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.



"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. Months later he told me he'd spun. We ran the Lancia Stratos for a few years at Daytona, Sebring, and once or twice at Elkhart Lake...and at the only Talladega race. At Daytona our fuel cell (brand new) started disintegrating and we had to drain the gas out and go pour it in the grass as they had no fuel disposal process! Good thing no one was smoking in the infield! Also we kept baffling the sump as the oilpressure gauge kept going to zero in the hairpin, even with an Accusump. Made no difference. Later we figured out as just as the gauge would go to zero in the long righthander of turn 1 and 2 at Savannah in my Miura it was just the centrifugal force swinging the needle over--at no time did the low pressure warning light come on although the needle was resting on the peg! We were disqualified at Elkhart as the car war running poorly early in the race and without thinking that the car felt like it had a full load of fuel I made an early pitstop to top off the tank and the crewmember hadn't put on his Nomex (first year for this regulation) and we were kicked out. I should've asked for a fine and penalty as the field wasn't that full and a Lancia prototype eventually won! I think that was in '80? It was the first year of the stubby little Honda Prelude with the rotating drum speedometer. Also at Elkhart we had trouble with the accelerator cable; turned out that the same part when used in a Fiat was subject to a recall notice!

Even though we had a wink and a nod from IMSA re running underweight we were dusted by a Porsche 914/4, just like when we ran at the only IMSA race at Talladega the fastest car out there was a Jensen-Healey, whose driver was seriously injured when an AMC Pacer (poorly driven, I'd noticed) ran him off the road. Canadian J-H, as I recall. We would've been vaguely competitive but a cam lobe wore down (as they were wont to do on Ferrari Dino engines) so we were topped out at about 115mph instead of 145+. Annoying to say the least. Baskin-Robbins in Talladega had bittersweet chocolate ice cream: delicious. And one night with five minutes to closing the employee saw us walking toward the door and ran over and locked it. Dirty guy! Entered the car at Road Atlanta but the cam timing was off, or something, because we had a vapor standoff above the velocity stacks so we didn't race. One Daytona we blew a head gasket in qualifying and it was such a job to change it on the forward head we just came back to Tulsa; that was the year my niece's husband, Alf Gebhardt, won the class with Mark Surer in a BMW M1. While my niece was timing and scoring them, someone slit the plastic sheet separating their pit from the abandoned pit on one side and reached under her highchair and stole her complete Nikon set. Jack May, of Cannonball Baker winning fame, codrove the Stratos once and in trying for a hot lap before a fuel stop clobbered the right side of the car exiting turn 1. Accusump piping sprang a leak, rear brake caliper on the right side fell off--anyway we finished with the pathetic vehicle! At the '77 Daytona we were presented with much fanfare by the Lancia importers although we warned them that a maiden outing might bring problems. Much mutual disappointment. Our inaugural Sebring run in '77 was marred by Brian Goellnicht running out of gas by running 500rpm over our previously agreed on redline; he coasted into pit lane and pushed the car into the pit. We refueled and I was just getting ready to leave the pit when a steward held us under the accusation that Brian had pushed the car on the course. That reporting steward had then gone on break, so we were kept still for over a half-hour before it was determined Brian was in pit entrance when he started pushing.

Cost us 5th in class for sure; possibly even up to 3rd! The incident was responsible for IMSA clarifying the rule re where the pit lane starts and where the car can be pushed. When Danny Sullivan was our #3 driver (!) at Daytona we were ahead of all the Porsches (but behind the Mazdas) when the car quit running just past the horseshoe exit. A crewman put on a driver's suit and helmet and jogged out to the car with a few simple tools hidden in his outfit. Fixed the problem in the dark; hopped in and drove the car back to the pits, exited, jumped over the wall and ran back to the motor home to change! He'd never driven the car at all and said that going flat out down the backstretch was something he'd remember all his life. He remembered to keep left and turn the turnsignals on well short of pit entrance. We have photos from here and there but I think they're all packed away as we thought someone had bought our house a couple years ago.

I'll be happy to try to answer any specific questions you have. We got all our Lancia help from Chequered Flag in England; Italy didn't seem to care (except to tell us not to use their four-valve heads). Although the engine was "the same as" a Ferrari Dino, it had different cams and carbs and was rated 5hp less than the Dino! Never compared the torque figures; maybe the Stratos had a bit more torque. Oh, re the Danny Sullivan race: the car had never been faster, getting just past redline on the back straight. The crew kept adding oil as there was stuff on the back of the car. I complained of a vibration and was told it was stuff on the tires. They looked clean. Vibration was the gearbox going away as it wasn't motor oil on the car, it was tranny lube. Damn! Same mechanic left a rag in the engine when assembling it for Sebring. Car warmed up just fine in the pits but it only took a lap or so to sling the rag into the oil pickup and freeze the engine. That was the year the blue Porsche 911 derivative won--'82? We ran an Abarth 2000SP in Sebring in '70-'72 and Daytona about the same time, but I don't recall if they were IMSA races or not.

Anatoly Arutunoff at Sebring 1980 driving his familiar Lancia Stratos.