Growing up we all wondered where babies came from or where the moon went during the day, to where coffee came from. But don’t you wonder and want to know where and how SportsCar racing came to fruition? OF COURSE YOU DO! –Hence the reason why we started this SportsCar racing series.
Three weeks ago, we kicked-off our TUDOR United SportsCar Championship™ series breaking down the decades starting with the sizzling 60's, and each week we’ve released a new enticing edition! See the decades we’ve already touched on below:
This week, we’re following the history books into the World SportsCar of the 90's! But first, let’s refresh your memory. We left off with the “glory days” of the IMSA GTP Prototypes in the 80s, the decade that concluded with open wounds that led to an “acrimonious split” that only found healing with the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship™!
Buckle up ladies and gents because things are heating up.
Major teams such as the Porsche 962, Jaguar XJR-12, Nissan GTP-ZXT, Ford Probe GTP, Chevrolet Spice and Toyota-Eagle Mk III produced great cars and fantastic racing. But, with great cars came dollar signs and more dollar signs, which drove the smaller teams and eventually the factories calling it quits.
In 1993, only Dan Gurney's All American Racing remained. P.J. Jones set the all-time Daytona SportsCar qualifying record with a lap of 1:33.875 (136.522 mph) and later joined Rocky Moran and Mark Dismore, run by Jack Roush for his ninth consecutive victory in the class.
Later that year at Sebring, Fangio II and Andy Wallace scored their second consecutive 12 Hour victory. According to IMSA.com, “The team went on to win every race it entered (it sat out the Road America round with the title well in hand), and Fangio and Jones finished 1-2 in the final standings.”
Then the GTP era came to a close after Jones took the checkered flag for the season finale at Phoenix. However, IMSA was ready with a new open-cockpit prototype –Que the World SportsCar!
The WSC debuted at Miami in 1993, with Brent O'Neill finishing 12th in a Buick-powered Kudzu as one of two cars in the new class. By the end of the year, five cars were on the grid for the Phoenix season finale. In 1994, the WSC season opened as IMSA’s lead class and competed at Daytona and Sebring for the first time.
That year it became obvious that no one could win in WSC with a “homemade special.” Ferrari jumped on the opportunity to advance, and raised the bar when it developed the Ferrari 333SP. Dyson also realized you couldn’t win with a homemade hybrid and quickly commissioned Riley & Scott to build the R&S MK III. Needless to say, these two teams dominated the class for the remainder of the decade.
Highs and Low’s
Ferrari and Riley & Scott, as mentioned above, were the two dominating teams throughout the 90s, but Porsche wasn’t far behind. The 1995 Rolex 24 was a fantastic “what might have been” event. Why you ask? Well, Porsche entered a pair of turbocharged Le Mans WSC Prototypes and tested at Daytona with Mario Andretti, Scott Pruett and not to mention,four-time Rolex 24 winner Bob Wollek also in the cards.
However, just two weeks before the race that could have been Porsche’s break-out event, IMSA added additional restrictions on the air intakes for the new Porsches. Sadly, the factory had to withdraw both cars. Ironically, the Kremer team raced a Porsche K8 with the restricted engine and won overall!
On the other hand, Dyson's investment paid dividends at Daytona in 1997 and 1999, when a pair of Ford-powered MK IIIs won overall.
FAST FACT: The on-track competition was one-of-a-kind and car counts were also solid with the 1997 Rolex 24 having an 80-car starting field, only two shy of the record set in 1984.
International Motor Sports Association
IMSA had been owned and operated by John Bishop until 1994, when different owners tried in vain to continue the organization. Two years later, Evans and Roberto Mueller bought IMSA and changed its name to Professional SportsCar Racing prior to the 1997 12 Hours of Sebring.
According to IMSA.com, Dr. Don Panoz was impressed with a visit to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which resulted in him holding a new event to close out the 1998 PSCR season. “Styled after the French event, Panoz called it the Petit Le Mans. Encouraged by Panoz and the success of that event, the lead PSCR series became the American Le Man Series, using rules similar to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
The move paid-off immediately! The BMW factory team won the season opener! However, a fork in the road had been reached. But you’ll have to tune in next week for why in our last United SportsCar Championship history series –the 2000's!
The Inaugural Lone Star Le Mans
Now you know the past three decades of the sport, see the Lone Star Le Mans series for yourself! Between the world’s hottest racing machines, drivers and the award-winning Circuit of The Americas™ track, how could it not be the event of the year and YOU can be there with Official Ticket Packages!
Through Circuit of The Americas Experiences you will be a part of the ultimate racing weekend, complete with dual ticket access to the Paddock Building and its amazing views, VIP experiences, racing legend meet-and-greet with Townsend Bell, arranged ground transportation, and optional hotel accommodations.
There is no better way to experience United SportsCar! Pack your bags and your need for speed because you’re about to embark on a one-of-a-kind, inaugural racing experience!