Dale Coyne was born in Minooka, Illinois. He is a Champ Car auto racing team owner and former driver.
Dale Coyne raced Super Vee and Formula Atlantic in SCCA club and pro racing in the 1970s. He stepped up to Champ Car racing in 1984 and for several years raced with a stock-block engine, making him a fan favorite. With the technical expertise of Coyne, the team built its own chassis in 1986, known as the DC-1.
Coyne stepped out of the cockpit in 1988 to start Dale Coyne Racing. In his early years of team ownership, Coyne launched some impressive careers, including that of Paul Tracy (1991) and Michel Jourdain Jr. (1997). The perennial hopeful has never had great funding and scored a best finish of 3rd at the 1996 U.S. 500 at Michigan International Speedway with veteran Roberto Moreno. The result was matched in 2004 when Oriol Servia accomplished the feat at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Servia also scored the team's best finish in the points with 10th.
From 1996 until 1999 the team was known as Payton/Coyne Racing following Coyne's association with former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. Payton died in 1999 and the team was renamed to its original status.
For all the successful careers that Coyne has launched, similar to the Minardi team in Formula One, there have been a fair amount of pay-drivers including a record six drivers in 1997 and 2005.
In an interview given to the racing website RFM Sports (www.rfmsports.com), Dale Coyne put forth his philosophy of racing thus:
“Any driver that comes here [to Dale Coyne Racing] has a certain skill level – the guy at the back of the field has to have a certain level of skill to be here. We’ve enjoyed trying to get the best out of those guys – whether it’s a guy at the beginning of his career and trying to climb the ladder, get more experience – he needs a vehicle to do that, and we can provide that. Or, whether it’s a guy at the end of his career and this has always been his goal, and he hasn’t touched it… this is a dream for people to do and, yes money can get you in to do it, but anybody in this field is a world class driver, because they’re tough cars…”
As an example of the later case, Coyne gives Charlie Nearburg, who in 1997, at the age of 47, and late in his racing career decided he wanted to experience his dream of racing Champcars.
“Charlie Nearburg is an example I love – he was a guy that was older, he was married, he had kids and always wanted to do these races. So he came with us, and did three races, and we pushed him a little bit, but the by the time he got to his third race, he was very respectable – and he’s got that to carry with him the rest of his life.”
Unlike those team owners who view a Racing team as an ego-booster, a tax write-off or a plaything, Dale Coyne views Dale Coyne Racing as a place for the dreamers of dreams. He may never be Jean Todt or Ron Dennis -- but he will always live in the affections of racing fans and of the many drivers to which he provided a chance to live, for however brief a shining moment, their dreams.