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The Champ Car World Series briefly threatened to make a real impact on the international racing scene. It was born out of frustration in 1979 as the Indycar team owners grew tired of the machinations and politics of the sanctioning body USAC (United States Auto Club).

They broke away and formed Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) under the stewardship of Roger Penske and Pat Patrick. With Rick Mears soon a star and Mario Andretti returning from Formula 1, the series established itself as the predominant Indycar championship, albeit with USAC still organising the Indianapolis 500. The arrival of second generation stars Al Unser jr and Michael Andretti ushered in a golden age and the defection of new F1 World Champion Nigel Mansell in 1993 placed the series on a global footing.

However, the Hulman-George family that owned the Indianapolis Motor Speedway maintained ambitions to run its own series. The formation of the Indy Racing League in 1996 forced the change of name to Champ Cars a year later. CART initially remained the stronger series but the lure of racing at the Indy 500 gradually proved too strong for teams, drivers and sponsors alike.

The leading teams eventually returned to Indycars and CART was forced into administration at the end of 2003. Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven established the Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) that winter and ran the series for another four seasons before it was absorbed into a single, unified IndyCar Series in 2008.