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Motor Sports


by Larry Roberts

March 31, 1997

Things certainly are moving fast at the offices of the International Motor Sports Association. It was only a couple of weeks ago that we reported on the changes that were being made at IMSA and replacements started at the top with the president and CEO of the organization. Eventually, it must have filtered down to the guy who sweeps out the boardroom and his broom went into the hands of Roberto Muller and Andy Evans, the new owners, who did a total flush-out of the place.

First off, you'll have to stop calling it by the acronym IMSA (like in "imsah"). That name is gone - out - not in existence. Besides, it was too much like the IMSG, the unpronounceable acronym for International Motor Sports Group, which is the corporate title of the new owners. From now on, the official name of the sanctioning body that used to be know as IMSA is Professional SportsCar Racing and whatever you do, don't use the also-unpronounceable acronym PSR. Don't even do it by splitting the middle word SportsCar into Sports and Car. SportsCar is only to be used as a brand name for the organization because Professional SportsCar Racing is just too long to handle. Its new logo is an eerie replication of the IRL (no acronym here either, please) logo except that the oncoming winged full-fendered racer is seen tilted to the left while the IRL oncoming winged open-wheeler is tilted to the right. Interesting too is the fact that SportsCar is the trademark name of the official magazine of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).

Now, you might think that the SCCA may be more than a bit irritated at an upstart/old-timer like SportsCar/IMSA using its copyrighted name, seeing as how the two sanctioning bodies are direct competitors for the hearts and turnstile dollars of sports car racing fans. The SCCA owns and operates its own Pro Racing department that holds events for Trans Am purpose-built sports cars on the same tracks as SportsCar (or IMSA, if you insist). In view of the fact that litigation is an important and ongoing enterprise in the ranks of professional racing (an attorney is now a permanent member of every pit crew), you might even think that the SCCA could be irate enough to bring the matter before a judge.

But such is not the case - at least not yet. It will depend a lot on the outcome of the pending sale of the SCCA Pro Racing division to - you guessed it - SportsCar, Inc. SCCA Pro Racing President Dan Greenwood believes it would be in the best interests of the sport in the long run and he is open to the possibility of a sale. If you recognize the name Dan Greenwood as a former officer in the old IMSA organization who had been fired by a former owner, you're right. He's also reported to be on very friendly terms with the current SportsCar owners, Roberto Muller and Dan Evans.

Evans is a big-time investment banker and a hands-on, direct-action person. As the driving force behind SportsCar, he recently changed some of the competition rules of the recent running of the Sebring 12-hour race as practice was going on. At the time of the changes, he was phoning instructions on the changes to his employees from the cockpit of the Ferrari 333SP he drove in the race. Parenthetically, he won the event and you can bet his changes were not debilitating to his own car.

So what else can happen in the ongoing soap opera that has always been IMSA (oops, SportsCar)? More of the 15 remaining big-time WSC (World SportsCar Championship) teams could drift away and engage in other, more stable racing venues. The new owners could buy the SCCA Pro Racing division which might bring up the sticky question of how anybody can make that decision for a non-profit corporation like the SCCA without bringing the vote to us $60 per year rank-and-file members.

And then again, SportsCar's parent company IMSG could also buy more road racing circuits (it just bought both Sebring and Mosport) and control most of the road racing in the United States.

Hold on to your season passes, fans. Its going to be an interesting Summer.