IndyCar Series: Dragon Racing Rises After Signing Bourdais and Legge

Jonathan MatthesContributor IIIJanuary 12, 2012

Dragon Racing hopes Bourdais can legitimize their rebuilt operation.
Dragon Racing hopes Bourdais can legitimize their rebuilt operation.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The team was on its deathbed last year. Their doors appeared shut, one of the co-owners was gone and their elite-level driver was rideless. They were toast.

Until Thursday, when multiple media outlets confirmed that Dragon Racing will be running Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge for the full 2012 season. Dragon will also join Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Bryan Herta Autosports and HVM Racing in the Lotus stable, with more teams coming.

What was once dying is now alive.

If Jay Penske can keep his team intact over the next couple seasons, he will be the epitome of persistence. Early last year his team was gone, his financial backing from Hewlett-Packard was gone and all his key team pieces were gone as well.

On a shoe-string budget, he tried to keep Dragon afloat. Dragon ran a skeleton schedule in 2011: six races for two drivers. They tried to qualify, with two cars and three drivers, for the Indianapolis 500 but left home seemingly defeated with two crashed cars.

That was last May. Now the situation is different. Penske has relocated his team from Indiana to Southern California and replaced Ho-Ping Tung and Paul Tracy with Legge and Bourdais.

Katherine Legge, an Englishwoman, was a Champcar veteran, but this will be her first year in the Izod IndyCar Series. She comes in with a road/street course racing pedigree, which will suit her for the heavily non-oval schedule that IndyCar has coming in 2012. Legge also has run turbo-chargers before, which IndyCar will use for the first time since 1996. How she will fare in the much more competitive IndyCar Series is yet to be determined.

Bourdais is not as much of a question.

He was easily the most decorated free-agent available. Four Champcar titles, raced in Formula 1, won 31 races and averaged a finish of 6.6 over five of his last six races. The 32-year-old Frenchman is one of the top drivers in the series and his road-racing prowess will be a huge boost for a team that has yet to announce their sponsorship.

Penske says both rides will be fully funded. There is little reason to doubt him. He apparently has the ability to bring teams back from the dead.