2009 Portland Historic Races news 2008-07-14

The Baxter Auto Parts Portland Historic Races announces IMSA GTP as the feature for its 2009 event; Parker Johnstone to be Grand Marshal PORTLAND, Ore. - July 14, 2009 - On the heels of a successful 2008 event, the Baxter Auto Parts Portland ...

The Baxter Auto Parts Portland Historic Races announces IMSA GTP as the feature for its 2009 event; Parker Johnstone to be Grand Marshal

PORTLAND, Ore. - July 14, 2009 - On the heels of a successful 2008 event, the Baxter Auto Parts Portland Historic Races has announced International Motorsports Association (IMSA) Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) cars as its feature for 2009. The sleek, aerodynamic race cars will be part of a celebration of 40 years of IMSA. As IMSA's initial series in 1969 was Formula Vee and Formula Ford, the Portland Historic Races will also be inviting Formula Fords from around the country to participate. Local race car champion Parker Johnstone of Wilsonville, who drives a 1988 Spice/Acura GTP/L, has been tapped as the race's Grand Marshal. The 33rd annual Portland Historic Races will take place July 10 through 12, 2009, at Portland International Raceway.

The GTP class made its debut at the World Endurance Championship in 1981. With a combination of huge horsepower and massive manufacturer participation, it quickly became the prevalent racing class of the IMSA series. It is best associated with the introduction of the Porsche 962, which dominated the series from 1985 to 1987. Campaigned by drivers including Al Holbert, Derek Bell and Rob Dyson, Porsche won everything from the 24 Hours of Daytona to the 24 Hours of LeMans. Nissan took control of the series in 1988 under the leadership of Geoff Brabham, but it was Dan Gurney's Toyota team, led by Juan Manuel Fangio II and P.J. Jones, that ruled at the end of the GTP era. Along with the GTP cars, the GTP/Lights class was introduced in 1985 - a similar-looking version of the GTP cars, but limited to engines under three liters in displacement.

Grand Marshal Johnstone has an impressive motorsports career that has spanned more than 20 years. His first significant result came in 1984 when he finished second in the Renault Cup National Championship, earning a spot with the factory Renault team to race in Europe. He returned to the U.S. to win the Renault Cup championship in 1985. In 1986 he won the SCCA National Road Racing Championship driving for Honda in the GT-4 class, becoming American Honda's first contracted race car driver. In IMSA's International Sedan Series, Johnstone won two championships for Acura in 1987 and 1988. During the 1987 season, he also competed in Pro Formula Atlantic, finishing third in the championship. Returning from racing in New Zealand, Johnstone drove a limited schedule for the Spice Factory team, winning three of four races entered, with four pole positions in 1990.

For the 1991 IMSA Camel GT season, Acura moved up to the Camel GTP/Lights division. In its debut season, the Comptech Acura team - with Johnstone driving - devastated the competition, scoring eight wins in 14 events, 12 pole positions, and winning the Manufacturer's Championship and the Driver's Championship. More wins and championships followed in 1992 and 1993. Johnstone left IMSA having won more races (54) than any other driver in the history of the series. He went on to drive in the CART/IndyCar series, and in his oval debut at the Michigan 500 in 1995, he qualified on the pole with a new track record, giving Honda its first ever IndyCar pole position. In 1995, he set the closed course world speed record in excess of 238 mph. After his last season of IndyCar in 1997, Johnstone was retained by ABC/ESPN as a motorsports commentator for six years. He now owns and operates Parker Johnstone's Wilsonville Honda in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Johnstone will drive his famed 1988 Spice/Acura GTP/L in the 2009 Baxter Auto Part Portland Historic Races, which features an annual entry list of more than 250 prestigious historic race cars, representing a wide variety of manufacturers. The restored cars are divided into groups according to make, age and horsepower, where they are raced at high speeds close to or at their full potential.

Boasting an open paddock, the Portland Historic Races allow enthusiasts the opportunity to see race cars up close and interact with the drivers and crew. The event also features a display of more than 700 collector cars and hot rods, a food and wine pavilion, a kid zone, an autocross, and a vendor midway.

The event is a fundraiser for the Community Transitional School, a Portland-based organization that provides important educational services to children who are homeless or otherwise at risk of school failure.

The Portland Historic Races are produced and sanctioned by the Historic Motor Sports Association (HMSA). Established in 1977, HMSA specializes in race events with historic cars, emphasizing the preservation and proper use of historic race cars. For more information about the Baxter Auto Parts Portland Historic Races, call 818-249-3515 or visit www.portlandhistorics.com.

-credit: phr

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