On Sept. 19, 1993, Nigel Mansell backed up his Formula 1 World Championship by locking up a PPG IndyCar World Series crown with a victory at Nazareth Speedway. And he did it on an oval...
After falling out with his Williams-Renault team despite his crushingly dominant season in '92, Mansell made one of the most dramatic career changes in racing history by moving to Indy car racing, taking over the Newman/Haas Racing seat that had been vacated when Michael Andretti opted to go the other way and join McLaren's F1 team.
After winning from the pole in his CART Indy car debut on the streets of Surfers Paradise, Mansell's oval career started inauspiciously with a heavy crash in practice at Phoenix International Raceway's one-mile oval, which forced him to sit out the race with a back injury while his teammate Mario Andretti took the win. Doubters jumped on the incident to opine that the oval racing neophyte was out of his depth in Indy cars, but the Briton soon showed that judgment to be off-base.
At Indy, Mansell was in the mix for the win most of the race before finishing third, and then won decisively next time out at Milwaukee. In fact, Mansell would go unbeaten on ovals the rest of the year, sweeping to victory at Michigan, New Hampshire and Nazareth. Somewhat bizarrely, though, the World Champion never won another road/street course Indy car race after his Surfers debut, as the Penske and Galles-Kraco teams (Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy for the former, Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Jr. the latter) outdueled him on those tracks.
But on ovals, Mansell and his Ford Cosworth-powered Lola was king in 1993. Nazareth's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix was a case in point. After taking pole, Mansell led 155 of the 200 laps on the tricky, flat "almost mile" oval to win easily and lock up the title with one race remaining.