 94I
Reynard 95I
Ford Cosworth Goodyear 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero[N 14] All
United States PDM Racing Lola T93 Menard Goodyear 18 United States John Paul, Jr. All
United States Project Indy Lola T93 Ford Cosworth Goodyear 46 New Zealand Rob Wilson 3
Reynard 95I
Reynard 94I
64 United States Johnny Unser[N 15] 2–3
United States Team Menard Lola T95 Menard Firestone
Goodyear
2 United States Scott Brayton[N 9] 1–2
3 United States Eddie Cheever[N 9] All
20 United States Tony Stewart[N 9] All
30 United States Mark Dismore 3
32 United States Danny Ongais[N 16] 3
United States Team Scandia Lola T95
Lola T94
Lola T93
Reynard 95I
Ford Cosworth Goodyear 7 Chile Eliseo Salazar[N 17] 1, 3
Spain Fermín Vélez 2
8 Italy Alessandro Zampedri[N 18] 3
22 Mexico Michel Jourdain, Jr. 2–3
33 Italy Michele Alboreto[N 19] All
34 Spain Fermín Vélez 3
43 United States Joe Gosek[N 18][N 20] 3
90 United States Lyn St. James[N 21] 1–2
United States Racin Gardner[N 18] 3
United States Tempero-Giuffre Racing Lola T92
Lola T93
Buick Goodyear 15 United States Bill Tempero[N 22] 1
United States Dave Kudrave[N 23] 2
25 1
United States Walker Racing Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth Goodyear 60 United States Mike Groff 3
United States Zunne Group Racing Lola T93 Buick Firestone 24 United States Randy Tolsma 3
Lola T94 Ford Cosworth Goodyear 45 United States Lyn St. James 3

Schedule[edit]

All races running on Oval/Speedway.

Rd Date Race Name Track City TV
1 January 27 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Walt Disney World Speedway Bay Lake, Florida ABC
2 March 24 Dura Lube 200 Phoenix International Raceway Phoenix, Arizona ABC
3 May 26 80th Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway Speedway, Indiana ABC

Controversy[edit]

In a controversial move, in July 1995, it was announced that the top 25 drivers in IRL points would secure guaranteed starting positions for the 1996 Indianapolis 500. Presumably, that left only eight positions open for at-large competitors. However, some interpreted the rule otherwise.[1]

The IRL points system was to be staggered to adjust for the number of races each driver entered. The number of points awarded per race would be multiplied by the number of events the driver had participated in. For example, if a driver had entered all three events, the points awarded for that third race were multiplied by three. This move was supposed to be an encouragement to enter all IRL events, but it did not attract any additional teams from the rival CART series.

Initially, IRL officials hoped that competitors from the rival CART series would choose to race in the IRL events, presumably since there were no foreseen conflicts in their respective schedules. The 1996 IRL schedule was finalized by May 30, 1995. However, a couple weeks later the CART series announced their 1996 schedule, immediately with conflicting dates. The CART race at Road America was scheduled for the same day as the IRL event at Loudon, while the CART races at Rio and Australia were bookended around the IRL race at Phoenix, creating an impossible travel situation. The only CART teams that participated in any IRL events in 1996 were Galles and Walker, but neither fielded drivers who were CART regulars.

Race results[edit]

Round Race Pole position Fastest lap Most laps led Race Winner Report
Driver Team
1 Walt Disney World United States Buddy Lazier United States Buzz Calkins United States Buzz Calkins United States Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports Report
2 Phoenix Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Byrd-Treadway Racing Report
3 Indianapolis United States Tony StewartA United States Eddie Cheever Colombia Roberto Guerrero United States Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Report
^A Scott Brayton was the fastest qualifier for the 1996 Indianapolis 500, but was killed during practice. Hence, second-fastest qualifier Tony Stewart started from the pole.

Race summaries[edit]

Round 1: Walt Disney World[edit]

The first race for the new Indy Racing League was held at Walt Disney World Speedway and televised on ABC. Though no CART teams showed up, a full field of 25 cars arrived, with 20 qualifying. Buddy Lazier won the pole position with a track record 181.388 mph (19.847 seconds). Indycar rookies Tony Stewart and Buzz Calkins emerged as race leaders most of the afternoon, while former CART veterans Eddie Cheever, Scott Brayton, Arie Luyendyk, and Buddy Lazier all fell by the wayside. On lap 189, Scott Sharp and Eddie Cheever tangled and crashed in turn one, which set up a restart with 6 laps to go. Calkins and Stewart restarted together nose-to-tail, and Calkins held off the challenge to win by 0.886 seconds.

Round 2: Phoenix[edit]

Arie Luyendyk won the pole. On the 128th lap, Foyt Racing drivers Scott Sharp and Mike Groff (running 1st-2nd) ducked into the pits for their final stop. However, they did not see that the yellow flag had come out, and were penalized one lap for pitting while the pits were closed. Robbie Buhl suffered a broken header, which left Arie Luyendyk in the lead for the final 66 laps to victory.

Round 3: Indianapolis[edit]

The first Indy 500 of the Indy Racing League era was held May 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Scott Brayton won the pole but was fatally injured in a practice crash and replaced by Danny Ongais. Tony Stewart started the race from the pole. Arie Luyendyk set the fastest qualifying lap on the second day of qualifying with track 1 and 4 lap records that still stand.

Driver standings[edit]

Pos Driver WDW
PHX
INDY
Pts2
1 United States Buzz Calkins 1* 6 17 246
United States Scott Sharp 11 2 10 246
3 United States Robbie Buhl 3 13 9 240
4 United States Richie Hearn 19 4 3 237
Colombia Roberto Guerrero 5 16 5* 237
6 United States Mike Groff 6 3 20 228
7 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 14 1* 16 225
8 United States Tony Stewart 2 11 24 204
9 United States Johnny O'Connell 7 5 29 192
United States Davey Hamilton 12 17 12 192
11 Italy Michele Alboreto 4 8 30 189
12 United States Lyn St. James 8 21 14 186
13 France Stéphan Grégoire 16 7 27 165
14 United States Buddy Lazier 17 Wth 1 159
15 United States John Paul, Jr. 9 14 31 153
16 United States Eddie Cheever 10 Wth 11 147
17 United States Johnny Parsons 18 12 28 141
18 United States Scott Brayton 15 18 DNS1 111
19 United States David Kudrave 20 10 80
20 Mexico Michel Jourdain, Jr. 20 13 74
United States Jim Guthrie 15 18 74
22 Spain Fermín Vélez 19 21 60
23 Chile Eliseo Salazar Wth 6 58
24 United States Johnny Unser 9 33 56
25 United States Stan Wattles 13 Wth 44
26 United States Davy Jones 2 33
27 United States Paul Durant 22 32 32
28 Italy Alessandro Zampedri 4 31
29 United States Danny Ongais 7 28
30 Japan Hideshi Matsuda 8 27
31 United States Scott Harrington 15 20
32 United States Mark Dismore 19 16
33 United States Joe Gosek 22 13
34 Australia Brad Murphey 23 12
35 United States Racin Gardner 25 10
36 Brazil Marco Greco 26 9
United States Dan Drinan DNQ DNQ 0
United States Rick DeLorto DNQ 0
United States Bill Tempero DNQ 0
United States Billy Boat DNQ 0
United States Tyce Carlson DNQ 0
United States Randy Tolsma DNQ 0
New Zealand Rob Wilson DNQ 0
Pos Driver WDW
PHX
INDY
Pts2
Color Result
Gold Winner
Silver 2nd place
Bronze 3rd place
Green 4th & 5th place
Light Blue 6th-10th place
Dark Blue Finished
(Outside Top 10)
Purple Did not finish
(Ret)
Red Did not qualify
(DNQ)
Brown Withdrawn
(Wth)
Black Disqualified
(DSQ)
White Did not start
(DNS)
Blank Did not
participate
(DNP)
Not competing
In-line notation
Bold Pole position
Italics Ran fastest race lap
* Led most race laps
Pts2 The number of points awarded per race
would be multiplied by the number of events
the driver had participated in.

In every race, points are awarded to drivers on the following basis:

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33
Points 35 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
  • Ties in points not broken by number of wins, etc.
  • No additional points to the pole winner or the driver leading the most laps were awarded.

Note[edit]

1 Scott Brayton, 37, won the pole for the 1996 Indianapolis 500, but was killed in a crash during practice after qualifying.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ #41 at Walt Disney World.
  2. ^ #11 at Walt Disney World.
  3. ^ Switched from Pagan Racing (car #99) during practice for the Indy 500.
  4. ^ #45 at Phoenix.
  5. ^ Used the Reynard chassis at Walt Disney World.
  6. ^ Used the Goodyear tires at Phoenix.
  7. ^ Replaced Danny Ongais during practice for the Indy 500 after Ongais signed with Team Menard as a replacement for the fatally injured Scott Brayton.
  8. ^ Used the Lola chassis at Walt Disney World.
  9. ^ a b c d Used the Goodyear tires at Walt Disney World.
  10. ^ Switched from Harrington Motorsport during practice for the Indy 500.
  11. ^ Used the 94I chassis.
  12. ^ Missed the Indy 500 due to injuries sustained in a practice crash at Phoenix.
  13. ^ Tyce Carlson and Andy Michner passed his Indianapolis rookie test in the car.
  14. ^ Used the 95I chassis at the Indy 500.
  15. ^ Used the 94I chassis at Phoenix.
  16. ^ At the Indy 500, Brayton withdrew his already qualified primary car and won the pole in the backup #32, but was fatally injured in a practice crash and replaced by Ongais, who switched from Brickell Racing.
  17. ^ Injured in a practice crash at Walt Disney World
  18. ^ a b c Used the T94 chassis.
  19. ^ Used the Reynard chassis at Walt Disney World.
  20. ^ Switched from Tempero-Giuffre Racing (car #15) during practice for the Indy 500.
  21. ^ Used the T93 chassis at Walt Disney World, and the Reynard chassis at Phoenix.
  22. ^ Justin Bell passed his Indianapolis rookie test in the car.
  23. ^ Used the T93 chassis.

References[edit]

References[edit]