In 1977 at the British Grand Prix, Renault made its debut in Formula One racing as well as introducing the first turbo engine to the sport. This was achieved through the Renault Sport subsidiary with Eu Gene Thor as manager of the team. The Renault F1 Team entered five races at the end of the season with Jean-Pierre Jabouille as driver in their one and only car. Two years later the team made its first win when Jabouille won the French Grand Prix in 1979.
In 1985 the Renault team stepped away from Formula One as a manufacturer, but continued to stay involved with the sport by providing engines to Lotus. It was not long after that, when the team withdrew completely from F1 racing for a while, coming back in 1989 to supply Williams with engines. Later on in the 90’s Renault engines began dominating the sport, powering the Williams team as well as the Benetton team in the World Constructors’ Championships. It was here that Renault had its first taste of success as a world champion. Renault again took a break from Formula One from 1996-2000, returning in 2000 when the Benetton team announced that they would be taken over by Renault in the beginning of the 2002 season. It was three years later in 2005, when they achieved their first championship as a constructor and won their first ever drivers’ championship with Fernando Alonso, a former Renault test driver.
For the 2006 racing season Renault F1 retained Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella, to drive their new R26 car featuring a titanium seven-speed gearbox. With a number of impressive points wins to its name, the team celebrated its 200th Grand Prix race at Silverstone, a race which was won by Alonso, making the occasion a double-celebration. Alonso went on to win the Canadian Grand Prix, finished fifth at the US Grand Prix, and took second place at the French Grand Prix. Renault took the construction championship title for the year.
Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen were the race drivers for Renault F1 in 2007, with the livery of the new R27 being the corporate colors of sponsors ING. The season presented some challenges, one of which was a charge by the FIA that Renault F1 was in possession of technical information belonging to McLaren. The outcome of the case found Renault F1 in breach of an FIA rule, but the team was not penalized. Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet, Jr., were the drivers for Renault F1 in 2008, with Piquet securing a second place in the German Grand Prix, an accomplishment that signaled a turn in fortune for the team, as it went on to clock up a number of points-victories. Alonso took first place in the Singapore Grand Prix – the first to be held under lights. 2009 turned out to be a frustrating season, with a variety of car problems for Alonso, and lackluster performance by Piquet resulting in him parting ways with the Renault F1 Team.
For the 2010 F1 Championship season Renault sold a majority stake to Genii Capital, while retaining a 25% share in the Renault F1 Team. Robert Kubica replaced Alonso on the team, with Russian driver Vitaly Petrov signing up as the second driver. The new team principal is Eric Boullier, with Bob Bell returning to his former position of Technical Director. Loyal Renault F1 Team supporters will no doubt be watching with keen interest as the 2010 F1 season progresses.
In 1983 Morgan McClure Motorsports, or MMM, was formed by Larry McClure and his business partner Tim Morgan. They had purchased a racing car from G.C. Spencer, a NASCAR racing veteran, and recruited the brothers Ed, Teddy and Jerry McClure later in the same year.
Morgan McClure Motorsports entered into their first NASCAR Winston Cup race at the then Alabama International Motor Speedway, now known as Talladega Super Speedway, in 1983. The No. 4 MMM Chevrolet that was sponsored by Oldsmobile, was driven by Connie Slayter. Unfortunately, the car blew its engine, and the team had to settle for 40th place.
MMM’s familiar yellow No. 4 Oldsmobile was unloaded in June 1986, as they had secured a sponsorship from Kodak. This would be the beginning of an 18 year relationship between Kodak and MMM, considered one of the longest sponsorships in the sport. In July 1988, Wilson and MMM both had their career best finish at the Pepsi 400, which was held at the Daytona International Speedway. Wilson came in second, after leading the race for 19 laps.
The 1990s also proved to be successful for the team. In 1990 the made the important decision to recruit Ernie Irvan to drive their No. 4 car. In the very first race that he drove for the team, Irvan started from a 30th spot and moved his way up to finish third. Another big decision that was made that year was to go over to Chevrolet, and gain more support from the vehicle manufacturer. No matter what, there just was no stopping Ernie Irvan. In 1991 he won the Great American Race held at the Daytona 500, won the Budweiser held in Watkins Glen and made the partnership between MMM and himself a force to be reckoned with.
Through the following years, Morgan McClure Motorsports have changed drivers, and strategies, and each time they have proved themselves to be even better than before. MMM’s twelve year partnership with Chevrolet came to an end in 2003 and it celebrated its 20th year anniversary. The success and growth had started with a dream shared by two men, and three employees to become one of the most popular and well knows companies on the track today.
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Robby Gordon Motorsports is owned by NASCAR racing driver Robby Gordon, fielding his #7 Monster Energy Drink/Polaris/Warner Music Nashville/Menards Toyota Camry. The team enjoys the support of millionaire entrepreneur, John R. Menard Jr., who helped Gordon finance the purchase of Ultra Motorsports from Jim Smith in 2005. In October 2006, RGM signed with Ford Racing to run the Ford Fusion for the 2007 season. Sponsors of the car included Jim Beam, Camping World, Monster Energy Drink and Mapei.
2008 was marked with conflict for RGM, involving penalties for a switch to the Dodge Charger in the preseason testing for the 2008 Daytona 500, a decision which was later reversed, putting the #7 Dodge at 21 in the Sprint Cup Standings. Later that same year GEM and RGM became involved in a lawsuit relating to a potential merger. The lawsuit was dropped, and Gordon switched from GEM to Penske Racing engines.
RGM switched manufacturers once again in 2009, fielding Toyota Camrys for the entire season. Continuing to field Camrys, in 2010 RGM aligned with BAM Racing and garnered extended sponsorship from Monster Energy Drink. BAM Racing’s sponsor, Warner Music Nashville, will sponsor the #7 Camry driven by Robby Gordon, starting with the California event and including events at Atlanta and Bristol. Current sponsors for RGM include Monster Energy Drink, Menards, Polaris and Warner Music Nashville.
Super Aguri F1 withdrew from F1 racing in 2008.
Super Aguri F1 is a new team that recently joined the ranks of other Formula One teams in 2006 and is known as the Super Aguri Hondas, and is seen as an unofficial Honda ‘B’-team. The team was formed by Aguri Suzuki, a former F1 driver and is based in Tokyo, Japan although it operates from the former Arrows factory in Leafield, UK. The team came about due to public pressure on Honda, Japan; to help one of its former drivers, Takuma Sato, continue to compete in F1.
Aguri Suzuki, as mentioned before, started Formula One racing in 1989 participating regularly in F1 races. Before this Suzuki had competed in quite a few championship races held in Japan. A year later he made third place at the Japanese Grand Prix and became one of the first Japanese drivers to take to the F1 podium. When Aguri Suzuki finished up with F1 racing he moved back to Japan where he founded the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri project, managing the driver development and racing team programs.
Later in 2003 he formed the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing with Adrian Fernandez, an IRL IndyCar driver, and then participated in the series. Three years later he took part in the Japanese top formula, All Japan Championship Formula Nippon, in the Japanese top touring category SUPER GT series, well continuing as ARTA Project producer. Up until now there has been no other person who has been able to manage not only a Formula One team but also many other racing teams in a lot of of the world’s top categories all at the same time.
The FIA announced early in 2006 that the teams had accepted the late entry of Super Aguri to the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championships. This also came with the announcement that Yuji Ide and Takuma Sato had been signed up as drivers for the teams first season with Franck Montagny as third driver. After four races it was decided that Montagny would take Ides place as driver in the European Grand Prix and other races. The 2007 plans for the teams second season have not been finalized yet. Super Aguri has announced that Anthony Davidson, a former Honda and test driver, will be driving with Takuma Sato for the team in 2007.
The Penske Racing team is owned and run by Roger Penske, and is an extremely diverse team. In previous years Penske Racing has taken part in CART, road racing and even Formula One, but presently they are concentrating on ARCA, the Indy Racing League, and last but not least, NASCAR.
Penske Racing’s involvement in Indy Car racing started in 1968 with a stock block-powered Eagle and a driver named Mark Donohue. In 1969 they competed for the first time at Indianapolis, and in the following three years they were the team that everyone kept their eye on. Donohue won the Indy 500 in 1972. Other team owners that were involved in USAC events, such as Indy Cars and Champ Cars, got together to form CART, which is the Champion Auto Racing Teams. The participating owners were Pat Patrick, Dan Gurney and of course, Roger Penske. By the time 2006 arrived, Penske Racing had many successes under their belt. Successes that included winning open wheel races in CART and IRL 124 times, winning the Indianapolis 500 an impressive 14 times, and winning 13 pole positions at the Indianapolis 500. Penske Racing also walked away ith 11 open wheel championships.
Due to an open wheel split following the CART season in 1995, the Penske Team was absent in the Indy 500 for five years. They announced their return in 2001. Which later led to Roger Penske leaving CART to race in the Indy Racing League. The open wheel racing division of the Penske Team has been located in Pennsylvania since the year 1973, but it was announced that following the 2006 IRL Season, that IRL and the team’s NASCAR operations will consolidate at the Penske facility in Mooresville, North Carolina. The operations had to be moved sooner than previously anticipated due to a flood in Pennsylvania in 2006.
This very successful team boasts 3 Sprint Cup Series cars, numbered 2, 12 and 77; as well as 2 Nationwide Series vehicles, numbered 12 and 22. Their IndyCar motor vehicles are numbered 3, 6 and 12; while the Grand-Am car is #12. Drivers for Penske Racing include Kurt Busch, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Brad Keselowski, Justin Allgaier, San Hornish Jr., and others.