List of American open-wheel racing national champions

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Josef Newgarden, the two-time and current National Champion.

Various organization have awarded a season-long, points-based National Championship of open-wheel racing in the United States, first in 1905, and consistently since 1946. As of 2018, the top-level American open wheel racing championship is the IndyCar Series.

By season[edit]

AAA (1905–1955)[edit]

Season Driver
1905 United States Barney Oldfield
1906–1915: No championships
1916 United Kingdom Dario Resta
1917–1919: No championships (World War I)
1920 France Gaston Chevrolet
1921 United States Tommy Milton
1922 United States Jimmy Murphy
1923 United States Eddie Hearne
1924 United States Jimmy Murphy
1925 United States Peter DePaolo
1926 United States Harry Hartz
1927 United States Peter DePaolo
1928 United States Louis Meyer
1929 United States Louis Meyer
1930 United States Billy Arnold
1931 United States Louis Schneider
1932 United States Bob Carey
1933 United States Louis Meyer
1934 United States Bill Cummings
1935 United States Kelly Petillo
1936 United States Mauri Rose
1937 United States Wilbur Shaw
1938 United States Floyd Roberts
1939 United States Wilbur Shaw
1940 United States Rex Mays
1941 United States Rex Mays
1942–1945: No championships (World War II)
1946 United States Ted Horn
1947 United States Ted Horn
1948 United States Ted Horn
1949 United States Johnnie Parsons
1950 United States Henry Banks
1951 United States Tony Bettenhausen
1952 United States Chuck Stevenson
1953 United States Sam Hanks
1954 United States Jimmy Bryan
1955 United States Bob Sweikert

USAC (1956–1978)[edit]

AAA ceased participation in auto racing at the end of the 1955 season. It cited a series of high-profile fatal accidents, namely Bill Vukovich at Indianapolis, and the Le Mans disaster.[1] The national championship was taken over by the United States Auto Club (USAC), a new sanctioning body formed by the then-owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony Hulman.

Season Driver Team
1956 United States Jimmy Bryan Dean Van Lines Racing
1957 United States Jimmy Bryan Dean Van Lines Racing
1958 United States Tony Bettenhausen Wiggers/Wright Racing,
John Zink Racing
1959 United States Rodger Ward Leader Card Racers
1960 United States A. J. Foyt George Bignotti Racing
1961 United States A. J. Foyt George Bignotti Racing
1962 United States Rodger Ward Leader Card Racers
1963 United States A. J. Foyt Ansted-Thompson Racing
1964 United States A. J. Foyt Ansted-Thompson Racing
1965 United States Mario Andretti Dean Van Lines Racing
1966 United States Mario Andretti Dean Van Lines Racing
1967 United States A. J. Foyt A. J. Foyt Enterprises
1968 United States Bobby Unser Leader Card Racers
1969 United States Mario Andretti Andy Granatelli Racing
1970 United States Al Unser Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing
1971 United States Joe Leonard Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing
1972 United States Joe Leonard Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing
1973 United States Roger McCluskey Lindsey Hopkins Racing
1974 United States Bobby Unser All American Racers
1975 United States A. J. Foyt A. J. Foyt Enterprises
1976 United States Gordon Johncock Patrick Racing
1977 United States Tom Sneva Team Penske
1978 United States Tom Sneva Team Penske

USAC/CART (1979–1995)[edit]

From 1979 to 1995 the Indianapolis 500 and the national championship were sanctioned by separate organizations, USAC and CART, respectively. USAC continued to sanction their own national championship series until 1981, when they formed the USAC Gold Crown Championship. From 1985 to 1995 the USAC Gold Crown Championship consisted solely of the Indianapolis 500, thus making such championship winners indistinguishable from Indianapolis winners. IndyCar does not recognize winners of the USAC Gold Crown Championship as full season champions.[2]

USAC CART
Season Driver Team Season Driver Team
1979 United States A. J. Foyt Gilmore Racing 1979 United States Rick Mears Team Penske
1980 United States Johnny Rutherford Chaparral Cars 1980 United States Johnny Rutherford Chaparral Cars
1981–82 United States George Snider Gilmore Racing 1981 United States Rick Mears Team Penske
1982 United States Rick Mears Team Penske
1982–83 United States Tom Sneva Bignotti-Cotter Racing 1983 United States Al Unser Team Penske
1983–84 United States Rick Mears Team Penske 1984 United States Mario Andretti Newman/Haas Racing
1985 United States Danny Sullivan Team Penske 1985 United States Al Unser Team Penske
1986 United States Bobby Rahal Truesports 1986 United States Bobby Rahal Truesports
1987 United States Al Unser Team Penske 1987 United States Bobby Rahal Truesports
1988 United States Rick Mears Team Penske 1988 United States Danny Sullivan Team Penske
1989 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Patrick Racing 1989 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Patrick Racing
1990 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk Doug Shierson Racing 1990 United States Al Unser, Jr. Galles-Kraco Racing
1991 United States Rick Mears Marlboro Team Penske 1991 United States Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing
1992 United States Al Unser, Jr. Galles-Kraco Racing 1992 United States Bobby Rahal Rahal-Hogan Racing
1993 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Team Penske 1993 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Newman/Haas Racing
1994 United States Al Unser, Jr. Marlboro Team Penske 1994 United States Al Unser, Jr. Marlboro Team Penske
1995 Canada Jacques Villeneuve Team Green 1995 Canada Jacques Villeneuve Team Green
  Not recognized as national champion

The Split (IRL/CART, 1996–2007)[edit]

The Indy Racing League (IRL), founded in 1994 by Tony George, broke away from CART in 1996. George planned the IRL as a lower-cost alternative to CART, which had become technology-driven and dominated by a few wealthy multi-car teams, much like Formula One. It initially attracted some of the smaller teams, who believed in the vision presented by George, though most major teams remained in CART.

IRL CART
Season Driver Team Season Driver Team
1996 United States Buzz Calkins
United States Scott Sharp
Bradley Motorsports
A. J. Foyt Enterprises
1996 United States Jimmy Vasser Target Ganassi Racing
1996–97 United States Tony Stewart Team Menard 1997 Italy Alex Zanardi Target Chip Ganassi
1998 Sweden Kenny Bräck A. J. Foyt Enterprises 1998 Italy Alex Zanardi Chip Ganassi Racing
1999 United States Greg Ray Team Menard 1999 Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya Chip Ganassi Racing
2000 United States Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing 2000 Brazil Gil de Ferran Team Penske
2001 United States Sam Hornish, Jr. Panther Racing 2001 Brazil Gil de Ferran Team Penske
2002 United States Sam Hornish, Jr. Panther Racing 2002 Brazil Cristiano da Matta Newman/Haas Racing
2003 New Zealand Scott Dixon Ganassi Racing 2003 Canada Paul Tracy Team Player's
2004 Brazil Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing 2004 France Sébastien Bourdais Newman/Haas Racing
2005 United Kingdom Dan Wheldon Andretti Green Racing 2005 France Sébastien Bourdais Newman/Haas Racing
2006 United States Sam Hornish, Jr. Team Penske 2006 France Sébastien Bourdais Newman/Haas Racing
2007 United Kingdom Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing 2007 France Sébastien Bourdais Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing

Reunification (IndyCar, 2008–present)[edit]

Serious troubles began to surface for CART in 2001, after the planned Firestone Firehawk 600 had to be cancelled due to drivers reporting dizziness and disorientation. Additionally, teams were under increased sponsor pressure to participate in the Indy 500, which had long been the most important open-wheel event of the year, and was effectively limited to IRL teams. Major CART teams soon began preparing to leave in the series, with Team Penske first making the leap in 2002, followed by Andretti Green and Chip Ganassi Racing in 2003. CART was forced to declare bankruptcy twice, first in 2003, then for a second and final time in 2008. The IRL purchased CART's assets at auction, officially merging the two series and their respective histories.

Season Driver Team Chassis Engine
2008 New Zealand Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda
2009 United Kingdom Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda
2010 United Kingdom Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda
2011 United Kingdom Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda
2012 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara Chevrolet
2013 New Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda
2014 Australia Will Power Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet
2015 New Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Chevrolet
2016 France Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet
2017 United States Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet
2018 New Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda
2019 United States Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet

By driver[edit]

This list includes winners of all titles listed above, excluding the USAC Gold Crown Championship. Consequently, some years are listed twice.[3][4]

Driver Total Season(s)
United States A. J. Foyt 7 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1975, 1979
New Zealand Scott Dixon 5 2003, 2008, 2013, 2015, 2018
United States Mario Andretti 4 1965, 1966, 1969, 1984
France Sébastien Bourdais 4 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
United Kingdom Dario Franchitti 4 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011
United States Louis Meyer 3 1928, 1929, 1933
United States Ted Horn 3 1946, 1947, 1948
United States Jimmy Bryan 3 1954, 1956, 1957
United States Rick Mears1 3 1979, 1981, 1982
United States Al Unser2 3 1970, 1983, 1985
United States Bobby Rahal3 3 1986, 1987, 1992
United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 3 2001, 2002, 2006
United States Jimmy Murphy 2 1922, 1924
United States Peter DePaolo 2 1925, 1927
United States Wilbur Shaw 2 1937, 1939
United States Rex Mays 2 1940, 1941
United States Tony Bettenhausen 2 1951, 1958
United States Rodger Ward 2 1959, 1962
United States Joe Leonard 2 1971, 1972
United States Bobby Unser 2 1968, 1974
United States Tom Sneva 2 1977, 1978
United States Johnny Rutherford 2 1980, 1980
United States Al Unser, Jr.4 2 1990, 1994
Italy Alex Zanardi 2 1997, 1998
Brazil Gil de Ferran 2 2000, 2001
United States Josef Newgarden 2 2017, 2019
United States Barney Oldfield 1 1905
United Kingdom Dario Resta 1 1916
France Gaston Chevrolet 1 1920
United States Tommy Milton 1 1921
United States Eddie Hearne 1 1923
United States Harry Hartz 1 1926
United States Billy Arnold 1 1930
United States Louis Schneider 1 1931
United States Bob Carey 1 1932
United States Bill Cummings 1 1935
United States Kelly Petillo 1 1935
United States Mauri Rose 1 1936
United States Floyd Roberts 1 1938
United States Johnnie Parsons 1 1949
United States Henry Banks 1 1950
United States Chuck Stevenson 1 1952
United States Sam Hanks 1 1953
United States Bob Sweikert 1 1955
United States Roger McCluskey 1 1973
United States Gordon Johncock 1 1976
United States Danny Sullivan 1 1988
Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 1 1989
United States Michael Andretti 1 1991
United Kingdom Nigel Mansell 1 1993
Canada Jacques Villeneuve 1 1995
United States Buzz Calkins 1 1996
United States Scott Sharp 1 1996
United States Jimmy Vasser 1 1996
United States Tony Stewart 1 1996–97
Sweden Kenny Bräck 1 1998
Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya 1 1999
United States Greg Ray 1 1999
United States Buddy Lazier 1 2000
Brazil Cristiano da Matta 1 2002
Canada Paul Tracy 1 2003
Brazil Tony Kanaan 1 2004
United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 1 2005
United States Ryan Hunter-Reay 1 2012
Australia Will Power 1 2014
France Simon Pagenaud 1 2016

Drivers in bold have competed in the 2018 IndyCar Series.

  1. ^ Rick Mears also won three USAC Gold Crown Championships (1983–84, 1988, 1991).
  2. ^ Al Unser also won the 1987 USAC Gold Crown Championship.
  3. ^ Bobby Rahal also won the 1986 USAC Gold Crown Championship.
  4. ^ Al Unser, Jr. also won two USAC Gold Crown Championships (1992 and 1994).

By nationality[edit]

Country Total Drivers
 United States 82 47
 United Kingdom 7 4
 France 6 3
 Brazil 5 4
 New Zealand 5 1
 Canada 2 2
 Italy 2 1
 Sweden 1 1
 Colombia 1 1
 Australia 1 1

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AAA Cuts Ties With U.S. Auto Racing". The Michigan Daily. Ann Arbor, MI. AP. August 4, 1955. p. 3. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  2. ^ https://www.indycar.com/-/media/Files/2014/News/IndyCar_Historical_Record_Book_2015-All-Time-Champions.pdf?la=en
  3. ^ "Through The Years". Champ Car Stats. Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2011.
  4. ^ http://media.indycar.com/pdf/2011/IICS_2011_Historical_Record_Book_INT6.pdf