FLASHBACK: 20 years since Nigel Mansell mania consumed Indy
Today marks a significant anniversary on the Australian motor racing calendar so Speedcafe has taken a trip down memory lane to mark the occasion.
In 1993 there was a hype buzzing around Surfers Paradise as the Indy precinct was gearing up to host the third annual race as part of the US-based CART series.
As had been tradition since the staging of the maiden Gold Coast Indy in 1991, it was drafted in as the opening race of the Championship and thus it provided plenty of pre-event media fodder.
But in 1993 all of the attention was focussed on one driver.
Nigel Mansell had turned his back on F1 after leading Williams to the title by piloting the technical genius that was the FW14B with its semi-automatic gearbox and clever active suspension.
Mansell arrived in the land of IndyCar at a time when the CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) was at the height of popularity with great teams bristling with some of the most decorated open-wheel drivers in the world.
Newman-Haas had seen Michael Andretti march off to McLaren for what would be a one-off and unhappy F1 bid and by doing so he left a vacant seat beside Mario Andretti, the 1978 F1 World Champion.
Mansell, much to the bewilderment of the F1 establishment, had arrived on the Gold Coast for his maiden IndyCar start which had been one of the most anticipated debuts in the history of America’s top single-seater series.
A media throng from Europe and North America followed Mansell to Queensland, documenting his every move.
It became evident on the Thursday, a day before opening practice, that this throng had in fact became quite a crowd.
Newman-Haas had called a press conference held in a large auditorium at Jupiter’s Casino which was attended by approximately 300 local and international journalists, the likes of which has rarely been seen even in the world championship F1 era in Australia.
The hype continued at the track when it seemed like every British expat or British tourist choked the pit area in their thousands wanting a glimpse, an autograph, an acknowledgement from Mansell.
At the track Mansell was immediately up to pace in the opening sessions and duly put his Ford-powered Lola on pole position from Emerson Fittipaldi, the 1972 and 1974 F1 World Champion.
On race day, March 21, 1993, Mansell had a shaky beginning from the rolling start as the charismatic Emerson Fittipaldi took charge in his Penske.
Mansell then settled into a rhythm and by lap 16 of 65 he had poked the nose of his Lola in front after a brave dive going into the beach straight left-hander overcoming a huge brake lock up locked in his red number five machine.
The F1 champ’s run was stymied as he was deemed to have made a pass under a local yellow prompting a stop-go penalty.
Forced into another period of recovery, Mansell then seized upon a chance when Fittipaldi, who was looking a decent chance at times of repeating his Gold Coast Indy win from the year before, pitted for the final time on lap 44.
Mansell went on to destroy the opposition over the last 20 laps winning by more than five seconds from Fittipaldi as the young tyro, Robby Gordon, steamed from behind in a Lola-Cosworth to claim third. The English driver became the first rookie to score pole position and win on debut in IndyCar before he carried on to win the 1993 CART IndyCar series.
Following Mansell, Fittipaldi and Gordon, the top 10 comprised of Mario Andretti, Arie Luyendyk, Bobby Rahal, Eddie Cheever, Raul Boesel, Teo Fabi and Scott Goodyear.
Surfers that weekend was drowned with emotion the likes of which was never to be seen again.
A shortened version of the original 16-turn 4.5km track remains although the golden period of Indy history in Queensland is sadly only memories some of which will never fade.
March 20, 1993 Qualifying results – AUSTRALIAN FAI INDYCAR GRAND PRIX
|1||GB||Nigel Mansell||Newman-Haas Racing||Lola T93/06 Ford XB Cosworth||1:38.555|
|2||BRA||Emerson Fittipaldi||Marlboro Team Penske||Penske PC-22-93 Chevrolet-Ilmor C||1:38.882|
|3||CAN||Paul Tracy||Marlboro Team Penske||Penske PC-22-93 Chevrolet-Ilmor C||1:39.171|
|4||US||Robby Gordon||Walker Racing||Lola T92/00 Ford XB Cosworth||1:39.435|
|5||NET||Arie Luyendyk||Chip Ganassi Racing||Lola T93/06 Ford XB Cosworth||1:39.635|
|6||US||Mario Andretti||Newman-Haas Racing||Lola T93/06 Ford XB Cosworth||1:39.739|
|7||US||Scott Goodyear||Walker Motorsport||Lola T93/06 Ford XB Cosworth||1:40.127|
|8||BRA||Raul Boesel||Dick Simon Racing||Lola T93/06 Ford XB Cosworth||1:40.488|
|9||US||Jimmy Vasser||Hayhoe Racing||Lola T92/00 Chevrolet-Ilmor A||1:40.645|
|10||US||Scott Brayton||Dick Simon Racing||Lola T93/06 Ford XB Cosworth||1:40.980|
|11||US||Mark Smith||Arciero Racing||Penske PC21-92 Chevrolet-Ilmor B||1:40.992|
|12||ITA||Teo Fabi||Racing Team VDS||Lola T93/07 Chevrolet-Ilmor C||1:41.066|
|13||US||Bobby Rahal||Rahal-Hogan Racing||R/H-001 Chevrolet-Ilmor C||1:41.096|
|14||US||Al Unser, Jr.||Galles Racing||Lola T93/07 Chevrolet-Ilmor C||1:41.180|
|15||COL||Roberto Guerrero||Budweiser King Racing||Lola T93/07 Chevrolet-Ilmor C||1:41.481|
|16||US||Eddie Cheever||Turley Motorsports||Penske PC21-92 Chevrolet-Ilmor B||1:41.848|
|17||US||Robbie Buhl||Dale Coyne Racing||Lola T92/00 Chevrolet-Ilmor A||1:43.311|
|18||SWE||Stefan Johansson||Bettenhausen Motorsports||Penske PC-22-93 Chevrolet-Ilmor C||1:43.908|
|19||SUI||Andrea Chiesa||Euromotorsport||Lola T92/00 Cosworth DFS||1:43.985|
|20||AUS||Gary Brabham||Split Cycle Racing||Lola T92/00 Chevrolet-Ilmor A||1:44.351|
|21||US||Danny Sullivan||Galles Racing||Lola T93/07 Chevrolet-Ilmor C||1:44.958|
|22||CAN||Ross Bentley||Dale Coyne Racing||Lola T92/00 Chevrolet-Ilmor A||1:45.213|
|23||ITA||Andrea Montermini||Dale Coyne Racing||Lola T92/00 Chevrolet-Ilmor A||1:46.224|
|24||JPN||Hiro Matsushita||Walker Motorsport||Lola T93/06 Ford XB Cosworth||1:46.342|
|25||US||Buddy Lazier||Leader Cards Racing||Lola T91/00 Chevrolet-Ilmor A||1:46.970|
|26||BRA||Marco Greco||International Sport||Lola T92/00 Chevrolet-Ilmor A||1:48.068|
March 21, 1993 – AUSTRALIAN FAI INDYCAR GRAND PRIX
|1||5||Nigel Mansell||Newman-Haas Racing||65||1:52:02.886||1||21|
|2||4||Emerson Fittipaldi||Marlboro Team Penske||65||+5.1 secs||2||17|
|3||14||Robby Gordon||Walker Racing||65||+10.7 secs||4||14|
|4||6||Mario Andretti||Newman-Haas Racing||65||+25.4 secs||6||12|
|5||10||Arie Luyendyk||Chip Ganassi Racing||65||+25.4 secs||5||10|
|6||1||Bobby Rahal||Rahal-Hogan Racing||64||+ 1 lap||13||8|
|7||69||Eddie Cheever||Turley Motorsports||64||+ 1 lap||13||6|
|8||9||Raul Boesel||Dick Simon Racing||64||+ 1 lap||8||5|
|9||8||Teo Fabi||Racing Team VDS||64||+ 1 lap||12||4|
|10||2||Scott Goodyear||Walker Motorsport||63||+ 2 laps||7||3|
|11||15||Hiro Matsushita||Walker Motorsport||63||+ 2 laps||24||2|
|12||16||Stefan Johansson||Bettenhausen Racing||63||+ 2 laps||18||1|
|13||18||Danny Sullivan||Galles Racing||62||+ 3 laps||21|
|14||90||Gary Brabham||Split Cycle Racing||62||+ 3 laps||20|
|15||3||Al Unser, Jr.||Galles Racing||62||+ 3 laps||14|
|16||22||Scott Brayton||Dick Simon Racing||61||+ 4 laps||14|
|17||39||Ross Bentley||Dale Coyne Racing||56||+ 9 laps||22|
|18||25||Mark Smith||Arciero Racing||50||+ 15 laps||11|
|19||40||Roberto Guerrero||Budweiser King Racing||49||Transmission||15|
|20||20||Buddy Lazier||Leader Cards Racing||35||Suspension||25|
|21||12||Paul Tracy||Marlboro Team Penske||30||Electrical||3|
|22||25||Marco Greco||International Sport||18||Contact||26|
|23||19||Robbie Buhl||Dale Coyne Racing||15||Transmission||17|
|24||18||Jimmy Vasser||Hayhoe Racing||12||Contact||9|
|25||50||Andrea Montermini||Dale Coyne Racing||9||Fuel pressure||23|
SEE BELOW VIDEO FOR LOCAL NEWS REVIEW OF THE RACE
SEE BELOW VIDEO OF MANSELL’S QUALY LAP