Portland International Raceway

Getty Images

Portland home to several iconic IndyCar moments

Leave a comment

Portland International Raceway hosted races for what is now called the Verizon IndyCar Series every June between 1984 and 2007. And in that span of 24 races, it was the scene of quite a few iconic moments for the sport.

A quick list of highlights is below:

  • 1986: On Father’s Day, Michael Andretti runs out of fuel exiting the final corner, and his father Mario nips him at the line for the victory. The margin between them was .07 seconds, the closest road course finish in the history of IndyCar racing. Video of the finish can viewed here.
  • 1995: Team Penske’s Al Unser Jr. scored a victory, but was later disqualified after the car was deemed too low post-race, resulting from erosion of the car’s skidplate. However, after the conclusion of the season, Unser’s win was eventually reinstated, and Jimmy Vasser’s first career win taken away.
  • 1996: Alex Zanardi won his first race in IndyCar, in the series then known as the PPG IndyCar World Series. Zanardi was teammates at Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Vasser, who went on to win that year’s championship.
  • 1997: A wet race saw a titanic duel between tire suppliers Firestone and Goodyear, with Firestone holding the advantage for much of the race. However, as the track surface dried, several Goodyear runners rose to the fore, chiefly Gil de Ferran, then a driver for Walker Racing. In the final laps, however, the track dried enough for several teams to switch to slick tires. One of those drivers was Mark Blundell. Exiting the final corner on the final lap, Blundell and Pat Patrick Racing driver Raul Boesel got alongside de Ferran, and Blundell was able to nose ahead of both drivers at the line to take his first career IndyCar victory. The margin between the three was a scant .055 seconds. Video of the wild finish can be seen here.
  • 2006: A.J. Allmendinger had joined Forsythe Championship Racing the week prior after his previous team, RuSPORT, fired him. In his first outing with his new team, Allmendinger took the first of three consecutive wins that year. He went on to score five in total before joining Team Red Bull’s newly formed NASCAR team at year’s end.
  • 2007: What proved to be the final event at Portland before the IndyCar/Champ Car merger also saw the first standing start in modern American racing history. Sebastien Bourdais scored the victory that day, his second win at the venue following a 2004 triumph.

In total, Newman/Haas Racing was the most victorious IndyCar team at the track, taking eight wins between Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, and Cristiano da Matta. Among active teams, Team Penske is the winningest, with five victories at the track. Chip Ganassi Racing (2) and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (1) have also previously won at Portland.

Of drivers who raced at least once in the 2017 IndyCar field, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Graham Rahal, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais, Juan Pablo Montoya, Oriol Servia and Buddy Lazier all made at least one start at Portland, and others raced there in junior series (James Hinchcliffe in Atlantic for example). Bourdais, who won in 2004 and 2007, is the only active winner scheduled to compete next season.

Follow @KyleMLavigne