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1996 Indy Racing League

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1996 Indy Racing League season
Indy Racing League
1996 Indy Racing League
Start dateJanuary 27
End dateMay 26
Drivers' championUnited States Buzz Calkins
United States Scott Sharp
Indianapolis 500 winnerUnited States Buddy Lazier
← 1995 (ICWS)
Buzz Calkins (left) won his first Drivers' Championship while Scott Sharp (right) became co-champions in the championship despite Calkins had one victory.

The 1996 Indy Racing League, the first in the history of the league, consisted of only three races, as the season concluded in May with the 80th Indianapolis 500. Walt Disney World Speedway was completed in time to host the first race of the season, and the first ever event of the IRL, and Phoenix International Raceway switched alliances from CART to IRL and hosted the second event of the season. At the conclusion of the three-race schedule, Scott Sharp and Buzz Calkins ended up tied for first place in the season championship. With no tiebreaker rule in place, the two drivers were declared co-champions.

On January 23, 1995, at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort the IRL announced the dates for two of the races scheduled for the inaugural 1996 season. The Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway was scheduled for January 27, 1996, and 80th Indianapolis 500 was set for May 26, 1996. On April 3, the IRL announced that Phoenix International Raceway and the then-under construction Las Vegas Motor Speedway would be on the 1996 schedule, but no dates were confirmed. Later that month, on April 13, 1995, the respective dates were finalized for Phoenix (March 24, 1996) and Las Vegas (September 15, 1996). On May 30, 1995, New Hampshire Motor Speedway officially switched alliances from CART to IRL, and scheduled their race for August 18.

The original plan was to have every Indy Racing League season end with the Indianapolis 500, with the IRL championship being awarded at the conclusion of the Indy 500, and possibly to the Indy 500 winner. The next season (in this case the 1996–97 season) would begin immediately after the Indy 500, and spread over two calendar years to conclude at the next Indianapolis 500. As a result, the two races at New Hampshire and Las Vegas, already announced, would in fact open the 1996–97 season. This scheduling format went against the traditional motorsports grain, and the idea was eventually scrapped in October, with the 1996–97 season being expanded in order to bring the schedule back in sync with the rest of the motorsports world for 1998.

The season was contested with 1995 and older CART chassis produced by Lola and Reynard with a fixed limit on how much a team could spend on its combination. In addition, nearly every car was powered by a Ford Cosworth XB, Menard V6 or Buick V6 engine. Despite the short season, only fifteen drivers competed in all three. All races were well-attended by competitors as a legal chassis and engine combination could be acquired for well under $100,000.

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  • ✪ 1996 IRL Dura-Lube 200 Qualifying



Teams and drivers

Team Chassis Engine Tires No. Driver(s) Rounds
United States ABF Motorsports Lola T92 Buick G 96 United States Paul Durant 2–3
United States A. J. Foyt Enterprises Lola T95 Ford Cosworth G 11 United States Scott Sharp[N 1] All
14 United States Davey Hamilton All
41 United States Mike Groff[N 2] 1–2
Lola T94 Brazil Marco Greco 3
United States Beck Motorsports/Zunne Group[N 3]
United States Beck Motorsports
Lola T94
Reynard 94I[N 4]
Ford Cosworth F 52 Japan Hideshi Matsuda 3
54 United States Robbie Buhl 1, 3
United States Blueprint Racing Lola T93 Menard F 16 United States Johnny Parsons All
27 United States Jim Guthrie 2–3
Lola T92 Buick 36 United States Dan Drinan[N 5] 2
United States Loop Hole Racing G 3
United States Bradley Motorsports Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth F 12 United States Buzz Calkins All
United States Brickell Racing Lola T93 Menard G 77 United States Tyce Carlson[N 6] 3
United States Byrd/LeberleTreadway Racing[N 3]
United States ByrdTreadway Racing
Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth F
[N 4]G
5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk All
United States Cunningham Racing Reynard 95I
Lola T94[N 4]
Ford Cosworth F 75 United States Johnny O'Connell All
United States Della Penna Motorsports Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth G 4 United States Richie Hearn All
44 United States Scott Harrington[N 7] 3
United States DeLorto Motorsports Lola T92 Buick G 81 United States Rick DeLorto 1
United States Galles Racing Lola T95 Mercedes-Ilmor G 70 United States Davy Jones 3
United States Hemelgarn Racing Reynard 95I
Reynard 94I[N 8]
Ford Cosworth F 9 France Stéphan Grégoire All
10 United States Brad Murphey 3
91 United States Buddy Lazier All
United States Leigh Miller Racing Lola T94 Ford Cosworth F 17 United States Stan Wattles[N 9] 1–2
United States Pagan Racing Reynard 94I
Reynard 95I[N 10]
Ford Cosworth G 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero All
99 United States Billy Boat 3
United States PDM/Automatic Sprinkler System[N 3]
United States PDM Racing
Lola T93 Menard G 18 United States John Paul Jr. All
United States Project Indy Lola T93 Ford Cosworth G 46 New Zealand Rob Wilson 3
Reynard 94I
Reynard 95I[N 11]
64 United States Johnny Unser 2–3
United States Scandia/Simon Racing[N 3]
United States Team Scandia
Lola T95
Lola T94[N 12]
Lola T93[N 13]
Reynard 95I[N 14]
Ford Cosworth G 7 Chile Eliseo Salazar[N 15] 1, 3
Spain Fermín Vélez 2
8 Italy Alessandro Zampedri 3
22 Mexico Michel Jourdain Jr. 2–3
33 Italy Michele Alboreto All
34 Spain Fermín Vélez 3
43 United States Joe Gosek[N 16] 3
90 United States Lyn St. James 1–2
United States Racin Gardner 3
United States Team Menard Lola T95 Menard F
[N 4]G
2 United States Scott Brayton 1–2
3 United States Eddie Cheever All
20 United States Tony Stewart All
30 United States Mark Dismore 3
32 United States Danny Ongais[N 17] 3
United States Tempero–Giuffre Racing Lola T92
Lola T93[N 18]
Buick G 15 United States Bill Tempero 1
United States David Kudrave 2
United Kingdom Justin Bell 3
25 United States David Kudrave 1
United States Billy Roe 2
United States Walker Racing Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth G 60 United States Mike Groff 3
United States Zunne Group Racing Lola T93 Buick F 24 United States Randy Tolsma 3
Lola T94 Ford Cosworth 45 United States Robbie Buhl 2
G United States Lyn St. James 3
United States O'Brien Motorsports Lola T92 Buick 26 United States Jim Buick  1

Team changes

  • A. J. Foyt Enterprises became the only Indy Car full-time team to join the Indy Racing League ranks for its 1996 inaugural season. The team would fill more than one car at every race for the first time since Roger McCluskey joined Foyt as teammate in the 1969 USAC Champ Car season.
  • Indianapolis business man Fred Treadway formed an alliance with Andreas Leberle, owner of the Project Indy team that had run 15 Indy Car races in two years, and Jonathan Byrd, who had lent support to a number of teams in the Indy 500 since 1985. The one-car team was initially known as Byrd/LeberleTreadway Racing, and acquired a Reynard chassis that had been previously used by Team Green as a back-up car for Jacques Villeneuve.[1]
  • Four teams that had competed in Indy Car in a part-time basis, mainly at the Indianapolis 500, also entered the competition:
    • Team Menard, who had been running an Indy 500 one-off program with their own engines for a decade, planned to compete in the Indy Racing League with a two-car program. Since 1985, their only Indy Car race outside Indianapolis was the 1990 Autoworks 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, with Jim Crawford.
    • Hemelgarn Racing also entered the Indy Racing League, competing outside Indianapolis for the first time since 1990. The team only employed Ford Cosworth powerplants, phasing out entirely the use of Buick engines after 10 years.
    • Pagan Racing, a team that had run a 3-race program in Indy Car in 1995, entered the series. Having used a Reynard-Mercedes package in 1995, the team switched to Lola and Ford Cosworth, as Mercedes declined to lease their Ilmor powerplants outside of the Indy 500.[2]
    • Beck Motorsports, a team that had debuted at the 1995 Indianapolis 500 after four years running entries for other teams, partnered with The Zunne Group, a company that tried to promote San Antonio as a racing hub, to compete in the IRL season.
  • Two teams joined the IRL from junior series: Della Penna Motorsports, who had won the 1995 Atlantic Championship, and Bradley Motorsports, a family-run effort with 3 years of Indy Lights experience created by the owner of Bradley Petroleum. Della Penna also contested a partial Indy Car schedule.
  • Team Scandia was an IMSA GT outfit led by driver Andy Evans, who entered the IRL in a partnership with Indy Car team Dick Simon Racing. This union was defaulted in January when Evans took full control of the team, although Simon remained as team manager. The team competed as Scandia/Simon Racing in the first race, before switching to its original name.
  • Two further teams also came from IMSA GT competition: Cunningham Racing, a team that also had experience at Le Mans, and Leigh Miller Racing, a relatively novel team with two years of experience.
  • Blueprint Aircraft Engines, an independent engine builder owned by former drag racer Ed Rachanski, entered the series as Team Blueprint, being later renamed to Blueprint Racing.
  • Three weeks before the inaugural IRL race, long-time chief mechanics Paul Diatlovich and Chuck Buckman led the formation of a new race team, which would be known as PDM Racing. The team had bought the assets of the defunct Leader Card team, on which Diatlovich had been the Team Manager for its last three years.[3]
  • With the support of Frank and Dominic Giuffre, owners of a crane company and past Indy-backers, veteran driver Bill Tempero was able to set-up his own team, Tempero–Giuffre Racing. Out of all the driver-owner teams coming from the American Indycar Series, Tempero–Giuffre was the only one able to compete in an IRL race.
  • On February, Beck Motorsports and Zunne Group ended their partnership. As Zunne Group was the legal owner of the cars employed by Beck, the team retained them to compete on their own, partnering with McCormack Motorsports to run the operation, and Beck had to sat out the Phoenix race while looking for new machinery.
  • On February 13, Andreas Leberle stepped out of his partnership with Jonathan Byrd and Fred Treadway, as he desired to compete in selected events in the Indy Car World Series, while Treadway and Byrd wanted to concentrate exclusively on the IRL. From then on, the team was known as ByrdTreadway Racing, while Project Indy competed independently in the IRL.
  • On February 26, ABF Motorsports was registered as a new team under the leadership of Canadian owner Art Boulianne, a former Super-modified driver.[4]
  • At some point between the Phoenix and Indianapolis races, Leigh Miller Racing's assets were bought by Beck Motorsports in order to compete at the Indy 500.[5]
  • On April, Galles Racing and Walker Racing, two teams competing in Indy Car, confirmed they were entering the Indianapolis 500 because of sponsorship commitments. Walker's main sponsor, Valvoline, was also a sponsor of the race telecast on ABC, while Delco Electronics, primary sponsor for Galles, was based in Indiana.[6]

Driver changes


Rd Date Race Name Track City
1 January 27 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Walt Disney World Speedway Bay Lake, Florida
2 March 24 Dura Lube 200 Phoenix International Raceway Phoenix, Arizona
3 May 26 80th Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway Speedway, Indiana

All races running on Oval/Speedway. ABC Sports televised all three races.


In a controversial move, in July 1995, it was announced that the top 25 drivers in IRL points would secure guaranteed starting positions for the 1996 Indianapolis 500. Presumably, that left only eight positions open for at-large competitors. However, some interpreted the rule otherwise.[11]

The IRL points system was to be staggered to adjust for the number of races each driver entered. The number of points awarded per race would be multiplied by the number of events the driver had participated in. For example, if a driver had entered all three events, the points awarded for that third race were multiplied by three. This move was supposed to be an encouragement to enter all IRL events, but it did not attract any additional teams from the rival CART series.

Initially, IRL officials hoped that competitors from the rival CART series would choose to race in the IRL events, presumably since there were no foreseen conflicts in their respective schedules. The 1996 IRL schedule was finalized by May 30, 1995. However, a couple weeks later the CART series announced their 1996 schedule, immediately with conflicting dates. The CART race at Road America was scheduled for the same day as the IRL event at Loudon, while the CART races at Rio and Australia were bookended around the IRL race at Phoenix, creating an impossible travel situation. The only CART teams that participated in any IRL events in 1996 were Galles and Walker, but neither fielded drivers who were CART regulars.

Season summary

Race results

Round Race Pole position Fastest lap Most laps led Race Winner Report
Driver Team
1 Walt Disney World United States Buddy Lazier United States Buzz Calkins United States Buzz Calkins United States Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports Report
2 Phoenix Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Byrd-Treadway Racing Report
3 Indianapolis United States Tony StewartA United States Eddie Cheever Colombia Roberto Guerrero United States Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Report
^A Scott Brayton was the fastest qualifier for the 1996 Indianapolis 500, but was killed during practice. Hence, second-fastest qualifier Tony Stewart started from the pole.

Driver standings

Pos Driver WDW
1 United States Buzz Calkins 1* 6 17 246
United States Scott Sharp 11 2 10 246
3 United States Robbie Buhl 3 13 9 240
4 United States Richie Hearn 19 4 3 237
Colombia Roberto Guerrero 5 16 5* 237
6 United States Mike Groff 6 3 20 228
7 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 14 1* 16 225
8 United States Tony Stewart 2 11 24 204
9 United States Johnny O'Connell 7 5 29 192
United States Davey Hamilton 12 17 12 192
11 Italy Michele Alboreto 4 8 30 189
12 United States Lyn St. James 8 21 14 186
13 France Stéphan Grégoire 16 7 27 165
14 United States Buddy Lazier 17 Wth 1 159
15 United States John Paul Jr. 9 14 31 153
16 United States Eddie Cheever 10 Wth 11 147
17 United States Johnny Parsons 18 12 28 141
18 United States Scott Brayton 15 18 DNS 111
19 United States David Kudrave 20 10 80
20 Mexico Michel Jourdain Jr. 20 13 74
United States Jim Guthrie 15 18 74
22 Spain Fermín Vélez 19 21 60
23 Chile Eliseo Salazar Wth 6 58
24 United States Johnny Unser 9 33 56
25 United States Stan Wattles 13 Wth 44
26 United States Davy Jones 2 33
27 United States Paul Durant 22 32 32
28 Italy Alessandro Zampedri 4 31
29 United States Danny Ongais 7 28
30 Japan Hideshi Matsuda 8 27
31 United States Scott Harrington 15 20
32 United States Mark Dismore 19 16
33 United States Joe Gosek 22 13
34 United States Brad Murphey 23 12
35 United States Racin Gardner Wth 25 10
36 Brazil Marco Greco 26 9
United States Dan Drinan DNQ DNQ 0
United States Rick DeLorto DNQ 0
United States Bill Tempero DNQ 0
United States Billy Roe DNQ 0
United States Billy Boat DNQ 0
United States Tyce Carlson DNQ 0
United States Randy Tolsma DNQ 0
New Zealand Rob Wilson DNQ 0
United Kingdom Justin Bell Wth 0
Pos Driver WDW
Color Result
Gold Winner
Silver 2nd place
Bronze 3rd place
Green 4th & 5th place
Light Blue 6th–10th place
Dark Blue Finished
(Outside Top 10)
Purple Did not finish
Red Did not qualify
Brown Withdrawn
Black Disqualified
White Did not start
Blank Did not
Not competing
In-line notation
Bold Pole position
Italics Ran fastest race lap
* Led most race laps
Fatal accident
Pts1 The number of points awarded per race
would be multiplied by the number of events
the driver had participated in.

Note: Scott Brayton, 37, won the pole for the 1996 Indianapolis 500, but was killed in a crash during practice after qualifying.

See also


  1. ^ #41 at Walt Disney World.
  2. ^ #11 at Walt Disney World.
  3. ^ a b c d At Walt Disney World.
  4. ^ a b c d Used at Walt Disney World.
  5. ^ Tyce Carlson and Andy Michner passed their Indianapolis rookie test in the car.
  6. ^ Replaced Danny Ongais during practice for the Indy 500 after Ongais signed with Team Menard as a replacement for the fatally injured Scott Brayton.
  7. ^ Switched from Harrington Motorsport during practice for the Indy 500.
  8. ^ Used by Brad Murphey.
  9. ^ Injured in a practice crash at Phoenix.
  10. ^ Used by Roberto Guerrero at the Indy 500.
  11. ^ Used at Phoenix.
  12. ^ Used by Alessandro Zampedri, Joe Gosek and Racin Gardner.
  13. ^ Used by Lyn St. James at Walt Disney World
  14. ^ Used by Michele Alboreto at Walt Disney World and Lyn St. James at Phoenix.
  15. ^ Injured in a practice crash at Walt Disney World
  16. ^ Switched from Tempero–Giuffre Racing (cars #25 and #15) during practice for the Indy 500.
  17. ^ At the Indy 500, Brayton withdrew his already qualified primary car and won the pole in the backup #32, but was fatally injured in a practice crash and replaced by Ongais, who switched from Brickell Racing.
  18. ^ Used by David Kudrave


  1. ^ "1996 Indianapolis 500 - The 239.260 car". 8W Forix. December 29, 2014. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  2. ^ "The Changing Face of Racing;A Rival Indy-Car Circuit Puts a Damper on CART's Season". The New York Times. February 6, 1996. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  3. ^ "PDM Racing, Inc". Indy Racing League. 1997. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  4. ^ "ABF Motorsports". Indy Racing League. 1996. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  5. ^ "Becks take on daunting task as a family". The Indianapolis Star. May 17, 1996. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  6. ^ "Mike Groff, Davy Jones Only Drivers From CART Teams". The Associated Press. May 15, 1996. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  7. ^ "Walt Disney World entry list (TENTATIVE)". January 6, 1996. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  8. ^ "Indy Racing League Seeking Magic in Debut at Disney". The New York Times. January 21, 1996. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  9. ^ "Two Teams To Double-Dip". SWX Right Now. April 7, 1996. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  10. ^ "Support Races Add Excitement to Grand Prix". Los Angeles Times. April 11, 1996. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  11. ^ "IRL: CHAMPCAR/CART: IRL press release 96-01-04". Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2007-04-03.
This page was last edited on 2 January 2020, at 01:47
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