Today also marks the 56th birthday for Eddie Cheever Jr., the 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion and the man with the most starts among American drivers in the history of Formula One with 132.
Cheever competed in 11 seasons in Formula One but for nine different teams during that span – Theodore, Hesketh, Osella, Tyrrell, Ligier, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Lola and Arrows. His 1983 season with Renault alongside the great Alain Prost was his best in F1, earning four podiums that included a runner-up at the Canadian Grand Prix.
In 1990, Cheever jumped from Formula One to CART, where he would drive for luminaries such as Chip Ganassi (1990-92) and A.J. Foyt (1994-95). But in 1996, he moved into the fledgling Indy Racing League and eventually set up his own team.
Cheever would earn five victories as a driver in the IRL, but none bigger than his ’98 triumph at Indy. Overcoming a first lap run-in with J.J. Yeley, he would find himself battling against ’96 Indy champ Buddy Lazier in the end before emerging as the victor. He led 76 of 200 laps en route to the win.
After Cheever stepped out of the car following the 2002 season, he concentrated on team ownership. The list of former Cheever Racing drivers is an interesting one and includes the likes of 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, Tomas Scheckter, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and current IndyCar owner/driver Ed Carpenter.
Cheever would come back to IndyCar driving in 2006, making seven starts before he was forced to shut his team down in mid-season due to a lack of sponsorship. He now works as an IndyCar TV analyst.