Chip Ganassi Racing has a widespread area of racing influence at various levels in the country. Owned by businessman Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates, the team fields cars in the NASCAR series, in the Indy Racing League as well as in Grand-Am racing,
In 1989, Felix Sabates decided to start on the NASCAR operations. Felix was a Cuban immigrant who became a millionaire through products like “Teddy Ruxpin”. He started the NASCAR team under the name TEAM SABCO or SABCO Racing. In 2001, Chip Ganassi bought into 80% of the company’s shares and was also instrumental in turning the team from Chevy to Dodge.Chip Ganassi, a former IndyCar World Series driver, became co-owner of Emerson Fittipaldi’s Marlboro IndyCar team. The team won at the ‘80 Indianapolis 500 and the ‘89 IndyCar World Series Championships. Differences with co-owner Pat Patrick led Chip to pick up his share and walk away to set up his own racing team.
With Target as the primary sponsor, Chip roped in Eddie Cheever for a full-time stint at the IndyCar World Series. In 1992, Ganassi put in two cars for the Indy500 with Arie Luyendyk as the single race entry driver. He used this part-time second car to debut Robby Gordon in a chosen few events.
In 1993, Luyendyk became the full time driver in place of Eddie Cheever and got them a second place finish. Mario Andretti joined the team in 1994 after a failed year at Formula One. He got Chip Ganassi’s first IndyCar win at the Australian GP.
With Target’s able support, Ganassi kept moving up through the rankings till it became a top ranked team in the series. Juan Pablo Montoya’s series championship win became the highlight of their history as in his debut season, Montoya won the 1999 championships. This was the fourth championship win in a row for Ganassi. Jimmy Vasser, in 1996; Alex Zanardi, in 1997 and 1998; and then Montoya, in 1999 were their four CART championship wins.
In 2000, Ganassi brought his CART team to return to the Indy500 series, with Juan Pablo Montoya who dominated the series. Since then, the team came to be known as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in 2000, and fielded two full-time and one part-time team. The part-time team was driven by Irwin before his death at New Hampshire. Marlin took over the #42 car which was changed to #01.
Felix Sabates is looking to turn in his 20% of the team’s ownership as well and soon, the team will be known simply as Chip Ganassi Racing.