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Sprint car driver Sammy Swindell in one of the less competitive Wildcar March 86As at Mid-Ohio in 1986. Copyright Glenn Snyder 2009.  Used with permission.

American Racing Series (ARS) 1986

The idea of ARS had been to showcase US talent but the first season was won by Italian Formula 3 driver Fabrizio Barbazza driving the Arciero Brothers entry. Kiwi Steve Millen won the opening round but the TrueSports ARS team was shelved after Jim Trueman's death. Millen was forced to drive one of the unloved ARS "house cars" but scored a remarkable win in this car at Mid-Ohio before getting a permanent seat again in the Hemelgarn team. Californian Mike Groff was the quickest of the Yanks: he won two and twice retired from the lead but his decision to prioritise the FSV title - which he lost narrowly to Didier Theys - kept him out of contention for the ARS title. The fourth race winner was Jeff Andretti who had been very quick in FSV in 1985 but disappointed in ARS.

Being an all-new category, ARS had no established teams to draw on and several of the teams that were put together failed to complete the season. Truesports' team was disbanded after Jim Trueman's death but also the teams of Jerrill Rice and Kim Campbell closed for financial reasons. The SCCA's ability to run the series was brought into question when the race at Miami wasn't timed. As some teams had been given time penalties for using too many crew members at pit stops, this meant full results couldn't be issued until a month later.

The races

06 Apr 1986 > Phoenix International Raceway

08 Jun 1986 > Milwaukee (Wisconsin State Fair Park)

29 Jun 1986 > Meadowlands Sports Complex

20 Jul 1986 > Toronto

16 Aug 1986 > Pocono International Raceway

31 Aug 1986 > Mid-Ohio

20 Sep 1986 > Road America

12 Oct 1986 > Laguna Seca

19 Oct 1986 > Phoenix International Raceway

09 Nov 1986 > Tamiami Park

1986 American Racing Series table

1Fabrizio BarbazzaMarch 86A - Buick V6145 pts5 wins
2Jeff AndrettiMarch 86A - Buick V6107 pts1 win
3Mike GroffMarch 86A - Buick V689 pts2 wins
4Steve MillenMarch 86A - Buick V685 pts2 wins
5Juan Manuel Fangio IIMarch 86A - Buick V669 pts 
6Billy BoatMarch 86A - Buick V667 pts 
7Tommy ByrneMarch 86A - Buick V662 pts 
8Sammy SwindellMarch 86A - Buick V640 pts 
9Cary BrenMarch 86A - Buick V638 pts 
10Jerrill RiceMarch 86A - Buick V637 pts 
11Albert Naon JrMarch 86A - Buick V637 pts 
12Brad MurpheyMarch 86A - Buick V633 pts 
13Nick Fornoro JrMarch 86A - Buick V630 pts 
14Ross CheeverMarch 86A - Buick V626 pts 
15Stan FoxMarch 86A - Buick V623 pts 
16Steve BrenMarch 86A - Buick V617 pts 
17Dave SimpsonMarch 86A - Buick V617 pts 
18John GrahamMarch 86A - Buick V612 pts 
19=Scott WoodMarch 86A - Buick V612 pts 
19=Kim CampbellMarch 86A - Buick V612 pts 
21Jim Busby JrMarch 86A - Buick V611 pts 
22=Davy JonesMarch 86A - Buick V610 pts 
22=Gary RubioMarch 86A - Buick V610 pts 
24=DesirĂ© WilsonMarch 86A - Buick V68 pts 
24=Ian AshleyMarch 86A - Buick V68 pts 
26Rich RutherfordMarch 86A - Buick V67 pts 
27Guido DaccòMarch 86A - Buick V66 pts 
28Jan ThoelkeMarch 86A - Buick V64 pts 
29=Jack MillerMarch 86A - Buick V63 pts 
29=Bobby FixMarch 86A - Buick V63 pts 

The points system used was novel: the SCCA's preferred 20-16-14-12-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system for the top-12 places, but with an extra point for pole position and another for the driver leading the most laps. The table shown here is from On Track 22 Dec 1986 p62. See also Gordon Kirby's review of the season in Autosport 1 January 1987 pp30-31.