IMSG Forms World Manufacturer's Council for North America
7 July 1997The International Motorsports Group (IMSG) announced the formation of the World Manufacturer's Council for North America. The creation of a common set of rules for worldwide sportscar racing has been a point of discussion for many years. The announcement was viewed favorably by most of the current car manufacturing representatives. "This is a great opportunity to build a bridge between the FIA and North America." said Mark Scott of Riley & Scott.
Professional SportsCar Racing (PSR) formerly known as IMSA has been without a major factory involvement in the series since Ferrari pulled the financial plug at the end of 1996. One of the dominant manufacturer's of the 1980's, Porsche, will no doubt look favorably toward the announcement. The regulation prohibiting turbo-charging was removed from the WSC rulebook for the 1998 season. The 1980's also saw the direct corporate involvement of Jaguar, Toyota, Nissan and Ford during the GTP (Grand Touring Prototype) era. One by one the manufacturer's dropped out during the ever-escalating budget wars. Toyota was the last manufacturer of the "GTP" era. The creation of WSC (World Sports Car) was brought in to try to keep the cost of racing affordable to more teams. Ferrari's involvement in WSC brought the IMSA series back. However, the original idea of WSC to serve as a way of cost containment was thrown out the window.
The intial focus of the Council will be the continued developement of four series: EuroAmerica World SportsCar Challenge, The America's World SportsCar Championship, SportsCar GT Championship (GTS1 and GTS2) and SportsCar GT Challenge Cup (GTS3). Andy Evans, Chairman and CEO of IMSG, will serve as President of the Council. Evans commented that" A strong new fan base is developing throughout the world for sports car racing. Manufacturers, television and consumer-brand companies are joining together to make a terrific package for our sportscar fans in 1998 and beyond."
The ProSports Car Series has negotiated a much-needed television deal for the 1998 season with the Fox Sports Network. The downturn of IMSA's popularity during the late 1980's can be attributed not only to the ever-escalating budgets but also to the lack of any consistent television package to convince advertisers to participate in the series. With the ability to find consumers on both sides of the Atlantic for the all-important advertisers, sports car racing could be poised for a dramatic turnaround.
David Treffer -- The Auto Channel