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    97CMS71997 IndyCar Season (7)97CMS71997 IndyCar Season (1)97CMS71997 IndyCar Season (3)

    Chastain Motorsports competed in the 1997 and 1998 Indy Racing League seasons with driver Stephan Gregoire, who finished 11th in the Championship in 1997, and 12th in 1998.

    The team, owned by Indianapolis businessman Tom Chastain also ran the 2007 Indy 500 in a one-off effort with Roberto Moreno.

    How did this all come to be?

    Tom Chastain recalled how he started a race team:
    “I met Stephan Gregoire for the first time in late 1996. At the 1996 Indy 500 I was a small sponsor for ABF Motorsports. One of the mechanics on the team, Yves Chappaz, who is French, called me one Saturday afternoon in November 1996 and asked me if he could come to my house to talk to me. I said ‘sure’. Yves showed up with another guy who at first I thought was Michel Jourdain. It wasn’t Jourdain, it was Stephan. Stephan was looking for a ride for the 1997 IRL season. He knew I had just bought a G-Force and was looking for a driver.

    “At that point I didn’t have a team, I didn’t have equipment, and I knew nothing about running a race team. I had an option to buy a G-Force chassis, that’s all. Picking up Stephan gave me instant credibility. Here was a great driver who knew a lot about the business and could advise me in starting up the team. On top of that he struck me as a nice guy and someone who would be easy to work with. We decided to start a team together and things have gone great since then.”

    Over the team’s seasons in 1997 and 1998, Gregoire finished a best of second place at Pikes Peak International Raceway in 1997 during the team’s fourth start.

    In fact, at that race, Gregoire missed out on a victory by .222 seconds, chasing down race leader Tony Stewart on the closing laps, and making it the closest finish in Indy Racing League history at that point in time.

    “All of this stuff is pretty remarkable,” said Tom Chastain, the rookie car owner, in a quoted press release from 1997. “Indianapolis is the first time we had a full-time mechanic (Rusty Hurford). The help we have has been supplemental help. We have a guy (Chris Sumner) who drives in from Cincinnati to help. Darrell Soppe flew in from Phoenix. Yves Chappaz, from France, helps when he can.”

    Making the story better is that Chastain and company competed on a relatively slim budget, rarely testing but yet competing and running with the bigger more well-funded efforts of the time.

    If the 1997 IndyCar season was condensed down to the races Chastain Motorsports started, they would have finished second in points. In 1998, the team carried the momentum, opening the year in Florida at the Walt Disney World Speedway with a fourth place finish.

    Following a ten-year absence, Brazilian Moreno qualified 31st at the 2007 running of the Indy 500, the fastest of any Panoz chassis entered in the field, but was unfortunately the first to retire following a crash on race day.

    97CMS71997 IndyCar Season (8)97CMS71997 IndyCar Season (11)97CMS71997 IndyCar Season (19)