For nearly 30 years it was one of the most high profile and prolific racing teams in North America. Mario Andretti brought it instant respect, Michael Andretti launched his career there, Nigel Mansell added to the aura and Sebastien Bourdais continued the legacy.
|Mario Andretti dominated the 1987 Indy 500 like no one had ever dominated the race before. Then his Chevy engine broke with 13 laps to run. His engineer - now F1 genius Adrian Newey. The Newman/Haas team had some great people. It's sad to see the team fold.|
But the essence of what made Newman/Haas so successful in Indy car racing came from its eclectic owners.
The selfless acting icon who loved the escape and exhilaration that racing gave him and the cigar-chomping Chicago entrepreneur who reveled in wheels and deals.
Paul Newman and Carl Haas were much more Oscar & Felix than Butch & Sundance but the Odd Couple shared a passion for competition, a giddiness for winning and a mindset to do it the right way.
“Obviously, Paul really got into racing and always wanted to do whatever it took,” said Mario after Thursday’s announcement that Newman/Haas Racing was closing the doors on Indy car racing.
“And what I really liked about Carl is that he was 100 percent racer. It was his only interest and he was in the shop every day. When it came down to the key factors, the important things, he spared nothing and I always appreciated that.
“It’s been one of the premier Indy car teams since the early ‘80s and it’s going to be missed, for sure.”
Of course it was Andretti that brokered this unlikely pairing in 1982.
“I was unhappy where I was at that point and I wanted to be with a team where I truly had some input,” he recalled. “Paul and Carl had competed against each other in Can-Am and I had suggested to Carl that he move Lola back into Indy cars.
“At the same time, Masten Gregory, who been helping Paul in Can-Am, had the same idea about them going to CART. So I suggested to Carl that they get together and he loved the idea.
“Paul’s first reaction was ‘No ^%*&^$ way, that guy sold me overweight cars’ but eventually he agreed. So I’ll take credit for that and putting them together was a dream.” More at Speed.com