Other Champions

The primary focus of this site is the history of the U. S. National Championship and Indy Car racing, progressing from AAA through USAC, CART, CCWS and IRL/INDYCAR.  Also included is the data from a number of other series, such as the early ACA sanctioned events, the 1946 AAA sprint car races, the NASCAR Speedway Division and the USAC Gold Crown in an attempt to give as complete a picture of the eras as possible.  Along the way there have been other events which, while not necessarily at the level of the top Indy Car series, are still worthy of mention.

Early National Champions

Vanderbilt Cup

Gold and Glory Sweepstakes

American IndyCar Series

Early National Champions
While Indy Car racing is generally recognized to have begun 1909, the AAA began sanctioning races back in 1902.  There was no Indy Car division back in those days, nor was there an actual championship, there were just races.  When points were retroactively awarded for the early seasons in 1927, national champions were also created for the early AAA years prior to the Championship division being established.  There were no points standings involved here, it was a review of the racing periodicals of the time and who those publications felt were the best drivers in the U. S. that year.  Think of it like the college football media poll, only there isn't a full ranking, just a survey to determine the champion.  I've stated before that retroactively awarding points to races isn't a "genuine" championship in my opinion, and simply looking at old magazines and seeing who they felt was the best driver is even less so.  Even so, you will see these names and titles published in a number of other publications, so I've included them here with this explanation.

Early National Champions
1902 Harry Harkness
1903 Barney Oldfield
1904 George Heath
1905 Victor Hémery
1906 Joe Tracy
1907 Eddie Bald
1908 Lewis Strang

Vanderbilt Cup
The Vanderbilt Cup and Indy Car racing each have long and rich histories that have intertwined a number of times over the years.  The Vanderbilt Cup predates Indy Cars, with the first running held in 1904.  The Vanderbilt Cup was included in the early Indy Car series points tables that were retroactively created until the race was discontinued after the 1916 running.  The Vanderbilt Cup was first revived in 1936 with an event run to international Grand Prix specifications.  This version of the Vanderbilt Cup only lasted two years, and the race was a part of the AAA National Championship Trail both times.  The race made a brief comeback again in 1960, this time as a Formula Junior event.  It made yet another comeback as a USRRC sports car race in 1965, 1967 and 1968.  In 1996 CART commissioned a replica of the Vanderbilt Cup to be given as the prize at the inaugural U. S. 500.  This continued through 1999, after which the U. S. 500 was discontinued.  Beginning in 2000 the Vanderbilt Cup was awarded to the Champ Car series champion.

William K. Vanderbilt Cup Winners
1904 George Heath
1905 Victor Hémery
1906 Louis Wagner
1908 George Robertson
1909 Harry Grant
1910 Harry Grant
1911 Ralph Mulford
1912 Ralph DePalma
1914 Ralph DePalma
1915 Dario Resta
1916 Dario Resta
   
George Vanderbilt Cup Winners
1936 Tazio Nuvolari
1937 Bernd Rosemeyer
   
Cornelius Vanderbilt Cup Winner
1960 Harry Carter
   
USRRC Vanderbilt Cup Winners
1965 Jim Hall
1967 Mark Donohue
1968 Skip Scott
   
Vanderbilt Cup - U. S. 500 Winners
1996 Jimmy Vasser
1997 Alex Zanardi
1998 Greg Moore
1999 Tony Kanaan
   
Vanderbilt Cup - Series Champions
2000 Gil de Ferran
2001 Gil de Ferran
2002 Cristiano da Matta
2003 Paul Tracy
2004 Sébastien Bourdais
2005 Sébastien Bourdais
2006 Sébastien Bourdais
2007 Sébastien Bourdais

Gold and Glory Sweepstakes
The Gold and Glory Sweepstakes was the showcase race of the Colored Speedway Association.  Founded in 1924, the CSA was created to give black drivers, who were barred from racing in the AAA, an opportunity to race.  The 1924 Gold and Glory Sweepstakes was the inaugural race for the series, and the Sweepstakes remained the circuit's main event.  Most Sweepstakes events were held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, although it was moved a couple of times to Walnut Gardens Speedway, a 1/2 mile track about 12 miles away.  Charlie Wiggins was the series' biggest star, winning at least 17 CSA events as well as being the only multiple winner of the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes.  The series came to an end after the 1936 season, when economic issues from the Great Depression and the loss of the series two biggest stars, Wiggins and Bobby Wallace, to injury was too much to overcome.  The races should be thought of more as Formula Libre, "run what you brung" type events as opposed to proper Indy Car races, as many of the cars were home-built specials.  There were however a good number of true Indy Cars that had earlier raced in the Indianapolis 500 that made their way to the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes.

Gold and Glory Sweepstakes Winners
8/2/1924 Malcolm Hannon Indiana State Fairgrounds 100 miles
8/8/1925 Bobby Wallace Indiana State Fairgrounds 100 miles
8/7/1926 Charlie Wiggins Indiana State Fairgrounds 100 miles
7/4/1927 Bill James Indiana State Fairgrounds 100 miles
7/4/1928 Bill Jeffries Indiana State Fairgrounds 100 miles
7/4/1929 Barney Anderson Indiana State Fairgrounds 100 miles
7/4/1930 Gene Smith Indiana State Fairgrounds 100 miles
7/4/1931 Charlie Wiggins Walnut Gardens Speedway 50 miles
9/24/1932 Charlie Wiggins Indiana State Fairgrounds 20 miles
8/21/1933 Charlie Wiggins Walnut Gardens Speedway 50 miles
1934 No race held
1935 Race cancelled
9/20/1936 Bill Carson Indiana State Fairgrounds 50 miles

American IndyCar Series
Founded by former Champ Car driver Bill Tempero, the American IndyCar Series (AIS) made it's debut in 1988, with Buddy Lazier winning the first race as well as the first title.  The series was created as a home for older Indy Car equipment to run.  The series did achieve a certain amount of notoriety in its early days as a possible training ground for drivers.  Robby Unser got a good deal of national exposure for his 7 race winning streak in 1989.  Soon after though it became more of a club racing series for drivers with old Champ Cars.  The series did enjoy a bit of a renaissance in 1996.  With the IRL mandating chassis being at least a year old for its first season, several AIS teams popped up on IRL entry lists that first year.  The series was reorganized under new management prior to the 2001 season and renamed the United States Speedway Series (USSS).

American IndyCar Series Champions
1988 Buddy Lazier
1989 Robby Unser
1990 Bill Tempero
1991 Bill Tempero
1992 Rod Bennett
1993 Rick Sutherland
1994 Bill Tempero
1995 Bill Tempero
1996 Ken Petrie
1997 Ken Petrie
1998 Greg Gorden
1999 Bill Tempero
2000 Mike Lee
United States Speedway Series Champions
2001 Ken Petrie
2002 Eddie Nahir
2003 Ken Petrie
2004 Greg Gorden
2005 Bailey Dotson

 

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