Welcome to the IMSA History unofficial website

This site is aimed at bringing you memories from the glory days of sportscar racing in the US.



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"In my early years I was a huge fan of John Morton from the 2.5 TranAm series in his Datsun 510 but, I have to say my biggest influence was Peter "Perfect" Gregg in his Porsches. I remember driving by myself from the small town I was from in Oregon all the way down to Laguna Seca each summer in central California just to watch him driving his 935's. I still have the photo's I took hanging on my wall to this day. Of course being from Oregon another Porsche hero of mine was Monte Shelton of Portland Oregon. I first starting racing in AutoX (Solo1 type) when I was 16 in my 66 Corvair then later I went to a 76 Capri and the next year I got a 1973 Porsche 911E that I ran rather successfully.[...]

"Well, my story of becoming a racing driver and starting my career in IMSA actually started in 1967. I had a set of drums and my little brother had a guitar and we were determined to be just like the Beatles. But one Saturday afternoon my Mother made all of that change when she took us to see the movie "Grand Prix" which I'm sure, if you are reading this have seen it. I will never forget where I sat and I was astounded at what I saw that day. After the movie, I told my Mother "when I grow up, I'm going to be a race car driver". From that point on, I no longer wasted money on comic books and the like. I spent my money on Road & Track, and other car magazines and read them instead of studying for school.[...]

Story by Enrique Soto :
"Well my father started in the 60's racing an AutoUnion DKW, VW beetle and various Renault. Soon after he moved to formula fords, formulas vees, formula atlantic and got to formula2 which use to be previous formula one but there was no money to keep going up the ladder. At the same time he raced GT cars and rally cars. His forst IMSA race was the 1978 24 hours of Daytona in which he rented a porsche 911 GTU class. He won the 24 but when it came time for inspection the owner of the car didnt let imsa open up the engine because he had built an illegal engine. It was 65cc over the limit and thus the car got DQ. Redemption came at the 78 12 hours of sebring in the same porsche 911 but this time with another victory and with a legal engine.[...]

"1971: At the start of 1971, I made a commitment to make the Sting Ray a dedicated racecar. I had heard about the new IMSA GT series. I had read the rules and felt that this series would allow me to use my drag racing background to my advantage. SCCA regulations were a bit restrictive when it came to engine modification. Growing up in a small town most of my friends were into drag racing. In those days, you had to be at least 21 to run in SCCA and so I had spent plenty of time at the local drag strips racing everything from the Fiat-Abarth to the Sting Ray while waiting to turn 21, when I could go road racing. I got a copy of the FIA Homologation papers for the car. We built a fresh engine using some of the tricks I had learned from friends who raced Chevrolet engines at the drag strip and dirt tracks.[...]

"If my memory serves me correctly my first IMSA race with the NAFT team (North American Ferrari Team) in 1982. The gear box broke after about 16 hours. The year I came close to winning was 1983. The race was called early because of the heavy rain. At one point we had lapped the entire field. Water got into the distributor and we fell behind finishing 2nd. Blue Thunder Racing team was a team I owned. Bill Whittington helped me by being a codriver and friend. He introduced me to Keith Leighton who became the crew chief for Blue Thunder Racing.[...]

"I purchased a Camaro from Mo Carter as a roller in the spring of 68 for $1800. He had driven it on the 69 Shell 4000 Cross Canada Rally before club racing it that summer. It was a very basic car, just a roll cage, drum brakes on the rear, and street Koni shocks. It was one of the first Z 28's imported into Canada by his dealership City Chev in Hamilton Ontario. This car was a work in progress. My previous racing experience was with a 998cc Mini, so it was a steep learning curve. A friend built an almost stock 302 engine for me and we did a few club races in 68 at Harewood and Mosport before trying the T/A at the Glen that year. A racing friend Rick Stevens co-drove that race with me at the Glen. He also raced that 4 hr. 67 Sebring T/A race with his Mini.[...]

"We were a very small team. Jiri Nechleba was the boss and owner of Autosport by Jiri. He and his family walked out of Czechaslovakia after the Communists came in 1945. He went to work as an apprentice for Porsche and earned his mechanics level before immigrating to the US in the early 50's. Jiri enlisted in the Army and fought in Korea. When he returned to upstate NY he immediately got a job at Henry Carroll - a dealer for literally everything - in Vestal, NY. Vestal was an up and coming suburb of Binghamton, NY and very close to Endicott, NY which was the home of another upstart - IBM.[...]

"My first SCCA season of racing was in 1972. After a successful 1969 SCCA Drivers School at Marlboro Speedway Maryland in a borrowed Alfa Romeo Giulietta, I had spent 2 years building my own Austin Cooper S to full FIA Group 2 specifications for the (CS Sedan) class. This had a 1293cc engine with Richard Longman head, 45DCOE Weber, straight cut, close-ratio gears and all allowable suspension and chassis upgrades. The bodywork was all steel with glass windows even though aluminum doors and plexiglass were homologated and permitted by the FIA.[...]

"Prior to building the IMSA car I had raced mostly SCCA amateur races in a series of production based Corvettes - a 1957, a 1965, and a 1969. In July 1972 IMSA ran its first West Coast race (at a tiny little track called Las Vegas International Speedrome) and I managed to win that race with my 1969 Corvette, collecting $300 for the overall win plus $30 for being first in GTO. In 1973 SCCA adopted the FIA rules for the TranAm series and I ran the same car at the Edmonton (Canada) TransAm. I continued running that car through the 1974 season at any TransAm and IMSA races that were located in the western half of the United States.[...]

"Thank you very much for your great work in securing and telling the story of the hay days of IMSA and sports car racing in general. It is appreciated more than you know that you do this for the sports car drivers, teams and fans out there. I was at the Long Beach Grand Prix last weekend talking with some of my driver buddies from back in the day. Billy Auberlen and I were talking about how great the racing was back then and how large the fields of cars were. I was talking with some other people about the great names that were in the series back then. Great racing and great times in sports car racing for sure.[...]

"I had been a ski racer during the 50's and 60's and in 1965 opened a specialty ski shop outside of Los Angeles. In 1969 bought a Maserati Ghiblia (spelling) and when the water pump went out I traded it in for a new 1969 Porsche 911S (the first Porsche with the fuel injection system) from Bob Smith Porsche in Hollywood, CA. In 1970 I heard about a slalom event at a new business park being built in Orange County, California called the City. Thinking this might be fun, I went to the event, not knowing anybody and entered. Low and behold I had the fastest time of the day with my stock 911S. In 1971 I went to Riverside Raceway for a drivers school put on by the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America), got my license and entered some of the POC and PCA time trials, etc. etc. [...]

"In March of 1980, I was driving a Pontiac rental car northbound on Highway 27 out of the Miami area, and I was so excited that I could hardly concentrate on the driving itself. Excited by the throbbing 4 cylinder horsepower held captive by my right foot? Ah...no! It was my destination - a place I found so magical, so magnetic, that I'd been there many times before in my dreams - but today, I was finally to realize my dream, and actually be, at Sebring! Like Wimbledon to tennis fans, or St. Andrews to golfers, the name Sebring was like a calling to Mecca for me. As a youngster, every race track held certain Walter Mitty dreams, but Sebring was very, very special. [...]

"GTU Porsche 911 #89 and Porsche 914-6 #85 Tom Barrick owned the 911 and John Hulen, Ron Copeland and I owned the 914-6. The 914-6 was a carry-over from our SCCA CP effort in 1971 and 1972. We converted the CP car to a closed 914-6 and entered it in the 1973 Sebring 12 hour. John Hulen, Ron Jones and I would share the 914-6 Tom Barrick entered the 911 for Dave Causey, Ed Taylor and me. [...]

"We ran, as Lotus dealers, a twincam Europa at the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 hours in, I think, '76. I think we ran Daytona twice, because once we retired with a blown headgasket and another time we retired when we found out we had the wrong brake shoes for the rear drums...we turned in our retirement document with the reason listed as : "lack of interest." Alf Gebhardt co-drove with me at Daytona at least once; probably Joe Marina in either or both also. At Sebring Joe co-drove and spun on the next-to-last lap; when he came by he was at almost exactly the lap time as if we'd missed a lap. [...]

"To begin with, Chassis 325 with a Porsche engine, that was entered in the Daytona 24 Hour, 1986, was ordered by me, as the sole owner, originally. I put a deposit on it and when it arrived at the docks, my financial crisis had begun and I couldn't perform with regards to the final invoice. It was actually paid for by Jim Busby, a friend, neighbor in Newport Beach, California and a GTP team owner/driver of the Porsche 962, BF Goodrich #67 GTP car. I saw the chassis once at Jim's shop when he was showing me how inferior the manufacturing job was. I don't remember anything about the Daytona 24-hour race entry.[...]