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International Race of Champions
Race of Champions
(IROC) was a North American auto racing competition, created by Les Richter, Roger Penske and Mike Phelps, promoted as an equivalent of an American All-Star Game or The Masters. Despite its name, the IROC was primarily associated with North American oval-racing culture. Drivers raced identically-prepared stock cars set up by a single team of mechanics in an effort to make the race purely a test of driver ability. It was run with a small field of invited drivers (6–12). It was created and developed in 1972 by David Lockton, the developer of the Ontario Motor Speedway, launched in 1973, with Mark Donohue
Mark Donohue
being the first driver to win the championship in 1974. The cars used that year were Porsche Carrera RSRs. Donohue's win in the fourth and last race of that season was his last win, as he died in a Formula One crash at the Österreichring
Österreichring
in practice for the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix. The series was not run in 1981, 1982, or 1983. In 2007, IROC could not find a sponsor and postponed the first two races at Daytona and Texas.[1] IROC went on hiatus in 2007 hoping to return with a sponsor in 2008, which did not happen. In March 2008, IROC auctioned off its tools, equipment, cars, and memorabilia, and went out of business.[2]

Contents

1 Drivers 2 Car identification 3 Road racing 4 Notes 5 Points system

5.1 Purse

6 Champions

6.1 Number of years raced by car

7 See also 8 References

Drivers[edit]

Sam Hornish, Jr.
Sam Hornish, Jr.
competing in a 2006 IROC race at Texas Motor Speedway

The drivers invited were from a broad range of racing disciplines: Indy cars, NASCAR, sports car racing, and on occasion, WoO, and drag racing. Criteria for invitation was very loose, but typically consisted of recent season champions of the respective series, and individual winners of big events (Indy, Daytona, etc.) Due to its fundamental stock car formula, and the majority of racing being contested on ovals, the series was often dominated by NASCAR participants (which was the major criticism of the series). Also, in the small field of about a dozen cars, the share of NASCAR
NASCAR
invitees grew over time; from just three drivers in the first season to seven in the final season. The last non- NASCAR
NASCAR
based champion of the series was Al Unser, Jr.
Al Unser, Jr.
in 1988. Although open wheel drivers had numerous successes, as of 2005[update], drivers from road racing series had only won two races in the history of IROC. In some years, no sports car drivers were even invited. Car identification[edit]

Matt Kenseth's 2004 championship car

Through 2003, IROC was also known for its rainbow of car colors being easily recognized from all other closed wheel racing series. Car numbers were utilized for scoring purposes, but were not the primary means of identification. Instead, the drivers' surname would appear on the door of the car. Exceptions were made when Mario and Michael Andretti raced in the same events. In those cases, their first name was used. The numbers would change from race to race, with the number 1 would be given to the driver starting first, and so on. The colors would correspond to the numbers. Before the races, drivers were assigned via blind drawing, and was how the starting grid for the first race was determined. The finishing order of the race would be inverted for the second race's starting grid, while the reverse of the points standings determined races three and four's grids. Numbers were assigned by the starting position. After the first race, the numbers would be assigned based on points standings.[3] This would make it very confusing for fans, as one week their favorite driver could be driving the blue #1 car, and the next week he could be in the #5 orange car. In 2004, the alcoholics beverage company, Diageo
Diageo
became the series' title sponsor, utilising their Crown Royal
Crown Royal
brand whiskey, replacing True Value, and the procedure changed, as well. Cars would be identically painted in white, with trim which could be changed to represent the driver's colors in his regular racing series. Also, a driver's number in IROC would be his regular number. Thus, Steve Kinser would use green trim with the #11, and Matt Kenseth's car featured yellow trim with a #17. The only exception to the numbering scheme involves the number 3. Following the death of Dale Earnhardt
Dale Earnhardt
in the 2001 Daytona 500, IROC retired the use of #3. Any driver with that regular number would use #03 instead. Hélio Castroneves
Hélio Castroneves
raced with #03, but the car kept red trim, in reflection of his IRL car being red. If there was a numbering conflict, another number would be substituted. In most cases, for one-digit numbers, a zero would be added in front. Otherwise a historically notable number would be run. (Penske drivers, for one instance, could use #66, owing to Mark Donohue.) Road racing[edit] From 1992–2005, the IROC season was exclusively run on ovals. In 2006, road courses were reintroduced to the IROC series with the cars competing on the road course at Daytona International Speedway. Also, in 2006, two drivers shared one car in an IROC first. Grand American Road Racing drivers Max Angelelli
Max Angelelli
and Wayne Taylor each drove two races in 2006, trying to win the IROC title as a team, reflecting sportscar racing as a two-man team. However, in 2007, that may not have been used, as 2006 Grand American Road Racing
Grand American Road Racing
champion Jörg Bergmeister was a solo champion. Bergmeister had to split driving duties with various drivers because his regular co-driver was forced to sit out three races because they were raced with the Indy Racing League; Colin Braun, who was 17, could not race in those three races under MSA rulings. Notes[edit]

Richard Petty's IROC Porsche 911
Porsche 911
from 1974

IROC historically employed former NASCAR
NASCAR
drivers Dave Marcis, Dick Trickle and Jim Sauter to prepare the setups for their cars. The most recent model of car used in IROC was the Pontiac
Pontiac
Firebird Trans Am, which began competition in 1996. There were no manufacturer designations on the cars, however, because Pontiac
Pontiac
pulled their support from the series. The program was still allowed to use a car that resembled the Trans Am. Previous to the Trans Am, car bodies used were the Dodge Avenger (1994–1995), Dodge Daytona
Dodge Daytona
(1990–1993), Chevrolet Camaro (1975–1980, 1984–1989), and Porsche Carrera (1974). Certain drivers could not participate under the Crown Royal sponsorship because of contracts or age. For example, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. could not race because of a contractual agreement with his sponsor at the time, Budweiser. Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch
could not participate until May 2006 because he was under 21. IROC events were broadcast in a tape-delay format by ABC between 1974 and 1980, and by CBS
CBS
between 1984 and 1986. Afterward, ABC and ESPN split broadcast rights, with tape-delay and live events respectively. Speed Channel
Speed Channel
broadcast IROC races live from 2004 to 2006. Mark Martin
Mark Martin
is one of only two drivers to win more than two IROC championships during their career, winning five. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. won four, including the 2000 championship, before his death in February 2001.

Points system[edit]

Mario Andretti
Mario Andretti
in IROC race at Mid-Ohio (1985)

Pos.[3] Points

1st 21

2nd 17

3rd 14

4th 12

5th 10

6th 9

7th 8

8th 7

9th 6

10th 5

11th 4

12th 3

Bonuses

Most laps led 5

2nd-most laps led 3

3rd-most laps led 2

Purse[edit]

Pos. Purse[3]

Champion $225,000

2nd $100,000

3rd $60,000

4th $50,000

5th $45,000

6th–12th $40,000

Champions[edit]

Season Year Champion Car

I 1974 Mark Donohue Porsche Carrera RSR

II 1975 Bobby Unser Chevrolet Camaro

III 1976 A. J. Foyt Chevrolet Camaro

IV 1977 A. J. Foyt Chevrolet Camaro

V 1978 Al Unser Chevrolet Camaro

VI 1979 Mario Andretti Chevrolet Camaro

VII 1980 Bobby Allison Chevrolet Camaro

VIII 1984 Cale Yarborough Chevrolet Camaro

IX 1985 Harry Gant Chevrolet Camaro

X 1986 Al Unser, Jr. Chevrolet Camaro

XI 1987 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet Camaro

XII 1988 Al Unser, Jr. Chevrolet Camaro

XIII 1989 Terry Labonte Chevrolet Camaro

XIV 1990 Dale Earnhardt Dodge Daytona

XV 1991 Rusty Wallace Dodge Daytona

XVI 1992 Ricky Rudd Dodge Daytona

XVII 1993 Davey Allison Dodge Daytona

XVIII 1994 Mark Martin Dodge Avenger

XIX 1995 Dale Earnhardt Dodge Avenger

XX 1996 Mark Martin Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXI 1997 Mark Martin Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXII 1998 Mark Martin Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXIII 1999 Dale Earnhardt Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXIV 2000 Dale Earnhardt Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXV 2001 Bobby Labonte Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXVI 2002 Kevin Harvick Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXVII 2003 Kurt Busch Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXVIII 2004 Matt Kenseth Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXIX 2005 Mark Martin Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

XXX 2006 Tony Stewart Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am

1985: Three races only as the third scheduled race was cancelled due to rain. 1990: Three races only because of new sponsor Dodge and the late start to the season (Talladega, Cleveland, Michigan). After Darrell Waltrip was injured in a crash at Daytona in practice for the NASCAR
NASCAR
Pepsi 400 the day before the Cleveland IROC race, he was not replaced for the final two races. 1993: Davey Allison
Davey Allison
was killed in a helicopter crash after three races had been completed, and only the final race, at Michigan International Speedway, was remaining. Terry Labonte
Terry Labonte
was asked to drive the final race, and Allison's and Labonte's points combined were enough for the IROC championship. Labonte's winnings went to a trust fund for Allison's two children, Krista and Robbie. Alan Kulwicki
Alan Kulwicki
had been killed in a plane crash earlier in the year after two races had been run, and Dale Earnhardt
Dale Earnhardt
was chosen to replace him to complete a 12-driver field, with all winnings going to charities chosen by the Kulwicki family. 2001: After Dale Earnhardt
Dale Earnhardt
was killed in the Daytona 500, IROC went to only eleven cars for the remaining three races. Following a 2004 rule change in IROC where drivers would be using their personal numbers, IROC added one exception – the number 3 could not be used. Any driver whose number in a series is 3 must use 03 in IROC. 2005: With the 2005 IROC title, Martin now is the all-time leader in IROC Championship titles with five. Also during the 2005 season, Martin took over the all-time record for IROC wins, with thirteen.

Number of years raced by car[edit]

Car Wins

Chevrolet Camaro 12

Pontiac
Pontiac
Trans Am 11

Dodge Daytona 4

Dodge Avenger 2

Porsche Carrera RSR 1

See also[edit]

Race of Champions Race of Champions
Race of Champions
(Brands Hatch)

References[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to International Race of Champions.

^ IROC SERIES DELAYS START OF 2007 SEASON : Series Seeking Title Sponsorship Archived 2007-03-09 at the Wayback Machine., Retrieved March 9, 2007 ^ Race2Win IROC Goes to Auction ^ a b c "Jeff's IROC Statistics". Gordon Online. Retrieved October 16, 2014. 

v t e

Tracks used by the International Race of Champions
Race of Champions
(1974-2006)

Ovals

Atlanta California Charlotte Chicagoland Darlington Daytona Indianapolis Michigan Nazareth Richmond Talladega Texas

Road courses

Cleveland Daytona Mid-Ohio Riverside Watkins Glen

v t e

IROC Championship seasons

I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII XIII XIV XV XVI XVII XVIII XIX XX XXI XXII XXIII XXIV XXV XXVI XXVII XXVIII XXIX XXX

v t e

International Race of Champions
Race of Champions
winners

Donohue B. Unser Foyt Unser Sr Andretti Allison Yarborough Gant Unser Jr Bodine T. Labonte Earnhardt Wallace Rudd Allison/Labonte Martin B. Labonte Harvick Bus

.