Tommy Byrne was out of luck at Detroit in 1989. Copyright Mark Windecker 2016.  Used with permission.

American Racing Series (ARS) 1989

In 1982, Tommy Byrne had been British F3 driver and had made five GP starts and what looked like the beginning of a brilliant career. Now, seven years later, he was stuck in the 'Groundhog Day' of ARS, where he could win more races than anyone else but could never quite win the title. He was back for a fourth season of this agony and this time had six pole positions, led seven races, won four and was leading the fifth and decisive race until a back marker spun right in front of him. Once again, Byrne was not the champion. This time the victor was Mike Groff, whose career had seemed to be on the wane since coming close to both the FSV and ARS titles in 1986, but was back full time in 1989 and matched Byrne's total of four wins and two second places but picked up a number of minor placings as he only failed to finish in the top seven twice. And it was that reliablity that was the Irishman's weakness as he failed to score points at four races and ended the season ten points adrift of Gross's total.

Behind these two, future CART champion Paul Tracy led more laps than anyone else, and PJ Jones, Ted Prappas, Johnny O'Connell and Gary Rubio also won races.

The races

08 Apr 1989 > Phoenix International Raceway

16 Apr 1989 > Long Beach

04 Jun 1989 > Milwaukee Mile

18 Jun 1989 > Detroit

25 Jun 1989 > Portland International Raceways

16 Jul 1989 > Meadowlands Sports Complex

23 Jul 1989 > Toronto

19 Aug 1989 > Pocono International Raceway

03 Sep 1989 > Mid-Ohio

10 Sep 1989 > Road America

24 Sep 1989 > Pennsylvania International Raceway

15 Oct 1989 > Laguna Seca

1989 HFC American Racing Series table

1Mike GroffMarch 86A - Buick V6163 pts4 wins
2Tommy ByrneMarch 86A - Buick V6153 pts4 wins
3Gary RubioMarch 86A - Buick V6131 pts1 win
4David KudraveMarch 86A - Buick V6100 pts 
5Ted PrappasMarch 86A - Buick V699 pts1 win
6PJ JonesMarch 86A - Buick V690 pts1 win
7Johnny O'ConnellMarch 86A - Buick V672 pts1 win
8Paul TracyMarch 86A - Buick V665 pts 
9Steve SheltonMarch 86A - Buick V658 pts 
10Roberto QuintanillaMarch 86A - Buick V641 pts