Presented by RM Sotheby’s.
A significant contributor to Mario Andretti’s famous 1984 CART championship season.
Quite possibly the most successful racing driver of all time, Mario Andretti is that rare sports figure that so transcended his niche he became a household name, a synonym for speed among average Americans. During a 42-year career, Andretti achieved countless metrics and superlative claims, winning 120 races in 950 starts across Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship, NASCAR, midget car, and sprint car racing. Along the way he roared to four IndyCar championships and one Formula One championship, and three times was voted the Driver of the Year (awarded by a panel of motorsports writers to the year’s most accomplished American driver).
Perhaps no phase of Andretti’s career was more pivotal than his 1983 arrival to CART, the upstart sanctioning body of IndyCar competition that challenged the USAC’s long dominance of American open-wheel racing. After six years of primarily competing in Formula One, Andretti joined CART in 1982 for Patrick Racing, lasting one season before he was recruited for 1983 by the new team founded by Carl Haas and Paul Newman. The two accomplished racing luminaries built the team entirely around Andretti’s prominence and skillset, establishing a contender that would not soon fade away. Newman/Haas Racing eventually went on to win eight IndyCar championships over 29 years, claiming 107 wins for points (and one additional non-points exhibition race, for a total of 108 victories) and 110 pole positions.
ANDRETTI, NEWMAN/HAAS, AND THE T800
Newman/Haas Racing was one of the first teams to campaign Lola chassis in CART, starting with the T700 Andretti drove in 1983, which brought home two victories. Encouraged by the T700’s promise, Lola invested significant time and engineering to develop a successor for 1984. The resulting T800 was engineered by former Formula One designer Nigel Bennett and Mark Williams, with Lola founder Eric Broadley contributing the high-speed longtail and an unusual gearbox design, in which the cast magnesium casing was lowered to accommodate the turbocharger, significantly lowering the car’s center of gravity in the process.
Powered by a dry-sump 2.65-liter Cosworth Ford DFX V-8 good for approximately 800 horsepower, the T800 was the first Lola to extensively feature carbon fiber construction.
Carbon composite was woven to form the model’s wind-tunnel-developed top section and nose, which was bonded to an aluminum-honeycomb driver’s tub for true monocoque design. The 109-inch-wheelbase chassis featured driver-adjustable suspension elements and dual master cylinder-actuated outboard ventilated disc brakes to contribute to highly competitive handling and stopping power, which Andretti utilized to great effect during the 1984 season—culminating in Newman/Haas Racing’s first CART championship, and Mario’s fourth Indy Car title.
CHASSIS HU 2
According to the records of Lola Heritage, chassis number HU 2 is one of five total examples built, and one of three that were delivered new to Newman/Haas Racing for the 1984 season. It was a central component in Andretti’s ensuing championship season, during which he claimed six victories in 16 races, fiercely battling Mayer Racing’s Tom Sneva and Penske’s Rick Mears—a future legend in his own right. At the season-commencing Long Beach Grand Prix on 1 April, Mario earned the pole position by more than half a second. He led for the entire race before winning by more than a minute.
Following an early retirement at Phoenix two weeks later, Andretti flashed great power at the Indianapolis 500 qualifying sessions, becoming the first driver to lap the Brickyard at 212 mph. Spark plug issues eventually relegated Mario to 6th place on the starting grid, but by lap 100 he was holding steady in 4th place. Mechanical problems soon forced his car to lose pace, and on lap 153 an accident in the pits necessitated another early retirement.
Following an 8th-place finish at the Milwaukee Mile and a DNF at Portland, Andretti got back on track with a dominating win in the Meadowlands Stadium parking lot on 1 July, catapulting him to 2nd in driver’s points, just 16 points behind Sneva. A pole position start at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport ended in another retirement, but an accident-plagued afternoon at the Michigan 500 in late July saw Andretti emerge victorious, notching his first oval win of the year, and his first 500-mile victory since the 1969 Indy 500.
Andretti roared to his fourth victory of the year at the Road America 200 in early August, overtaking Sneva by one point for the championship lead. After breaking two ribs in a boating accident, Mario powered through adversity to win the Mid-Ohio 200 a month later, leading for the entire race while beating the 2nd-place local favorite Bobby Rahal by more than 30 seconds.
In late September Andretti triumphed in his sixth race of the season at the 200-mile Detroit News Grand Prix at the Michigan Speedway, building a 15-point lead in driver’s points over the 2nd-place Sneva. After an accident led to a 12th-place finish at Phoenix, Andretti turned in cautiously conservative performances at the season’s final two races at Laguna Seca and Las Vegas, finishing 2nd at both contests for a 13-point lead over Sneva. Andretti had won his fourth IndyCar championship, and Newman/Haas Racing’s first, while establishing the pure power and agility of the Lola-Cosworth T800. The performance prompted numerous orders to the British manufacturer for the 1985 season, catalyzing the eventual displacement of March as the dominant Indy Car chassis.
According to Newman/Haas Racing, this T800 on offer was used in four races in the 1984 season, including the Dana Rex Mays Classic on 3 June 1984 held at the Milwaukee Mile, where Mario Andretti started 3rd and finished 8th; the Meadowlands Grand Prix held on 1 July 1984 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where Mario Andretti started 1st and impressively led every single lap of the 100-lap race, securing his second 1st-place finish of the season; and Mid-Ohio 200 held on 2 September 1984 in Lexington, Ohio, where Mario Andretti started 1st and led 78 laps of the 84-lap race on route to his fifth 1st-place finish of the season. The final race this car campaigned under the Newman/Haas Racing banner was on 14 October 1984 at the Stroh’s Bobby Ball Memorial 150 held at the Phoenix International Raceway. Mario Andretti started 7th and led 59 laps but finished 12th.
In total, Andretti-piloted Lola T800s won six races, taking eight poles while leading 572 out of 2,285 laps, and earning Mario his final IndyCar championship and third “Driver of the Year” award. This car, claiming two of the six race victories with Mario Andretti behind the wheel, was a significant contributor to the Newman/Haas Racing team success in 1984.
Following the successful 1984 season, on 31 January 1985, the 1984 Lola T800 (chassis number HU 2) was sold. Following this transaction, it is believed the car was assigned a new CART serial number, CART Serial No. 423 (which remains on the car today), as another team would use this car in the 1985 and 1986 IndyCar seasons.
On 25 August 1995 Carl A. Haas re-acquired this 1984 Lola T800 (chassis number HU 2) which was re-liveried to its successful 1984 Newman/Haas Racing-Mario Andretti appearance and fitted with a period-correct engine, as presented today.
Mario Andretti remained with Newman/Haas Racing for another 10 years before retiring from open-wheel competition following the 1994 season, along the way enjoying his son Michael’s championship for Newman/Haas as a teammate in 1991. Newman/Haas Racing went on to win six more IndyCar championships through 2007, but perhaps none was so significant as the 1984 victory in only its second season, featuring a revolutionary design in the hands of one of racing’s most incomparable competitors.
One of just five built, this T800 offers a sensational addition to any racing-focused collection. It is a thoroughbred from one of IndyCar’s best-known and most successful American stables, one that powered the great Andretti to the very definition of racing success and his final championship.
This racecar will be offered without reserve at RM Sotheby’s The House That Newman/Haas Racing Built sale, taking place 29 October. View more and register to bid online at rmsothebys.com today.