March 21 in Motorsports History: Nigel Mansell wins IndyCar debut

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Less than six months after winning the Formula One World Championship, Nigel Mansell began a new chapter in his racing career on this date in 1993.

At the age of 39, the Briton was an IndyCar rookie, making his debut for Newman/Haas Racing at CART’s season opener in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Mansell’s anticipated debut drew more than 800 accredited media and a weekend attendance of 220,000. The whole world was watching, and the Briton did not disappoint.

Nigel Mansell celebrates winning in his IndyCar debut at Surfers Paradise. (Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images)

In qualifying, Mansell set a record-breaking lap to become the first driver in IndyCar history to win the pole position in his first race.

But Mansell did not fare well in his first rolling start, as he was quickly passed by the Penske cars of Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy. He fell back to fourth after being passed by Robby Gordon shortly after.

However, Mansell quickly became comfortable in his new car and made his way back to the front to win by 5 seconds over Fittipaldi. By doing so, he became the first driver to win in his IndyCar debut since Jim Clark at the 1966 Indianapolis 500.

Mansell went on to four victories in 1993, all on ovals. He clinched the series championship by winning the season’s penultimate race at Nazareth in September. For the next week, Mansell had the distinction of being both the defending Formula One and IndyCar champion at the same time.

Mansell returned to Newman/Haas again in 1994 but went winless. He also returned part time to F1 in 1994, running four races with Renault. and scoring his final victory in the Australian Grand Prix. In 1995, he ran two races with McLaren before retiring from open-wheel competition.

Also on this date:

1960: Three-time Formula One champion Ayrton Senna was born in Brazil. He won 41 races over 11 seasons in F1 before his death in a crash at the Grand Prix of San Marino in Imola, Italy.

1966: Kenny Brack, winner of the 1999 Indianapolis 500, was born in Sweden.

1999: Greg Moore won for the fifth and final time in his career, defeating Michael Andretti by 1.110 seconds at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Moore was killed later that year in a crash during CART’s season finale at California Speedway.

2015: The No. 5 Mustang Sampling team of Sebastien Bourdais, João Barbosa, and Christian Fittipaldi won the 63rd running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, finishing a full lap ahead of second place. 

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Supercross reveals 2023 Daytona track designed by Ricky Carmichael for 16th time

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For the 16th consecutive year, Ricky Carmichael has designed a signature course for the Daytona Supercross race, which will be March 4, 2023.

Eli Tomac took advantage of a last lap mistake by Cooper Webb last year to win a record setting sixth Daytona race – and with that win, he broke out of a tie Carmichael.

Construction on the course will begin two days after the completion of the 65th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 when haulers start to unload 7,200 tons of dirt onto the grassy infield in order to create a course 3,300 feet long.

“Ricky has designed yet another incredible course for this year’s Daytona Supercross,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a press release. “We’re thrilled to unveil it to the fans, and we can’t wait for them to come out to the track and see it in person.”

MORE: Designs for SuperMotocross finals at zMax Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway

Carmichael’s Daytona course will take center stage for Round 8 of the 17-race Supercross season and the 31-race SuperMotocross season.

The Supercross race coincides with Daytona’s Bike Week, which runs from March 3-12 and includes races from the American Flat Track series and the legendary Daytona 200 speedway race that is contested on the infield road course.

Last year’s course was reported to have 57 obstacles including the return of an over-under bridge. For 2023 the number of obstacles listed in 42, but that will not keep this from being one of the toughest tracks on which the Monster Energy Supercross series will race.

Many of the same elements from last year will be present including sharp turns, vaulted jumps, sand sections and a finish line that aligns with the oval tracks’ start/finish line.

“This year’s Daytona Supercross design is one of the best,” Carmichael said. “It races great for the riders – it’s safe yet challenging and it’s very similar to last year with the split lanes. Daytona is the toughest, gnarliest race on the Supercross circuit, but it’s the most special to win.

“This track is going to produce great racing and I think the riders are going to put on a fantastic display for all our fans.”

While Tomac has dominated this race during his career, Daytona has also been the site of some other dramatic victories. In 2021 Aaron Plessinger scored his first career Supercross podium in 35 starts with a win there and reversed a three-year streak of bad luck on the track.

The Daytona Supercross race is the first of two the series will contest on speedway infield courses. A little more than one month later, Atlanta Motor Speedway will enter their third season as a supercross venue. These two courses will serve as an early test for the SuperMotocross three-race finale that begins September 9, 2023 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three playoff races will each be held on courses that contain elements of Supercross and Motocross, much like Daytona and Atlanta.