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Two Days at the Races: Remembering CART in 1998

Story and photographs by Mike Beckers
In 1998, at the height of the “CART versus IRL” conflict, The Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) FedEx Racing Series presented two races in Wisconsin. The first was the Miller 200, presented on May 31 on the famous Milwaukee Mile oval track and the second was the Texaco/Havoline 200, held at Road America on August 16. Lucky fans had the opportunity to see the cars and stars of CART at the fast “bullring” at State Fair Park and the sweeping expanse of one of America’s greatest road racing circuits.

At the time CART boasted fields approaching 30 cars with some of the most famous teams in Motorsports. Penske, Ganassi, Forsythe, Patrick, Tasman, Walker and others provided rides for such stars as Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Al Unser Jr., Greg Moore, Gil de Ferran, Max Papis, Jimmy Vasser, Robby Gordon, Alex Zanardi and others. The level of talent exhibited by the drivers and teams was outstanding. The competition was keen and the fans were treated to some great racing.

At the Miller 200, at Milwaukee, Patrick Carpentier of Forsyth Racing grabbed the pole with a lap time of just 20.028 seconds, a speed just a tick under 180 miles per hour. After checkered flag fell on lap 200, Jimmy Vasser, Helio Castro-Neves and Al Unser Jr. stood on the podium, with Vasser the winner. At Road America Michael Andretti held pole position, but Dario Franchitti took the win, followed by Alex Zanardi and Christian Fittipaldi. The day ended early for Bryan Herta and Alex Barron due to a crash in which Barron’s car wound up on top of Herta’s.

At the close of the 1998 CART season, Alex Zanardi of Chip Ganassi Racing was crowned the Champion followed by teammate Jimmy Vasser and Dario Franchitti. Five different chassis manufacturers participated in the series, teams had four engine suppliers. Tony Kanaan was named as Rookie of the Year.


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