1985 Indy 500 winner hangs up his helmet after 33-year career
American Danny Sullivan has called a halt to an international career that included victory in the Indy 500, an Indycar title and a season of F1.
The 53-year-old made what he has promised will be his final start in a contemporary racing car in this month’s Spa round of the Le Mans Endurance Series. Sullivan, who has contested six events at the wheel of a Barron-Connor Racing-run Ferrari 575GTC this year, maintained that he would now confine his racing to historic events.
“The chance to race a Ferrari at some great tracks this year was too good to turn down,” he said, “but really it’s a young guy’s game.”
Sullivan started racing as a 21-year-old in Formula Ford during 1972. He competed in F3 in Britain in 1973-75 and then Formula Atlantic, Can Am and, briefly, Indycars in the US, before he got his F1 break with Tyrrell in 1983 at the age of 32.
His short spell at the pinnacle of the sport came to an end when the British team lost its Benetton sponsorship, and Sullivan returned to the States to drive Indycars for March importer Doug Shierson. A move to Penske Racing for 1985 heralded the most successful era of his career, which yielded that Indy 500 win and Indycar crown.
Sullivan’s Indycar career came to an end after breaking his pelvis at Michigan in 1995. He continued to race sportscars, driving factory entries for Porsche and BMW.
Asked to name the highlights of his career, Sullivan said: “It has to be victory in the Indianapolis 500, but also winning the Indycar title — and my fifth place in the Monaco Grand Prix from the back of the grid.”
Sullivan, who is a regular fixture at the Goodwood Revival Meeting, will continue to compete in historic races. He will also retain his links with motorsport through his involvement in the Red Bull Driver Search, which has the aim of finding America’s next F1 star.