- Used by Roberto Moreno and Christian Fittipaldi in six rounds of the 1997 CART season
- Achieved its best finish (4th) with Fittipaldi in the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America
- One of six 007.i chassis developed exclusively for Newman/Haas Racing
- Also used by Michael Andretti in post-season testing at Homestead International and Laguna Seca
The new-for-1997 Swift-Ford 007.i chassis, built exclusively for Newman/Haas Racing by California’s Swift Engineering, made its debut at the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead International Speedway. There Michael Andretti shocked the entire field, setting the race’s fastest lap en route to a dominant victory which also saw his 007.i leading for 72 of the race’s 147 laps.
But the 007.i’s first victory was also its last, as Swift Engineering and Newman/Haas did not win another race that year. Both the 007.i’s incredible debut and sudden turn of fortune can be attributed to its novel design.
Swift Engineering co-founder David Bruns had begun initial development of what would become the 007.i in 1994. After Newman/Haas Racing signed on, the team’s chief aerodynamicist, Dr. Mark Hanford, helped Bruns tailor the car’s final design and respective aero packages for both road course and superspeedway configurations.
First among the novel aerodynamic concepts which the 007.i pioneered for CART use were a set of “moving plane” wheel diffusers, which salvaged additional downforce from air flowing past—and through—the car’s wheels. The loads of top-speed grip provided by this design feature was perhaps the most significant factor in its incredible debut at Homestead International Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval. Other novel features applied to the 007.i, and subsequently adopted as standard equipment for all future CART chassis, were its “nested” exhaust system and elevated transaxle mounting position.
After Miami, other CART teams scrambled to copy the 007.i with progressively similar bodywork modifications added to their own chassis. Paired with powertrain reliability problems, the 007.i’s competitive advantage was greatly reduced by mid-season. However, Andretti still achieved several podiums and finished 8th in the 1997 drivers’ championship.
This Swift-Ford 007.i, chassis 006, was used by Newman/Haas team drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Roberto Moreno across six races. Its best result was a 4th overall finish, which came at the hands of Fittipaldi in the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America on 17 August 1997. For his part, Moreno qualified 2nd at Rio on 11 May before his engine failed, and later finished 10th at Milwaukee on 1 June.
Fittipaldi’s time with Chassis 006 also saw him finish 16th at Michigan’s US 500 on 27 July, and then 9th in the season finale Marlboro 500 at Fontana’s California Speedway on 28 September.
Team records on file indicate that Michael Andretti subsequently used this 007.i for post-season testing at Homestead and Laguna Seca. As presented today, chassis 006 is not fitted with an engine, and currently wears a superspeedway-specification aerodynamics package as used at tracks such as Miami, Michigan, Milwaukee, and Fontana.