The US sportscar racing sanctioning body, IMSA, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019.
At the recent Daytona 24 Hours race – also known as the Rolex 24 – dozens of classic race cars from IMSA’s history were displayed and many, including this beautiful Löwenbräu Porsche 962, undertook demo laps of the iconic Florida circuit.
In addition, some of the leading teams in IMSA’s 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship marked the occasion with throwback paint schemes that reflected fan-favorite liveries from decades past. Read on for the best cars from the Daytona celebrations…
Shelby GT350 (1965)
This GT350 was the oldest machine on display. After conversion to a race car in the early 1970s, this car has competed at Daytona for more than 40 years in contemporary and historic events, and also raced in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Porsche 914/6 (1971)
This Porsche took Hurley Haywood to the inaugural IMSA GT championship in 1971, securing three wins from six races along the way. Haywood and co-driver/team owner Peter Gregg failed to finish at Daytona, however, as did the car’s second owner, Hector Rebaque, in the 6-hour race there the following year.
Chevrolet Corvette (1968)
Built as a street car in 1968, this Corvette was converted into an IMSA race car in 1973 by Jerry Thompson, with much of the work carried out at the Chevrolet technical center, but without official factory backing. The 468ci big-block V8-powered car was modified again to suit the wider tires permitted in 1974, receiving wide body flares like those used by Corvette racing legend, John Greenwood.
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR (1973)
Loaned by the Porsche factory to Brumos Racing for the 1973 Daytona 24 Hours, this RSR was so new that it had yet to be homologated as an FIA Group 4 race car.
It was the first machine to sport the red and blue stripes that were made famous by Brumos and adopted as Porsche’s throwback livery at the 2019 race. Back in 1973, the RSR won in the hands of Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg.
BMW 3.0 CSL (1973)
BMW Motorsports North America was formed in 1975. A 3.0 CSL took victory at Sebring that year and won the Daytona 24 Hours in 1976. This CSL was Dieter Quester’s personal road car while a BMW factory driver. It was converted a few years ago by Heritage Motorsports to represent an IMSA-spec race car.
Porsche 935 Kremer K3 (1979)
In the period 1979-83, Kremer-built 935 K3s won every major endurance racing championship and sportscar race in the world at some point. This Jägermeister-sponsored car failed to finish at Daytona in 1981, but the race was won by the similar machine of Garretson Racing/Style Auto, whose drivers included 2019 BMW GTLM team owner, Bobby Rahal.
March 84G Porsche Kreepy Krauly (1984)
A South African-owned and driven, Kreepy Krauly Racing March 83G took victory in the 1984 Daytona 24 Hours, driven by Sarel van der Merwe, Tony Martin and Graham Duxbury.
This 84G successor car, powered by the Porsche 956’s twin-turbo flat-6, was first entered by the team at Road Atlanta in April 1984, with a best finish of fourth at Pocono that September. The car would also race at Le Mans in 1985, finishing 22nd.
Porsche 962 Swap Shop (1985)
This former Preston Henn/Swap Shop Racing 962 was demoed at Daytona by Gunnar Jeannette. The car carries split colours. On one side is the Valvoline scheme it wore when it won the 1985 24 Hours; on the other is an orange Swap Shop livery from Sebring the same year – a race the car also won.
March 84G Chevrolet
March customers chose a variety of engines to power their IMSA GTP cars – Chevrolet, BMW, Porsche, Buick and Nissan. This 84G is Chevrolet V8-powered. It retired from the 1984 Daytona 24 Hours but in 1985 it was raced to third place at the Miami Grand Prix by Tony Garcia and Emerson Fittipaldi.
Chevrolet Camaro (1985)
First built in the mid-1980s by Peerless Engineering to race in IMSA GTO, this Camaro was a non-finisher in the Daytona 24 Hours in 1987. In 1999 it was destroyed in a historic race at the track with original driver Jack Baldwin at the wheel, but has now been restored under the supervision of Brad Francis by Zach Arnold and Arnold Machine Inc.
Porsche 962 Löwenbräu Special
Holbert Racing’s ‘Löwenbräu Special’ Porsche 962s were some of the most iconic cars in IMSA history. They took Al Holbert to two IMSA GTP drivers’ championships in 1985-86 and two Daytona 24 Hours victories in 1986-87, with Chip Robinson taking a further championship.
Porsche 962 Rothmans
This particular 962 no longer appears in its original IMSA GTP colours – the current livery reflects its later use in the UK as a promotional tool by Rothmans and Porsche. The car was first campaigned in the US in 1986 by Jim Busby Racing. Team sponsor BF Goodrich supplied street-legal T/A Radials and Porsche factory driver, Jochen Mass and Darin Brassfield raced it to second place at West Palm Beach. It finished in the same position in the 1988 Daytona 24 Hours.
Merkur XR4Ti (1988)
Scott Pruett, who served as Grand Marshall for the 2019 Daytona 24 Hours, won the GTO class at Daytona in 1988 in this Merkur XR4Ti. Originally built by Roush Racing for Trans Am racing in 1986, the original 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine was swapped for a normally aspirated V8 in IMSA competition.
Editor’s note: Merkur was a short-lived sub-brand of Lincoln-Mercury, set up to bring certain European-designed and built Ford models to America. It operated between 1985 and 1989.
Spice Acura GTP Lights (1991)
The throwback livery on the 2019 Team Penske Acuras was inspired by this car, which captured three consecutive IMSA GTP Lights drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships in 1991-93.
The Spice was powered by a modified 3-liter V6 from the first-generation Acura/Honda NSX, making up to 440 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. The car secured class wins at Daytona in 1991 and ’92.
BMW M3 E46 GTR
The stars-and-stripes scheme on this 2001 M3 was conceived for the race at Petit Le Mans by team owner Tom Milner as a tribute to the victims of 9/11. The drivers Bill Auberlen, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Boris Said won the GT class of the American Le Mans Series race that day, one of six M3 victories that season. Exploitation of an IMSA rules loophole meant that the car was powered by a 4-liter V8 rather than the inline-6 of the regular street M3.
Riley Technologies Mk.XXVI BMW (2012)
The most recent of the historic cars on display at Daytona was this Ganassi Racing Riley, which was the final generation of Daytona Prototype to compete in Grand-Am (later IMSA) competition from 2012-16.
Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett won the 2012 drivers’ championship in the BMW-powered car, and the duo teamed with Charlie Kimball and Juan Pablo Montoya to win the Daytona 24 Hours the following year. The Riley was later re-engined with a Ford unit, ahead of the Ganassi team’s switch to the factory-backed Ford GT LMs in 2017.
Audi R8 V10 plus (2018)
At the 2019 24 Hours, Audi had two cars in the colors of the 1989 Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTOs. One was the GTD-class Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Starworks Motorsport, the other the official IMSA safety car, an R8 V10 plus. It was a busy 24 hours for the safety car with 18 full-course yellows amid treacherous wet conditions.
Mercedes-AMG GT3 (2019)
Wynn’s automotive products is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2019. Beginning at the Rolex 24, the GTD-class Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 will run through the 2019 IMSA season in the livery of a Wynn’s-sponsored Porsche 962 that was raced to fifth at Daytona in 1987 by John Hotchkis, John Hotchkis Jr and Jim Adam.
Ford GT LM 66 (2019)
Ford ran two different throwback schemes on its cars at Daytona. The #66 GT LM ran in the red-and-white stripes seen on the Motorcraft-sponsored Roush Mustang that scored a GTO victory at Daytona in 1985. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing mechanics got into the spirit by growing throwback 1980s moustaches for the race...
Ford GT LM 67 (2019)
The second Ford GT LM retro paint scheme at Daytona in 2019 was worn by the #67 car that came within a whisker of winning its class. The green and red stripes match those used by team sponsor Castrol when it backed the works IMSA Jaguars 30 years ago, including for wins at Daytona in 1988 and 1990.
Porsche 911 RSR (2019)
Porsche’s two factory GTLM entries at the Daytona 24 Hours featured a livery inspired by the multiple 24 Hours-winning cars of Florida-based Brumos Racing.
The blue and red stripes are made up of the number 59, which was carried by numerous Brumos Porsches, including the 1973 RSR seen earlier in this gallery. The schemes will be retained at the Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.