1996 Indy Racing League

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1996 Indy Racing League season
Indy Racing League
1996 Indy Racing League
Races 3
Start date January 27
End date May 26
Drivers' champion United States Buzz Calkins
United States Scott Sharp
Indianapolis 500 winner United States Buddy Lazier
← 1995 (ICWS)
Buzz Calkins (left) won his first Drivers' Championship while Scott Sharp (right) became co-champions in the championship despite Calkins had one victory.

The 1996 Indy Racing League, the first in the history of the league, consisted of only three races, as the season concluded in May with the 80th Indianapolis 500. Walt Disney World Speedway was completed in time to host the first race of the season, and the first ever event of the IRL, and Phoenix International Raceway switched alliances from CART to IRL and hosted the second event of the season. At the conclusion of the three-race schedule, Scott Sharp and Buzz Calkins ended up tied for first place in the season championship. With no tiebreaker rule in place, the two drivers were declared co-champions.

On January 23, 1995, at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort the IRL announced the dates for two of the races scheduled for the inaugural 1996 season. The Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway was scheduled for January 27, 1996, and 80th Indianapolis 500 was set for May 26, 1996. On April 3, the IRL announced that Phoenix International Raceway and the then-under construction Las Vegas Motor Speedway would be on the 1996 schedule, but no dates were confirmed. Later that month, on April 13, 1995, the respective dates were finalized for Phoenix (March 24, 1996) and Las Vegas (September 15, 1996). On May 30, 1995, New Hampshire Motor Speedway officially switched alliances from CART to IRL, and scheduled their race for August 18.

The original plan was to have every Indy Racing League season end with the Indianapolis 500, with the IRL championship being awarded at the conclusion of the Indy 500, and possibly to the Indy 500 winner. The next season (in this case the 1996–97 season) would begin immediately after the Indy 500, and spread over two calendar years to conclude at the next Indianapolis 500. As a result, the two races at New Hampshire and Las Vegas, already announced, would in fact open the 1996–97 season. This scheduling format went against the traditional motorsports grain, and the idea was eventually scrapped in October, with the 1996–97 season being expanded in order to bring the schedule back in sync with the rest of the motorsports world for 1998.

The season was contested with 1995 and older CART chassis produced by Lola and Reynard with a fixed limit on how much a team could spend on its combination. In addition, nearly every car was powered by a Ford Cosworth XB, Menard V6 or Buick V6 engine. Despite the short season, only fifteen drivers competed in all three. All races were well-attended by competitors as a legal chassis and engine combination could be acquired for well under $100,000.

Teams and drivers[edit]

Team Chassis Engine Tires No. Driver(s) Rounds
United States ABF Motorsports Lola T92 Buick G 96 United States Paul Durant 2–3
United States A. J. Foyt Enterprises Lola T95 Ford Cosworth G 11 United States Scott Sharp[N 1] All
14 United States Davey Hamilton All
41 United States Mike Groff[N 2] 1–2
Lola T94 Brazil Marco Greco 3
United States Beck Motorsports/Zunne Group[N 3]
United States Beck Motorsports
Lola T94
Reynard 94I[N 4]
Ford Cosworth F 52 Japan Hideshi Matsuda 3
54 United States Robbie Buhl 1, 3
United States Blueprint Racing Lola T93 Menard F 16 United States Johnny Parsons All
27 United States Jim Guthrie 2–3
Lola T92 Buick 36 United States Dan Drinan[N 5] 2
United States Loop Hole Racing G 3
United States Bradley Motorsports Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth F 12 United States Buzz Calkins All
United States Brickell Racing Lola T93 Menard G 77 United States Tyce Carlson[N 6] 3
United States Byrd/LeberleTreadway Racing[N 3]
United States ByrdTreadway Racing
Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth F
[N 4]G
5 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk All
United States Cunningham Racing Reynard 95I
Lola T94[N 4]
Ford Cosworth F 75 United States Johnny O'Connell All
United States Della Penna Motorsports Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth G 4 United States Richie Hearn All
44 United States Scott Harrington[N 7] 3
United States DeLorto Motorsports Lola T92 Buick G 81 United States Rick DeLorto 1
United States Galles Racing Lola T95 Mercedes-Ilmor G 70 United States Davy Jones 3
United States Hemelgarn Racing Reynard 95I
Reynard 94I[N 8]
Ford Cosworth F 9 France Stéphan Grégoire All
10 United States Brad Murphey 3
91 United States Buddy Lazier All
United States Leigh Miller Racing Lola T94 Ford Cosworth F 17 United States Stan Wattles[N 9] 1–2
United States Pagan Racing Reynard 94I
Reynard 95I[N 10]
Ford Cosworth G 21 Colombia Roberto Guerrero All
99 United States Billy Boat 3
United States PDM/Automatic Sprinkler System[N 3]
United States PDM Racing
Lola T93 Menard G 18 United States John Paul Jr. All
United States Project Indy Lola T93 Ford Cosworth G 46 New Zealand Rob Wilson 3
Reynard 94I
Reynard 95I[N 11]
64 United States Johnny Unser 2–3
United States Scandia/Simon Racing[N 3]
United States Team Scandia
Lola T95
Lola T94[N 12]
Lola T93[N 13]
Reynard 95I[N 14]
Ford Cosworth G 7 Chile Eliseo Salazar[N 15] 1, 3
Spain Fermín Vélez 2
8 Italy Alessandro Zampedri 3
22 Mexico Michel Jourdain Jr. 2–3
33 Italy Michele Alboreto All
34 Spain Fermín Vélez 3
43 United States Joe Gosek[N 16] 3
90 United States Lyn St. James 1–2
United States Racin Gardner 3
United States Team Menard Lola T95 Menard F
[N 4]G
2 United States Scott Brayton 1–2
3 United States Eddie Cheever All
20 United States Tony Stewart All
30 United States Mark Dismore 3
32 United States Danny Ongais[N 17] 3
United States Tempero–Giuffre Racing Lola T92
Lola T93[N 18]
Buick G 15 United States Bill Tempero 1
United States David Kudrave 2
United Kingdom Justin Bell 3
25 United States David Kudrave 1
United States Billy Roe[N 19] 2
United States Walker Racing Reynard 95I Ford Cosworth G 60 United States Mike Groff 3
United States Zunne Group Racing Lola T93 Buick F 24 United States Randy Tolsma 3
Lola T94 Ford Cosworth 45 United States Robbie Buhl 2
G United States Lyn St. James 3


Rd Date Race Name Track City
1 January 27 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Walt Disney World Speedway Bay Lake, Florida
2 March 24 Dura Lube 200 Phoenix International Raceway Phoenix, Arizona
3 May 26 80th Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway Speedway, Indiana

All races running on Oval/Speedway. ABC Sports televised all three races.


In a controversial move, in July 1995, it was announced that the top 25 drivers in IRL points would secure guaranteed starting positions for the 1996 Indianapolis 500. Presumably, that left only eight positions open for at-large competitors. However, some interpreted the rule otherwise.[1]

The IRL points system was to be staggered to adjust for the number of races each driver entered. The number of points awarded per race would be multiplied by the number of events the driver had participated in. For example, if a driver had entered all three events, the points awarded for that third race were multiplied by three. This move was supposed to be an encouragement to enter all IRL events, but it did not attract any additional teams from the rival CART series.

Initially, IRL officials hoped that competitors from the rival CART series would choose to race in the IRL events, presumably since there were no foreseen conflicts in their respective schedules. The 1996 IRL schedule was finalized by May 30, 1995. However, a couple weeks later the CART series announced their 1996 schedule, immediately with conflicting dates. The CART race at Road America was scheduled for the same day as the IRL event at Loudon, while the CART races at Rio and Australia were bookended around the IRL race at Phoenix, creating an impossible travel situation. The only CART teams that participated in any IRL events in 1996 were Galles and Walker, but neither fielded drivers who were CART regulars.

Race summaries[edit]

Indy 200[edit]

The Indy 200 at Walt Disney World was held on January 27 at Walt Disney World Speedway. Buddy Lazier qualified on the pole position with a track record 181.388 mph (19.847 seconds). The race was broadcast on ABC.

Top 10 results

  1. 12 - Buzz Calkins
  2. 20 - Tony Stewart
  3. 54 - Robbie Buhl
  4. 33 - Michele Alboreto
  5. 21 - Roberto Guerrero
  6. 11 - Mike Groff
  7. 75 - Johnny O'Connell
  8. 90 - Lyn St. James
  9. 18 - John Paul Jr.
  10. 3 - Eddie Cheever
  • Failed to qualify: 7-Eliseo Salazar, 15-Bill Tempero and 81-Rick DeLorto
  • Calkins and Stewart led a combined 167 of 200 laps.
  • The margin of victory was 0.886 seconds due a restart with six laps to go after Cheever and Scott Sharp crashed.
  • Calkins' only IndyCar win.

Dura-Lube 200[edit]

The Dura-Lube 200 was held on March 24 at Phoenix International Raceway. Arie Luyendyk qualified on the pole position. The race was broadcast on ABC.

Top 10 results

  1. 5 - Arie Luyendyk
  2. 11 - Scott Sharp
  3. 41 - Mike Groff
  4. 4 - Richie Hearn
  5. 75 - Johnny O'Connell
  6. 12 - Buzz Calkins
  7. 9 - Stéphan Grégoire
  8. 33 - Michele Alboreto
  9. 64 - Johnny Unser
  10. 15 - David Kudrave
  • Failed to qualify: 3-Eddie Cheever, 17-Stan Wattles, 25-Racin Gardner, 25-Billy Roe, 36-Dan Drinan and 91-Buddy Lazier
  • During practice, Lazier was involved in a spectacular crash with Lyn St. James that resulted in a broken back.
  • On lap 128, Sharp and Groff were running 1st and 2nd when they made their final pit stop. However, the pit lane was closed and they each received a one lap penalty. The two would recover to finish 2nd and 3rd (with Sharp getting back on the lead lap).

Indianapolis 500[edit]

The Indianapolis 500 was held May 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Scott Brayton quailed on the pole position. However, he was killed during practice. Teammate Tony Stewart moved to 1st place and Danny Ongais replaced Brayton, moving to the rear of the field. Arie Luyendyk was the fastest qualifier with a new track record (that still stands as of 2017), but was a second day qualifier. The race was broadcast on ABC.

Top 10 results

  1. 91 - Buddy Lazier
  2. 70 - Davy Jones
  3. 4 - Richie Hearn
  4. 8 - Alessandro Zampedri
  5. 21 - Roberto Guerrero
  6. 7 - Eliseo Salazar
  7. 32 - Danny Ongais
  8. 52 - Hideshi Matsuda
  9. 54 - Robbie Buhl
  10. 11 - Scott Sharp
  • Failed to qualify: 15-Justin Bell, 45-Randy Tolsma, 36-Dan Drinan, 77-Tyce Carlson, 46-Rob Wilson and 99-Billy Boat
  • Lazier's first IndyCar win. He did so less than three months after breaking his back at Phoenix.
  • Jones was driving a one-off for Galles Racing (a full-time CART team at the time). They were only team to use a Mercedes-Benz engine.
  • On the final lap, Zampedri, Guerrero and Salazar crashed together, resulting in Zampedri getting airborne and flipping on the main straightaway.
  • Ongais started his first IndyCar race since 1987. Despite an early spin, he finished 7th.

Season summary[edit]

Race results[edit]

Round Race Pole position Fastest lap Most laps led Race Winner Report
Driver Team
1 Walt Disney World United States Buddy Lazier United States Buzz Calkins United States Buzz Calkins United States Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports Report
2 Phoenix Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Byrd-Treadway Racing Report
3 Indianapolis United States Tony StewartA United States Eddie Cheever Colombia Roberto Guerrero United States Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing Report
^A Scott Brayton was the fastest qualifier for the 1996 Indianapolis 500, but was killed during practice. Hence, second-fastest qualifier Tony Stewart started from the pole.

Driver standings[edit]

Pos Driver WDW
1 United States Buzz Calkins 1* 6 17 246
United States Scott Sharp 11 2 10 246
3 United States Robbie Buhl 3 13 9 240
4 United States Richie Hearn 19 4 3 237
Colombia Roberto Guerrero 5 16 5* 237
6 United States Mike Groff 6 3 20 228
7 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 14 1* 16 225
8 United States Tony Stewart 2 11 24 204
9 United States Johnny O'Connell 7 5 29 192
United States Davey Hamilton 12 17 12 192
11 Italy Michele Alboreto 4 8 30 189
12 United States Lyn St. James 8 21 14 186
13 France Stéphan Grégoire 16 7 27 165
14 United States Buddy Lazier 17 Wth 1 159
15 United States John Paul Jr. 9 14 31 153
16 United States Eddie Cheever 10 Wth 11 147
17 United States Johnny Parsons 18 12 28 141
18 United States Scott Brayton 15 18 DNS 111
19 United States David Kudrave 20 10 80
20 Mexico Michel Jourdain Jr. 20 13 74
United States Jim Guthrie 15 18 74
22 Spain Fermín Vélez 19 21 60
23 Chile Eliseo Salazar Wth 6 58
24 United States Johnny Unser 9 33 56
25 United States Stan Wattles 13 Wth 44
26 United States Davy Jones 2 33
27 United States Paul Durant 22 32 32
28 Italy Alessandro Zampedri 4 31
29 United States Danny Ongais 7 28
30 Japan Hideshi Matsuda 8 27
31 United States Scott Harrington 15 20
32 United States Mark Dismore 19 16
33 United States Joe Gosek 22 13
34 United States Brad Murphey 23 12
35 United States Racin Gardner Wth 25 10
36 Brazil Marco Greco 26 9
United States Dan Drinan DNQ DNQ 0
United States Rick DeLorto DNQ 0
United States Bill Tempero DNQ 0
United States Billy Roe DNQ 0
United States Billy Boat DNQ 0
United States Tyce Carlson DNQ 0
United States Randy Tolsma DNQ 0
New Zealand Rob Wilson DNQ 0
United Kingdom Justin Bell Wth 0
Pos Driver WDW
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
Red Did not qualify
Brown Withdrawn
Black Disqualified
White Did not start
Blank Did not
Not competing
In-line notation
Bold Pole position
Italics Ran fastest race lap
* Led most race laps
Fatal accident
Pts1 The number of points awarded per race
would be multiplied by the number of events
the driver had participated in.

Note: Scott Brayton, 37, won the pole for the 1996 Indianapolis 500, but was killed in a crash during practice after qualifying.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ #41 at Walt Disney World.
  2. ^ #11 at Walt Disney World.
  3. ^ a b c d At Walt Disney World.
  4. ^ a b c d Used at Walt Disney World.
  5. ^ Tyce Carlson and Andy Michner passed their Indianapolis rookie test in the car.
  6. ^ Replaced Danny Ongais during practice for the Indy 500 after Ongais signed with Team Menard as a replacement for the fatally injured Scott Brayton.
  7. ^ Switched from Harrington Motorsport during practice for the Indy 500.
  8. ^ Used by Brad Murphey.
  9. ^ Injured in a practice crash at Phoenix.
  10. ^ Used by Roberto Guerrero at the Indy 500.
  11. ^ Used at Phoenix.
  12. ^ Used by Alessandro Zampedri, Joe Gosek and Racin Gardner.
  13. ^ Used by Lyn St. James at Walt Disney World
  14. ^ Used by Michele Alboreto at Walt Disney World and Lyn St. James at Phoenix.
  15. ^ Injured in a practice crash at Walt Disney World
  16. ^ Switched from Tempero–Giuffre Racing (cars #25 and #15) during practice for the Indy 500.
  17. ^ At the Indy 500, Brayton withdrew his already qualified primary car and won the pole in the backup #32, but was fatally injured in a practice crash and replaced by Ongais, who switched from Brickell Racing.
  18. ^ Used by David Kudrave
  19. ^ Replaced Joe Gosek, who switched for Team Scandia after completing his rookie test.


  1. ^ "IRL: CHAMPCAR/CART: IRL press release 96-01-04". Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2007-04-03.