Although a frontrunner for a number of years, Chip Ganassi and his Target Racing Team may still be viewed by some as the new, youthful threat. Competing against living legends such as Roger Penske and AJ Foyt, Ganassi by comparison, despite all his achievements, has not had the same longevity. Nonetheless, each and every year, Target Chip Ganassi Racing are firmly in contention for the IndyCar and NASCAR series titles.
Our IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon profiles one of the true legends of the IndyCar scene…
Starting as a racer himself, competing against the likes of Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser and Rick Mears, success was not forthcoming as an in-car competitor, and five starts in the Indy 500 in the 1980’s saw only one finish, a career-best of 8th. After a massive crash in Michigan all but ended his driving career, Chip realised his future was not in the drivers seat.
After purchasing a stake in Patrick Racing, with whom Emerson Fittipaldi won the Indy 500 in 1989, Chip realised team ownership was more his forte. A lesser-known fact is that Chip Ganassi Racing as we know it today is a reincarnation of the Patrick Racing Team and is not a new outright organisation. Although Patrick Racing reformed itself in the early 90’s as a separate team, lasting until 2004, this was a takeover of an Alfa Romeo effort.
Since taking over Patrick Racing entirely, Ganassi has never looked back. With the long-time support (over 20 years and counting) of international retailing giant Target, Chip has branched into NASCAR and Grand-Am Racing in recent years, although the bread-and-butter of the team is no doubt the IndyCar Series.
Its driver alumni reads as a deserved list of the champions it represents. Names such as Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kenny Brack, and three-time IndyCar series champion Dario Franchitti, with the latter three all Indianapolis 500 winners, have all done their part to fill the Ganassi trophy cabinets.
What part will Ganassi play in the 2011 Indy 500? By the time the sun sets on May 29, 2011, we’ll know.
[Images via LAT]
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