1971-1973 : growing up.
The basic fixture was a mix of GT and T cars.
GTO were GT over 2,0L and GTU under 2,0L cars. TO were Touring cars over 2,0L and TU under 2,0L.
The cars mainly consisted in Chevrolet Corvettes(GTO) and Porsche 911s(GTU), Camaros and Mustangs(TO) and Lotus Elans and Datsun 510s(TU).
1971 : modest beginnings.
Hurley Haywood was the first series champion, in a Brumos entered Porsche 914/6. He battled with Dave Heinz Chevrolet Corvette, who took the GTO title over Or Costanzo and Don Yenko, all season long. Hurley Haywood captured the GTU title ahead of Peter Gregg and Harry Bytzek.
Robert Hennig won the first TO title in an AMC Javelin, followed by Bob Beasley and Jim Fitzgerald who drove a Chevrolet Camaro.
Byron Morris and Clint Abernethy drove their BMW 2002 to the TU title, and they won by a one point margin over Walt Simendinger in an Alfa Romeo GTV. Many Mini Coopers and Datsun 510s were to be run by privateers.
1972 : RJ Reynolds Tobacco backs the series.
Hurley Haywood clinched his second title in a Brumos Porsche 911, fighting against Bob Beasley and taking the title at the Daytona Finale.
Phil Currin won the GTO class in his '63 Chevrolet Corvette, fighting all season against Wilbur Pickett and Tony De Lorenzo.
Maurice Carter earned the TO class title in his Chevrolet Camaro.
Carson Baird won the TU class in his Ford Pinto.
1973 : growing up fast.
Porsche introduced the Porsche Carrera RS, a car that would dominate the series for years.
Peter Gregg against won the title but he had to fight hard against Michael Keyser. Warren Agor, John Greenwood, Dave Heinz and Maurice Carter were strong contenders, all of them driving Corvettes or Camaros but fuel consumption and brakes was always a factor against them.
The TO and TU classes were dropped
The fresh arrival of 14 IROC Porsche Carreras boosted the fields. John Greenwood introduced a widebody Corvette.
1974 : German expansion.
Peter Gregg proved he was the man to beat, once again, but he had a very tough season end. Milt Minter missed the title by five points. Michael Keyser and Al Holbert were always in the points chase.
John Buffum entered a pair of BMW 3.0CSLs, which he would share with George Follmer, Brett Lunger and Andy Peterey. The cars were always slightly under the Porsches pace.
Walt Maas, in the FAR Performance Datsun 240Z, won the GTU title. Bob Sharp, in his first GTU season, entered a similar car and had some great races.
1975 : adding prestige.
The Bavarian Motor Works team added some prestige to the series. Hans Stuck, Brian Redman and Sam Posey were the main drivers. Peter Gregg was crowned, however, beating Hans Stuck in a BMW 3.0CSL.
The AAGT concept was introduced, in order to allow homemade poney cars to be able to fight against european GT cars.
The GTU class was taken by Bob Sharp, in a Datsun 240Z, ahead of George Drolsom, who drove a Porsche 911, and Brad Frisselle, who drove a Datsun 240Z prepared by Electramotive.
The AAGT concept went right : success.
The Chevrolet Monzas came to dominate the championship. The Porsche 934s and the BMWs earned an occasional victory.
1976 : the American concept.
Al Holbert switched to a Chevrolet Monza and was the series champion, defeating Peter Gregg in a BMW 3.0CSL. Jim Busby was third in a Porsche Carrera RSR.
Brad Frisselle took his first GTU title, beating Walt Maas in a Porsche 914/6 and Dave White in a Porsche 911. GTU fields were consistent and in excess of 20 cars per race, with plenty of action.
1977 : AAGT domination by Dekon Chevrolet Monza.
Al Holbert had a repeat season in a much developed Chevrolet Monza, he had to fight all season long against David Hobbs in a BMW 320 Tc and Danny Ongais and Peter Gregg in a Porsche 934.
Walt Maas had a fantastic season at the wheel of an outdated Porsche 914/6 and defeated Sam Posey in a Datsun 260Z to take the GTU title. He would retire from the professional circuit after this feat.
The GTX class was a new breed of extremely fast racers. Porsche introduced the 935, a purpose built race car.
1978 : not to be challenged.
Peter Gregg again won the championship, and he dominated the likes of Danny Ongais in a Porsche 935, David Hobbs in a BMW 320 Tc, John Paul in a Chevrolet Corvette AAGT.
Dave Cowart, at the wheel of a Porsche Carrera RSR, was the GTO champion. One of his storngest competitor was Kenper Miller, who drove a BMW 3.0CSL. They would form a partnership shortly afterwards.
Dave White drove a Porsche 911 to the GTU title.
1979 : continuation.
Peter Gregg won his last title in a single turbo Porsche 935. The german cars laid a strong hand on the IMSA series. David Hobbs and Jim Busby both drove BMW BMW 320 Tcs, but they experienced reliability glitches.
Howard Meister took the GTO title in a AaseMeister prepared Porsche Carrera RSR. Bob Tullius entered a Triumph TR8, which was very strong, but it ran on a limited schedule.
Don Devendorf, in a Electramotive Datsun 280Z, won the GTU title.
1980 : expanding domination.
John Fitzpatrick drove a Kremer prepped Porsche 935K3 to an IMSA title. He defeated Peter Gregg, who later commited suicide after losing his physical capacities. It was a great loss for the IMSA community. BMW ran a set of March BMW M1s, but the cars were short on power. Jim Busby's car was sold very soon, and he purchased a Porsche 935.
Luis Mendez won the GTO class in a Porsche Carrera RSR. He gained a true recognition as a professional driver.
Walt Bohren drove a Racing Beat prepared Mazda RX7 to the GTU title. Jeff Kline was second and Brad Frisselle third.
GTP cars were introduced to break the Porsche dominance.
1981 : GTPs are coming.
Brian Redman drove his Cooke-Woods Lola T600 Chevrolet to his first title. He would break the Porsche domination and usher a new era for IMSA.
Dave Cowart utterly dominated the GTO class with a Jack Deren prepared BMW M1, the cars would have to be slowed down for the next season.
Lee Mueller won the GTU category in a Kent Racing Mazda RX7.
1982 : a star is born.
John Paul Jr was a bright new star. He drove an array of GTX and GTP cars to a great title, earned as he was 22! He remains the youngest IMSA GT champion.
Don Devendorf was the GTO champion in a Datsun 280ZX Tc. René Rodriguez and Tico Almeida were next. Most of the teams didn't compete in every event. It was a perfect weird season.
The GTU class was quite different, with most of the teams doing the entire season. Jim Downing earned his first title over Roger Mandeville. Joe Varde was fast, but less consistent, in a Casey Montex Mazda RX7.
1983 : GTPs everywhere.
Al Holbert would enter the series with a Porsche powered March 83G. He grabbed another title. His main competition came from the Group 44 Jaguar XJR5, driven by Bob Tullius. Gianpiero Moretti returned to the US with a Moby Dick Joest prepared Porsche 935.
Wayne Baker drove a Garretson Development Porsche 934 to the GTO title. His teammate Jim Mullen finished second while Gene Felton was third in a Stratagraph Chevrolet Camaro. A very impressive entry was to be seen in the name of the Electramotive Datsun 280ZX Tc, which took a string of victories in the hands of Don Devendorf and Tony Adamowicz.
Roger Mandeville won the GTU crown in his Mazda RX7, beating ex-teammate Jim Downing in a similar car. Amos Johnson and John Maffucci were third and fourth.
1984 : resistance.
A new team entered the fray. Blue Thunder Racing had a fantastic season and Randy Lanier took the GTP title.
Roger Mandeville, in a Mazda RX7 prepared by Mandeville Auto Tech, won the GTO class title, beating Gene Felton in a Chevrolet Camaro.
Jack Baldwin drove the CCR Mazda RX7 to the GTU title, beating Jack Dunham and Jeff Kline, also driving Mazda RX7s. John Schneider was fourth in his Porsche 924GTR.
GTP cars were introduced to break the Porsche dominance.
1985 id="map_canvas" : growing up strong.
the Porsche 962s would settle their domination with Al Holbert, taking another GTP crown.
The Lights class was the home for lightweight prototypes. Jim Downing, one of the most avid proponent, won this first championship.
Roush Racing, which was a newcomer in GTO, entered a pair of Ford Mustangs, driven by John Jones and Wally Dallenbach Jr. The young canadian earned his first GTO crown.
Jack Baldwin had a strong fight with Chris Cord in a AAR Toyota Celica, but he won his second stright GTU title. The minimum displacement had been raised to 3,0L.
1986 : the best season ever!
Al Holbert again.
Porsche straightened its dominance, and Al Holbert took another crown. Rick Hendrick's Chevrolet Corvette GTP was extremely competitive, but had some reliability problems. Sarel Van der Merwe won at Road Atlanta. Price Cobb finished second overall.
Bob Tullius and Hurley Haywood won the Daytona Finale driving the Jaguar XJR7.
Jim Downing again took the Lights crown. He met no serious opposition. Jim Rothbarth took the second place in his Royale RP40 Mazda, thanks to his consistancy.
Scott Pruett won another GTO title in his Roush Ford Mustang, but he had to hold off Jack Baldwin in his Peerless Hendrick Chevrolet Camaro.
Tommy Kendall drove the ex-Jim Downing CCR Mazda RX7 to his first personal title. He defeated Roger Mandeville in a similar car but it was a very close duel.
1987 : the last for Porsche.
Rules change were an attempt at slowing down the Porsche 962s. Engine displacement was downsized to 3,0L, while the minimum weight was 1025kg.
Chip Robinson, Al Holbert's new recruit, proved up to the task and won the title in a Porsche 962. Price Cobb again took second while Electramotive entered a Nissan ZX Tc GTP, driven by Elliot Forbes Robinson and Geoff Brabham, which proved fast but unreliable.
Jim Downing again won the Lights championship but he was seriously challenged by Don Bell who drove a Spice Fiero. Chip Mead was third in a Fabcar Porsche.
Chris Cord won the GTO category in a Toyota Celica Tc entered by AAR. It was a dream season for the fans, as Jack Baldwin battled throughout the year in his Peerless Chevrolet Camaro and Scott Pruett in a Roush Ford Mustang.
Tom Kendall was a repeat champion in the same Mazda RX7 entered by CCR. Amos Johnson took the second place in the Team Highball car. Terry Visger was very fast in his Huffaker Pontiac Fiero, but he did not enter enough races to be a title contender.
Nissan would dominate the series with Geoff Brabham taking four titles in a row. Electramotive entered a Nissan ZX Tc GTP, which evolved as a Nissan NPT90 and NPT91c.
1988 : reshuffling the cards.
Jaguar entered the fray with a pair of XJR9, winning the 24 Hours of Daytona right from the beginning. However, it would be a Nissan year, with Geoff Brabham being the fastest and most consistent.
The Lights class saw Tom Hessert take the crown from Jim Downing after a season long battle.
Scott Pruett was back to victory lane in GTO, this time driving a Mercury Merkur XR4Ti entered by Roush Racing. Protofab felded a pair of new Chevrolet Corvettes driven by Greg Pickett and Wally Dallenbach Jr. The Toyota Celicas were competitive, but had to settle for runner-up positions.
GTU was an outright surprise as Tom Kendall won again, but he drove a brand new Chevrolet Beretta entered by Cars and Concepts. Amos Johnson and Max Jones took second and third.
1989 : Geoff Brabham's domination.
The Nissan domination was beginning to settle. Geoff Brabham won the title but he had to fight hard against teammate Chip Robinson, won lost the title in the last race. Price Cobb was thrd, driving a TWR Jaguar XJR9, while John Andretti was the best Porsche driver, taking a fourth place in a BF Goodrich 962.
The Lights class was a seaon long battle between Scott Schubot and Charles Morgan, who drove Spice Buicks. They ended up one-two in points.
The GTO class was exciting, and saw a fantastic battle between the Roush Racing Mercury Cougars, driven by Pete Halsmer and Wally Dallenbach Jr, and the Audi 90 Quattros driven by Hans Stuck and Hurley Haywood. Pete Halsmer emerged as the winner.
The GTU class saw Bob Leitzinger took a long overdue title in his Nissan 240SX. The Mazda drivers were just behind, with Amos Johnson again and Al Bacon, both of them driving RX7s or MX6s.
1990 : confirmation.
Geoff Brabham won his straight third GTP title, with a new car, the Nissan NPT90. Toyota ran strong, mainly in the hands of Juan Fangio II, who took four wins, while Jaguar again captured the 24 Hours of Daytona.
The Lights class was a Spice business, with Tomas Lopez winning the title in a Spice Engineering SE90P Buick. Martino Finotto and Ruggero Melgrati took four wins and provided the strongest opposition.
New kid on the block was Dorsey Schroeder, who drove a Mercury Cougar entered by Roush Racing. He took the GTO title, edging his teammate Robby Gordon, who took five wins. A pair of Ferrari F40LMs, entered by Ferrari France, was to provide a welcome diversity. Jean Pierre Jabouille and Hurley Haywood were amongst the drivers. Pete Halsmer took third in a Mazda Motorsports Mazda RX7 rotor.
Lance Stewart gave the GTU title back to Mazda, driving the Overton Racing RX7. He was challenged during the season by John Finger, in a works Mazda MX6 and David Loring, in a Leitzinger Racing Nissan 240SX.
1991 : a missed opportunity.
Things were getting tough for Nissan, who took only one win. But it was enough for Geoff Brabham to capture another GTP title. It was a very competitive season, with Juan Fangio II taking three wins. He would christen the new Eagle MKIII Toyota at Laguna Seca with a win.
It seemed it would be the Jaguar year, with Davy Jones taking five wins, but bad luck prevented the team to capitalize on it, with too many retirements.
Wayne Taylor was consistent in his Intrepid Chevrolet.
The Lights class was won by Parker Johnstone, who drove the Comptech Racing Spice SE91P Acura. He met no opposition. David Tennyson finished second in a Spice SE90P Ferrari, ahead of Jim Pace in a Kudzu DG1 Buick.
Pete Halsmer took another GTO title, this time driving a Mazda Motorsports RX7 4rotor. He had to fight all season long against Ford Mustangs and Nissan 300ZX Tcs. Robby Gordon missed the title by four points. Price Cobb and Jeremy Dale were next.
A new manufacturer took the GTU title, in the name of Dodge. John Fergus had a fantastic season to capture his first ever crown. He edged the two Leitzinger Racing Nissan 240SXs driven by David Loring and Bob Leitzinger. Mazda was outpaced for the first time in years.
Toyota would dominate these two last GTP seasons. The GTP teams were works teams, with soaring costs. It was coming to an end. Exxon was now the official series sponsor for the GTs, which had been renamed after the Exxon's Supreme Series, while the GTO(formerly AAC) cars were running with the GTS and GTU cars.
1992 : Toyota's fantastic little engine.
The season would be dominated by Juan Fangio II, who drove the Eagle Toyota MKIII. Davy Jones drove the new Jaguar XJR14, which seemed unbeatable in the first place. Once again, reliability was the name of the game and it meant another title missed for Jaguar.
Mazda was a newcomer to the GTP class but never was able to contest for the victory. Price Cobb and Pete Halsmer drove the cars to some runner-up positions but the team was not to continue its program for the next season.
Nissan's luck seemed to be defintively gone, with both cars being destroyed during the season. Geoff Brabham and Chip Robinson were never able to match the Toyotas pace.
Parker Johnstone made it two in a row, but he was to be challenged by teammate Dan Marvin and Firmin Velez throughout the season.
Steve Millen would compensate for Nissan by winning the GTS title in a Nissan 300ZX Tc. It was mainly a Nissan-Oldsmobile duel during the season, with Paul Gentilozzi taking second place in class, followed by Jeremy Dale and Darin Brassfield. Ford only participated in the enduros, winning the longest ones.
The GTU category saw a Nissan outright domination, with David Loring taking the title. Bob and son Butch Leitzinger were next. John Fergus ended up fourth in his Dodge Daytona.
Irv Hoerr took the GTO title, at the wheel of a Rocketsports Oldsmobile Cutlass. Les Lindley in a Chevrolet Camaro and Joe Llauget in an Oldsmobile Cutlass were second and third.
1993 : the final GTP season.
Juan Fangio II and PJ Jones battled all season long for the GTP crown, never to be challenged by anybody else. They won every race but one, at Road America, which they did not contest. Joest Porsche 962s took this only win.
Gianpiero Moretti had purchased a Nissan NPT90, which was void of any Nissan support. He and Derek Bell and occasionally John Paul Jr had some high finishes, but could not match the Toyotas speed.
David Tennyson had jumped up to the GTP class, with a Spice SE92P Chevrolet. Despite a very aggressive style, he could not do better than some top five finishes. The same could be told of Wayne Taylor, at the wheel of the Chevrolet GTP(née Intrepid).
Parker Johnstone made it three in a row in the Lights class, fighting off a challenge from Bob Earl and Bob Schader, who earned the Most Improved Driver award in the process. Dan Marvin and Tim McAdam were next.
The new WSC class was introduced in 1993, and featured some Lights cars which were modified in order to meet the category's requirements. Andy Evans' Kudzu DG1 Buick was the most consistent.
The GTS class was won by Tom Kendall, in a Ford Mustang Cobra. He took only one win, but was very consistent. Johnny O'connell was second in a Nissan 300ZX Tc, followed by Darin Brassfield, in a Rocketsports Oldsmobile Cutlass.
Butch Leitzinger won his first GTU title, driving a Nissan 240SX, prepared by Leitzinger Racing. His father Bob fnished second, while Dick Greer had a great season, followed by Bill Auberlen, both driving Mazda RX7s.
The GTO class was won by Charles Morgan, a longtime IMSA runner, who drove an Oldsmobile Cutlass. He edged Ken Bupp, who drove a Chevrolet Camaro, and Joe Pezza, in another Oldsmobile Cutlass.
1994 and after : what's next?
The WSC was a new breed of open cockpit racers. They were meant to be less expensive to maintain. A new era was born. It was another story...