List of American open-wheel racing national champions
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.
|1906–1915: No championships|
|1917–1919: No championships (World War I)|
|1942–1945: No championships (World War II)|
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. 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.
|1956||Jimmy Bryan||Dean Van Lines Racing|
|1957||Jimmy Bryan||Dean Van Lines Racing|
|1958||Tony Bettenhausen||Wiggers/Wright Racing,|
John Zink Racing
|1959||Rodger Ward||Leader Card Racers|
|1960||A. J. Foyt||George Bignotti Racing|
|1961||A. J. Foyt||George Bignotti Racing|
|1962||Rodger Ward||Leader Card Racers|
|1963||A. J. Foyt||Ansted-Thompson Racing|
|1964||A. J. Foyt||Ansted-Thompson Racing|
|1965||Mario Andretti||Dean Van Lines Racing|
|1966||Mario Andretti||Dean Van Lines Racing|
|1967||A. J. Foyt||A. J. Foyt Enterprises|
|1968||Bobby Unser||Leader Card Racers|
|1969||Mario Andretti||Andy Granatelli Racing|
|1970||Al Unser||Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing|
|1971||Joe Leonard||Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing|
|1972||Joe Leonard||Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing|
|1973||Roger McCluskey||Lindsey Hopkins Racing|
|1974||Bobby Unser||All American Racers|
|1975||A. J. Foyt||A. J. Foyt Enterprises|
|1976||Gordon Johncock||Patrick Racing|
|1977||Tom Sneva||Team Penske|
|1978||Tom Sneva||Team Penske|
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.
The Split (IRL/CART, 1996–2007)
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.
Reunification (IndyCar, 2008–present)
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.
Drivers in bold have competed in the 2018 IndyCar Series.
- ^ Rick Mears also won three USAC Gold Crown Championships (1983–84, 1988, 1991).
- ^ Al Unser also won the 1987 USAC Gold Crown Championship.
- ^ Bobby Rahal also won the 1986 USAC Gold Crown Championship.
- ^ Al Unser, Jr. also won two USAC Gold Crown Championships (1992 and 1994).
- "AAA Cuts Ties With U.S. Auto Racing". The Michigan Daily. Ann Arbor, MI. AP. August 4, 1955. p. 3. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- "Through The Years". Champ Car Stats. Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2011.