The National Championship of the USAC is a tournament of elite speed that was played mainly in the United States between the years 1956 and 1984. It was the major championship single-seaters of the region during much of its existence, with the Indianapolis 500 as the main event. Among its pilots more successful are Al Unser A. J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Gordon Johncock, Bobby Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Rodger Ward, and Tom Sneva. The National Championship of the USAC replaced the National Championship of the AAA and was moved in 1980 the CART series.
In mid-1955 occurred multiple fatalities in single-seaters, among them the Manuel Ayulo training in Indianapolis, Alberto Ascari in Monza, in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, and the disaster of Le Mans which killed Pierre Levegh and 82 spectators. Faced with the situation, the AAA Competition Commission stopped organizing the AAA National Championship started in 1902. The owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony Hulman, founded the US Auto Club and took on the organization of the powers of cars.
During the 1960s, as in Formula 1, Indy cars with a front-engine were displaced by the lower rear engine cars with better weight distribution.
Hulman died in 1977, and 1978 eight USAC leaders killed in a plane crash. That year, several competitors led by Dan Gurney, Carl Hogan, Roger Penske, and Pat Patrick tried to form an organization of their own, which would promote the different races of the championship, negotiate the television rights, improve the prize exchanges and elaborate the technical regulations; the supervision of the tracks would be in the hands of the USAC. The USAC rejected the proposal, and the group decided to form its championship, the CART series, with the oversight of the Sports Car Club of America.
Most of the strong teams left in the National Championship of the USAC and joined the CART series for its inaugural season in 1979. Some, such as A. J. Foyt remained loyal to the Hulman family and continued to contest the event. In 1980 there was an attempt to organize a championship together, but in the middle of the season, the agreement was canceled. The USAC National Championship continued to be held until 1984, with a few races per season. The Indianapolis 500 was scored for the CART, except in 1980 and 1981, and the USAC continued to monitor the sport until 1997.
The USAC sanctioned the first two seasons of the Indy Racing League (1996/1997) until the two controversial races such as the Indy 500 and the next in texas demonstrating the ineptitude of the organization, which soon ended up being removed from the category.
Until 1977, the USAC National Championship scoring system did not change significantly. It was scored at the top 12, and the number of points was directly proportional to the length of the race. The Indianapolis 500-mile scale was 1000 points to the winner, 800 to the second, 700 to the third, and then 600, 500, 400, 300, 250, 200, 150, 100 and 50. Therefore, the winner of a 200-mile race scored 400 points, and the winner of a 100-mile race scored 200 points. Starting in 1978, all competitors were awarded points.
This system rewarded the achievements in the most prestigious races, which were precisely those of the most extended duration. In contrast, it allowed the drivers to be well placed by attending only the tracks of greater distance and punctuation and absenting themselves to shorter ones. This reduced the number of top-level drivers in those competitions, thus devaluing their winners. The CART Series changed the system in 1983 to a single point scale.
Test of the National Championship of the USAC in the Circuit of Rafaela, Argentina, played in 1971
Most of the races of the USAC National Championship were held in ovals. The category competed in Earth ovals from its beginnings to 1970, and then from 1981 to its final stage. The contest competed in circuits mixed from 1965 to 1970, he stopped doing it at the beginning of the 1970s with the emergence of the category of rival Formula 5000 and then returned to run in them in 1977, 1978 and 1980.
The USAC National Championship played several races outside the United States, not all of them scoring. In 1966, the category visited Fuji Speedway in Japan. In 1967 and 1969, the USAC competed in the mixed circuits of Mosport Park and Mont-Tremblant, Canada. The first date of 1971 ran in the oval of Rafaela, in Argentina.
Also, the race of the two worlds held at the oval of Monza in Italy in 1957 and 1958 was attended by Indy cars, as well as Formula 1 and sports cars. The Pikes Peak mountain race allowed for Indy cars until 1970 and was punctual for the USAC National Championship from 1965 to 1969.