Eddie Cheever

Full Name:
Edward McKay Cheever jr
Born:
10th January 1958 (Age 61)
Phoenix, Arizona
Nationality:
American
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

A confident and sometimes brash youngster, Eddie Cheever threatened to take European racing by storm. He graduated to Formula 1 with high hopes but despite 132 Grand Prix starts (the most for any American) and nine podium finishes, he never would win. He has since won the Indianapolis 500 and been a successful Indycar team owner.

Growing up in Italy leads to European racing career

He moved to Italy when just six years old and became captivated by motor racing two years later after a visit to the Monza 1000Kms. He was a precocious and successful teenager in karts. Part of the Italian team that won the 1973 European Nations’ Cup, he finished second in the following year’s world championship behind Riccardo Patrese.

His car racing debut in Formula Ford 1600 was less impressive however. But he won races with a Formula 3 Modus M1 during 1975 and was particularly impressive while dicing with Rupert Keegan and Gunnar Nilsson at the Thruxton finale.

Racing for Ron Dennis and Formula 1

Cheever joined Ron Dennis’s Project Four Racing for the 1976 and 1977 Formula 2 seasons. He won at Rouen that second campaign and attracted interest from Ferrari and other F1 suitors. But his first GP chance was with the small Theodore team at the start of 1978 although he failed to qualify for the opening South American races. He made his race debut in the South Africa GP on a one-off in the Hesketh 308E-Ford before returning to F2 and Project Four’s March 782-BMW.

Grand Prix regular

He led the new Osella F2 team in 1979 and won three times including the opening round at Silverstone. When the tiny Italian team built a GP car for 1980, the American was its driver. It was a difficult year but subsequent seasons with Tyrrell and Ligier established his F1 credentials. Cheever also raced in sports cars for Lancia at the time and he won the 1980 Mugello Six Hours with Patrese sharing his Lancia Beta Monte Carlo.

Cheever’s Ligier JS17-Matra scored podium finishes at Spa-Francorchamps (third) and Detroit (second) in 1982 and that success was rewarded with a Renault drive for 1983. It was the best opportunity of Cheever’s F1 career and he did finish sixth in the world championship after finishing second in Canada and third in France.

Sports cars with Jaguar, F1 with Arrows

But he was outpaced by team-mate Alain Prost and was released at the end of the year. Two seasons with Alfa Romeo only brought frustration so Cheever joined Tom Walkinshaw’s Jaguar sports car team in 1986 for three successful, race-winning campaigns. In addition to racing sports cars, Cheever returned to F1 in 1987 with USF&G Arrows. He stayed with the team until 1989 and took third place finishes in the 1988 Italian and 1989 United States GPs before Cheever decided his future lay in the land of his birth.

Back in the USA

He switched to Chip Ganassi’s new Target-sponsored Champ Car team in 1990 and finished third at Detroit and Toronto to win the Rookie of the Year award. Two further seasons with Ganassi included qualifying second at Surfers Paradise in 1991 and for the 1992 Indianapolis 500 – finishing fourth in the latter. With victory frustratingly elusive, he drove for A.J.Foyt in 1995 and was leading at Nazareth only to run out of fuel on the penultimate lap. That was as close as he would come and second position at Phoenix in 1992 proved to be his best Champ Car finish.

Released by Foyt before the end of 1995, he defected to the new Indy Racing League for the following season. He established Team Cheever that August and won on the Disney World oval in January 1997 – his first major victory in almost a decade. Third in the 1996/97 Indycar standings, he won a race a season for the next four years with the 1998 Indianapolis 500 the undoubted highlight.

Cheever started that race from 17th position and worked his Dallara-Aurora through the field to battle Buddy Lazier for the lead – eventually winning by 3.191sec. It was the biggest victory of Eddie Cheever’s 30 years in the sport. Third in the championship again in 2000, he decided to solely concentrate on running his team from 2003.

Tempted out of retirement in 2005, he won at Silverstone in the short-lived Grand Prix Masters veteran series, finished second in the Homestead Grand-Am event and controversially clashed with Marco Andretti during the Watkins Glen Indycar race a year later. He makes the occasional race appearance today but management of the team and watching over the early career of his son Eddie Cheever III – who finished as runner-up in the 2012 Italian F3 Championship – take precedence.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2006 IRL IndyCar Series
Cheever Indy Racing
7 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 114
2006 Grand Prix Masters
Grand Prix Masters
2 0 1 1
50% win rate
1st 0
2005 Grand Prix Masters
Grand Prix Masters
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
2002 Indy Racing League
Red Bull Cheever Racing
15 1 0 0
0% win rate
10th 280
2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series
Cheever Indy Racing
Team Cheever
13 0 2 1
8% win rate
8th 261
2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series
Team Cheever
9 0 3 1
12% win rate
3rd 257
1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League
Team Cheever
10 0 1 1
10% win rate
7th 222
1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League
Team Cheever
11 0 2 1
10% win rate
9th 222
1996/1997 Indy Racing League
Team Cheever
10 0 1 1
10% win rate
3rd 230
1996 Indy Racing League
Team Menard
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
16th 49
1995 PPG Indycar World Series
Gilmore Racing Team
15 0 0 0
0% win rate
18th 33
1994 PPG Indycar World Series
Gilmore Racing Team
Team Menard
8 0 0 0
0% win rate
27th 5
1993 PPG Indycar World Series
Budweiser King Racing
Turley Motorsports
Dick Simon Racing
Team Menard
9 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
17th 21
1992 PPG Indycar World Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
16 0 1 0
0% win rate
9th 80
1991 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
17 0 1 0
0% win rate
9th 91
1990 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Chip Ganassi Racing Team
16 0 2 0
0% win rate
9th 80
1989 F1 World Championship
Arrows Grand Prix International
14 (2) 0 1 0
0% win rate
11th 6
1988 F1 World Championship
USF&G Arrows Megatron
16 0 1 0
0% win rate
12th 6
1988 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Silk Cut Jaguar
8 0 6 4 4th 182
1987 F1 World Championship
USF&G Arrows Megatron
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
10th 8
1987 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Silk Cut Jaguar
7 1 4 3 4th 100
1986 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Arciero Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 F1 World Championship
Team Haas USA
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Silk Cut Jaguar
9 0 3 1 5th 61
1985 F1 World Championship
Benetton Team Alfa Romeo
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1984 F1 World Championship
Benetton Team Alfa Romeo
15 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
16th 3
1983 F1 World Championship
Equipe Renault Elf
15 0 4 0
0% win rate
6th 22
1982 F1 World Championship
Equipe Talbot Gitanes
14 (1) 0 3 0
0% win rate
12th 15
1981 F1 World Championship
Tyrrell Racing Organisation
14 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
11th 10
1981 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
4 0 0 0 111th 20.5
1980 F1 World Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
10 (4) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1980 World Championship of Makes
Lancia Corse
7 0 4 1 76
1980 BMW M1 Procar
GS Team
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1979 BMW M1 Procar
Osella Squadra Corse
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
24th 3
1979 European F2 Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
12 1 3 3
25% win rate
4th 32
1979 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1978 F1 World Championship
Theodore Racing Hong Kong
Olympus Cameras with Hesketh
1 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1978 European F2 Championship
Project 4 Racing
12 0 3 0
0% win rate
4th 24
1978 World Championship of Makes
BMW Italia
3 0 1 0 12
1977 European F2 Championship
Project 4 Racing
12 1 6 1
9% win rate
2nd 40
1977 World Championship of Makes
BMW Alpina
BMW Motorsport
2 (1) 0 2 0 27
1976 European F2 Championship
Project 4 Racing
10 (1) 0 1 0
0% win rate
9th 10
1976 ShellSport Group 8 European Championship
Project 4 Racing
2 1 1 0
0% win rate
16th 22