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International Race of Champions revived, debut planned with one race in 2024

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Credit: International Race of Champions

The International Race of Champions, an all-star series that brought together racing stars from a multitude of disciplines, has been brought back to life by Ray Evernham and Rob Kauffman. On Monday, the two announced the formation of IROC Holdings LLC and acquisition of rights to the series’ name with the goal of hosting a race using old IROC cars in 2024.

IROC ran from 1973 to 2006, placing drivers in identically prepared stock cars for four races a year. With its stock car-heavy nature, most races were held at ovals on the NASCAR calendar such as Daytona and Indianapolis while most drivers hailed from NASCAR and IndyCar, though its early days also included road courses such as Riverside and Cleveland Airport. Other disciplines have also been represented such as Formula One, sports cars, and sprint cars. While every ‘champion of champions’ is notable in their own right, NASCAR great Mark Martin has the most IROC titles with five, one ahead of the legendary Dale Earnhardt; other champions include Mario Andretti, Mark Donohue, A.J. Foyt, and Bobby and Al Unser Jr. Tony Stewart won the final title in 2006.

Porsche Carreras were used during the inaugural season before switching to a Chevrolet Camaro for twelve years. A six-year stint with Dodge saw the use of the Daytona and Avenger before the final decade featured Pontiac Trans Ams.

Despite IROC’s demise, the concept of taking motorsport’s biggest names and pitting them against each other in spec cars has continued via events like the Race of Champions and Superstar Racing Experience. The latter was co-founded in 2021 by Stewart and Evernham.

Evernham is regarded as one of the greatest crew chiefs in NASCAR history, winning three Cup Series championships with Jeff Gordon in the 1990s before going on to start his own team; an avid car collector, he has a collection of IROC cars. Kauffman was formerly part-owner of Cup teams Michael Waltrip Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing and currently oversees the Race Team Alliance, a union of Cup teams which helped usher in the charter system; he has also raced in sports car events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Daytona.

“Although the annual events ended in 2006, the legacy and recognition of the IROC brand has continued throughout the years,” reads a press release from the series. “IROC Holdings plans to bring the historic brand back to life. IROC Holdings has been formed to house the business operations with the intent to have an IROC racing event in 2024 with historic IROC race cars while exploring future opportunities.”

IROC will be headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina. The series did not immediately announce when or where the inaugural race will take place.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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