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FLASHBACK: 20 years since Nigel Mansell mania consumed Indy

Gordon Lomas

Thursday 21st March, 2013 - 11:30am

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Nigel Mansell

Nigel Mansell

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.

Mansell on the cover of the 1994 IndyCar Media Guide

Mansell on the cover of the 1994 IndyCar Media Guide

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

Pos Nat Name Team Car Time
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

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
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
26 42  Andrea Chiesa Euromotorsport 2 Electrical 19

 SEE BELOW VIDEO FOR LOCAL NEWS REVIEW OF THE RACE

 SEE BELOW VIDEO OF MANSELL’S  QUALY LAP 

 

 

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