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.

INDYCAR has produced the following video, which is below:

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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New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”