- Apr 21, 2008
So long, Champ: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach marks end of Champ Car World Series
This past weekend saw the end of an era as the Champ Car World Series held its last ever race. Although the race in Long Beach came after the merger with the Indy Racing League and after the kickoff of the inaugural joint season, pre-existing commitments sent the Champ Car teams to California (sponsored by Toyota) while Danica Patrick was claiming her maiden victory in Japan (sponsored by Honda). The forked race weekend, however, was to be the last, as the Champ Car World Series has formally filed for bankruptcy with several of its teams folding into the IndyCar Series.
Australian driver Will Power (seriously, that's his name) dominated the race virtually from start to finish, leading 81 out of the 83 laps. Former F1 test driver Franck Montagny impressively took the second step on the podium on his first and last Champ Car race beside veteran Mario Dominquez in third. Pole sitter Justin Wilson was forced to retire with engine troubles on the 12th lap, as did his young team mate Graham Rahal – winner of the IRL race in St. Petersburg two weeks prior – who crashed on the last lap. Both Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy returned to the race seat for the Long Beach event, but weren't sharp enough to pose a serious threat to Power. The Panoz DP01, having turned their final laps, will now be mothballed as the migrating teams rejoin their IRL colleagues next weekend in Kansas City.