In 1909 the American Automobile Association (AAA) established the national driving championship and became the first sanctioning body for auto racing in the United States. In 1956, the United States Auto Club (USAC) was founded to take over sanctioning from the AAA which wanted to focus on its membership program. USAC controlled the championship until 1979 when CART took over. CART runs the Champ Car World Series, the Toyota Atlantic Championship and the Barber Dodge Pro Series
A CART car has a Ford Cosworth turbocharged, 2.65-liter (161.703 cubic inch) V-8 engine, fuelled by methanol to produce about 850 horsepower. It has a top speed of about 240mph. The car is 190 - 199 inches long, weighs 1,550 pounds, and sits on a 120 - 126 inch wheelbase.
CART, like its predecessor USAC, was dominated by North American drivers until the 1980s when former Formula One drivers like Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, and Danny Sullivan competed. After former Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi won in 1989, the team managers finally conceded that European and South American drivers were highly competitive.
Non-US drivers discovered that competing in CART could often be more lucrative than an average career in Formula One and consequently there was an increased presence of non US drivers (from mainly Formula One and the European Formula 3000).
The easy victory of world champion Nigel Mansell in 1993 highlighted the competitiveness of non-US drivers which some interpreted as superiority. This led to a split of the series in 1994 due to a dispute between CART and Tony George, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The breakaway series, Indy Racing League (IRL), focused on ovals, whereas CART had and still has the versatility of speedways, street and road courses. CART drivers generally have street/road racing backgrounds and are considered by some to be more skilled than those in the IRL who have ovals-only backgrounds.
AAA Season Champions: (1909-1955)