CART World Series
1st in 1988
CART World Series
Indianapolis 500 winner
Daniel John "Danny" Sullivan III (Born March 9, 1950 in Louisville, Kentucky) is a former racing driver from the United States. He is best known for winning the 1985 Indianapolis 500.
Sullivan was born to a building contractor father in Louisville Kentucky. He attended the Kentucky Military Institute and then the Jim Russell Racing School. He had several odd jobs before his racing career, including lumberjack, and most famously, New York City cab driver..
Sullivan participated in 15 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, all during 1983, debuting on March 13. He scored two championship points. The following year Sullivan returned to America, where he competed in the CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) open-wheel series winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1985. The "spin and win" footage of his red and white Miller American spinning through 360 degrees down the south short chute (between turns one and two) at Indy after passing Mario Andretti for the lead in the race's 120th lap has been played on countless motorsports programs. Recovering from the spin undamaged except for flat-spotted tires, Sullivan went into the pits for new rubber, then returned to the track and passed Mario a second time twenty laps later to go on for the win. Danny would set the pace at Indy again in 1988, leading 91 of the first 101 laps, until he drifted out and hard into the turn 1 wall. Nevertheless, he went on to win the CART series title for Roger Penske that year.
In 1986, Sullivan was a guest star on the television show Miami Vice, playing a race car driver accused of murdering a prostitute.
In 1994, Sullivan took a sabbatical from Indycar racing, and joined ABC/ESPN as a color commentator. He also attempted to run selected events in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series that season. He, however, qualified for only one race (the 1994 Brickyard 400), and finished an unimpressive 33rd for a very underfunded team.
He returned to Indycar racing for one final year in 1995. His season ended early after a serious crash at Michigan International Speedway. While recovering from a broken pelvis and other injuries, he announced his retirement from open-wheel competition. He returned to ABC-TV for 1996-1997. Meanwhile, he moved to France, and began racing a very limited schedule in European sports cars, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Sullivan was also instrumental in the Red Bull Driver Search program to find an American driver to compete in the Formula 1 world championship. The program successfully promoted American Scott Speed from California.