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Motorsports community reacts to Carl Haas’ passing

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Tributes have rolled in following the news that racing and automotive parts legend Carl Haas has died at age 86.

A successful team owner, driver, promoter and businessman, Haas was probably best known within the motorsports community as team co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing, one of the most successful teams in North American open-wheel racing, although he was also involved in much more.

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Here are a number of statements and tributes that have followed in the aftermath of this news:

Mario Andretti, racing legend and Newman/Haas Racing’s original driver: “Carl had a heart of gold and a deep commitment to our sport. He earned the respect and admiration of his competitors and all those who drove for him through the years for being tenacious yet fair. In fielding teams in various series from SCCA to Formula 1, Carl always sought the best equipment, the best drivers, and the best team personnel. His legacy especially in Indy Cars will be his phenomenal record of victories and championships, thanks in part to the great supporting cast I just mentioned. When I recall the joys of my whole career, I have to include my tenure at Newman/Haas because of the people. Spending 12 seasons with Carl and Berni and Paul Newman was amazing, triumphant, relentless work and heartwarming. All of it. The sport has lost a colorful character, but Carl Haas is unforgettable. He will always be an icon in motorsports and myself and so many others have lost a dear friend.”

Sebastien Bourdais, four-time Champ Car champion for Newman/Haas Racing: “It is with great sadness that I heard the news of Carl’s passing. Back in 2002, Carl gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when he hired me to drive the second Newman/Haas Racing in CART for the 2003 season. He did so with no sponsor to run the car, and I will be forever grateful for the faith he placed in me. From 2003 to the end of 2007, the whole team became a real family to me, thanks to him, Bernie and Paul, who had successfully assembled the best group of guys I ever worked with. Today, I can only feel privileged to have been able to contribute with poles, wins and championships to Carl’s racing legacy. My deepest condolences to Bernie and their family. Carl, you will be dearly missed.”

Dario Franchitti, three-time Indianapolis 500 and four-time IndyCar champion (via Facebook): “I’m so sad to hear of the passing of Carl Haas. He owned cars in all kinds of series, can am, F1, NASCAR and of course Indycar where he became a legend. Together with Paul Newman they had many huge years, world class drivers, big sponsors and a great team of people, in later years though Carl and Paul dug into their own pockets to keep that group of amazing people together. He was an unbelievably hard business man but loved his sport.
I talked with Carl and Paul once to come to their team, Paul wanted to drink beer and talk it over… Negotiating with Carl is something neither my manager Julian or I will ever forget!! He wrote the book.
Carl was an eccentric, hilariously so at times. I’ll tell you this though, when I won a race or championship or had another sizeable crash the first email I always received was from Carl and Bernie either to congratulate me or to ask if I was ok and if I needed anything.
We will never see his or Paul’s like again, rest in peace guys, we miss you both.”

Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co.: “All of us at INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are saddened to hear of the passing of Carl Haas. His contributions to our sport were immeasurable and the success of Newman/Haas Racing solidifies his place as a legend in motorsports. We send our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Carl Haas, one of the most influential men in motorsports for nearly a half-century and a frequent competitor at the Indianapolis 500 as a car owner, died June 29 at the age of 86.

“Carl Haas fielded cars for some of the best drivers in the world and his leadership and competitive spirit caused Newman/Haas Racing to become one of the most successful teams in our sport’s history,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said. “The IndyCar community was fortunate to have his personality as part of its family and Mr. Haas’ legacy of excellence and winning will long be remembered.”

At the Indianapolis 500, Newman/Haas cars made 30 starts over a 28-year span from 1983-2011, with six top-5 finishes but also several notable heartbreaks. In 1985, Mario Andretti led 107 laps but finished second to the remarkable “spin and win” of Danny Sullivan. In 1987, Mario led 170 of the first 177 laps but slowed after Lap 180 with electrical failure.

Michael Andretti finished second in 1991 after a memorable late battle with Rick Mears, then in 1992 dominated most of the race with 160 laps led, only to have a fuel pump break on Lap 189 while leading.

In all, Newman/Haas entries led more than 800 laps at Indy.

IMSA: “Carl Haas was one of the true pioneers and a real icon of the sport in so many ways,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. ”He will be remembered not only for his accomplishments on the track, but equally so for what he achieved off the track. He was a businessman, a sportsman and a racer of the highest order. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Berni, and to the many longtime members of Carl Haas Automobile.”

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”