Panther Racing

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United States Panther Racing
Panther Racing.png
Founded April 1997
Base Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Team principal(s) John Barnes
Jim Harbaugh
Mike Griffin
Courtney Jones
Joe Cain
Former series IndyCar Series
Drivers'
Championships
2001 IRL (Hornish Jr.)
2002 IRL (Hornish Jr.)
Folded August 2014
Panther's 2006 car driven by Vitor Meira

Panther Racing was an American open wheel auto racing team. It was one of the oldest continually operating teams in Indy Racing League LLC's IZOD IndyCar Series.

Four years in a row (2008–2011), the team finished second at the Indianapolis 500. In the 2011 Indy 500 the team's rookie driver J. R. Hildebrand was leading when he crashed on the final turn of the final lap. He coasted across the finish line to place second.

Formation[edit]

The team was formed in late 1997, to compete in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League (now Verizon IndyCar Series), by six owners: open-wheel racing team manager John Barnes, Indianapolis car dealer Gary Pedigo, former radio personality Mike Griffin, television production executive Terry Lingner, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh and Indianapolis director of corporate government affairs Doug Boles.

Verizon IndyCar Series[edit]

For their first season in 1998, the team fielded the #4 Pennzoil G-Force GF01B-Oldsmobile Aurora L47 V8 for Scott Goodyear. The car had an unusual yellow and black paint scheme, as Pennzoil did not use its traditional all-yellow livery in favor of a Sam Bass design as part of changes by the company when they added NASCAR sponsorship to Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in 1998 (Bass, a well-known race car motorsport livery designer, wanted more focus on black instead of the traditional yellow to reflect Pennzoil's sponsorship of Earnhardt and Earnhardt's signature black color). The car used #4, which reflected Harbaugh's jersey number with the Indianapolis Colts. The team would debut at the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway. Goodyear would start in 21st place (due to qualifying being rained and the top 20 starters being determined by 1996-1997 entrant standings and the remaining eight by practice speeds). Goodyear would finish in 17th place due to a suspension failure after 132 laps. Goodyear would then finish in 6th place (one lap down) at the following race, the Dura Lube 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Over the next seven races, Goodyear would finish in the top 6 five times and would get a best finish of 2nd place at the New England 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Goodyear was ranked in 5th place following the Atlanta 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway and would finish in 7th place with 244 points due to 22nd place finishes at the last two races of the season, the Lone Star 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and the Las Vegas 500K at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The team would also field the #43 Pennzoil G-Force GF01B-Oldsmobile Aurora L47 V8 for Dave Steele at Texas and Las Vegas. Steele would finish in 24th place at Texas and 27th place at Las Vegas. Steele would finish in 36th place in points with 22 points (Steele also drove for Helmut Marko Racing at Phoenix).

In 1999, Goodyear continued to drive for the team in the #4 Pennzoil G-Force GF01C-Oldsmobile Aurora L47 V8. At the season-opening TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway, Goodyear started in 4th place and finished in 2nd place after leading 36 laps. Goodyear would then win the MCI WorldCom 200 at Phoenix International Raceway after starting in 3rd place and leading for a race-high 134 laps. Goodyear would take the points lead following the race. Goodyear would then finish in a disappointing 27th place at the Indianapolis 500 due to an engine failure after 101 laps before winning the following race, the Longhorn 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, after leading the final 43 laps of the race. Following Texas, Goodyear would get a best finish of 12th place at the Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in the remaining six races of the season. Goodyear continued to hold the points lead following the MBNA Mid-Atlantic 200 at Dover Downs International Speedway (with three races left in the season). Goodyear would finish in 9th place in the final standings with 217 points. Steele would drive the #43 Pennzoil G-Force GF01C-Oldsmobile Aurora L47 V8 as a second car for the team at Indianapolis. Steele would crash in practice on May 19 and would suffer a concussion, causing him and the car to fail to qualify.

For 2000, Goodyear drove the #4 Pennzoil Dallara IR00-Oldsmobile Aurora L47 V8. The team began to use an all-yellow Pennzoil livery after using the Sam Bass-designed black and yellow livery the previous two seasons. At the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway, Goodyear started in 8th place and finished in 4th place. Goodyear would then finish in 2nd place at the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway and was ranked in 3rd place in points. Following Phoenix, Goodyear only had one finish outside of the top 12 (a 16th place finish at the Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway) and was always ranked inside the top 4 in points. Goodyear would later win the pole position at the Belterra Resort Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway and finish in 2nd place to Buddy Lazier after leading a race-high 65 laps. Following the race, Goodyear was ranked in 2nd place in points and was 38 points behind Lazier (a win gives 50 points, while leading the most laps gave 2 points and qualifying on the pole position gave 1 point). At the season-ending Excite 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Goodyear started in 2nd place and won the race after leading for 39 laps. Eddie Cheever (who was also eligible to win the championship due to being 4 point behind Lazier) would finish in 2nd place and Lazier would finish in 4th place. Goodyear would finish in 3nd place in the championship to Lazier by 18 points.

Goodyear went into semi-retirement starting in 2001 and second-year driver Sam Hornish, Jr. became the new driver of the #4 Pennzoil Dallara IR00-Oldsmobile Aurora L47 V8. Hornish would win the season-opening Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway after starting in 2nd place and leading 140 of 200 laps. Hornish would then win the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway after leading 142 of 200 laps. Hornish would only have one finish outside of the top 10 during the season (a 14th place finish at the Indianapolis 500) and his worst finish in the top 10 was a 6th place finish at the Harrah's 200 at Nashville Superspeedway. Hornish would also receive his first two pole positions of his career during the season at the Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway and the season-ending Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (although both races had their starting lineup determined by entrant standings). Hornish would clinch the championship at the next-to-last race of the season, the Delphi Indy 200 at Chicagoland Speedway, with a 2nd place finish. Hornish would then win the season-ending race at Texas after leading 115 laps. Hornish would win the championship with 503 points, beating Lazier by 105 points.

The team repeated its season championship in 2002. However, with an influx of new teams from the troubled CART defecting to the IRL, the loyalists were disadvantaged, and when Hornish was unable to continue his success in the 2003 season, he left for Penske Racing.

In 2004, Team Menard merged into Panther Racing, which had Mark Taylor and Tomas Scheckter driving the Chevrolets for the season, with Taylor the #2 Johns Manville Chevrolet, and Scheckter the #4 Pennzoil Chevrolet. Taylor was fired mid-2004 through the team's worst drought, caused by an uncompetitive engine.

For the 2005 season, Rockstar Energy Drink, replaced Johns Manville as the primary sponsor of the #2 car, with Tomáš Enge as its driver, while Scheckter stayed with the #4, winning at Texas Motor Speedway.

Shell Oil was not happy with their sponsorship, and withdrew as primary sponsor for the team. However, new sponsorship was found and Vitor Meira was confirmed as their driver for 2006, with a series of different sponsors (including EcoNova, Harrah's, Revive!, and Lincoln Tech) throughout the year on the #4 Honda. Pennzoil remained on the car as an associate sponsor.

For 2007, Kosuke Matsuura joined Panther as a second car, running Panasonic sponsorship and in association with the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri, with the #55. Meira's #4 carried Delphi sponsorship. Both drivers had so-so years, with Matsuura taking a top five at Michigan. For 2008, Matsuura was released from the 55 and Panasonic sponsorship went to the 27 of rookie Hideki Mutoh for Andretti Green Racing. Meira's team remained unchanged. Meira scored a second place finish for Panther Racing at the 2008 Indianapolis 500, earning more than a million dollars.

In 2009 former IndyCar Series champ and Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon replaced Meira in the Panther #4 car, with the U.S. National Guard as the primary sponsor. Veteran driver Scott Sharp competed in the #16 Patron car for the team at the Indy 500. Wheldon finished second, with Sharp off the pace.

In 2010, Wheldon remained with the team and again placed second in the Indianapolis 500, however the team was not a factor for most of the season. The squad also ran a limited schedule with Ed Carpenter, scoring a second place finish at Kentucky. Wheldon departed the team after the season, while Carpenter signed on with Sarah Fisher Racing.

In 2009, Firestone Indy Lights champion J.R. Hildebrand signed a multi-year contract to drive the #4 National Guard car starting in 2011.[1] Hildebrand was released from his contract after the 2013 Indy 500. Ryan Briscoe and Oriol Servia alternated in the #4 car for the remainder of the season. Briscoe was injured in Race 1 of the Toronto doubleheader. With Servia unavailable, Panther Racing got Indy Lights points leader (at the time) Carlos Muñoz to drive the #4 for race 2.

In 2014, Panther Racing sued Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and IndyCar, alleging it lost the National Guard sponsorship worth $17.2 million because of bid rigging.[2] Without the National Guard sponsorship, Panther did not field an entry for the start of the 2014 season. In April a report stated that only a skeleton staff remained with the organization, and their equipment was sold to KV Racing Technology to field a fourth entry for James Davison at the 2014 Indianapolis 500.[3] The team announced that its remaining assets would be sold off at auction on July 23.[4] The team was officially listed as defunct in August 2014.

Drivers who have driven for Panther[edit]

Racing results[edit]

Complete IRL IndyCar Series results[edit]

(key)

Year Chassis Engine Drivers No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
1998 G-Force GF01B Oldsmobile Aurora V8 WDW PHX INDY TXS NHA DOV CLT PPIR ATL TXS LSV
Canada Scott Goodyear 4 17 6 24 4 2 6 3 18 4* 22 22
United States Dave Steele 43 24 27
1999 G-Force GF01C Oldsmobile Aurora V8 WDW PHX INDY TXS PPIR ATL DOV PPIR LSV TXS
Canada Scott Goodyear 4 2 1* 27 1 12 16* 17 21 25 23*
United States Dave Steele 43 DNQ
2000 Dallara IR-00 Oldsmobile Aurora V8 WDW PHX LSV INDY TXS PPIR ATL KTY TXS
Canada Scott Goodyear 4 4 2 12 9 5 16 11 2* 1
2001 Dallara IR-01 Oldsmobile Aurora V8 PHX HMS ATL INDY TXS PPIR RIR KAN NSH KTY GAT CHI TXS
United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 4 1* 1* 4 14 3 2* 2 2 6* 3 3* 2 1*
2002 Dallara IR-02 Chevrolet Indy V8 HMS PHX FON NAZ INDY TXS PPIR RIR KAN NSH MCH KTY GAT CHI TXS
United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 4 1* 3* 1* 17 25 18 3 1 2 3* 7 2 5 1* 1
United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 15 10 15
2003 Dallara IR-03 Chevrolet Indy V8 HMS PHX MOT INDY TXS PPIR RIR KAN NSH MCH GAT KTY NAZ CHI FON TXS
United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 4 10 21 6 15 10 5 4 17 11 2* 6 1* 2 1 1 17
United States Robby McGehee 44 25
United States Billy Boat 98 32
2004 Dallara IR-04 Chevrolet Indy V8 HMS PHX MOT INDY TXS RIR KAN NSH MIL MCH KTY PPIR NAZ CHI FON TXS
United Kingdom Mark Taylor 2 19 12 16 30 17 18
United States Townsend Bell 17 5 6 8 21 12 18 22 9 9
South Africa Tomas Scheckter 4 5 16 13 18 20 17 15 19 21 19 22 17 13 19 15 18
2005 Dallara IR-05 Chevrolet Indy V8 HMS PHX STP MOT INDY TXS RIR KAN NSH MIL MCH KTY PPIR SNM CHI WGL FON
Czech Republic Tomáš Enge 2 21 20 16 DNS 19 19 7 11 23 11 6 5 20 13 8
United States Townsend Bell 15
United States Buddy Lazier 18
95 5 9 6 6 10
South Africa Tomas Scheckter 4 11 17 17 10 20 1* 4 5 17 3 3 21 14 16 4 20 7*
2006 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI6R V8 HMS STP MOT INDY WGL TXS RIR KAN NSH MIL MCH KTY SNM CHI
Brazil Vitor Meira 4 16 5 10 10 2 6 2 3 3 15 2* 6 3 6
2007 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 HMS STP MOT KAN INDY MIL TXS IOW RIR WGL NSH MDO MCH KTY SNM DET CHI
Brazil Vitor Meira 4 4 16 17 8 10 5 5 9 9 17 10 17 18 10 9 15 18
United States John Andretti 33 30
Japan Kosuke Matsuura 55 16 17 18 18 16 11 9 15 17 8 16 12 4 11 10 5 17
Japan Hideki Mutoh 60 8
2008 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 HMS STP MOT LBH KAN INDY MIL TXS IOW RIR WGL NSH MDO EDM KTY SNM DET CHI SRF1
Brazil Vitor Meira 4 10 19 16 22 2 22 7 15 20 22 6 6 19 4 7 17 27
United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 11
2009 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 STP LBH KAN INDY MIL TXS IOW RIR WGL TOR EDM KTY MDO SNM CHI MOT HMS
United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 4 14 5 10 2 10 7 4 10 10 14 15 11 16 12 22 8 21
United States Scott Sharp 16 14
2010 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 SAO STP ALA LBH KAN INDY TXS IOW WGL TOR EDM MDO SNM CHI KTY MOT HMS
United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 4 5 20 11 9 15 2 9 11 6 10 20 14 25 2 3* 10 9
United States Ed Carpenter 20 17 20 2 13
2011 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 STP ALA LBH SAO INDY TXS MIL IOW TOR EDM MDO NHA SNM BAL MOT KTY LSV
United States J. R. Hildebrand 4 11 13 17 10 2 23 18 21 4 8 11 25 21 23 19 7 20 C
United States Buddy Rice 44 18 9 C
2012 Dallara DW12 Chevrolet IndyCar V6t STP ALA LBH SAO INDY DET TEX MIL IOW TOR EDM MDO SNM BAL FON
United States J. R. Hildebrand 4 19 15 5 7 14 14 5 22 22 7 21 9 8 12 11
2013 Dallara DW12 Chevrolet IndyCar V6t STP ALA LBH SAO INDY DET TXS MIL IOW POC TOR MDO SNM BAL HOU FON
United States J. R. Hildebrand 4 19 17 5 15 33
Australia Ryan Briscoe 21 13 15 14 22 DNS 17
Spain Oriol Servià 19 7 14 12 19 7 19
Colombia Carlos Muñoz 17
United States Townsend Bell 60 27
1 Non-points-paying, exhibition race.

References[edit]

External links[edit]