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Alfa's first CA(R)Tastrophe
Appendix 2: The search for the identities of the two Morales Racing March 88Cs


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Howdy Holmes


Alex Morales Racing March-Cosworth 88C




1988 Indianapolis 500 (final day of qualifying)


A number of race fans have an interest in the identity of particular chassis. As for the two March 88C cars used by Morales Racing in 1988, the identity of at least one car was revealed in the 1988 Carl Hungness yearbook, being 88C-009. Then Doug Nye mentions having identified 88C-009 present in Italy in his Autosport column of 23/2/89.

As for the second (ex-Morales) car, there is a lot to tell but little to no definitive proof of its identity.

Despite several attempts, it has not been possible to unveil the identity of the second Morales-owned March 88C (yet). Regrettably, obtaining chassis records of the CART era is rather difficult, if not all but impossible. The only race of which the majority of the cars are known is the Indy 500, thanks to the information supplied by the Carl Hungness Indianapolis 500 yearbooks, with most editions containing a full photographic overview of the 33 starters, often with their chassis identity listed and, if it has, its history in earlier years. Such was the case with the 1988 edition but that only helps to find the cars that qualified and raced. Non-qualifiers, whether they be primary entries or backup cars, are not identified. However, thanks to the 'Missed the Show' section in these yearbooks it is possible to find clues about the team that used the unidentified 88Cs.

This made it possible to at least identify 88C-009 as the Morales car that did make the race. For the sister car, however, this is all we can tell. Over time it became known that there have been 20 88Cs but that instantly leads to the following questions.

1. Were all cars built before May 1988 and so in theory on the IMS grounds? There are cases of chassis of a certain type being built but appearing later in the year. For example, in some years Penske was known to have fresh chassis built and available for the second half of the season.

2. Did chassis number 88C-013 exist? Not of every type of car, both Lola and March actually built a chassis numbered 13. For example, one that does exist is March 86C-013. And 13 definitely wasn't an unlucky number because it was the winning car driven by Bobby Rahal in 1986. If 13 doesn't exist, could there be an 88C-021 to make up for that? Or is the highest number 20, but with only 19 cars existing?

The '88 Hungness is the best starting point to verify where the 88Cs ended up in 1988. A few cars were still around in 1989 so checking out the '89 Hungness makes sense too. And then you need to be lucky and hope to find some clues on the Internet. The IMS media reports of 1988 and 1989 can also provide helpful details.

Before giving you the final overview of identified and unidentified 88Cs, let's have a look at details you run into and chaos you can't get out of when you try to sort out CART and Indycar chassis history if you don't have access to complete databases...

The 1988 Hungness learns us that there were seven identified 88Cs in the race, including an 88C-013. So there is indeed a total of 20 cars to deal with. The Internet provided clues for the allocation of three unqualified 88Cs that year. So that makes 10 out of 20 allocated.

Now, if we take the Hungness for truth, the entry list printed in the book provides clues for a few more cars entered, back-ups and primaries not entered by Morales. Telltale sign to prove how competitive the 88C was without a Chevy Indy V8: all these cars were fitted with Cosworth DFX engines but no traces of identification have been found for these cars.

Two of them were said to be entered by Arciero Racing, driven by Canadian John Jones and he failed to qualify both cars. However, in the practice report section of the book, writer David Scoggan mentions that the backup 12T was not an 88C but an 87C. For reasons not to be discussed here, I dare to go along with this identification by Scoggan without any hesitation. Scratch one 88C on the list.

Then: two other cars were entered by Doug Shierson Racing. This team hastily bought a brand-new Lola T88/01 from AJ Foyt Racing, and after Pole Weekend parked their 88Cs to focus on the Lola. (Signs of 1984 when the team arrived at Indy with their own DSR brand chassis that was too slow, the team hastily buying a Lola for the remainder of the '84 season and doing quite well with it for that matter.)

Then, appearing on the 1988 entry list is a backup 88C #40 for Patrick Racing. But nowhere in the '88 Hungness is a 20T or a 40 mentioned as out on the track. The IMS Media Report lists the 40 as entered but did not arrive and a 20T that was entered for technical inspection but never used on the track. But this car was a recently acquired '87 Lola T87/00.

Also on the list is a Galles backup 3T. As discussed later on, this car did indeed exist but its identity remains unclear.

Apart from the qualified and raced Kraco 88C, the entry lists mentions two Kraco backup entries, 18T and 99. In the second week of practice the 18T goes to the Machinists Union Team in exchange for their Lola T88/01. The Media Report list that 99 is at the track but not presented for technical inspection. Both 18T and 99 remain unidentified, 99 could even be another kind of chassis instead of an 88C.

And then there is of course the car we are interested in, the second Morales car, the one entered as primary car, numbered 21 and with the same number 21 as the USAC number on its rollhoop.

So that means at least seven more cars on the Speedway that month, thus a total of 17 88Cs of which at least something is known, and three cars of which absolutely nothing is known. It is even possible that they were not entered.

Then: according to the entry list, the Machinists Union team had two Lola T88/00s entered but this is an error because the team had a single March 88C and a single Lola T88/00. Driver Cogan drove both cars in practice but qualified the 88C (so that is one of the seven identified cars) and after qualifying the Lola was traded with Kraco for their 18T backup 88C.

Then it became 1989 and with help of the '89 Hungness it became known that at least five, but maybe six 88Cs changed hands.

The two ex-Shierson cars went to Steve Saleen for the 1989 season but also in 1989 they left no trace for a positive identification.

Machinists Union went shopping big-time and obtained two 88Cs from Galles Racing that were intended for Kevin Cogan. Machinists also obtained at least one more 88C from Kraco Racing. In the Hungness you can find the news that Machinists had obtained two ex-Kraco cars for Rich Vogler. But this does not give a 100% sure clue if one of these cars was the one already obtained in May the year before or if both of these Kraco cars were new acquisitions. Vogler did not manage to qualify either of his two ex-Kraco cars and thus they remain unidentified.

Kevin Cogan did qualify one of his cars and it turned out to be a chassis that had not been used in the race yet. So here we have our 11th indentified car. And then, Kevin's backup car was used by Rich Vogler to qualify for the race so it is identified as well.

But then, mayhem! Why? Because the information given with the qualifying pictures of the two cars is that in 1988 Kevin's car was a Machinists backup car while Rich drove what is said to be a Kraco backup.

Both these descriptions, however, are very unlikely. As for Kevin's car, Machinists did not have a backup 88C until they had traded their Lola for what was initially a Kraco backup. And if indeed true after all, then it meant that Machinists must have bought two cars from Kraco for Rich in 1989. He qualified neither of these cars. But then how can the car he qualified be another Kraco backup car? And that's the fourth car with something of a Kraco history in 1988. And of course, no single mention of a Galles history with both cars! Another interesting detail: when Kraco went shopping, they did not obtain the Galles 88C that was used in the race of 1988 by Al Unser Jr.

Whatever the truth about what the cars truly were in 1988, make up your own mind...

Back to the original question: what was the identity of the second Morales 88C? Well, here is an overview of what is known about the identified cars. starting with the cars identified in 1988.

# is number on the car, Prog is the USAC number found on the roll hoop

Source Chassis Engine Yr # Prog Team Driver/Car details S F
Int 88C [01] Porsche V8 tc '88 Porsche One of three team cars '88 DNS
Hu88 88C [03] Cosworth DFX '88 18 Kraco Michael Andretti 10 4
Hu88 88C [06] Chevy A '88 20 Patrick Emerson Fittipaldi 8 2
Hu88 88C [09] Cosworth DFX '88 21T 34 Morales Howdy Holmes 33 12
Hu88 88C [11] Chevy A '88 3 Galles Al Unser Jr 5 13
Hu88 88C-013 Cosworth DFX '88 56 Gohr Racing Bill Vukovich III 23 14
Hu88 88C [14] Porsche V8 tc '88 8 Porsche Teo Fabi 17 28
Int 88C [16] Buick 3300 V6 tc '88 28 Pace Racing Pancho Carter DNQ
Hu88 88C [18] Cosworth DFX '88 11 Machinists Union Kevin Cogan 13 11
Int 88C [20] Porsche V8 tc '88 Porsche One of three team cars '88 DNS

Sources: Int = somewhere on the Internet, Hu88 = Hungness 1988 yearbook

Then we continue with cars of which we know they existed, with most of them present at the Speedway in May 1988, yet remaining unidentified.

Source Chassis Engine Yr # Prog Team Driver/Car details
Hu88 88C [?1] Cosworth DFX '88 21 21 One of two Morales entries DNS
Hu88 88C [?2] Cosworth DFX '88 12 12 Arciero John Jones DNS
Hu88 88C [?3] Cosworth DFX '88 18T Second Kraco entry Swapped with Machinists DNS
Hu88 88C [?4] Cosworth DFX '88 30 30 One of two Shierson entries DNS
Hu88 88C [?5] Cosworth DFX '88 30T One of two Shierson entries DNS
Med88 88C [?6] Chevy A '88 40 Patrick Racing Backup car, did not arrive?
Hu88 88C [?7] Chevy A '88 3T Galles Racing DNS

Sources: Med88 = IMS Media day-by-day reports 1988

Then we have the cars that were not seen at Indy in May but of which proof that they must have existed appeared later on. These cars are listed as existing based on multiple references in the '89 Hungness, although the data for the same cars are not always consistent with each other.

Source Chassis Engine Yr # Prog Team Driver/Car details
Med88 88C [?8] Cosworth DFX '88 99 Third Kraco entry Backup, not through inspection
Hu89 88C [?9] Third Galles car used in season

Sources: Hu89 = Hungness 1989 yearbook

Finally, the cars that could be identified due to starting the race of 1989 but whose allocation in 1988 is uncertain. Listed are the options told about the cars. These cars are very likely already listed in the two previous stats as an [?#] chassis. The cars are listed as existing based on multiple references in the '89 Hungness, although the data for the same cars are not always consistent with each other.

Source Chassis Engine Yr # Prog Team Driver/Car details
Hu89 88C [08] Cosworth DFX or Chevy A '88 ? ? Kraco or Galles Backup car in 1988, Vogler's 1989 race car
Hu89 88C [17] Cosworth DFX or Chevy A '88 ? ? Machinists or Galles Backup car in 1988, Cogan's race car in 1989

And at long last, what do we by now know about the identity of the second Morales 88C, the primary car entered as #21? For what it is worth, its identity can be reduced to one of the following eight 88C chassis: 002, 004, 005, 007, 010, 012, 015, and/or 019.

This is as far as we could get at the time of going online with this project. We invite everyone who has more detailed information about the history of any of these 88C chassis to contact us, should they be willing to share such knowledge.

If the reports about three 88Cs being used in the Alfa project is indeed correct, the analysis presented above also fails to identify the heritage and allocation during 1988 for this third car and can be used to narrow down the options of the identity of this third car.