1979 SCCA/CART Indy Car Series

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1979 CART season
SCCA/CART Indy Car Series
The original CART logo.jpg
1979 IndyCar season
Season
Races 14
Start date March 11
End date October 20
Awards
Drivers' champion United States Rick Mears
Constructors' Cup United States Penske
Manufacturers' Cup United Kingdom Cosworth
Nations' Cup United States United States
Rookie of the Year United States Bill Alsup
Indianapolis 500 winner United States Rick Mears
← 1978 (USAC)
1980 →

The 1979 SCCA/CART Indy Car Series was the inaugural season for the CART Indy car series. It was the first national championship season of American open wheel racing sanctioned by CART. The season consisted of 14 races. Rick Mears was the national champion, and the rookie of the year was Bill Alsup. The 1979 Indianapolis 500 was sanctioned by USAC, but counted towards the CART points championship. Rick Mears won the Indy 500, his first of four victories in the event.

The 1979 season was filled with controversy on and off the track. During the offseason, several Indy car owners broke off from USAC, and formed Championship Auto Racing Teams, a new sanctioning body to govern the sport of open wheel Indy car racing. USAC continued to sanction their Gold Crown Championship, resulting in two parallel national championships for 1979. The controversy over the first "split" in Indy car racing came to its first climax at the 1979 Indianapolis 500, when USAC rejected entries by certain CART owners. The owners won a court injunction to be allowed to race, and later, another controversy erupted, this time involving illegal wastegate exhaust pipes.

The 1979 CART season was held through an arrangement such that it fell under the sanctioning umbrella of SCCA. This one-year, temporary arrangement was such that it would be formally recognized by ACCUS.

With three wins, two poles, and 14 top tens (no finish worse than 7th), Rick Mears ran way with the inaugural CART championship title. Mears took a large points lead after winning the Indy 500, and never relinquished the top spot through the remainder of the season. Bobby Unser won six races, and finished second in points.

USAC/CART "Split"[edit]

For more information, see 1979 Indianapolis 500 § Controversies

Drivers and constructors[edit]

The following teams and drivers competed for the 1979 CART World Series.

Team/Car Owner Chassis Engine # Driver(s) Races
United States Jerry O'Connell Racing McLaren Cosworth 1 United States Tom Sneva All
32 United States Johnny Parsons 11
United States Chaparral Cars Lola (1-3)
Chaparral

(4-14)

Cosworth 2 United States Al Unser All
United States Team McLaren McLaren Cosworth 4 United States Johnny Rutherford All
United States Bob Fletcher Racing Lightning Cosworth 7 United States Steve Krisiloff 1-10
55 United States Spike Gehlhausen 11-14
United States Team Penske Penske Cosworth 9 United States Rick Mears All
12 United States Bobby Unser All
68 United States Bill Alsup 4
99 United States Mario Andretti 11-12
United States Morales Motorsports Lightning Offenhauser (2-3)
Cosworth (1, 4-14)
10 United States Pancho Carter All
Offenhauser 15 United States Bob Harkey 11
United States Longhorn Racing Penske Cosworth 11 United States Tom Bagley 1-12, 14
71 United States Steve Krisiloff 11
United States Gilmore Racing Parnelli Cosworth 14 United States A. J. Foyt 4
United States Lindsey Hopkins Racing Lightning DGS 15 United States Johnny Parsons 4
Offenhauser 51 United States Hurley Haywood 4
United States Vollstedt Enterprises Vollstedt Offenhauser 17 United States Dick Simon 4
United States Frantz Racing Wildcat DGS (1-2, 4-5, 7-9, 12)
Offenhauser (10-11)
18 (16) United States Tom Frantz 1-2, 4, 7-12
United States Bill Henderson 5
United States Gehlhausen Racing Eagle (1-3, 5-11)
Wildcat (4)
Offenhauser (1-3, 5-11)

Cosworth (4)

19 United States Spike Gehlhausen 1-10
Italy Phil Caliva 11
Eagle Offenhauser 39 United States Al Loquasto 4, 7-8
United States Patrick Racing Penske Cosworth 20 (3) United States Gordon Johncock All
Penske (4-13)
Wildcat (1, 14)
Lightning (2-3)
40 (6) United States Wally Dallenbach All
Penske 60 United States Roger Mears 11
United States Steve Krisiloff 12
United States Rhoades Competition McLaren Offenhauser 20 United States John Martin 4
United States Conqueste Racing Team Parnelli Cosworth 21 (89) United States Lee Kunzman 1-8, 11
United States Leader Card Racing Watson Offenhauser 22 United States Billy Vukovich II 4
24 United States Sheldon Kinser 4
40 United States George Snider 4
United States McElreath Racing Penske
Cosworth 23 United States Jim McElreath 4
Eagle Offenhauser 26 United States Tony Bettenhausen, Jr. 4
United States Interscope Racing Parnelli Cosworth 25 United States Danny Ongais All
United States Wheel Center Eagle Offenhauser 28 United States Billy Scott 4, 11
Canada Hucul Racing McLaren Offenhauser 29 Canada Cliff Hucul 4
United States Thunder Racing McLaren Offenhauser 30 United States Dana Carter 4
United States John Martin 11
United States Wysard Racing Wildcat Offenhauser 34 Australia Vern Schuppan 1-4, 7, 9-12, 14
United States S&M Electric Lightning Offenhauser 35 (31) United States Larry Rice 1-6
United States Tim Richmond 9-11, 14
United States Medlin Racing Cicada Offenhauser 35 United States Bill Puterbaugh 4
United States All American Racers Eagle Cosworth 36 United States Mike Mosley All
United States Karl Racing McLaren Offenhauser 38 United States Jerry Karl 4
United States WASP Racing McLaren Offenhauser 41 (67) United States Bill Alsup All
United States Mergard Racing Eagle Offenhauser 42 United States Herm Johnson 13-14
United States AMI Racing Lola Cosworth 44 United States Tom Bigelow 4
Lola Cosworth 45 United States Janet Guthrie 4
Wildcat DGS 46 United States Howdy Holmes 4
United States BFM Enterprises Antares (4)
Manta (13)
Offenhauser 50 Canada Eldon Rasmussen 4
Canada Frank Weiss 13
United States Hurtubise Racing Unknown Chevrolet 52 United States Woody Fisher 4
Mallard Offenhauser 56 United States Jim Hurtubise 4
United States Crower Cams Eagle Chevrolet 57 United States Jerry Sneva 4
United States Hoffman Racing Lightning

(4, 7-8, 11)Penske (14)

Offenhauser

(4, 7-8, 11) Cosworth (14)

59 United States George Snider 4
United States Joe Saldana 7-8, 11
United States Dick Ferguson 14
Eagle Offenhauser 69 United States Joe Saldana
United States Al Loquasto
1-6, 9-10, 12
United States Al Loquasto 11
Eagle (11, 13, 14)

Spyder (7-8)

79 United States Dick Ferguson 7-8
Canada Cliff Hucul 11
United States Joe Saldana 13-14
United States Bob Olmstead's V12 Eagle Volker 62 United States Ed Finley 4
United States Rager Racing Eagle Chevrolet 66 Australia Roger Rager 4
United States Mach I Racing Eagle Offenhauser 69 United States Tim Richmond 7
United States Hodgdon Racing McLaren Cosworth 72 United States Roger McCluskey 4
United States Jerry Sneva 11
Spirit AMC 73 United States Jerry Sneva 4
United States Gibson Racing Eagle Offenhauser 75 United States Todd Gibson 4
United States Walmotor McLaren (1)

Penske (2-4, 7-8, 11-12)

Cosworth 77 United States Salt Walther 1-4, 7-8, 11-12
United States R.P. Racing Penske Cosworth 80 United States Larry Dickson 4
United States Woodward Racing Eagle Offenhauser 81 United States Dick Ferguson 4
United States Beaudoin Racing Wildcat DGS 83 United States Billy Engelhart 4
United States AMSoil Lola Cosworth 86 Australia Dennis Firestone 11
United States Intercomp Eagle (1, 2, 4, 7-9)
Bear (5-6)
Offenhauser (1, 2, 4, 7-9)
DGS (5-6)
92 United States John Mahler 1-2, 4-9
United States O'Hanlon Racing March Chevrolet 93 United States Larry McCoy 4
United States Whittington Bros. Racing McLaren Cosworth 94 United States Don Whittington 11
Parnelli 98 United States Bill Whittington 11
United States Cannon Racing Wildcat DGS (7)
Offenhauser (4, 10-14)
95 United States Larry Cannon 4, 7, 10-14
United States Agajanian-Grant King Racers King Chevrolet 97 United States Phil Threshie 4
Offenhauser 98 United States Gary Bettenhausen 4
United States Canavan Racing McLaren Offenhauser X United States Earle Canavan 4

Season summary[edit]

Schedule[edit]

Rd Date Name Circuit Location
1 March 11 Arizona Republic/Jimmy Bryan 150  O  Phoenix International Raceway Avondale, Arizona
2 April 22 Gould Twin Dixie 125  O  Atlanta Motor Speedway Hampton, Georgia
3
4 May 27 Indianapolis 500  O  Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indianapolis, Indiana
5 June 10 Trenton Twin Indy  O  Trenton Speedway Trenton, New Jersey
6
7 July 15 Norton Twin 125  O  Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, Michigan
8
9 August 5 Kent Oil 150  R  Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, New York
10 August 19 Ditzler 150  O  Trenton Speedway Trenton, New Jersey
11 September 2 California 500  O  Ontario Motor Speedway Ontario, California
12 September 15 Gould Grand Prix  O  Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, Michigan
13 September 30 Rich's Atlanta Classic  O  Atlanta Motor Speedway Hampton, Georgia
14 October 20 Miller High Life 150  O  Phoenix International Raceway Avondale, Arizona
O Oval/Speedway
R Road Course/Street Circuit

Race results[edit]

Rd Race Pole Position Winning driver Winning team Race Time Report
1 Arizona Republic / Jimmy Bryan 150 United States Bobby Unser United States Gordon Johncock Patrick Racing 1:15:23 Report
2 Gould Twin Dixie 125 United States Johnny Rutherford United States Johnny Rutherford Team McLaren 0:47:28 Report
3 United States Johnny Rutherford Team McLaren 0:45:40
4 Indianapolis 500 United States Rick Mears United States Rick Mears Team Penske 3:08:27 Report
5 Trenton Twin Indy United States Gordon Johncock United States Bobby Unser Team Penske 0:46:30 Report
6 United States Bobby Unser Team Penske 0:40:46
7 Norton Twin 125 United States Bobby Unser United States Gordon Johncock Patrick Racing 0:44:13 Report
8 United States Bobby Unser Team Penske 0:48:40
9 Kent Oil 150 United States Al Unser United States Bobby Unser Team Penske 1:14:42 Report
10 Ditzler 150 United States Bobby Unser United States Rick Mears Team Penske 1:09:20 Report
11 California 500 United States Rick Mears United States Bobby Unser Team Penske 3:24:22 Report
12 Gould Grand Prix United States Bobby Unser United States Bobby Unser Team Penske 0:51:22 Report
13 Rich's Atlanta Classic United States Bobby Unser United States Rick Mears Team Penske 0:50:09 Report
14 Miller High Life 150 United States Bobby Unser United States Al Unser Chaparral Cars 1:13:03 Report
  • CART was sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)
  • Indianapolis was USAC-sanctioned but counted towards the CART championship.

Final driver standings[edit]

Note: Non-CART members in CART events haven't points in officially: Don Whittington, Jr., Bill Whittington, Roger Mears, John Martin, Frank Weiss, Bob Harkey, Dennis Firestone, Johnny Parsons, Jr. and Cliff Hucul

Pos Driver PHX
United States
ATL
United States
INDY
United States
TRT
United States
MIC
United States
WGL
United States
TRT
United States
ONT
United States
MIC
United States
ATL
United States
PHX
United States
Pts
1 United States Rick Mears 2 5 2 1 5 7 4 5 2 1 2 3 1 3 4,060
2 United States Bobby Unser 5 7 4 5 1 1 19 1 1 2 1 1 3 2 3,820
3 United States Gordon Johncock 1 4 9 6 3 5 1 4 3 16 15 13 2 4 2,211
4 United States Johnny Rutherford 3 1 1 18 15 3 3 11 15 5 4 4 11 6 2,163
5 United States Al Unser 4 6 3 22 2 12 13 3 5 6 5 10 5 1 2,085
6 United States Danny Ongais 15 14 6 4 7 6 18 12 4 13 6 DNQ 15 17 1,473
7 United States Tom Sneva 17 3 5 15 6 15 21 2 10 3 17 2 8 5 1,360
8 United States Tom Bagley 8 8 7 9 8 4 6 6 6 7 32 5 9 1,208
9 United States Wally Dallenbach 7 11 8 27 4 2 5 10 14 4 24 6 4 12 1,149
10 United States Mike Mosley 6 17 17 3 13 DNS 2 20 12 14 34 14 10 1,126
11 United States Mario Andretti 3 DNQ 700
12 United States Lee Kunzman 9 2 18 30 14 DNS 14 17 9 490
13 United States Pancho Carter 20 9 11 20 10 8 7 14 16 DNQ 28 8 13 7 452
14 Australia Vern Schuppan 21 12 12 21 16 DNS 7 7 DNS 14 449
15 United States Bill Alsup  RY  11 16 15 DNQ 12 9 9 13 9 10 22 9 10 11 400
16 United States Joe Saldana 13 13 13 16 17 16 10 8 13 8 30 DNQ 6 18 368
17 United States Spike Gehlhausen 18 18 16 10 18 13 22 21 17 11 25 11 16 8 343
18 United States Salt Walther 12 10 10 12 8 7 20 12 314
19 United States Steve Krisiloff 16 15 DNS 11 9 14 17 18 18 23 6 279
20 United States Tom Frantz 14 DNQ 11 16 11 9 11 14 236
21 United States Jerry Sneva 31 10 155
22 United States Tim Richmond  R  23 DNS 8 12 26 15 112
23 United States Larry Rice 10 14 19 16 10 105
24 United States Herm Johnson 7 13 98
25 United States John Mahler 19 25 11 11 12 15 74
26 United States Al Loquasto DNQ 20 9 21 70
27 United States Larry Cannon DNQ 15 14 DNS 12 16 56
28 United States Dick Ferguson DNQ 15 19 16 DNQ 35
29 United States Billy Scott DNQ 19 20
30 Italy Phil Caliva  R  27 10
- United States A. J. Foyt 2 -
- United States Howdy Holmes  R  7 -
- United States Billy Vukovich II 8 -
- United States Don Whittington, Jr.  R  8 -
- Canada Frank Weiss DNQ 9 -
- United States Bill Whittington  R  12 -
- United States Roger McCluskey 13 -
- United States Tom Bigelow 14 -
- United States Phil Threshie 17 -
- United States John Martin DNQ 18 -
- Canada Eldon Rasmussen 23 -
- United States Larry Dickson 24 -
- United States Dick Simon 26 -
- United States Sheldon Kinser 28 -
- United States Bob Harkey DNQ 29 -
- Canada Cliff Hucul 29 35 -
- Australia Dennis Firestone  R  31 -
- United States Johnny Parsons 32 33 -
- United States George Snider 33 -
- United States Janet Guthrie 34 -
- United States Jim McElreath 35 -
Pos Driver PHX
United States
ATL
United States
INDY
United States
TRT
United States
MIC
United States
WGL
United States
TRT
United States
ONT
United States
MIC
United States
ATL
United States
PHX
United States
Pts
Color Result
Gold Winner
Silver 2nd place
Bronze 3rd place
Green 4th & 5th place
Light Blue 6th-10th place
Dark Blue Finished
(Outside Top 10)
Purple Did not finish
(Ret)
Red Did not qualify
(DNQ)
Brown Withdrawn
(Wth)
Black Disqualified
(DSQ)
White Did not start
(DNS)
Blank Did not
participate
(DNP)
Not competing
In-line notation
Bold Pole position
Italics Ran fastest race lap
* Led most race laps
 RY  Rookie of the Year
 R  Rookie

Driver breakdown[edit]

Pos Driver Team/Car Owner Starts Wins Podiums Top 5s Top 10s Poles Points
1 United States Mears United States Team Penske 14 3 9 13 14 2 4,060
2 United States B. Unser United States Team Penske 14 6 9 12 13 7 3,820
3 United States Johncock United States Patrick Racing 14 2 5 9 11 2 2,211
4 United States Rutherford United States Team McLaren 14 2 5 8 9 2 2,163
5 United States A. Unser United States Chaparral Cars 14 1 4 8 10 1 2,085
6 United States Ongais United States Interscope Racing 13 0 0 2 6 0 1,473
7 United States T. Sneva United States Jerry O'Connel Racing 14 0 2 6 8 0 1,360
8 United States Bagley United States Longhorn Racing 13 0 0 2 12 0 1,208
9 United States Dallenbach United States Patrick Racing 14 0 1 5 8 0 1,149
10 United States Mosley United States All American Racers 12 0 2 2 3 0 1,126
11 United States Andretti United States Team Penske 1 0 1 1 1 0 700
12 United States Kunzman United States Conqueste Racing Team 8 0 1 1 3 0 490
13 United States Carter United States Morales Motorsports 13 0 0 0 6 0 452
14 Australia Schuppan United States Wysard Racing 8 0 0 0 2 0 449
15 United States Alsup (R) United States WASP Racing/Team Penske/Gehlhausen Racing 13 0 0 0 6 0 400
16 United States Saldana United States Hoffman Racing 13 0 0 0 4 0 368
17 United States Gehlhausen United States Gehlhausen Racing/Bob Fletcher Racing 14 0 0 0 2 0 343
18 United States Walther United States Walmotor 8 0 0 0 4 0 314
19 United States Krisiloff United States Bob Fletcher Racing/Patrick Racing/Longhorn Racing 10 0 0 0 2 0 279
20 United States Frantz United States Frantz Racing 7 0 0 0 1 0 236
21 United States J. Sneva United States Hodgdon Racing 2 0 0 0 0 0 155
22 United States Richmond United States Mach 1 Racing/S&M Electric 5 0 0 0 1 0 112
23 United States Rice United States S&M Electric 5 0 0 0 2 0 105
24 United States Johnson United States Mergard Racing 2 0 0 0 1 0 98
25 United States Mahler United States Intercomp 6 0 0 0 0 0 74
26 United States Loquasto United States Gehlhausen Racing 3 0 0 0 1 0 70
27 United States Cannon United States Canon Racing 4 0 0 0 0 0 56
28 United States Ferguson United States Hoffman Racing 3 0 0 0 0 0 35
29 United States Scott United States Wheel Center 1 0 0 0 0 0 20
30 Italy Caliva United States Gehlhausen Racing 1 0 0 0 0 0 10

References[edit]

See also[edit]