Historic Racing

IROC revival to debut at Lime Rock

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Credit: Richard Dole/LAT Images

After eighteen years, the International Race of Champions will make its return on 19/20 July at Lime Rock Park as part of the SpeedTour All-Star Race weekend.

While regarded by owner IROC Holdings LLC as a continuation of the defunct championship, the revival is more a vintage car series for veterans and those who own the original incarnation’s vehicles than pitting active racing stars against each other (a concept currently employed by the unrelated Race of Champions). The cars will be on display at the track before taking part in an exhibition race.

Regardless of whether authentic and replica, any car is eligible to participate so long as it has a pedigree in the old series. Seven models are available: the Porsche 911 RSR used during the inaugural season in 1973/74; the Chevrolet Camaros that competed from IROC II (1974/75) to its pause in 1980, brought upon by Chevrolet preparing for the third generation model; said third-gen Camaro from the relaunch in 1984 to 1989; the Dodge Daytona from 1990 to 1993 and Dodge Avenger in 1994 and 1995; and the Pontiac Firebird from 1996 to its shutdown in 2006.

The IROC name and assets were acquired by Ray Evernham and Rob Kauffman in January. Evernham, a NASCAR champion crew chief and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, began his career as a chassis specialist for the original IROC and maintains a large car collection that includes challengers from the series. He also co-founded the IROC spiritual successor Superstar Racing Experience in 2021 alongside Tony Stewart, who won the final IROC title. Kauffman formerly co-owned NASCAR teams Michael Waltrip Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I began my professional racing career at IROC, so to be part of the team bringing the brand back to life and to the fans is extremely gratifying,” said Evernham.

Lime Rock is the only race planned in 2024 before expanding the calendar the following year. Although the predecessor series raced heavily at NASCAR ovals like Daytona and Talladega, the reboot is more inclined to go to road courses and short tracks for safety reasons.

Created in March by Lime Rock Park and Parella Motorsports Holdings, the SpeedTour All-Star Race will invite racers from various disciplines to team up with Trans-Am Series TA2 drivers and cars. The concept is inspired by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s Vintage Race of Champions, which Parella created in 2018 before cancelling due to COVID-19. Eight of the sixteen confirmed drivers are IROC alumni: Greg Biffle, Geoff Brabham, Davy Jones, Bobby Labonte, Ryan Newman, Max Papis, Ken Schrader, and Danny Sullivan. Labonte won the championship in 2000 while he, Brabham, Newman, and Sullivan have race wins.

Others set to compete in the weekend include Ron Fellows, Davey Hamilton Sr., Ron Hornaday, Pippa Mann, Paul Menard, Boris Said, Mike Skinner, and Scott Speed.

“This is quickly shaping up to be one of the most exciting motorsports events in recent memory,” commented PMH CEO Tony Parella. “We already have sixteen legends committed to race in the SpeedTour All-Star race, with a field that includes Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 champions, IROC winners, and drivers who have stood atop the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Nürburgring, and Daytona. IROC adds even more star power to an already exciting event. IROC was where the best of the best drivers went to race and prove themselves among their competitors. As Ray and Rob relaunch the IROC brand, we’re thrilled to be a part of this first outing.”

Located in Lakeville, Connecticut, Lime Rock Park never hosted the old IROC. The 1.53-mile (2.46 km) road course primarily sees sports car racing like Trans-Am and IMSA as well as its flagship Lime Rock Historic Festival in September.

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