IMSA Preps to Celebrate 50 Years in 2019

Image courtesy flickr.com.
IMSA Preps to Celebrate 50 Years in 2019
Image courtesy flickr.com.

IMSA will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019 and is already getting the ball rolling with videos that can be accessed through its www.youtube.com channel. Seven episodes are already in the books. Begun by John Bishop and run by him with the kind of authority associated with Bill France’s rule over NASCAR, IMSA flourished to become the leading sports car sanctioning body in the United States.

Once Bishop left its helm, there were fallow years and IMSA eventually became the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), which itself failed to capture sufficient marketing share and eventually melded with NASCAR’s scion Jim France’s Grand-Am Racing Series to become, yes, IMSA. What goes around definitely comes around, doesn’t it?

IMSA Preps to Celebrate 50 Years in 2019

So, as IMSA prepares to celebrate a half-century of spectacular sports car racing in the USA, it’s also taking steps to bring its racing more in line with the FIA’s World Endurance Championship.

In particular, IMSA intends to separate its Prototype class into two: Daytona Prototype International (DPi), a manufacturer-supported category and LMP2, emulating the WEC class with its class-specific Balance of Performance (BoP) process, similar to that currently used in its GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes.

IMSA Preps to Celebrate 50 Years in 2019

This brings IMSA back to a four-class structure, as it had from 2014-2017, and rids IMSA of the obligation to balance the manufacturer-supported DPi racecars against the best LMP2 entrant. This allows IMSA’s LMP2 racers to race as their cohorts in WEC do. These rules were announced during the series’ visit to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. Since then there have been switcheroos from DPi to LMP2 and others going the opposite direction. More international participation in IMSA – particularly at its endurance contests – could be present in 2019.

IMSA Preps to Celebrate 50 Years in 2019

The series has decided to have only one in-season sanctioned test for the 2019 season; that will be the four-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 in early January. As in 2018, the now-dual prototype categories are permitted 10 days of testing per entered car outside this singular sanctioned test, while nine days are available for every GTLM entry and four test days for each GTD car.

The 2019 anniversary season for IMSA’s four WeatherTech SportsCar Series begins at Daytona International Speedway, where IMSA held its first race. The Rolex 24 at Daytona is the midwinter 24-hour classic, followed by the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. The duo comprise IMSA’s “36 Hours of Florida.” Keeping date equity was especially important to IMSA for its anniversary season, and all 12 venues are retained for the upcoming year.

IMSA Preps to Celebrate 50 Years in 2019

Ten of the 12 events occur on the same weekend as this season, with two a week later. Eight of 12 feature all four WeatherTech SportsCar classes, with the four-race balance having either two- or three-class competition. IMSA intends to hold celebratory events throughout the year, and all 2019 IMSA races are featured on either NBCSN or NBC as well as the NBC Sports App, IMSA announced.

IMSA Preps to Celebrate 50 Years in 2019

About Anne Proffit 202 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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