Danny Ongais

Born:
21st May 1942 (Age 77)
Kahului, Hawaii
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Danny Ongais was a six-time Indycar race winner who added a certain glamour to the sport. He also started four Grands Prix, raced at Le Mans and won the Daytona 24 Hours.

Background and early success

He began on bikes and starred in drag racing (winning the 1964 NHRA Nationals), Ongais had already fought as a paratrooper by that time. He switched to road racing in the 1970s and Ongais entered North American Formula 5000 in 1975 with a Lola-Chevrolet entered by Ted Field’s Interscope Racing. That was the beginning of a long association between team and driver and Ongais was fifth in the 1976 F5000 standings.

Formula 1 and a winner in IMSA and Indycars

They graduated to Indycars a year later and his Parnelli VJP6B-Cosworth won on the imposing Michigan International Speedway. 1977 also included two solo wins in IMSA with a Porsche 934 and ended with his Formula 1 debut in Interscope’s Penske PC4-Ford. The Hawaiian retired from the United States GP but finished seventh in Canada.

He began 1978 in the works Ensign N177-Ford (retiring from both South American races) before switching to Interscope’s Shadow DN9-Ford. He did not pre-qualify for both GPs entered in that recalcitrant machine and his F1 career was over. However, life was good in Indycars that year for Ongais won five times and was eighth in the national championship. He also qualified his Parnelli VPJ6B-Cosworth in the middle of the front row at Indy that year.

Although he won the 1979 Daytona 24 Hours with the team’s Porsche 935, Ongais would not be as successful in open-wheel racing again. Originally slated to have Porsche power in 1980, the engine proved disappointing and Porsche withdrew before Indianapolis citing the wrangles between USAC and CART for the decision.

Injuries and declining racing career

Worse still, Ongais severely broke both of his legs and suffered internal injuries in a frightening accident during the 1981 Indy 500. He recovered sufficiently to race again at the following year’s 500 but Ongais’ outright speed was gone. He survived a barrel-roll during the 1985 Michigan 500 after he lost control in Turn 2 avoiding a slower car.

He retired in 1987 but eventually returned to finish seventh in the 1996 Indianapolis 500 after replacing Scott Brayton who had been killed in practice. Ongais retired from his final Indycar race at the start of 1997 and his return to Indy that May ended with a substantial accident in qualifying after his tyre punctured.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1996/1997 Indy Racing League
Chitwood Motorsports
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
42nd 22
1996 Indy Racing League
Team Menard
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
26th 28
1988 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Le Mans Company
1 0 0 0 0
1987 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Interscope Racing
2 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship 1 0 0 0 70th 2
1986 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Team ASC
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1985 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Interscope Racing
6 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
23rd 14
1984 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Interscope Racing
13 (1) 0 1 0
0% win rate
10th 53
1983 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Patrick Racing
Interscope Racing
8 0 0 0
0% win rate
20th 14
1982 World Endurance Championship
Porsche Kremer Racing
1 0 0 0 0
1982 IMSA Camel GT Championship
Interscope Racing
3 2 3 3 0
1981 World Endurance Championship 3 0 0 0 0
1980 World Championship of Makes
Ted Field
Porsche Kremer Racing
4 0 2 0 34
1980 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Interscope Racing
Armstrong Mould Racing Team
9 0 1 0
0% win rate
15th 601
1979 World Championship of Makes
Interscope Racing
2 0 1 1 20
1979 USAC National Championship
Interscope Racing
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
650
1979 SCCA/CART Indycar Championship
Interscope Racing
12 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
6th 1473
1979 IMSA Camel GT Championship
Interscope Racing
1 0 1 1 0
1978 F1 World Championship
Interscope Racing
Team Tissot Ensign
2 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1978 World Championship of Makes
Ted Field
2 1 0 0 0
1978 USAC Citicorp Cup National Championship
Interscope Racing
17 8 5 5
30% win rate
8th 2662
1977 F1 World Championship
Interscope Racing
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1977 World Championship of Makes
Ted Field
2 0 0 0 8
1977 USAC Citicorp Cup National Championship
Interscope Racing
13 3 1 1
8% win rate
12th 935
1977 IMSA Camel GT Championship
Interscope Racing
2 1 2 2 0
1976 USAC Citicorp Cup National Championship
Interscope Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1976 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship
Interscope Racing
Vel's Parnelli Racing
7 0 3 0
0% win rate
5th 78
1975 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship
Interscope Racing
7 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
21st 5