Mario Andretti brought Newman/Haas Racing its first successes - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
Some unhappy news came out of Lincolnshire, Illinois on the first of December, as the legendary car owner Carl A. Haas confirmed that Newman/Haas Racing cannot continue in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012.
The economic climate caught up to NHR, who raced with two cars in the 2011 season, for Catalan Oriol Servia - who finished fourth in the 2011 campaign (taking a front-row start in the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500) - and Sunoco Rookie of the Year James Hinchcliffe, who earned 12th place points despite missing the first race of the year.
Newman/Haas Racing has been one of the most successful open-wheel racing teams in the United States. Participating in 29 consecutive Indy car racing seasons from 1983 until the just completed IZOD IndyCar Series campaign, NHR has earned a total of eight championships, 107 race wins and 109 pole positions.
In addition to Servia and Hinchcliffe, some of the illustrious drivers that have worked with this team are Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi, Cristiano da Matta, Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira, Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson.
"The economic climate no longer enables Newman/Haas Racing to participate in open wheel racing at this time," said Carl Haas, owner and co-founder of the team. Haas has been in failing health and wife Bernie Haas had taken over some of the day-to-day operations of the team, along with John Tzouanakis and Brian Lisles. Co-owner Paul Newman passed away several years ago and, with the murder of long-time mechanic (and backbone of the team) Davey Evans at Indianapolis two years ago, some of the innate spirit of the NHR team was removed.
NHR was expected to be the final Honda full-time team in 2012, but their participation had not been confirmed. Both Honda and Chevrolet have each been intending to supply 10 cars for the 2012 campaign.
Hinchcliffe, named today as one of the Grand-Am drivers for the Mazda SpeedSource team in the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona was heartbroken as he tweeted, "Well, today started great… "
© 2011 Anne Proffit