IndyCar remembers legendary team owner Haas

The passing of one of Indycar racing's most successful team owners has prompted a stream or recollections from within the paddock.
Indy Racing League. 9-10 May 2008. Indy 500 Practice and Pole day. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indi
Indy Racing League. 9-10 May 2008. Indy 500 Practice and Pole day…
© Dan R Boyd

Legendary Indycar team owner Carl Haas, whose drivers won 107 races and eight season championships, died 29 June at his home in suburban Chicago.

Haas, 86 and noted equally for his partnership with actor Paul Newman and trademark cigar, was second all-time in terms of race wins as a team owner, and the only accomplishment missing from his impressive motorsports resume was a victory in the Indianapolis 500.

Born in Chicago on 26 February 1930, Haas' infatuation with motorsports began as a sportscar racer in 1952. He won races at The Milwaukee Mile and Road America, both circuits where he would go on to hold official roles later in his career. He was also a longtime board member for the Sports Car Club of America and was elected into its hall of fame in 2007.

In 1967, the same year he started his own race team, Haas became the exclusive American importer for Lola Cars, helping elevate the brand to prominence in US racing and turning it into a premier Indycar chassis supplier, collecting race wins from 1978-2006, including Indycar's Triple Crown in 1978.

Haas' team ownership path started in Can-Am, Formula 5000 and Super Vee competition, running drivers such as Jackie Stewart, Peter Revson, Jacky Ickx and Alan Jones, before expanding into F1 and NASCAR. While competing in Can-Am, Haas was rivals with Newman, before Mario Andretti suggested 'the odd couple' form Newman/Haas Racing in 1983, pre-empting one of the most successful Indycar operations in the sport's history. With Andretti as lead driver, the combo won the 1984 CART championship, the first of eight Indy racing titles it would earn with the likes of Michael Andretti (1991), Nigel Mansell (1993), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Sebastien Bourdais (2004-07).

Newman/Haas cars made 30 starts in the Indianapolis 500 between 1983-2011, but its time at the Brickyard was notable more for heartbreaks than hurrahs, despite leading in excess of 800 laps at the famous superspeedway.

The late Justin Wilson picked up the team's final victory in Detroit in August of 2008, three years before the doors closed for good.

The following are memories of Haas shared by various Indycar figures:

MARIO ANDRETTI (driver for Newman/Haas Racing from 1983-1994, 1984 Indy car champion, 18 race wins with team)

"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 One, 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 (wife) 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."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (current owner of Andretti Autosport; driver for Newman/Haas Racing from 1989-1992, 1995-2000)

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Carl Haas. Carl was an icon to our sport and the automotive industry, and I owe a great deal of my career's success to my time with Carl and the Newman/Haas family. Paul and Carl built what was undoubtedly one of the greatest teams in history; I am truly honored to have been a part of the legacy they built."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (current driver at KVSH Racing; driver for Newman/Haas Racing from 2003-07, won four consecutive championships from 2004-07)

"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, Berni 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 Berni and their family. Carl, you will be dearly missed.

J. DOUGLAS BOLES (president, Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

"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. The Indy car community was fortunate to have his personality as part of its family and Mr. Haas' legacy of excellence and winning will long be remembered."

MIKE LANIGAN (current co-owner at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing; former co-owner at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing)

"As a partner of Carl's for four years in INDYCAR, I got to know him as a generous and kind individual whose whole life's purpose was racing. I have always had the respect for the man who achieved so much success on and off the track. He lived the American dream in starting his career under humble beginnings and achieved his accomplishments through hard work, long hours and determination. Isn't that what this country is all about? He will be sadly missed, but never forgotten."

MARK MILES (CEO, Hulman & Co., parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

"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."

GRAHAM RAHAL (current driver at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing; driver for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing from 2007-10)

"Carl Haas was one of the legends of our sport, a person whose passion for racing led his teams and businesses to amazing success over the years. I personally can't thank Carl enough for giving me my first opportunity and introducing me to the sport I love. In his time, Carl was the boss of many of racing's greatest drivers, and for me to get to work under him for those four years was some of the greatest times of my life. There weren't many like Carl, and he will surely be missed."

ORIOL SERVIA (driver for Newman/Haas Racing in 2005, '09, '11)

"Carl's overwhelming success in racing as his legacy states was only matched by his genuine, passionate and peculiar character. I was lucky enough to drive for Carl in the three different seasons (2005, '09, 11) and during those years all the conversations I had with him were priceless. He was loved and appreciated by everyone that ever worked for him. He had high loyalty standards and all his partnerships with manufacturers, sponsors, Paul Newman and with his long life partner and wife, Berni Haas, are a clear proof of it and should serve as an example to the rest of the racing and business community."

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