The CART world was in mourning on Monday with the unexpected news that former CART team-boss Carl Hogan had passed away, the victim of a suspected heart attack.

Hogan rose to prominence in CART circles after a lengthy career in other forms of motorsport in 1992 when, along with two time Champion Bobby Rahal, he acquired Pat Patrick's mothballed outfit and ran the 1992 Champ Car season with a Miller sponsored Lola-Chevrolet. The combination was an instant success and Rahal recorded victories at Phoenix, Detroit, Nazareth and Loudon en-route to the PPG title.

Although the duo would never repeat that level of success, Rahal continued to be a Championship contender until he and Hogan parted company at the start of the 1996 season. Hogan then formed an alliance with Penske Racing to run a semi-works Penske for Emerson Fittipaldi although the veteran driver would be forced to retire before the end of the year after a major crash in the US500 at the Michigan International Speedway.

For 1997 Hogan then took a chance on former single seater ace and Mercedes DTM ace Dario Franchitti who was out of a drive after the collapse of the Class One Touring Car series. Racing a Reynard-Mercedes Franchitti and Hogan looked very impressive at times during 1997 but all too often the combo were sidelined by reliability problems and that trend continued into 1998 when former Benetton Formula One driver JJ Lehto joined the CART fray.

Hogan's final year as a CART team boss came in 1999 when he brought along another exciting young talent by the name of Helio Castroneves. Despite having a less than competitive Lola-Mercedes engine, chassis combination Castroneves should have won at Nazareth, Gateway and Milwaukee but was again was cruelly sidelined from a number of races by mechanical problems. At the close of the year, Hogan announced that he would be winding up his operation and retiring from the sport although his relationship with Australian Jason Bright led to speculation that Hogan could return to the CART scene in some capacity if his latest prot?g? could get a drive.

Bright drove one race for the Della Penna team in 2000 and performed very well until making contact with another car as he tried to avoid a spinning Roberto Moreno. At one point it looked as though the Hogan/Bright/Della Penna connection could continue in 2001 but Toyota's sudden decision to abandon the team forced John Della Penna to withdraw from the series and Bright headed back to Australia for a factory Holden ride in the 5-litre Touring Car series.

Although absent from the CART scene in 2000, Hogan has left many friends in the sport and several of today's current Champ Car drivers are expected to turn out for his funeral, held later this week.



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