Danny Sullivan

Full Name:
Daniel John Sullivan III
Born:
9th March 1950 (Age 69)
Louisville, Kentucky
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

With film star looks and easy charm, Danny Sullivan was one of the leading Champ Car stars during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was the son of a Louisville building contractor but his racing roots were embedded in European road racing.

Education and early racing career

Educated at Kentucky Military Institute before dropping out of University, Sullivan worked as a New York taxi driver, janitor, waiter and lumberjack before moving to Europe to race. He was given a course at the Jim Russell Racing School in England as a 21st birthday present and Sullivan made his Formula Ford debut in that country in 1972. He progressed to British Formula 3 in 1973 and scored three victories in as many years in the category.

He failed to qualify for his Formula 2 debut at Mugello in 1976 and his first full season in 1977 was hindered by the uncompetitive Boxer R276-Hart. Fifth in the Donington Park finale was his best result and he returned to America to further his career.

That was in Can-Am from 1980 to 1982 and he twice won in Las Vegas. His Forsythe-Brown Racing March 82C-Cosworth was a fine third in the 1982 Stroh’s 200 at Atlanta – his debut in the Champ Car World Series – but Sullivan crashed out of that year’s Indianapolis 500.

Formula 1 with Tyrrell

Third in the 1982 Can-Am standings, it was a surprise when he was announced as Michele Alboreto’s Tyrrell team-mate for the 1983 Formula 1 World Championship. He finished fifth at Monaco but his highlight was in the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch when narrowly beaten by Keke Rosberg after a late-race charge threatened victory.

Champ Cars with Shierson and Penske

Sullivan returned to Champ Cars in 1984 and his three wins in Doug Shierson’s Lola T800-Cosworth led to a move to Penske Racing for the following season. He immediately scored his greatest victory – becoming the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 after spinning. Without a victory in 1987, Sullivan entered the following season with the new Penske PC17-Chevrolet and it proved a potent combination. He won four times to secure the 1988 National Championship.

He remained with Penske for two more seasons before enduring a frustrating 1991 in Patrick Racing’s recalcitrant Lola T91/00-Alfa Romeo. Sullivan joined Al Unser Jr at Galles-Kraco Racing for 1992 to drive the team’s own Galmer G92-Chevrolet. Although Sullivan won at Long Beach (after crashing into Unser) it was another difficult season. He scored his 17th and final Champ Car victory with a Galles-Kraco Lola T93/00-Chevy at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park in 1993.

Subsequent racing career

Without a Champ Car ride in 1994 after his sponsor (Molson) withdrew, he raced in IROC, the occasional DTM race, at Le Mans (when third in a Dauer Porsche 962LM) and NASCAR’s inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. He returned for a final Champ Car season with PacWest in 1995 but broke his pelvis at Michigan and those injuries ended his top-line racing career.

Instrumental in Red Bull’s search for an American Formula 1 driver in 2002, he raced a Barron Connor Racing Ferrari 575GTC at Sebring, Le Mans and in the Le Mans Series during 2004.

Danny Sullivan was a star in the truest sense of the word and even appeared as himself in an episode of Miami Vice. He is now retired and lives in the United States and France.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1995 PPG Indycar World Series
PacWest Racing Group
13 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 32
1994 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Alfa Corse
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1994 Winston Cup 74th 64
1993 PPG Indycar World Series
Galles Racing
15 0 2 1
7% win rate
12th 43
1992 PPG Indycar World Series
Galles-Kraco Racing
16 0 2 1
7% win rate
7th 99
1991 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Patrick Racing
17 0 0 0
0% win rate
11th 56
1990 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Marlboro Team Penske
16 4 5 2
13% win rate
6th 139
1989 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Penske Racing
13 1 5 2
16% win rate
7th 107
1988 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Silk Cut Jaguar
1 0 0 0 0
1988 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Penske Racing
15 9 7 4
27% win rate
1st 182
1987 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Penske Racing
15 0 3 0
0% win rate
9th 87
1986 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Penske Racing
17 2 6 2
12% win rate
3rd 147
1985 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Penske Racing
15 2 4 2
14% win rate
4th 126
1984 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Shierson Racing
16 1 5 3
19% win rate
4th 110
1983 F1 World Championship
Benetton Tyrrell Team
15 0 0 0
0% win rate
17th 2
1982 SCCA Budweiser 7/11 Can-Am Challenge
Paul Newman Racing
1 0 1 1 0
1982 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Forsythe-Brown Racing
2 0 1 0
0% win rate
22nd 28
1981 World Endurance Championship 1 0 0 0 0
1981 SCCA Can-Am Challenge
Garvin Brown Racing
1 0 1 1 0
1979 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1977 European F2 Championship
Team Warsteiner Eurorace
Boxer Cars
5 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
18th 2
1977 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1977 ShellSport International Championship
Brian Lewis Racing
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
28th 6
1976 European F2 Championship
KVG Team Modus
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1975 European F3 Cup
Team Modus
2 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0