- One of eight examples delivered to Newman/Haas Racing for the 1989 CART season
- Driven by Mario Andretti at the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Marlboro Challenge
- Primary spare car for Mario Andretti at four other races, including the Indianapolis 500
- Later refinished in the Budweiser/Kmart livery as driven by Christian Fittipaldi
- A fascinating developmental chassis en route to Michael Andretti’s pivotal 1991 CART Championship
The 1989 CART season marked the beginning of a new era at Newman/Haas Racing, as for the first time in seven years of existence, the team fielded two drivers. The team’s mainstay driver and 1984 CART champion Mario Andretti was joined by a familiar face, that of his son Michael. After several promising years racing Indy Cars for Kraco Engineering, Michael left for Newman/Haas, jumpstarting an uptick in his performance that would eventually crescendo with the 1991 CART Championship.
Newman/Haas continued to utilize Lola chassis in 1989, this time with the updated T89/00, a close evolution of the prior year’s T88/00. For the third year in a row Newman/Haas chose the power of the Ilmor-Chevrolet 265-A, a 2.65-liter turbocharged V-8 that was designed by two former Cosworth engineers, and developed approximately 800 horsepower. The Andretti family pairing showed great promise, as Mario finished 6th in drivers’ points, and Michael finished in 3rd, having achieved two victories among six podium finishes.
Research indicates that HU 03 was one of eight T89/00 examples delivered to Newman/Haas for the 1989 season. Certified with CART serial number 200, and USAC serial number 954, this Lola was raced at two events and served as a backup car at four more.
Initially decorated with sponsorship by Kmart and Havoline, this Lola was a back-up car for Mario Andretti at the season-commencing Autoworks 200 in Phoenix. A week later the T89/00 became Andretti’s primary car for the Long Beach Grand Prix, a race the veteran had previously won four times. After qualifying for a 5th-place start, Mario steadily advanced to the lead, and on his final pit stop he refueled but elected not to change tires in order to reduce his pit time. Fading grip increasingly slowed his pace, and with 12 laps remaining the 1988 Long Beach winner Al Unser, Jr. was hot on his tail. On the 84th lap Unser attempted an aggressive pass and clipped the right rear end of Andretti’s car, in the process sending the Newman/Haas Lola into the wall and out of action. The furious Andretti was officially relegated to an 18th-place finish.
At the Indianapolis 500 in late May HU 03 enjoyed the distinction of serving as a back-up car, but it was never called into action, and it similarly reprised this role a week later at the Miller High Life 200 at the Milwaukee Mile. For the following four months the Lola saw no recorded use, though it resurfaced at the season’s concluding weekend at Laguna Seca in mid-October. A non-championship Saturday pre-event race dubbed the Marlboro Challenge pitted the season’s individual race-winners and pole position-starters against the defending CART champion and the Indy 500 winner, with leading points drivers filling out the remaining positions.
After qualifying for an 8th-place starting position, Andretti drove this T89/00 to a 5th-place finish. The following day at the season-concluding Champion Spark Plug 300, HU 03 returned to back-up duties, and no further recorded use suggests that the car may have never been raced again. It is not presently fitted with an engine, and the car’s current livery with Budweiser/Kmart sponsorship and bearing the name of driver Christian Fittipaldi suggests the Lola remained a practice and/or display car up through the 1996 season, when Fittipaldi first joined Newman/Haas Racing.
Chassis HU 03 is notable as being a primary spare for the legendary Mario Andretti, who finished the season in 6th place, having notched four podium finishes. It also represents a developmental milestone en route to Michael Andretti’s pivotal 1991 CART Championship.