Saturday, September 20, 2008

HVM makes 200th Start

Missed during the entire hullabaloo over Scott Dixon vs. Helio Castroneves fight over the 2008 Indy Car Series Championship, was the fact that proverbial minnow-esqe HVM Racing was making its 200th Indy Car Series start, which I suppose is a fairly impressive statistic.

Recall that HVM Racing actually began life as Bettenhausen Motorsports, founded by the late Tony Bettenhausen Jr. in the early 1990’s, during CART’s hey days, with the first true hired gun being “Stevie Johnson,” a.k.a. Stefan Johansson, (1992-96) who would claim CART’s Rookie of the Year honours on the strength of two third places and would capture his first Indy Car pole at Portland the following year.

Tony’s older brother Gary also drove for the team in 1982-83 and 1996, in what I can only assume were Indy 500 one-offs, with Gary failing to qualify both in 1983 & 1996...

Yet, the list of drivers is fairly diverse, with Tony B’s most prolific driver Signe’s being Johansson, Patrick Carpentier and Helio Castroneves, which I’ve previously scribbled about in Brothers in Arms (Part 2) prior to the untimely death of the team’s founder in early 2000.

Since then, the team has been taken over by Keith Wiggins, whom briefly fielded his own F1 Pacific Grand Prix team, before coming to America to oversea Lola’s Indy Car resurgence, prior to taking the reigns of Bettenhausen Motorsports, which has since been thru a litany of name changes, several partners and revolving cast of drivers... Before emerging as the HVM Racing entity we know as today with Edward Carpenter’s best buddy Ernesto “EJ” Viso at the helm.

Wiggins admits he hopes to make it thru another 200 starts, which should be potentially doable for the 50yr old Englishman.

Yet, to put the HVM Racing accomplishment into perspective, consider that the ex-Formula One team Minardi, made a total of 345 starts during its 20yr tenure (1985-2005) without ever scoring a pole position or victory before being sold to Deeter Majestic...