- September 21, 1933
- United States
- Not Active
Dick Simon is an American former racing driver and team owner who left the most significant trail in the open-wheel competitions. As a driver, he recorded 183 starts in USAC and CART championships, including seventeen starts at Indianapolis 500.
His team Dick Simon Racing was active in the CART championship between 1983 and 1995, and then three more years from 1999 to 2001 in the Indy Racing League.
Early success in sports car races in a Chevrolet Corvette
Born in September 1933, Richard Raymond Simon started his career in the late 1960s. He participated in sports car races in a Chevrolet Corvette. His most notable result was the third place in the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Riverside Raceway in October 1968.
In 1969, Simon participated in the US F5000 Championship, driving a Lola T142-Chevrolet to one victory and finishing eighth in the points. In October 1969, Simon made an attempt in the USAC National Championship but failed to qualify for the race at Phoenix Raceway in a Vollstedt-Chevrolet.
Indianapolis 500 debut and USAC Rookie of the Year in 1970
Dick Simon returned to Phoenix in March 1970, in the first round of the 1970 USAC Championship season. He failed to finish the race but scored his maiden points in the next race, finishing sixth at Sonoma. In May, he made a debut at Indianapolis 500, finishing in the 14th position.
In September, Simon scored his first USAC podium by finishing third at Ontario Motor Speedway in a Vollstedt-Ford. He ended the 1970 USAC season tenth in the overall standings and the Rookie of the Year.
One of the oldest ever racers at Indianapolis 500
The third place at Ontario remained his only podium and a career-best result in the North American open-wheel championships in which he was active until 1988. Simon never repeated a success from his rookie season. He recorded many top 10 finished but never reached a podium again.
At Indianapolis 500, Dick Simon started seventeen times and failed to qualify two times. He scored his best results at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the last two attempts, finishing sixth in 1987 and ninth in 1988. In May 1988, at the age of 55, he was one of the oldest drivers ever to race at Indianapolis 500.
Variety of race cars during the 1970s
After his successful rookie season, Dick Simon raced with a variety of cars and teams in the USAC National Championship during the 1970s. In 1971, he reached top 10 in four races. He repeated the same in 1973.
In 1974, he finished fourth at Milwaukee Mile in an Eagle-Foyt, what was one of his rare top 5 results. The next race in which he was in the top 5 was in March 1978 in at Phoenix, finishing fourth in a Vollstedt-Offy.
Three starts in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series
While racing full-time in the USAC Championship, Dick Simon made a NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut in 1973. He raced with Faustina Racing's #5 Dodge at Talladega Superspeedway, finishing in the seventh place. Two months later, he retired in the same car at Daytona's Firecracker 400.
Dick Simon returned to Daytona in February 1974, driving the #5 Dodge at Daytona 500. He stopped after 96 laps with a broken engine.
Eighth place in the 1979 USAC season
In 1979, during the USAC/CART split, Simon stayed in the USAC Championship and finished eighth in the points, driving a Vollstedt-Offy. His only CART race that year was the Indianapolis 500.
In 1980, Simon moved to CART Championship with Vollstedt, scoring only one result among top ten drivers and finishing just 31st in the points.
Competing in the CART Championship until 1988
Dick Simon stayed in the CART Championship until 1988, driving for his own team since 1983. His best season's result was the 16th place in 1981 when he was driving Watson-Cosworth and Watson-Offy for A.J. Watson's Leader Card Racers team.
In 1983, he formed his own team Dick Simon Racing, running a March 83C-Cosworth and Eagle 83-Cosworth. His best season was 1987 when he scored two Top 10 finishes in a Lola-Cosworth, including a sixth place at Indianapolis 500. Simon's last season as a driver was 1989 when he raced on a part-time schedule in six races, finishing best in the seventh place at Michigan.
Running his own team from 1983
Dick Simon founded his own team in 1983, bringing his old sponsor Vermont American with him. The first success was his entry to the Indianapolis 500, after two unsuccessful qualifying attempts in previous years.
Parallel to running a car for himself, Dick Simon was running cars for pay drivers. In 1985, Dick Simon reduced his schedule and took Raul Boesel as a full-time driver, who stayed with the team for two seasons and later returned in 1993. In 1988, Arie Luyendyk came as a full-time driver, staying with the team for two seasons. One more full-time driver was Scott Brayton.
Dick Simon Racing's CART results: no wins, six podiums, two poles
In 1992, the team also fielded a car in the Indy 500 for a rookie Lyn St. James, who became the second woman ever to compete in the race. St. James returned for a partial schedule in 1993.
The team finished its years in the CART without winning a race but captured two poles, both by Raul Boesel at the Milwaukee Mile in 1993 and 1994. The team had six second-place finishes, one with Arie Luyendyk in 1988, and the rest with Boesel.
Selling a team in 1996, returning to IRL from 1999 to 2001
In 1996, Dick Simon sold much of the team's cars and assets to Team Scandia founder Andy Evans. The team competed in the new Indy Racing League, also using Simon/Scandia Racing name.
Dick Simon returned to a competition as a team owner in 1999, running a G-Force (Oldsmobile) for the Frenchman Stephane Gregoire, who finished 15th in the championship and second among rookies. Gregoire finished 14th in the points in 2000. At Indianapolis 500, he was joined by Lyn St. James as the second driver. Gregoire was set to return for a full season in 2001, but after the team again failed to qualify for the Indy 500, the team shut down in May of that year.