This 1991 Lola-Chevrolet T91/00 is historically significant for a few reasons, it was the car that helped power Michael Andretti to his first CART PPG Indy Car World Series win in 1991 – with Andretti driving it for three of his eight wins that season.
The car is now being offered for sale in complete condition with its Ilmor-Chevrolet 2.65 liter V8, and it’s accompanied by an original workshop manual, a compatible laptop, and a connection cable.
Fast Facts – The Lola-Chevrolet T91/00
- Paul Newman was bitten by the “speed bug” in the 1960s when training for the role of a racing driver for the movie “Winning”. This led to him making a career for himself as a racing driver and team manager in addition to his career as an actor.
- Paul Newman joined with racing team owner Carl Haas to form the Newman/Haas racing team to compete in CART and Indy Car beginning in 1983, with Mario Andretti as a main driver.
- Mario Andretti’s son Michael joined the team in 1989–1992, and then again in 1995–2000.
- Driving for the Newman/Haas team in the 1991 Miller Genuine Draft 200 at the Milwaukee Mile oval in Wisconsin the Andretti family won a trifecta with Michael in first place, his Dad Mario in second place, and cousin John Andretti third.
Paul Newman was a man who was almost as well known for his philanthropy as for his remarkably successful acting career. Once he reached a stage of life where he had the means to give he began the food company “Newman’s Own” and devoted the whole of the after tax profits to charitable giving. Another of his charities was the “Hole in the Wall Gang” camp for seriously ill children which he founded in 1988.
It was in 1968-9 when he was asked to take a starring role in the movie “Winning”, which was the story of a race car driver, that Paul Newman enrolled in a racing driver’s training course with professional drivers Bob Sharp and Lake Underwood as his instructors. He was going to take on the role as a racing driver so he needed to be taught how to accomplish this.
At this time Paul Newman was 43 years old and he took to the course and the sheer excitement of the speed like a duck to water.
Above Image: This documentary offers fascinating insight into Paul Newman’s time competing with Datsun Racing.
Newman had discovered something he loved to do and he set about taking up motor racing, and worked to become the best driver he could. Remembering that “Every expert starts out as a beginner” Newman started his racing in a modest little Datsun 510 and worked his way up over a period of years to race in increasingly challenging events.
The Holy Grail of spots car racing is without doubt the 24 Hours Le Mans and by 1979 Paul Newman had become such an expert and respected driver that he was included in a Le Mans team with Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen, driving a Porsche 935/77A fitted with a Porsche 930/80 3.0L F6 twin-turbocharged engine.
Despite a couple of mechanical issues the Barbour, Stommelen, Newman team finished second outright with 299 laps, behind the Porsche Kremer racing team with 306 laps. This was a real high point for Paul Newman although he found the harassment by the paparazzi to be so infuriating that he declined to drive at Le Mans again.
Moving back in our story to 1976 Paul Newman became interested not only in driving, but he aspired to learning about racing team management with a view to starting a team of his own.
To investigate this he contacted racing driver Bill Freeman, and the two formed the Newman/Freeman racing team in 1978 and succeeded in winning the Can-Am Team Championship trophy in 1979, the same year as Newman’s Le Mans podium finish.
The next phase for Paul Newman was to join with Carl Haas – who was the owner of Carl A. Haas Motorsports and dealer for British Lola cars – to form the Newman/Haas Indy Car team in 1983. This team was created to compete in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Series and would also gain fame in the Champ Car Series.
The legendary Mario Andretti was working with Carl Haas and he forged a string of competition successes with a 1984 Lola Cosworth Ford gaining six first place victories and winning the CART PPG Indy Car World Series.
Paul Newman was always interested not just in winning himself, but in providing the opportunity for promising young drivers to try to make a success of a racing career.
Mario Andretti’s son Michael was one of these joining the team in 1990 after having paid his dues beginning in Indy car racing with the Kraco Racing squad in 1983 and following on from his father’s wins at Long Beach California in 1977, 1984, and 1985 Michael took over winning in the CART PPG Indy Car World Series in 1986, finishing up with runner up championship not only in 1986 but also 1987.
Having worked his way up the competitive ladder Michael Andretti joined the Newman/Haas racing team in 1989, and in the 1989 and 1990 seasons finished third and then second in the championship standings.
1991 proved to be a fabulous competition year with Rick Mears and Michael Andretti slugging it out for a hotly contested championship.
Michael Andretti made the best of his opportunity to race in the 1991 season by gaining second place to Rick Mears, making him fight tooth and nail to get his fourth win in the Indianapolis 500.
1991 Lola T91/00 Chassis #38
For the 1991 racing season Newman/Haas used the improved Lola T91/00 which was built around an improved monocoque chassis with an aluminium honeycomb tub made in Lola’s new climate controlled autoclave.
This chassis was made to be adaptable for different racing conditions, in part by revising suspension and suspension pick-up points, and by revised aerodynamics and use of low-drag wings, especially for the very high speed oval circuits where high speed stability required a delicate balance to obtain the optimal down-force.
The car was powered by the superb Ilmor-Chevrolet 2.65 liter 32 valve turbocharged V8 giving the brilliantly designed Lola chassis plenty of grunt to propel it to podium winning speeds.
Chassis #38 was used in competition the early part of 1991: in May it raced in the Miller Genuine Draft 200 at the Milwaukee Mile oval in Wisconsin.
In a memorable race Rick Mears was forced out of the race by an engine failure and the Andretti family made the best of the opportunity to win the trifecta with Michael in first place, his very happy Dad Mario in second, and cousin John Andretti in third place.
The car was then entered in the Valvoline Detroit Grand Prix, which was run on a street circuit. Sadly the car suffered a mechanical fault and Michael could not finish the race.
Chassis #38 was then entered in The Budweiser/G.I. Joe’s 200 at Portland International Raceway in Oregon: and then the Marlboro Grand Prix Meadowlands, which was located just outside of New York City. In that race Michael seems to have pushed the car rather harder than the engine could handle and it progressively expired forcing a rather frustrated Michael to retire from the race.
The last race of that year for chassis #38 was the Molson Indy Vancouver on the city’s street circuit. Street circuits require a nimble car and an equally nimble driver. Both Michael Andretti and the Lola proved they had what it took to obtain first place in that challenging race.
The historic Lola T91/00 chassis #38 used by Michael Andretti has been preserved and is coming up for sale by RM Sotheby’s at their “The House that Newman/Haas Built” auction to be held on the 29th of October 2022.
You can find the sale page with more details about this car here.
The documentary about Paul Newman’s racing career featuring the people that helped him on his high speed journey, and the people who he helped forge their way, is well worth the watch. You’ll can watch it here in full if you haven’t seen it.
Picture Credits: All pictures of the Michael Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola T91/00 courtesy RM Sotheby’s.
Jon Branch has written countless official automobile Buying Guides for eBay Motors over the years, he’s also written for Hagerty, he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome and the official SSAA Magazine, and he’s the founder and senior editor of Revivaler.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine, and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China, and Hong Kong. The fastest thing he’s ever driven was a Bolwell Nagari, the slowest was a Caterpillar D9, and the most challenging was a 1950’s MAN semi-trailer with unexpected brake failure.