Doug Shierson Racing
Shierson Racing's biggest victory came at the 1990 Indianapolis 500, with driver Arie Luyendyk. The team finished runner-up in the CART championship in 1985 with driver Al Unser, Jr. losing the title by one point.
Shierson was instrumental in the development of the Formula Atlantic series in the late 1970s, winning the championship with Howdy Holmes in 1978 and Jacques Villeneuve the Elder in 1980 and 1981. Bobby Rahal drove for the team in 1976 and suffered a season fraught with difficulties and he considered leaving the sport, on Shierson's urging Rahal decided to stay with the series in 1977 and eventually had a tremendously successful racing career. The team was also active in Formula 5000.
Shierson racing moved up to CART with Howdy Holmes in 1982. Holmes drove the team's car to 10th at the Indianapolis 500 and 13th in points. The best finish was a 4th place at Milwaukee. Holmes repeated his 13th-place points finish and finished 6th at Indy the following year.
The team experimented with its own DSR-1 chassis that was designed by Ian Reed of March Engineering and built by laid off Williams F1 fabricators. It was abandoned by Indianapolis when it was clearly off the pace and the team returned to Lola equipment. Sullivan was hired away by perennial superpower Penske Racing following his successful 1984 season.
Initially, Shierson signed John Paul, Jr.; however, Paul would be jailed for racketeering in a case involving his father. After attempting to hire Al Unser, Sr., Shierson secured the services of Al Unser, Jr., who would come into his own as a driver during his stint with the team.
Al Unser, Jr. won back to back mid-season races at the Meadowlands and Cleveland, and finished runner-up in the championship in 1985. Al Jr. famously lost the title by only one point. He effectively lost the championship in the waning laps of the final race of the season (Tamiami Park), when his father Al Unser, Sr. finished just high enough to clinch enough points to mathematically secure the title.
The team fared strongly again in 1986 with Unser finishing 4th in points and winning the final race of the season. In 1987 Unser improved to 3rd place in points but did not win a race. At year's end Unser elected to return to Galles Racing who had the new Chevrolet-Ilmor engine which would go on to dominate Indy cars over the next several seasons.
Unser, Jr. achieved top five finishes at the Indianapolis 500 for the team in 1986 (5th) and 1987 (4th).
Shierson replaced Unser with Raul Boesel. Boesel failed to win and only managed 8th and 11th in points in his two years with the team. The team was hampered by the use of the underpowered Cosworth and Judd engines. The highlight of the season, however, was a surprising third place at the 1989 Indianapolis 500.
For 1990 the team put veteran journeyman Arie Luyendyk in the Domino's car for which it had secured Chevy-Ilmor power and expanded to a second car for Scott Goodyear running year-old equipment with Judd power. Luyendyk, who had never won a CART race before, shocked the establishment by winning the 1990 Indianapolis 500 from 3rd on the grid in what was the fastest "500" in history.
Midway through the 1990 season, Shierson sold 50% of the stake in the team to businessman Bob Tezak, owner of International Games (makers of UNO). Longtime sponsor Domino's Pizza was facing legal issues stemming from their "30 minutes or it's free" delivery guarantee. During the history of the team sponsorship, the Shierson entries traditionally carried the number 30, as a gesture to the "30-minutes or free" delivery policy. Some delivery drivers were reportedly breaking traffic laws and speeding to fulfill the guarantee. Such an instance caused a fatal traffic accident, and company officials deemed sponsoring a race car inappropriate given the circumstances.
Luyendyk rode a wave of positive attention and newfound popularity to an 8th-place finish in the 1990 CART points standings. However, he did not manage to win another race, and Indy was in fact the only top 3 result of the season. He had two 4th-place finishes, at the Meadowlands, and the exhibition Marlboro Challenge at Nazareth.
End of team
Facing sponsorship uncertainty, and deciding that he had accomplished his goals in the sport, Shierson eventually sold the entire team outright to Tezak in January 1991. Tezak took over the team in a joint effort with Vince Granatelli (merging with Granatelli's team, Vince Granatelli Racing), and re-booted the team as UNO/Granatelli Racing. The car's livery was changed to the classic day-glow orange utilized by Granatelli entries over the years, and Luyendyk's services were retained for 1991. Granatelli assumed day-to-day operations with Tezak fulfilling sponsorship and funding.
The UNO/Granatelli team suffered thoroughly from a lack of sponsorship money, which caused friction as the season endured. RCA sponsored the car at Indy, but for most of the other races, the car had blank sidepods. Driver Arie Luyendyk managed to win two races; Phoenix and Nazareth. He finished 3rd at the Indy 500, and 2nd at the Michigan 500. A second team car at Indy for Al Unser, Sr. fell through due to contractual reasons with the Ilmor Chevrolet.
The team nearly folded in June/July when Tezak announced he was out of money, and pulled his support. In early August, Granatelli battled a restraining order from Tezak and Total Petroleum, which prevented them from taking to the track at the Michigan 500 for practice and qualifying. The order was lifted, and Luyendyk nearly won the race, finishing a close second to Rick Mears.
Despite two wins and a 6th-place finish in points for 1991, the re-booted team closed its doors permanently at the conclusion of the 1991 season.
Doug Shierson died May 26, 2004 of cancer.
Drivers in CART
Doug Shierson Racing
- Howdy Holmes (1982-1983)
- Danny Sullivan (1984)
- Al Unser, Jr. (1985-1987)
- Raul Boesel (1988-1989)
- Arie Luyendyk (1990 - primary)
- Scott Goodyear (1990 - secondary)
- Arie Luyendyk (1991)
- Mittman, Dick. 1990 Indy 500-Winning Team Owner Shierson Dies At 62 Archived May 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine., Indy500.com, May 28, 2004
- Galpin, Darren. "Shierson DSR1-4C-Cosworth". The A-Z of Racing Cars. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
- Siano, Joseph. Luyendyk Wins in Fastest Indianapolis 500 Ever, The New York Times, May 28, 1990
- Kallmann, Dave (1990-06-30). "Shierson sells part of team". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
- Woolford, Dave (1990-07-23). "Shierson likely to land on feet". The Toledo Blade. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
- "Granatelli Makes Deal". The New York Times. 1991-01-11. Retrieved 2012-10-08.