Villeneuve poses with victory wreath and Borg-Warner trophy a day after his stunning Indy win.
Photo: IMS Photo
From a European perspective, during the 1990s Reynard had expanded as far as it could go with the various F3 and F3000 Championships. My appetite was for a further challenge in single-seaters, I had little interest in sportscars, and so, the logical next step for us was to look at America. Both March and Lola had made successful inroads at Indianapolis. The first thing I did was to build a Formula Atlantic car, and spent 1992 and 1993 in the States engineering it. Formula Atlantic was a supporting series to the main event, the CART World Series, and it gave me good opportunities to follow the series around, getting to know the teams and their personnel, the drivers, the racing and the tracks. During this time I tried to evaluate the opposition and where we could differentiate our product to make a difference. The problem was all the, dare I say, “A” teams were all tied up with either Lola or Penske, and the Ilmor engines—which were the best at that time. So, the “A” teams just weren’t interested in us at all, then the “B” teams were similarly tied, or, were apprehensive about taking a “leap of faith” with a new constructor. I hate to say this, but we ended up with people regarded as the “C” teams—those that hadn’t been successful, Chip Ganassi being one of them who was not as successful then as he is today.
Our first race was at Surfers Paradise in Australia, the opening round of the 1994 CART World Series, Michael Andretti had just returned to the championship from a meagre spell in Formula One and was racing for the Target Chip Ganassi team. Altogether we had six cars entered in that first race, including rookie Jacques Villeneuve in the Forsythe/Green team. The race was delayed and restarted a number of times due to rain and accidents. Much time had been lost so the organizers cut the race distance by 10 laps as the darkness of night approached. At the flag, Michael Andretti took the win, continuing our winning debut record.
Become a Member & Get Ad-Free Access To This Article (& About 6,000+ More)
Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes most ads, lets you enjoy unlimited access to all our premium content, and offers you awesome discounts on partner products. Enjoy our premium content.