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'Almost-moves' in CART/USAC/IRL


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#1 HistoryFan

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 20:03

A pendant to the almost moves thread I start a thread for almost moves in AAA/USAC/CART/IRL/ChampCar.

I heard that Ricardo Rosset was offer a ChampCar and a IRL drive in 1999. Don't know for which teams.

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#2 fines

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:22

1925 almost-moves:

After acquiring the Miller FD that was originally built for Jimmy Murphy, Cliff Durant announced he was too busy to race it much, and was looking for a driver, his old buddy Tommy Milton being the "hot tip".

Antoine Mourre was set to drive one of the three Guyots that were entered for Indy, but shortly after his arrival at the Hoosier capital word came from France that the cars were not ready and would be withdrawn. Mourre ended up qualifying a Duesenberg, then driving the Fiat in relief - surely some sort of record, engagement for three works teams in a single race...

Barely three weeks before Indy, Reg Johnson crashed his Miller hard at the Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina, breaking his collar bone. The car proved much easier to repair, and veterans Ira Vail and Ora Haibe were considered for the driving assignment. The job went to the New Yorker, but Haibe was selected as replacement for Bennie Hill, who on the eve of the '500' decided he wasn't going to drive the second Miller FD but his old rear-drive instead, putting Red Cariens out of a job. For some reason, probably lack of track time in the unfamiliar car, Haibe and the front-drive were withdrawn on the moring of the race.

#3 fines

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 18:18

Another 1925 almost-move from the eve of the '500': when Lora Corum crashed the already qualified back-up car of Ralph de Palma on the day before the race, he was rumoured to take over his teammate's car, with de Palma moving into the front-drive about to be abandoned by Bennie Hill! This was obviously before the Haibe involvement, and was reported as a done deal in a New Mexico paper (Albuquerque Journal) on Saturday morning!

#4 fines

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 15:32

A 1941 almost-move: Duke Nalon had a contract with Lou Moore's team lying in front of him, ready to sign, but refused owing to restrictions regarding his Midget and Sprint Car activities. Actually, perhaps this wasn't an almost-move in a strict sense since Nalon had been one of three drivers to drive the car already in 1940, between Mauri Rose and George Connor.

Incidentally, the failure of this almost-move proved to be a happy conclusion for both parties, as Moore put Floyd Davis in the car and won the Indy 500 with it, while Nalon continued running the Weirick Sprint Car and won the Midwestern Championship!

#5 HistoryFan

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 20:32

Thank you for posting!

Are there any almost-CART/ChampCar/IRl-moves from Roberto Moreno?

#6 fines

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 16:52

Freddy Lorenzen tested a BRP/Ford for George Bryant during the late fall of 1965. Evidently, he was testing tyres for the team and Firestone, but one gathers he must have eyed a '500' start. In the end, NASCAR colleague Bobby Johns got the seat, but failed to qualify.

#7 HistoryFan

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Posted 14 April 2008 - 20:55

Any CART/ChampCar/IRL almost moves from Christian Fittipaldi?

#8 fines

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 15:29

Cyrus Patschke was widely rumoured to team with Bob Burman in the other Benz of the Moross team for the inaugural Indy 500, but two weeks before the race Billy Knipper got the ride. This was the last open driver assignment in the field of 46, but a couple of substitutions were made later.

#9 fines

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 07:24

Two months after being seriously injured at Langhorne, Gordon Condon from Altoona (PA) was in line for a drive at his hometown's Labour Day Race in 1931, either in the Buckeye team's Duesenberg or Ray Brady's Nardi/Duesenberg. In the end, both spots were taken by fellow Pennsylvanians, Deacon Litz for the Ohio Duesey and Al Aspen (the winner of the Langhorne race in which Condon was injured) for the homestate entry.

#10 Buford

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 07:50

In the fall of 1984 I had tentative agreement for a $250,000 sponsorship to race 8 CART races in 1985, 7 road races and Milwaukee. Teddy Yip was selling two 1983 Theodore chassis, 7 engines, 5 brand new still in the crates, all the wheels and pit equipment, everything turnkey, and the transporter for $50,000. Basically he was selling the transporter for $50,000 and throwing all the two year old racing junk in for free in a fire sale, get it out of here deal. I asked Mario Andretti what he thought, the cars weren't winners when new, would I be accepted or run out of town. He told me, "You can run mid pack on the road courses in those cars. There are better guys driving milk trucks in Dubuque than half the guys out here."

The plan was for my long time mechanic and me to quit our jobs, each take $50,000 and buy the stuff for $50,000. We could get a volunteer crew (common then). That would leave $100,000 to run 8 races. I know that sounds ridiculously cheap, and even for 1985 it was, but it was doable if I didn't wad up the cars, and we could always not pay ourselves and spend that $100,000 if we had to. Obviously our hope was to look good enough in the 8 races to either get more backing from our sponsor, or additional backing and get better stuff for 1986 and run Indy. I had been around racing long enough to never get my hopes up and believe it only when it happens, but this looked so much like it was gonna happen I actually believed it.

Then in the winter CART announced new side pod rules and it was gonna cost $35,000 a chassis to modify them and even then we still wouldn't be competitive. That made an already wish and a prayer program unfeasible. Our potential sponsor could not come up with more money and we couldn't talk them into an IMSA program, so this deal, like most racing deals fell through.

Now I realize this thread was supposed to be about real race drivers and real CART/Indy programs. But if this deal had gone through, I would have been one.

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 08:16

I've got to tell you, man...

I would have done that deal! I would have tried to get the cost of the sidepods down, looked for a couple of sideline sponsors and pressed on.

#12 Buford

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 08:28

Well basically we were faced with a decision of agreeing to buy two year old cars that were not competitive or even legal with money we didn't officially have yet and when we told them we couldn't guarantee 8 races without more money they said Indy cars or nothing. We tried to talk them into an IMSA Porsche program with the same money but they declined.

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 09:37

You're right, it all becomes very awkward...

I guess that was when you should have shot Tony George?

#14 Buford

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Posted 25 June 2008 - 09:41

No he was tooting noise candy in 1984 and had nothing to do with CART side pod rules configurations. TG didn't become trouble for the sport until l990 or 1991

#15 Buford

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 05:56

Sorry I didn't mean to kill the thread with my own pathetic failures.

#16 stuartbrs

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 09:26

Buford, i love reading your stories, dont apologise!!

#17 Catalina Park

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 10:43

Thanks Buford! Love your work. :wave:

#18 Lemans

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 02:57

Buford, don't stop posting your stories. The cautionary tales of money and desire mixed with striving to be the best is admirable. Your the everyman I respect. Racing is full of money guys today in NASCAR who bought rides. This started years ago but got worse. You resresnt the dying age of the man who go Indy via the short tracks not the IRL. Contrats for hanging in there. 90% of life is showing up and you did more than show up. :clap:

#19 Buford

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 03:35

Well thank you. I didn't do much that shows up on paper but I did get to drive every type of car... eventually. They were all junk of course. Never the best ones out there. Usually the worst ones on the track although many of them would would be worth lots of money today. I was a shitbox hero but that was a whole lot better than not racing at all and I always had hope this was the year I would find the sugar daddy.

But I could never have done today what I did in the 1970s. It would be impossible to start with a $1,000 half prepared Mini Cooper and parlay it into a 18 year career with much less than a national average personal income and where I sometimes even got paid to race (but not usually). Of course I couldn't have done it then without my long-time mechanic who built my cars for nothing and all of the guys who helped for nothing just because they thought I was going to make it and take them with me. They believed that for a long time.

I did have one advantage then that most of my competitors did not, but is common today. That was I started racing at age 7 in quarter midgets, and so by the time I turned 21 I had a great deal of confidence. If I could beat them all when I was a kid I saw no reason why I couldn't beat them all as an adult. I know if you tell people now you thought you were the best in the world, people will laugh in your face... but I have to admit I thought I was lol. I thought I was put on earth to race cars and I really did believe I was going to make it. Or die trying which was alright too. As it turned out I didn't do either one, which was the one alternative I found not acceptable.

And I had the advantage of coming from a racing family although I had promised when I was seven years old in order to get the quarter midget that I would never be a race driver when I grew up. But I didn't consider a promise when I was seven years old given under duress was binding. I did have to keep my original season secret from my parents but they eventually found out. My parents never put a dime into my racing career because by the time I got old enough they had sold the business and no longer were sponsoring racing cars with chump change from their business... money they would have had to pay in taxes anyway so why not play with it. However I did have the advantage of a fully equipped garage with all of the tools that I paid a pittance for rent for. I could never have afforded all of the tools. I had a garage and a crew basically for free just because they thought I was good.

So basically what I'm saying is I could never have done what I did without family and friends to help (though not with hard cash) with services and labor. And I couldn't do it again today. Looking back on my racing career I have to realize without money I got a lot farther than I probably should have. I was just in the transition period where you could do some of it on talent but at some point you definitely had to score the sugar daddy and I never did.

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#20 Lemans

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 12:20

I say that today many of these drivers from F-1 to the local dirt track use $ up the ladder for success. Budford, I knew a few guys that raced just below your level in stock cars in the 1970s-1990s-they hung on just for waiting for the that big break. Thats the important element. You did it your way.

#21 fines

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 18:47

Originally posted by Buford
Sorry I didn't mean to kill the thread with my own pathetic failures.

You sure haven't killed the thread, as you'll notice it already went a couple of moons without a post - it's that sort of a thread, I guess. And your post was certainly valid, as it was an almost move for sure! Top story, so sad it had to end like so many others... :(

#22 fines

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 17:25

Funny how in Grand Prix and other European based racing, the question always seems to be "Who will drive what next year", when in AAA Big Car racing the question often was: "Who will drive what next weekend"! Like in 1931, when for one reason or another, driver Shorty Cantlon and team owner Bill White had a falling-out shortly after Indy, right in mid-season. White's Los Angeles based team was well-heeled, and some sort of unofficial Miller works operation, so every driver with a career plan took notice, and Francis Quinn actually made a deal, but not before Chris Vest was touted as a possible candidate.

Quinn had another problem, though, as he had to give up a proven winner (Russ Garnant's Vance/Cragar) to drive White's new and unproven Miller Special, and thus late in the season he suddenly found himself finishing fourth or fifth where previously he'd have called it a bad weekend if he'd finished only second! Didn't quite appeal to him, so he said sayonara, and White was on the prowl again. Cliff Bergere was looking for an Ascot ride at the same time, and was already linked to the 4wd Indy Miller that was taking shape at Miller's shop, so everyone was adding two and two and saw Cliff drive the White/Miller - only it never happened.

But the real almost-move, and a mighty what-if was in the making when Bill Cummings was announced in town, looking for a ride to continue to improve his already impressive Pacific Southwest portfolio. Sadly, the two Bills never got together, as Cummings acquired a bad cold, perhaps in transit, and was "grounded" by the AAA medical staff for the penultimate night racing programmme at Ascot.

It so happened that Ernie Triplett, leading points scorer of the circuit, was looking for a car to drive while his regular "ride", the McCarthy/Schofield, was "on the mend" after a crash a couple of weeks earlier, and with Ernie already having missed a race or two, and second-place man Chet Gardner happily bringing home the bacon, Triplett was quite eager to drive anything, especilally a "hot job" like White's, so famine and feast found each other, and with Cummings healing slowly (perhaps also due to an eye injury contracted at the Syracuse Champ Car finale earlier in the month), Ernie and the new White clicked off a succession of three wins, and "Hollywood Bill" had his new driver!

Cummings, however, wasn't left at the starting line either, and was picked by Art Sparks for the winter racing season, then Louis Schneider for the Indy 500, and finally Mike Boyle, that other "superstar" racing sponsor of the period, for a career that included everything a US driver of the time could wish for.

#23 HistoryFan

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 17:31

Funny how in Grand Prix and other European based racing, the question always seems to be "Who will drive what next year", when in AAA Big Car racing the question often was: "Who will drive what next weekend"!



Maybe it is today the question, too. In IndyCar there are many changes during the season. Even not all teams are driving during the quite season.

One actual almost move: There were rumours that Alexandre Tagliani should replace Enrique Bernoldi at Conquest in Endmonton. But this move didn't happen.

#24 F1Fanatic.co.uk

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 17:44

Surely the most famous must be Greg Moore going to Penske for 2000 which, tragically, was not to be.

#25 HistoryFan

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 19:02

There were aso rumours that Greg Moore had chances to go in Formula One. Possible drives were at McLaren and Sauber.

#26 HistoryFan

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 13:24

Tony Kanaan was a possible driver at Rahal Letterman and Chip Ganassi for 2009. Ganassi said, that the contract was almost ready.

Any more almost-moves at Ganassi?

#27 fines

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 14:35

Wasn't there confusion about the Ganassi-Williams transfer of Montoya one year, i.e. when Schumacher signed because they didn't want to have two "rookies" in F1 (Zanardi/Montoya), they parked JPM at Ganassi with a view to take him to F1 in two years, then Alex failed to deliver and was sacked, but Ganassi didn't wamt to release Monty so they signed Button instead, then after a year they wanted to park him at Ganassi? Or exchange with Monty?? Or am I dreaming??? :confused:

#28 Zippel

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 01:14

Originally posted by fines
Wasn't there confusion about the Ganassi-Williams transfer of Montoya one year, i.e. when Schumacher signed because they didn't want to have two "rookies" in F1 (Zanardi/Montoya), they parked JPM at Ganassi with a view to take him to F1 in two years, then Alex failed to deliver and was sacked, but Ganassi didn't wamt to release Monty so they signed Button instead, then after a year they wanted to park him at Ganassi? Or exchange with Monty?? Or am I dreaming??? :confused:


Something like that. Ganassi expressed interest in having Button if he couldn't retain Juan but Button had no intentions of leaving F1 if he couldn't drive for Williams. So Williams loaned him to Benetton/Renault for a couple of years.

I doubt Montoya getting a Williams seat was any sort of guarantee if he didn't do well in Champ Car.

Also, I do recall Toyota F1 being interested in Montoya if Williams had decided to keep Button so Monty staying in champ car didn't look likely.

#29 HistoryFan

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 12:05

There were many drivers from Ganassi who became Formula One drive at Williams. Montoya and Zanardi of course, but there was another driver who almost got a Williams seat for 2005 I think, Scott Dixon. He did some tests (I think 2, which were really well) for Williams, but decided to stay in IndyCar. Otherwise as Antônio Pizzonia didn't get the Williams cockpit for 2006 there were rumours that he can go to Ganassi. There is some relationship between Ganassi and Williams.

#30 HistoryFan

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 20:04

Are there any almost moves at Penske?
Bourdais was rumoured to replace Castroneves but he stayed in F1. So was Barrichello, too, but I think in the last case in really were only rumours.

#31 HistoryFan

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 08:39

Tomas Scheckter was in strong negotations with Conquest and Team3G for the 2009 Indy 500.
Now he drives the race for Dale Coyne.

#32 HistoryFan

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 16:18

I've read that Esteban Tuero was on the list for several ChampCar teams in 2002. Can you tell me names?

#33 HistoryFan

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 11:51

A question about Gene Force: After the Indy race in 1951 he missed 9 years the Indy 500. First in 1960 he raced in Indy again. Were there no talks over the years, that Force should drive Indy for a team? Which teams?

#34 ensign14

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 21:27

From the Rick Mears biography: Roger Penske offered Pancho Carter a jobshare with Mario Andretti in 1978, but turned it down, wanting the full schedule instead. Penske therefore offered it to Rick Mears...

#35 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 08:55

Bobby Unser signed and already tested for Patrick Racing in late 1982, but decided to retire on Dec 20, reputedly acting on family pressure.

Johnny Rutherford tested for Forsythe Racing in December of 1982, and was already in Chicago to sign a contract when Pat Patrick called... Teo Fabi made the most of the ensuing vacancy. :)

#36 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 09:14

A question about Gene Force: After the Indy race in 1951 he missed 9 years the Indy 500. First in 1960 he raced in Indy again. Were there no talks over the years, that Force should drive Indy for a team? Which teams?


Gene qualified for the 1952 Indy 500, driving for the same team (Brown Motor Co.) as in 1951, but he was too slow to make the field (36th). In 1953, he signed to drive for the Sumar team, but was injured in a Sprint Car race on May 10. I have nothing on 1954-56, but in '57 he tried to qualify a Shannon Bros. car, aborting the run because he was going too slow. The Shannons did not enter Indy in '58 or '59, but in the latter year Force was trying to qualify two cars: the Carl Gehlhausen entry in place of Bob Schroeder (the "other" one ;)), and the Fred Sclavi entry in place of Jim Packard, but he couldn't find enough speed in either to complete a run.

#37 HistoryFan

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 09:41

Thank you!

#38 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 09:52

Hector Rebaque was supposed to drive a second car for Forsythe Racing in 1983.

Bob Lazier was to drive for Rattlesnake Racing in '83, but decided to help his son (who he? ;)) in his downhill skiing career instead.

#39 Rob

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 09:58

I think Allan McNish tested an Indycar in late '95 or very early '96 and came close to doing a deal. Can't remember for the life of me which team it was with. Seem to remember it was about the same time that Mark Blundell started testing with PacWest.

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#40 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 13:12

Are there any almost moves at Penske?
Bourdais was rumoured to replace Castroneves but he stayed in F1. So was Barrichello, too, but I think in the last case in really were only rumours.


Almost certainly completely unfounded.

RP plays his cards so close to his chest that none of us in the team saw the Gil de Ferran / Greg Moore signing of 1999 for 2000 coming (remember, we were in really deep trouble at the time), so the basic rule is that if the outside world is propagating rumours about Penske Racing drivers, then they're unlikely to be true.

#41 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 17:43

Derek Daly and Geoff Brabham were both in line to drive the Galles team spare March in a few late 1983 season races - didn't happen, though, as Galles sold the car to Bill Alsup.

Daly was also considered a likely candidate for John Fitzpatrick's new team in 1984, running the Ligier Indy Car, but the financing could not be secured. Maybe "Fitz" can elaborate here? :cat:

Stefan Johansson and Jonathan Palmer had talks with Mo Nunn, team manager of Bignotti-Cotter Racing in late 1983, but the team signed Roberto Guerrero in the end.

Johnny Rutherford hoped to sign for Mayer Motor Racing, and Jacques Villeneuve was being courted by Shierson Racing in 1984, but the latter prefered to run Shierson's 1983 cars in his own team, and JR only landed the part-time second seat at Shierson, driving Danny Sullivan's spare car at Indy.

Edited by Michael Ferner, 07 July 2010 - 18:07.


#42 Marc Sproule

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 18:36

There was supposed to be a Ferrari for Rahal. Can't remember which year, but there's a pic of the car in the GK's Rahal book.

Not sure if the snap exists on the net.

#43 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 19:45

There was supposed to be a Ferrari for Rahal. Can't remember which year, but there's a pic of the car in the GK's Rahal book.

Not sure if the snap exists on the net.


Indeed - I believe Truesports were associated with that mid Eighties Ferrari Indycar project - I remember Grant Newbury telling me that he spent a fair amount of time time in Maranello working with them.

#44 Mig007

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 21:07

Yes, Truesports worked with Ferrari. I think in 1985, Enzo Ferrari decided to leave F1 nad race at USA, due to a possible V12 ban, I think. In his idea, a good Ferrari F1 should have 12 cyclinders. I think the engineers of both teams met, and it was agreed Truesports Co. will race the new Ferrari car. I'm not sure, but I think Rahal and Alboreto tested aprototype but, after all, this was only a way to pot pressure on FISA to change the rules in F1, because when FISA handed it over, Ferrari immediatly dumped the CART project.

I think it's possible to find with more details this on a MotorSport magazine of the last years, but I hope this resume helps.

Edited by Mig007, 07 July 2010 - 21:08.


#45 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 21:11

When Texaco pulled out of a sponsorship agreement with Tom Sneva in early 1984 (temporarily, as it turned out), Mayer Motor Racing opened talks with Johnny Rutherford, John Watson and Jonathan Palmer. The second seat was already occupied by Howdy Holmes.

Willy T. Ribbs was nominated to drive the second Shierson Indy entry in 1984, allegedly without knowing it! Shierson later cancelled the entry and terminated negotiations "due to lack of time" when Johnny Rutherford became available, after Texaco agreed to sponsor Sneva at Mayer Motorsport again.

Don Whittington was testing for Rattlesnake Racing in early '84, but crashed on April 1 at Indy and destroyed his potential ride.

Eliseo Salazar negotiated with HBK Racing for their new Lola, but Kenny Acheson got the ride. The car was anyway purchased by Shierson after their in-house design proved uncompetitive.

Arie Luyendijk and Fulvio Ballabio were both named to drive the third Provimi Racing entry at Indy, but the team elected to run only two.

Edited by Michael Ferner, 07 July 2010 - 22:10.


#46 Marc Sproule

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 21:41

A very brief synopsis of Chapter 10 in the Rahal book.

Chapter Title: "We were supposed to race a Ferrari in '87."

Apparently it was a bit of a wind-up by Enzo. Leo Mehl was involved and a Turesports March got shipped to Italy and Rahal ran it in secret, starting in Sept of '85. They wanted Adrian Newey to design the car but he was going to Kraco in '86. Gustav Brunner eventually designed it. Rahal never ran it but Michele Alboreto did. Once.

John Barnard was coming to Ferrari and wanted them to concentrate on F1 so the project was shelved. The engine eventually became the Alfa motor that was run '89 through '91. Supposedly the motor never got within 100hp of the other CART motors.

There are several static shots of the car in the chapter.

#47 HistoryFan

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 09:24

@Michael Ferner: The most of them are really intersting! Especially for me, who doesn't have a IndyCar news archive...

#48 arttidesco

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 18:22

Here is a pic of Michele at the wheel of the March Ferrari location and date unknown.

Has anyone seen a pic of the Ferrari 637 Indy Car being driven, on the net ?

#49 HistoryFan

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 11:29

Newman Haas offers Damon Hill 6m dollars for a drive in 1996.

Any more almost-moves from F1 drivers to IndyCar?

Alesi want to drive Indy 500 this season but I doubt that will happen.

#50 aportinga

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 15:27

Al Unser Jr was (reported) to have been offered either a test or full ride at Williams in the early 90's but turned it down because he refused to miss the month of May at Indy.