Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix

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Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix
Phoenix International Raceway.PNG
Venue Arizona State Fairgrounds (1915, 1950–63)
Phoenix International Raceway (1964–2005, 2016–)
First race 1915
Distance 255.5 miles
Laps 250
Previous names Bobby Ball Memorial
Jimmy Bryan Memorial
Most wins (driver) Al Unser (6)
Most wins (manufacturer) Chassis: March
Dallara (9)
Engine: Offenhauser (25)

The Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix is a Verizon IndyCar Series race held at the Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Open wheel racing in the Phoenix area dates back to 1915 on a dirt oval at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. The race was revived in 1950 by the AAA, and then passed to the United States Auto Club in 1956. USAC moved the race to the newly built Phoenix International Raceway in 1964. The race became a CART event in 1979, and joined the Indy Racing League in 1996. It was held continuously through 2005.

After a hiatus of eleven years, the race was revived by the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016. It is currently held on Saturday night under the lights. Long considered a popular Indy car track, Phoenix has a rich history of open wheel races, including a spectacular crash involving Johnny Rutherford (1980), and the final career victory for Indy legend Mario Andretti (1993).

History[edit]

During its time on the USAC Championship Car circuit, Phoenix International Raceway typically held two races annually, one in the spring, and one in the fall. During the CART years, two races were scheduled through the mid-1980s, but the track dropped down to one race per year starting in 1987. In many years, Phoenix served as the CART season opener. After a feud between the track ownership and CART series officials, the track was dropped from the CART schedule after 1995, and immediately switched to the IRL beginning in 1996.

Citing low attendance, the race was put on hiatus after the 2005 season. In 2007, the Grand Prix Arizona for the Champ Car series was planned on a street circuit in downtown Phoenix nearby to the original course used for the U.S. Grand Prix. The event was cancelled four months before the event due to insufficient sponsorship funding.[1]

After a long hiatus, the Phoenix Grand Prix returned to the IndyCar Series schedule in 2016. The race was the only 1-mile oval on the schedule. The race was scheduled for a twilight start, and raced into the night under the lights. With the reconfiguring of the track in 2011, the circuit measured 1.022 miles in length, and the race was scheduled for 255.5 miles. Desert Diamond West Valley was announced as the title sponsor of the race for 2016 on March 23.[2]

Past winners[edit]

Arizona State Fairgrounds[edit]

Season Date Race Name Driver Chassis Engine Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Laps Miles (km)
AAA Championship Car history
1915 November 20 United States Earl Cooper Stutz Stutz 109 109 (175.418) 1:42:30 64.39
1916

1949
Not held
1950 November 12 Phoenix 100 United States Jimmy Davies Ewing Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:16:54 78.020
1951 November 4 Phoenix 100 United States Johnnie Parsons Kurtis Kraft Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:10:54 84.626
1952 November 11 Phoenix 100 United States Johnnie Parsons Kurtis Kraft Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:09:52 85.87
1953 November 11 Phoenix 100 United States Tony Bettenhausen Kurtis Kraft Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:11:30 83.916
1954 November 7−8* Bobby Ball Memorial United States Jimmy Bryan Kuzma Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:10:59 84.524
1955 November 6 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Jimmy Bryan Kuzma Offy 97* 97 (156.106) 1:09:24 83.862
USAC Championship Car history
1956 November 12 Bobby Ball Memorial United States George Amick Lesovsky D Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:05:20 91.826
1957 November 11 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Jimmy Bryan Kuzma Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:09:46 86.001
1958 November 11 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Jud Larson Lesovsky D Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:04:42 92.738
1959 October 18 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Tony Bettenhausen Kuzma Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:07:50 88.458
1960 November 20 Bobby Ball Memorial United States A.J. Foyt Meskowski Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:07:21 89.079
1961 November 19 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Parnelli Jones Lesovsky Offy 89* 89 (143.231)
1962 November 18 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Bobby Marshman Kuzma Offy 51* 51 (82.076) 0:33:13 92.124
1963 November 17 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Rodger Ward Watson Offy 100 100 (160.934) 1:10:35 85.01
  • 1954: Final 65 laps completed on November 8 due to heavy dust and the rough condition of the track.
  • 1955: Race shortened due to rough track conditions.
  • 1961: Race shortened due to darkness.
  • 1962: Race shortened due to crash.

Phoenix International Raceway[edit]

Season Date Race Name Driver Team Chassis Engine Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Laps Miles (km)
USAC Championship Car history
1964 March 22 Phoenix 100 United States A.J. Foyt Watson Offy 100 100 (160.934) 0:55:48 107.536
November 22 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Lloyd Ruby Halibrand RE Foyt 200 200 (321.868) 1:51:23 107.736
1965 March 28 Jimmy Bryan Memorial United States Don Branson Watson Offy 150 150 (241.401) 1:24:33 106.456
November 21 Bobby Ball Memorial United States A.J. Foyt Lotus Ford 200 200 (321.868) 2:00:01 99.99
1966 March 20 Jimmy Bryan Memorial United States Jim McElreath Brabham Ford 150 150 (241.401) 1:31:05 98.828
November 20 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Mario Andretti Hawk Ford 200 200 (321.868) 1:54:38 104.697
1967 April 9 Jimmy Bryan Memorial United States Lloyd Ruby Mongoose Ford 150 150 (241.401) 1:44:18 86.296
November 19 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Mario Andretti Hawk Ford 200 200 (321.868) 1:49:13 109.872
1968 April 7 Jimmy Bryan Memorial United States Bobby Unser Eagle Offy 150 150 (241.401) 1:29:10 100.938
November 17 Bobby Ball Memorial United States Gary Bettenhausen Gerhardt Offy 200 200 (321.868) 1:54:19 104.972
1969 March 30 Jimmy Bryan 150 United States George Follmer Cheetah Chevrolet 150 150 (241.401) 1:21:55 109.8
November 15 Bobby Ball 200 United States Al Unser Lola Ford 200 200 (321.868) 1:48:59 110.109
1970 March 28 Jimmy Bryan 150 United States Al Unser Colt Ford 150 150 (241.401)
November 21 Bobby Ball 150 United States Swede Savage Eagle Ford 150 150 (241.401) 1:17:30 116.807
1971 March 27 Jimmy Bryan 150 United States Al Unser Colt Ford 150 150 (241.401) 1:20:40 111.565
October 23 Bobby Ball 150 United States A.J. Foyt Coyote Ford 150 150 (241.401) 1:21:18 110.333
1972 March 18 Jimmy Bryan 150 United States Bobby Unser Eagle Offy 150 150 (241.401) 1:27:32 102.805
November 4 Best Western 150 United States Bobby Unser Eagle Offy 150 150 (241.401) 1:10:31 127.618
1973 March 17 Phoenix 150 Race postponed by rain and eventually cancelled due to infrastructure damage and scheduling conflicts.
November 3 Arizona 150 United States Gordon Johncock Eagle Offy 150 150 (241.401) 1:18:15 115.015
1974 March 17 Phoenix 150 United States Mike Mosley Eagle Offy 150 150 (241.401) 1:17:08 116.663
November 2 Phoenix 150 United States Gordon Johncock Eagle Offy 150 150 (241.401) 1:12:28 124.202
1975 March 16 Bricklin 150 United States Johnny Rutherford McLaren Offy 150 150 (241.401) 1:21:06 110.971
November 9 Phoenix 150 United States A.J. Foyt Coyote Foyt 150 150 (241.401) 1:21:02 111.055
1976 March 14 Jimmy Bryan 150 United States Bobby Unser Eagle Offy 150 150 (241.401)
November 7 Bobby Ball 150 United States Al Unser Parnelli Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:23:34 107.695
1977 March 27 Jimmy Bryan 150 United States Johnny Rutherford McLaren Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:20:48 111.395
October 29 Bobby Ball 150 United States Gordon Johncock Wildcat DGS 150 150 (241.401) 1:22:53 108.597
1978 March 18 Jimmy Bryan 150 United States Gordon Johncock Wildcat DGS 150 150 (241.401) 1:17:05 116.757
October 28 Miller High Life Bobby Ball Memorial 150 United States Johnny Rutherford McLaren Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:14:24 120.974
CART Indy Car World Series history
1979 March 11 Arizona Republic / Jimmy Bryan 150 United States Gordon Johncock Penske Racing Penske Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:15:23 119.389
October 20 Miller High Life 150 United States Al Unser Chaparral Racing Chaparral Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:13:03 123.203
1980 March 2 Phoenix 150 Race cancelled due to Salt River floods
November 8 Miller High Life 150 United States Tom Sneva O'Connell Phoenix Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:30:04 99.925
1981 March 22 Kraco Car Stereo 150 United States Johnny Rutherford Chaparral Racing Chaparral Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:17:08 116.681
October 31 Miller High Life 150 United States Tom Sneva Bignotti-Cotter March Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:20:10 112.266
1982 March 28 Kraco Car Stereo 150 United States Rick Mears Penske Racing Penske Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:15:48 118.727
November 6 Miller High Life 150 United States Tom Sneva Bignotti-Cotter March Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:21:05 110.997
1983 March 20 Phoenix 150 Race cancelled due to Salt River floods
October 29 Miller High Life 150 Italy Teo Fabi Forsythe Racing March Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:11:03
1984 April 14 Dana-Jimmy Bryan 150 United States Tom Sneva Bignotti-Cotter March Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:14:39 120.555
October 13 Stroh's 150 United States Bobby Rahal Truesports March Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:31:47 98.048
1985 March 31 Phoenix 150 Race cancelled due to general deterioration of the track.
October 13 Dana 150 United States Al Unser Penske Racing March Cosworth 150 150 (241.401) 1:14:35 120.644
1986 April 6 Dana 200 United States Kevin Cogan Patrick Racing March Cosworth 200 200 (321.868) 1:39:42 120.345
October 19 Circle K/Fiesta Bowl 200 United States Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing March Cosworth 200 200 (321.868) 1:29:06 134.676
1987 April 12 Checker 200 Colombia Roberto Guerrero Granatelli Racing Team March Cosworth 200 200 (321.868) 1:26:56 138.02
1988 April 10 Checker 200 United States Mario Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola Chevrolet 200 200 (321.868) 1:38:22 121.992
1989 April 9 Checker Autoworks 200 United States Rick Mears Penske Racing Penske Chevrolet 200 200 (321.868) 1:35:09 126.112
1990 April 8 Autoworks 200 United States Rick Mears Penske Racing Penske Chevrolet 200 200 (321.868) 1:35:01 126.291
1991 April 21 Valvoline 200 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Granatelli Racing Team Lola Chevrolet 200 200 (321.868) 1:32:18 129.988
1992 April 5 Valvoline 200 United States Bobby Rahal Rahal/Letterman Racing Lola Chevrolet 200 200 (321.868) 1:31:56 130.529
1993 April 4 Valvoline 200 United States Mario Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola Ford-Cosworth 200 200 (321.868) 1:36:53 123.847
1994 April 10 Slick-50 200 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Penske Racing Penske Chevrolet 200 200 (321.868) 1:51:41 107.437
1995 April 2 Slick-50 200 United States Robby Gordon Walker Racing Reynard Ford-Cosworth 200 200 (321.868) 1:29:33 133.98
Indy Racing League / IndyCar Series history
1996 March 24 Dura Lube 200 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Treadway Racing Reynard Cosworth 200 200 (321.868) 1:42:14 117.368
1996-97 March 23, 1997 Phoenix 200 United States Jim Guthrie Blueprint Racing Dallara Oldsmobile 200 200 (321.868) 2:14:33 89.19
1998 March 22 Dura-Lube 200 United States Scott Sharp Kelley Racing Dallara Oldsmobile 200 200 (321.868) 2:02:19 98.11
1999 March 28 MCI WorldCom 200 Canada Scott Goodyear Panther Racing G-Force Oldsmobile 200 200 (321.868) 1:56:40 102.856
2000 March 19 MCI WorldCom 200 United States Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Riley & Scott Oldsmobile 200 200 (321.868) 1:47:11 111.957
2001 March 18 Pennzoil / Copper World Indy 200 United States Sam Hornish, Jr. Panther Racing Dallara Oldsmobile 200 200 (321.868) 1:35:57 125.072
2002 March 17 Bombardier ATV Indy 200 Brazil Helio Castroneves Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet 200 200 (321.868) 1:43:00 116.504
2003 March 23 Purex / Dial Indy 200 Brazil Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda 200 200 (321.868) 1:59:55 100.073
2004 March 21 Copper World Indy 200 Brazil Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda 200 200 (321.868) 1:33:46 127.981
2005 March 19 XM Satellite Radio 200
Presented by Argent Mortgage
United States Sam Hornish, Jr. Team Penske Dallara Toyota 200 200 (321.868) 1:30:24 137.753
2006

2015
Not held
2016 April 2 Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix New Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Chevrolet 250 255.5 (411.186)* 1:49:39 139.822
2017 April 29 Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix France Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet 250 255.5 (411.186) 1:46:25 144.058
  • 2016 race at PIR, after 2011 reconfiguration, is measured at 1.022 miles.

Support races[edit]

Selected race summaries[edit]

CART series[edit]

  • 1980: Johnny Rutherford led the first 37 laps, then on lap 71 was chasing leader Tom Sneva. Dicing through slower traffic, Rutherford slipped by Sneva in turn three to take the lead. He then suffered a spectacular crash. Coming out of turn four, he touched wheels with Dennis Firestone and spun into the outside wall. Then the car flipped up in the air and landed upside-down on its roll bar. Rutherford escaped with a concussion and only minor cuts and lacerations.
  • 1985 (fall): In the second-to-last race of the season at Phoenix, Al Unser, Sr. and Al Unser, Jr. finished 1st-2nd, and ended the day within 3 points of each other going into the season finale. The father and son battle for the 1985 championship is famous in Indy car lore.
  • 1986 (spring): Michael Andretti led 78 laps, but his engine started smoking on lap 163. Kevin Cogan took the lead on lap 164, and won his first (and only) career Indy car race. Cogan finished a lap ahead of second place Tom Sneva.[3]
  • 1987: Roberto Guerrero qualified third, but failed post-qualifying inspection for being 2.5 pounds underweight. He was forced to start last on the grid. Guerrero quickly charged through the field, and was in the top five by lap 46. He dueled with Bobby Rahal for the lead on lap 62, and dominated the second half. Even a stop-and-go penalty for hitting a tire in the pits did not slow Guerrero's run. Guerrero won by 8 seconds over Rahal, becoming only the fourth driver in modern Indy car history to win a race from the last starting position.
  • 1988: Polesitter Rick Mears led the first 22 laps, and stretched out to a large, dominating lead. Coming out of turn four on lap 22, however, Mears tangled with Randy Lewis, spun down the mainstretch, and came to rest with a broken suspension. Mario Andretti led the final 135 laps to win.
  • 1989: Danny Sullivan held the lead late, but his Penske teammate Rick Mears blew by him on lap 183. Sullivan pitted for tires, but his pitside tank had no more fuel to take on. Mears had a lap on the entire field as he stretched his fuel to the victory. At the line, Al Unser, Jr. barely held off Sullivan for second place.
  • 1990: Rick Mears made it back-to-back victories at Phoenix, this time in dominating fashion. Mears led the final 132 laps, nearly lapping the field at one point. The attention focused on the battle for second between Galles-Kraco Racing teammates Bobby Rahal and Al Unser, Jr. On lap 189, Rahal was able to weave through lapped traffic and pass Unser for second, as Mears cruised to victory.
  • 1991: Arie Luyendyk, driving for the fledgling Bob Tezak UNO/Granatelli Racing, took the lead on lap 143. Luyendyk pulled out to a large lead while Bobby Rahal, Emerson Fittipaldi, and Michael Andretti battled wheel-to-wheel for second. Fittipaldi and Rahal were side-by-side when Danny Sullivan's Alfa Romeo engine blew, bringing out the yellow and white flag. Fittipaldi passed Rahal, but it was after the yellow light came on. Luyendyk won his second Indy car race, and Rahal was restored to second.
  • 1992: Bobby Rahal led wire-to-wire, leading all 200 laps en route to victory. Rahal became the first driver to accomplish that feat at Phoenix since A. J. Foyt in 1964. Michael Andretti qualified for the pole position, the first pole for the Ford-Cosworth XB engine, but his car didn't even pull away from the starting grid. He was pushed to the pits due to fouled spark plugs, and started the race four laps behind the field.
  • 1993: Rookie Nigel Mansell arrived at Phoenix anticipating his first open wheel oval race, but crashed during practice and sat out with a back injury. Mansell's teammate Mario Andretti won the race, and became the oldest winner of an Indy car race (53 years, 34 days). It was Mario Andretti's final Indy car victory.
  • 1994: Hiro Matsushita touched wheels with Teo Fabi in turn three on lap 63. The two cars crashed and collected leader Paul Tracy. Seconds later, rookie Jacques Villenueve came upon the scene in the high groove, and t-boned Matsushita's car, splitting it in two, and sending it spinning wildly to the infield. Matsushita escaped with no injuries besides a sore shoulder. Later in the race, Mario Andretti crashed on the backstretch, and Michael Andretti clipped another car, which sheared off his left front wheel, which bounced into a spectator area. No injuries were reported. Emerson Fittipaldi won, with his Penske teammate Al Unser, Jr. second. After sitting out the race a year before, Nigel Mansell placed third.
  • 1995: In the closing laps, Paul Tracy and Emerson Fittipaldi battled for the lead. Both had to pit though for a "splash-and-go" to make it to the finish. With 7 laps to go Fittipaldi's pit stop handed the lead to Michael Andretti, but Andretti did not realize he had inherited the lead. Andretti allowed Robby Gordon to pass him for the lead with five laps to go, and Gordon won his first career CART series race. It would be the final CART series race at Phoenix.

IndyCar Series[edit]

  • 1996: The race switched to the new Indy Racing League. On lap 128, 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. Arie Luyendyk cruised over the final 66 laps to victory. During a practice run, Buddy Lazier suffered a fractured back after a crash. Lazier would come back to win the Indy 500 two months later.
  • 1997: Independent owner/driver Jim Guthrie authored one of the biggest underdog wins in Indy Racing League/IndyCar history. On lap 180, a crash involving Sam Schmidt and Kenny Brack brought out a lengthy yellow flag. Guthrie stayed out, looking to stretch his fuel over the final 82 laps. Guthrie held off a hard-charging Tony Stewart over the final ten laps to secure his lone Indy car victory. Going into the race, Guthrie was forced to take out a second mortgage on his home to purchase his chassis.
  • 1998: On lap 59, Eliseo Salazar spun and collected Dave Steele and Robbie Buhl. Trying to avoid the crash, Arie Luyendyk touched wheels with Salazar, and slid through turn 2 upside down. On lap 169, the leaders pitted under caution, but Scott Sharp stayed out, gambling on track position. On lap 186, Kenny Brack and Mike Groff touched wheels, crashing hard. The long yellow allowed Sharp to conserve fuel. With two laps to go, the green came out with Sharp leading. Tony Stewart and Billy Boat were caught up behind the slow car of Mark Dismore, allowing Sharp to hold on for the win. After the race, Dismore was fined $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Sharp was fined $15,000 when he failed post-race inspection with an oversized fuel tank.[4]
  • 2001: In preparations for their return to the Indianapolis 500, Penske Racing enters their CART regulars Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran for the IRL season opener at Phoenix.[5] Both Penske cars, however, would drop out. Sam Hornish Jr., driving in his first start for Panther Racing, won his first career Indy car race. Hornish beat the leaders out of the pits with 73 laps to go, and dominated the rest of the way.
  • 2005: Tomas Scheckter brushed the outside wall in turn four on lap 193, bringing out the caution, and setting up a two-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Sam Hornish, Jr. led Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves. Hornish got a good jump on the restart, while Franchitti slipped high in turn two, whitewalling the tires. Hornish won the race, while Franchitti fell back to 4th. Tony Kanaan, who finished third, started 21st and passed half the field on the first lap.[6]
  • 2016: After an eleven-year hiatus, the IndyCar Series returned to Phoenix for a race under the lights. The track had been slightly reconfigured since the last race in 2005, and now was measured at 1.022 miles in length. In addition, the race length was lengthened to 250 laps. Helio Castroneves broke the track record during qualifying, setting a new one-lap record of 192.631 mph. Passing was difficult during the race, and tire wear was a major factor. Penske teammates Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya both suffered tire failures while leading in the first half. Scott Dixon took the lead and led the final 155 laps to victory.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Berry, Jahna (29 August 2007). "Grand Prix Arizona canceled". The Arizona Republic.
  2. ^ "PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY NAMES DESERT DIAMOND WEST VALLEY TITLE SPONSOR OF APRIL 2 PHOENIX GRAND PRIX". Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "Auto Racing Roundup : Cogan Gets a Break and Beats Sneva for First Indy-Car Win". Los Angeles Times. Avondale, Arizona: Tribune Publishing. Times Wire Services. April 7, 1986. Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Sharp/Dismore Fined for Phoenix Infractions". The Auto Channel. Retrieved 2015-07-29. 
  5. ^ Glick, Shav (March 16, 2001). "Penske CART Team Using Phoenix Race as Indy 500 Tuneup". Los Angeles Times. Avondale, Arizona: Tribune Publishing. Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  6. ^ "IRL: Hornish secures lucky 13th win at PIR". Motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. March 22, 2005. Retrieved March 13, 2016. 

External links[edit]


Preceded by
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
IndyCar Series
Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix
Succeeded by
Grand Prix of Indianapolis