DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - It was 25 seasons ago that a racing series, unlike any before, came on the scene with the intention of answering the unanswerable; what would happen if you took a handful of drivers and put them in equally prepared cars to...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - It was 25 seasons ago that a racing series, unlike any before, came on the scene with the intention of answering the unanswerable; what would happen if you took a handful of drivers and put them in equally prepared cars to see who's the best? And, to settle the hypothetical argument, "if my guy had your guy's car, he'd leave your guy in the dust!" Nobody "invented" the idea, nor could anyone say when the thought first came to mind, but it is probable that the notion has existed since the first day more than one manned vehicle went into motion. In 1973 Roger Penske and Les Richter unveiled the International Race of Champions, a made for television auto racing series.
The all-star series would consist of four races, on different race tracks, with12 equally prepared cars, to be driven by invitation to a dozen of the best drivers from various forms of auto racing. At the conclusion of the fourth race, the driver who accumulated the most points, awarded according to finishing positions in each race, would be named the champion, a.k.a., he who bested the best.
On this Friday, February 16, 2001 at 1:30 p.m. the green flag will waive over the Daytona International Speedway, signaling the start of the 97th race and the 25th anniversary season in the history of the True Value International Race of Champions.
106 of the most famous, legendary names in the world of auto racing have worn the moniker IROC. 16 of those have garnered its championship, and many have claimed their achievements in the series to be among the highlights of their careers. According to Jay Signore, president of the True Value IROC Series, "We don't know if the True Value IROC Series determines who the best driver in the world is, but we sure go a long way toward that goal. The caliber of drivers who are invited give the True Value IROC series it's longevity and make it exciting, not only for the drivers, but for race fans as well."
For race one, a blind draw by the drivers determines the color car and starting position. Commencement ceremonies held at Daytona USA, an interactive motorsports attraction located on the grounds of Daytona International Speedway, began by honoring the 1980 IROC Champion, Bobby Allison. Also on hand was two-time IROC Champion (1976 and 1977) A.J. Foyt.
The 40 lap, 100-mile event will initiate Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion, Buddy Lazier and fellow Northern Light competitor Scott Goodyear to their first competition in the series that matches 12 drivers in equally prepared Pontiac Firebird Trans Am race cars.
Joining Lazier and Goodyear are fellow Northern Light representatives Mark Dismore and Eddie Cheever, Jr. Dismore, in his sophomore year, is excited about returning after a season of gaining valuable experience. Eddie Cheever, Jr. returns for a third consecutive season attempting to add a True Value IROC Championship trophy to the mantle that bears his Michigan race winning trophy from last season.
Also in the field are 2000 NASCAR Winston Champion, Bobby Labonte, 2000 NASCAR Busch Series Champion, Jeff Green and fellow NASCAR Winston Cup drivers, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd, and CART FedEx Championship Series driver, Kenny Brack. Tony Stewart, will replace 2000 CART FedEx Series Champion, Gil de Ferran who will miss the Daytona race due to injuries sustained in recent Champ car tests.
After Daytona, the True Value IROC series will resume on April 21 at the Talladega Superspeedway and continue with round three at Michigan International Speedway on June 9. The finale will take place on August 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Race one from Daytona will be broadcast on Sunday, February 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN; Talladega, Sunday, May 27 at 4:30 p.m. ET on ABC Sports; Michigan, televised on Saturday, June 9 (same day) at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Indy finale will be televised by ESPN on Friday, August 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.