Indy Split: CART Returns to Indy

post by
Media Name: 1993scoringtower-3889.jpg

Indy Split
 is a fascinating, authoritative and overdue account of the big money battle that nearly destroyed the sport of Indy car racing. The book traces the roots of Indy car racing’s dysfunction, which began in 1945 when Tony Hulman rescued the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from potential redevelopment. In this post, read about Juan Pablo Montoya's rookie win in 2000.

By the time the checkered flag fell at the 2000 Indianapolis 500, Juan Pablo Montoya was ahead of Buddy Lazier by 7.184 seconds after leading 167 of the 200 laps. He became the first rookie since Graham Hill in 1966 to win the Memorial Day classic. It was also the most dominant Indy performance since ’87, when Mario Andretti led 170 laps but failed to finish.
“I think it will take time to realize what I just won,” Montoya admitted. “It’s so exciting, I can’t believe it. It’s not only a win for me, or for Chip, or for Jimmy (Vasser), but for every person on the team.”
Vasser praised the level of competition from the IRL regulars and thanked Ganassi for “putting it all on the line,” while Ganassi called it the best day of his life. “It’s huge,” he said. “It’s hitting me now. Everyone is interested in the political side of things, and I’m not. This is still the biggest race in the world, and this is the biggest win in the world. And it will get bigger as time passes.”
In some ways, the manner in which Ganassi’s team turned the Indianapolis 500 on its head was more impressive than when Roger Penske commissioned the infamous Mercedes-Benz 500I pushrod engine that powered his team to victory at the Brickyard in 1994. Rather than exploiting a unique technological avenue to gain a performance advantage, Ganassi beat the IRL regulars at their own game with the same off-the-shelf equipment available to anyone.
“They raised the level of competition to a whole new level,” noted two-time IRL champion car owner John Menard. “It’s certainly going to raise some questions about the ability of IRL teams to compete with CART. But they were the best of the best, a very powerful and organized team.”
Ganassi team members were finally able to admit the weight of high expectations. “Anything short of winning would have been a failure,” remarked Managing Director Tom Anderson, acknowledging what CART fans had been thinking all month long. “We always had enough money and talent to do the job. It was just a matter of time. I’m still in awe that it’s been pulled off. My biggest relief is that we’ll be able to show our faces in the [CART] Milwaukee paddock and hold our heads high.”