PEOPLE: CARL HAAS
Name: Carl Haas
Nationality: United States of America
United States of America
February 26, 1930
Carl Haas began racing in 1953 in the United States, racing a variety of sports cars from Europe. Haas decided to stop driving in the early 1960s and became a team owner becoming one of the first to attract major corporate sponsorship. In 1967 he became the exclusive US importer for Lola Cars and retained that role for 36 years, helping the company grow from being a small specialised sports car business to a major production racing car business. His company Carl A. Haas Auto Imports also enjoys other racing distribution deals notably with the Hewland gearboxes. He ran successful Lola teams in CanAm in the early 1970s running Peter Revson, Jackie Stewart and David Hobbs and in 1973 moved into Formula 5000. The team won three consecutive US titles in 1974-75-76 with Brian Redman. The team also won the SuperVee series with youngster Eddie Miller.
In 1977 CanAm was reborn and Haas ran a new team. Redman was injured in the first event and Patrick Tambay was hired in his place. The Frenchman dominated the championship and won the title and Alan Jones, Haas's new recruit for 1978 added another crown, which the team retained in 1979 with Jacky Ickx and again in 1980 with Tambay. After a dalliance with IMSA Hass decided to join forces with his old CanAm rival Paul Newman to start a team in the new CART series, Mario Andretti was hired to drive and won the title in 1984. The team went on to win further CART titles with Michael Andretti (1991), Nigel Mansell (1993) and Cristiano da Matta (2002).
In late 1984 Haas landed a major sponsorship deal with Beatrice Companies Inc which agreed to finance not only the CART team but also a Formula 1 operation. Haas then concluded an exclusive three-year deal to use the Ford V6 turbo engine and signed up Jones as his driver. Formula One Race Car Engineering (FORCE) was set up and recruited some of the best known names in the business including Teddy Mayer, Tyler Alexander, Neil Oatley, a young Ross Brawn and later an even younger Adrian Newey. The cars were called Lolas but were built at FORCE in Colnbrook. Sadly a change of management at Beatrice resulted in the team surviving for only two seasons.
Haas went back to the US and concentrated again on CART although he diversified into other areas including race promotion at the Milwaukee Mile, Road America and in Houston. In 1994 he started a NASCAR Winston Cup team with former Ford executive Michael Kranefuss and after seling out to CART rival Roger Penske went into partnership with Travis Carter until the end of 2002.
In 1997 he split with Lola and for three years was the distributor of Swift cars but returned to Lola after the organisation was taken over by Martin Birrane.
Haas was a director of the Sports Car Club of America for 12 years and chairman for five years. He is also a member of the board of CART.