ON THIS DAY: May 29, 2000, Chip Ganassi’s race team wins Indianapolis 500

Chip Ganassi Racing

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Floyd “Chip” Ganassi, Jr. is the only racing team owner in history to win all six of the biggest car races in the world. The Pittsburgh native added the Indianapolis 500 to his trophy case on May 29, 2000, where it joined the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ganassi started racing right out of high school, and was driving professionally until 1987. During that time, he competed in the Indianapolis 500 five times, finishing eighth in 1983, before a crash in 1984 cut his career short. He would continue racing for another few years, but not as a full-time driver. His last race was the 1987 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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In 1988, Ganassi purchased an interest in Patrick Racing. After the team’s Indianapolis 500 victory and championship in 1989, Ganassi launched his own team in 1990 with a then relatively unknown department store called Target as his primary sponsor.

The late 1990s brought the team its first championships, thanks to two well-scouted young drivers: Jimmy Vasser and Alessandro Zanardi.

The 2000 Indianapolis 500 saw Juan Pablo Montoya in Ganassi’s car after an astonishing first season and championship win in 1999.

When Montoya collected the Borg Warner Trophy on May 29, 2000, it was Chip Ganassi Racing’s first Indy 500 win and Ganassi’s second as a team owner.

Ganassi graduated from Duquesne University in 1982 with a degree in finance and currently lives in Fox Chapel. His race teams currently compete in six different series, fielding 14 cars with 18 drivers. Their race shops are located in Indiana and North Carolina, but the company maintains its corporate offices in Pittsburgh, near Blawnox.

The team also operates a unique testing facility in the abandoned tunnels of the Pennsylvania Turnpike through Laurel Hill. In 2004, the team started using the tunnel as a makeshift high-speed wind tunnel by driving race cars through the tunnel at over 120 mph and taking measurements. Ganassi’s clever underground testing facility led to multiple patents, however, the sanctioning bodies of several racing series made rule changes in 2015 limiting the team’s ability to use the tunnel.

Known for his western Pennsylvanian no-nonsense approach, Ganassi is considered by many to be the most successful racing team owner of his generation, rivaled only by Lehigh University alum Roger Penske (who started running race teams 25 years earlier).

Ganassi’s teams have enjoyed 19 series championships and over 220 victories and he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2016.