Firestone Indy 400
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient 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 1968 and 2007, Michigan International Speedway hosted a total of 55 open-wheel races, including 22 500-mile events. In several seasons, the facility hosted two separate races annually.
From 1981 to 2001, the event was better-known as the Michigan 500, and was held in high prestige. During its heyday of the 1980s, the race was part of Indy car racing's 500-mile "Triple Crown".
USAC Championship Car
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
In 1979, both 150-mile Michigan races switched to CART sanctioning.
In 1980, Ontario Motor Speedway closed, and thus Indy car racing's "triple crown" (Indianapolis, Pocono, Ontario) lost one of its 500-mile races. For 1981, the summer race at Michigan was expanded to 500 miles, replacing Ontario. NBC agreed to broadcast the race live, making it the first Indy race to be broadcast live. Following the 1986 CART season, the fall race was dropped from the schedule, leaving the Michigan 500 the track's lone Indy car 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 was dropped after only one running.
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.
Indy Racing League / IndyCar
Starting in 2002, the race became an Indy Racing League IndyCar Series event. In addition, the race distance was changed from 500 miles to 400 miles. 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.
For 2007, the race had to move dates. The Brickyard 400 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 placed on the first weekend in August. The result was three races in close proximity (Mid Ohio, Michigan, and Detroit) within six weeks of each other.
In July 2007, facing low attendance, track management announced that they would not be hosting an IndyCar race for 2008 and beyond. The track management was not satisfied with the dates available. In addition, they wanted to use a twin 200-mile race format, a request the league refused to approve.
During the CART era, safety was always a major concern at Michigan, primarily due to the high speeds. Crashes at Michigan ended the driving careers of careers of Chip Ganassi, Emerson Fittipaldi, Héctor Rebaque and Danny Sullivan. Likewise Derek Daly, A. J. Foyt, Al Unser, Jr., Gordon Johncock, Mario Andretti and Bobby Rahal, among others, suffered injuries from crashes.
In 1987, a dogleg chicane was hastily built in the middle of the backstretch to slow the cars down, but it was never used in competition. After a couple of practice runs, it was deemed unsuitable, partially due to fear of gearbox failure, being too abrupt, and not necessarily serving its intended purpose. But it was also scrapped due to concern over fans' negative reactions. Instead, officials decided to reduce turbocharger boost for the race.
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, three spectators were killed, and six others injured, when debris from a single-car crash flew over the catch fence into the grandstands. Despite improvements made to the fence, subsequent attendance in races declined greatly over previous totals.
Attrition during the CART era
Attrition has always been a factor in the 500-mile CART Michigan races, all of which used the 2650cc turbocharged V8 formula.
In 1981 (the inaugural 500-mile race), only 10 cars out of 37 cars (most number of cars in modern history - four more cars than the Indianapolis 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, later Gary Bettenhausen lost control and was hit by Howdy Holmes causing Bettenhausen's car to spin atop his 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 crashes) bringing out the yellow flag allowing the CART officials to stop the fire.
|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.
- NOTE: The 1985 Michigan 500 was not televised due to the race being delayed.
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|