Professional automobile racing has always been dominated by sanctioning bodies whose main goal was to ensure fair competition. Today’s major race series--NASCAR, F1, and Champ Car--achieve this by restricting the car’s designers and engineers. NASCAR mandates all their cars’ body shapes conform to a specific template and requires that engines be of a particular size. F1 teams can choose from a limited number of chassis/engine combinations. And Champ Car teams don’t get to choose anything except how to tune the single chassis/engine combination available to them.
While parity might make for “fair” competition, it often creates uninspired racing. So what happens when the rules are slackened? When creativity and novel design is encouraged? Those were the questions posed by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) for its Grand Touring Prototypes (GTP) race series, which ran from 1981 to 1993.
The result was a stunning variety of racing machines, each with its own highly sophisticated technology. Every car was a unique solution to a common problem: getting around the racetrack fastest. In the end, each car was an automotive testimony to its engineer’s philosophy.
Every decision had consequences. A V-12 allowed better ground-effect tunnels, but had a higher center of gravity (CG). A flat six had a low CG, but severely restricted ground-effect tunnels. Each designer used a different combination of wings, air dams, and other aerodynamic tools
to keep his car glued to the track. It was an engineering free-for-all, the culmination of almost a century of automobile racing experience. And, sadly, it was a spectacle unlikely to be duplicated.
Inside IMSA’s Legendary GTP Race Cars tells the full story of these mechanical marvels. Using photography, diagrams, drawings, and first-person accounts from the men who built and raced these highly advanced cars, the authors offer a detailed look at the technology of fourteen of the most competitive cars that contested the series. It’s the story of no-holds-barred racing, the kind true racing enthusiasts can only dream of today.