Championship Auto Racing Teams
Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) was a sanctioning body for American open-wheel car racing that operated from 1979 to 2003. It sanctioned the PPG Indy Car World Series from 1979 until dissolving after the 2003 season.
CART was founded in 1979 by United States Auto Club (USAC) Championship Division team owners who disagreed with the direction and leadership of USAC, with the then-novel idea of car owners sanctioning and promoting their own series collectively instead of relying on a neutral body to do so. Through the 1980s, the Indy Car World Series became the pre-eminent open-wheel auto racing series in North America, featuring street circuits, road courses, and oval track racing. CART drivers continued to compete at the USAC-sanctioned Indianapolis 500.
Even as the series prospered, concerns about costs, competitiveness, and revenue sharing began to create opposition to CART's organizational structure. Attempts at reform, which saw the company rebranded as IndyCar in 1992 and a compromise board formed, failed. In 1996, an open wheel "split" saw the newly created Indy Racing League (IRL) take full control over the Indianapolis 500 and start a competing oval-based open-wheel series. CART ceased using the IndyCar name but continued its series without participating in the Indianapolis 500.
The "split" saw a dramatic fall in general interest for open wheel racing in the United States, which was compounded by the growing popularity of NASCAR, creating a downward trend in sponsorship and attendance at some tracks. After a series of setbacks in the early 2000s saw the departure of major racing teams and engine manufacturers to the IRL, CART went bankrupt at the end of the 2003 season.
In 2004, a trio of team owners acquired the assets of the series from bankruptcy, renaming it the Champ Car World Series. Continuing financial difficulties caused Champ Car to file for bankruptcy before its planned 2008 season; its assets and history were merged into the IRL's IndyCar Series, reuniting both series of American open-wheel racing.
Indy Lights and American Racing Series (ART)
Indy Lights is an American developmental automobile racing series sanctioned by IndyCar, currently known as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires for sponsorship reasons. Indy Lights is the highest step on the Road to Indy, a program of racing series leading up to the IndyCar Series. The Indy Lights series has been promoted by Anderson Promotions since 2014, which also manages the Road to Indy program.
A similar series named Indy Lights filled the developmental role for the CART series, and ran from 1986 to 1993 as the American Racing Series and Dayton Indy Lights from 1991 to 2001. The current IndyCar sanctioned series was founded in 2002 as the Infiniti Pro Series as a way to introduce new talent to IndyCar, with the moniker Indy Lights returning in 2008 when CART and IndyCar unified. The Indy Lights champion is awarded a $1M scholarship toward the IndyCar Series, and guaranteed three races including the Indianapolis 500.