Cheever Chooses Not To Run Indy
April 9, 2003 | 7:43 P.M. EST
The decision ends a 13-year streak at the famous race, which Cheever won in 1998.
"I'm calling this a self-imposed sabbatical," Cheever said. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do in the future. All I know right now is that I have too much going on. I haven't been able to spend any time preparing to race at Indy."
Red Bull Cheever Racing has entered the No. 52 Chevrolet/Dallara to be driven by Buddy Rice. Also entered in the Indy 500 field is the No. 51 usually driven by Cheever. However, Cheever said he isn't sure who - if anyone - will drive the car at Indianapolis.
This season Red Bull Cheever Racing driver Buddy Rice finished 16th in the IRL IndyCar Series opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He finished ninth last month at Phoenix International Raceway. The team will compete this weekend at the Japan Indy 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.
Cheever said he will miss racing at Indianapolis, but will continue to direct the team's efforts during the month of May. After planning to run a limited number of races this season, including the Indy 500, Cheever isn't sure about when he will return to the driver's seat.
"I'm not certain about the future," he said. "Right now I'm just concentrating on running the team and on the acquisition of TWR Engines. I'm honestly not sure about what I'll do as a driver in the future."
Cheever and fellow IndyCar Series team owner John Menard recently purchased TWR Engines, an engine design company based in England. Aside from Red Bull Cheever Racing, Cheever also has interests in Menard Cheever Technologies, a marketing firm and a worldwide trading company.
"I was hardly home at all during the month of March," Cheever said. "I was in Detroit, Indy, England and Italy. I've been to Europe seven times this winter. I haven't had time to even think about preparing myself for the Indy 500."
Cheever shares the IRL record for most consecutive starts - 69 - with Buddy Lazier. Cheever has won $6.2 million in IRL races, ranking second only to Lazier. He was the rookie of the year at the Indy 500 in 1990.
Cheever also holds the record for the most Formula One races by an American driver (132).