Carl Haas, the co-founder of the Newman-Haas Racing team with the late actor Paul Newman, died June 29. He was 86.
Newman-Haas established itself as one of the most successful open-wheel teams, hiring Mario Andretti as its first driver. Among its other drivers were Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais and Christian Fittipaldi.
After Mr. Haas’s death, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway issued a statement describing him as “one of the most influential men in motorsports for nearly a half-century.”
Newman-Haas cars made 30 starts over a 28-year span at the Indianapolis 500 from 1983 to 2011, with six top-five finishes. He also fielded teams in Can-Am, Formula 1 and NASCAR.
Known for his omnipresent cigar and a savvy business sense, Mr. Haas teamed with Newman to form Newman-Haas in 1983 and built a long record of success with the legendary Andretti leading that impressive driver roster.
NHR won 107 IndyCar races and eight CART titles, including the final four in Champ Car, CART’s successor. Andretti won the 1984 title along with 18 races with the team over the final 12 years of his legendary career.
Overall, Mr. Haas’s teams won 16 championships and more than 140 races over his 44-year career as an owner.
Though Newman was the face and often the voice for their successful racing operation, Mr. Haas was happy doing the everyday work in the background. Mr. Haas respected Newman’s business mind and included him in every facet of a venture Andretti called a “marriage made in heaven.”
The pair endured some difficult times as well.
Mr. Haas and Newman belonged to a fierce group of team owners devoted to open-wheel racing on road and street courses. Their philosophy clashed with that of owner Tony George, whose family owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the marquee Indianapolis 500 and considered that race the cornerstone for an oval-based series.
Andretti recalled Mr. Haas and Newman eventually coming around to the concept of racing on all circuits, but it wasn’t easy.
“Paul and Carl were primarily devoted to road racing because they were both racers,” Andretti said. “They came to embrace ovals even if they didn’t totally like it. When Tony started his series, all he had was Indy, while CART had everything but Indy.
“Paul and Carl were loyal to who they were with, and held on to their ideal as long as they could.”
George eventually formed the rival Indy Racing League in 1996 and created a bitter open- wheel racing split that damaged both circuits. The rival series eventually reunified in 2008, with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing being one of the final teams to join, but the sport has struggled to regain its stature.
Andretti said Mr. Haas remained an unpretentious, likable personality who was never far from his cigar “unless he was asleep.”
A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
— Associated Press
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