Kevin Cogan

Kevin Cogan

Former F1 driver

image-size = 150
pixels = 150
Name = Kevin Cogan
Nationality = flagicon|USA American
Years = F1|1980 - F1|1981
Team(s) = RAM, Tyrrell
Races = 2 (0 starts)
Championships = 0
Wins = 0
Podiums = 0
Points = 0
Poles = 0
Fastest laps = 0
First race = 1980 Canadian Grand Prix
First win =
Last win =
Last race = 1981 United States Grand Prix West

Kevin Cogan (born in Culver City, March 31, 1956) is a former racecar driver who drove in Formula One from F1|1980 to F1|1981. Driving a RAM Williams in the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix, he failed to qualify, suffering the same result driving for Tyrrell at the 1981 US GP West. He then moved over to Indy cars in 1982 but his career was cut short by a series of accidents.

1982 Indianapolis 500

For 1982, showing much potential, despite not having yet won a race, Cogan was hired to drive for Penske Racing. During time trials, he set a new one-lap track record of 204.638 mph, and a record four-lap average of 204.082 mph. He was beaten only by his Penske teammate Rick Mears.

Cogan started from the middle of the front row, next to pole-sitter Mears, and A.J. Foyt. As the field approached the start/finish line to start the race, Cogan suddenly swerved right, touching and bouncing off of A.J. Foyt's car, and directly into the path of and collecting Mario Andretti. The cars of Dale Whittington and Roger Mears, deeper in the field, were also damaged due to the field checking up. Bobby Rahal also reported getting hit from behind, but was undamaged. The race was immediately red flagged.

Cogan's shocking accident took out four cars, including himself. Foyt's team was able to make repairs, and pushed his car out for the restart attempt. Meanwhile, Andretti and Foyt were furious and outspoken about their displeasure with Cogan. Andretti shunned Cogan's attempts to explain himself with a light shove.

Andretti on live radio and television made the comment:Back in the garage area, Andretti complained about Cogan's abilities, claiming that Cogan was "looking for trouble," that he "couldn't handle the responsbilities of the front row," and that the Penske car he was driving was "too good for him."

The commonly outspoken Foyt also chimed in during comments to ABC-TV's Chris Economaki with:Later Foyt said back in the garage area1982 Indianapolis 500 broadcast, ESPN Classic, May 2006] cite news
url =
title =1982 Indianapolis 500 Daily Trackside Report
publisher =Indianapolis Motor Speedway
date = 1982-05-30
accessdate = 2008-07-23
] of the crash and of Cogan that:

Johnny Rutherford and
Bobby Unser later placed some blame of the accident on the polesitter Rick Mears, for bringing the field down at such a slow pace. Gordon Johncock, who went on to win the 1982 race, pointed out that Andretti had jumped the start, and could have avoided the spinning car of Cogan had he been lined up properly in the second row. Neither observation gained much attention.


Cogan quickly fell out of favor following the humiliation stemming from the accident. It was followed by a noticeable "blacklisting" by fans and press. Cogan nearly had the dubious distinction of taking out two of the most famous American auto racing legends (Foyt and Andretti) in one move in the biggest race of the season. The incident also further rehashed a standing feud between Penske Racing and Patrick Racing. A year earlier, Penske and Patrick were the key fixtures in the controversial 1981 race.

Cogan never managed to win a race in 1982, and was possibly fired by Roger Penske because of it. [Bob Varsha, on "WindTunnel with Dave Despain", 10 June 2007] .

The accident was never explained by the Penske team, however, several experts had reasonable opinions. Rodger Ward, working for the IMS Radio Network immediately believed the rear brakes locked up. [1982 Indianapolis 500 radio broadcast, May 30, 1982] It was a common practice for drivers in the turbocharged era to "ride the brakes" during warm up laps in order to engage the turbocharger. Others theorized it may have happened due to a broken CV joint. Some feel that Sam Posey on ABC-TV inadvertently may have added to the controversy when he proclaimed "absolutely no idea" to the question of how it could have happened,1982 Indianapolis 500 television broadcast, ABC Sports, May 30, 1982] and saying "it was as if he turned the wheel intentionally." The comments led many to conclude, albeit unfairly, that the accident may have been entirely of Cogan's doing. As soon as he climbed from the car, Cogan was observed looking at the rear end axle, suggesting that he thought something broke.

Years later Donald Davidson, the historian for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, mentioned that team driver, and the more experienced, Rick Mears had a nearly identical accident during private testing at Michigan International Speedway. ["All night race party," 1070-AM, May 30, 2004] . The accident was never disclosed to the public, even though it could have vindicated Cogan.

Later races

Four years later in 1986, Cogan switched to the Patrick Racing team and scored his first victory at Phoenix. At Indianapolis, Cogan was among the leaders all afternoon. With 13 laps to go, he made a desperation pass from third to first on the mainstrech. He held the lead late, but a yellow flag came out bunching the leaders. With 2 laps to go, the green came out and Bobby Rahal got the jump on the restart. Rahal passed Cogan just prior to crossing the start/finish line, a move that was permissible under the rules at the time, and went on to win. Cogan settled for second.

Cogan had a huge crash during the 1989 Indianapolis 500. Coming out of turn four, Cogan spun and hit the end of the pit wall. His car exploded into hundreds of pieces. The tub came to rest on its side with the engine still loosely mounted to it in one of the first few pit boxes. Cogan climbed out of the wreck. As a result of crashes like this one and a horrific 1991 practice session crash by Mark Dismore, IMS improved the pit attenuator at the end of the wall. It was tested in the 2006 Indianapolis 500 by Tomas Scheckter who walked away from a very similar crash with a very different result.

At the 1991 Indianapolis 500, Cogan broke his arm and leg in an accident during the race. Original video footage was inconclusive, and it appeared perhaps that Roberto Guerrero was to blame. An amateur home video shot from the grandstands, however, surfaced [1992 Indianapolis 500 television broadcast, May 24, 1992] , clearly showing that Cogan was at fault for the crash.

Cogan retired from racing in 1993, with the win at Phoenix as his lone victory.

Indy 500 results

Complete Formula One results



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