Originally, from 1909 until 1956 the American Automobile Association (AAA) acted as the first sanctioning body for auto racing in the United States. They established the national driving championship in 1909. In 1956, the U. S. Auto Club (USAC) was founded to take over sanctioning from the American Automobile Association which wanted to focus on its membership program. USAC continued the driver championship until 1979 when USAC was supplanted by Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc.
A CART Champ car runs a Turbocharged, 2.65-liter (161.703 cubic inch) V-8 engine generating approximately 800 horsepower. It has a top speed of approximately 240 mph. The car is 190 - 199 inches long, weighs 1,550 pounds, and sits on a 120 - 126 inch wheelbase.
In the end of the 1980s the CART begin to be dominated by former Formula One drivers like Mario Andretti[?], Bobby Rahal[?], and Danny Sullivan[?]. But until the participation of the former Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi who won the championship in 1989 the CART, like its predecessor, the USAC, was dominated by North American drivers. After 1989 the team managers discovered that European and South American drivers could be competitive and non-US drivers discovered that participation in the CART championship could be lucrative (and often more lucrative than an average career in Formula One). This led to an increased presence of non US drivers, former Formula One drivers and drivers issuing from the European Formula 3000. The victory of the Formula One champion Nigel Mansell in 1992 confirmed the increasing competitiveness of non-US drivers.
This lead to a split of the series: it split in two in 1994 due to a dispute between CART and the owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The new breakaway series, Indy Racing League (IRL), focusses almost exclusively on superspeedways and bases itself entirely within the United States, with a much higher proportion of American drivers.
AAA Season Champions: (1909-1955)
USAC Season Champions: (1956-1978)
CART Season Champions: