Sports prototypes come together worldwide thanks to NASCAR(!)
LMDh was too hard to explain or say. The genius of IMSA GTP is that all at once it nods to a glorious time in IMSA history and brings IMSA cars back to LeMans. Teams worldwide can compete worldwide with sane budgets. Factory teams are back and there is the promise of customer cars to come.
And it’s all NASCAR’s fault.
Like a heck of a lot of roadracing fans, I was horrified when NASCAR purchased the ALMS series, several tracks and the IMSA organization from Don Panoz. Panoz had revived American prototype racing with his massive efforts in every direction. He installed a very capable staff led by Scott Atherton and fans flocked to the tracks with great events at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta, among many others.
NASCAR surprisingly left the ALMS folks largely alone and let them spread their wings with the proper budgets to get the job done. That strategy worked unbelievably well for the revived IMSA. Forward thinking brought us DPi and GTD to IMSA. Both classes (and all the other IMSA classes now running) are premised on sane budgets by otherwise lofty racing standards. Now the DPi concept has become LMDh/GTP and will be running all over the world pretty soon.
Thank YOU, NASCAR.
IMSA leads the way
With the retirement of Scott Atherton from IMSA, John Doonan took over. He was the head of Mazda Motorsports for many years. The guy’s a real racer through and through. Also a fan. And a model car collector.
He has taken the racing baton and run with it. The cars are exciting and IMSA race fields are getting larger by the moment. Great events fill the calendar. Fans are back in droves and then some. Doonan and his IMSA staff have worked with the FIA and LeMans to come up with a performance balanced formula that will give factory and independent teams a level playing field regardless of budget.
IMSA GTP and FIA LMDh cars are of course based on LMP2 chassises like the DPi cars are. Bespoke bodywork will differentiate the marques as will the sound of their power units in the new cars. Hybrid energy will add to the fun along with relevance to today’s auto industry. Some folks will appreciate the green aspect too.
Why the GTP moniker matters
Anyone who ever saw the original GTP cars race will know how astonishingly fast the cars were. Cars from Ford, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Mazda, Porsche, March and others were easy to tell apart and all used very different solutions to the same problem. The cars were VERY exciting. It was considered a golden age of prototype racing.
Anyone that saw these cars in action will remember the original GTPs and cherish the coming new GTPs.
Watching them as I did at Lime Rock Park was a real treat. The cars were just that side of too fast for the small track. Which made them fantastic for racing fans. However, this car or that would dominate for a time until another car came along that was even faster.
The new GTPs will be performance balanced with each other and the LMH cars that Toyota, Glickenhaus and Ferrari will run. Not only will the cars be very fast but they will be very close. Anywhere the new GTPs, LMDh and LMH cars run will be a unique study in racing.
It looks like we are going to witness another golden age of prototype racing. It’s the genius of IMSA GTP all over again.
I can’t wait for 2023 to happen.
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