At the end of the 1980 season, it seemed that the Porsche 935 Turbo would continue to dominate the Championship. John Bishop felt that if this situation was to remain unchanged, IMSA's attendance would probably go down reasonable rates and he could not afford to let it that way. An alternative to this situation was to allow a new category in the field : the GTPs were born. That would provide a challenge to the dominating Porsches.
The first car to meet the GTP regulations was the Lola T600, a car that Brian Redman had initiated from the beginning. The same Brian Redman convinced Eric Broadley, the father of Lola, to build the car. Starting from a T70 chassis clothed with a new bodywork, the car was adapted to the GTP rules, and fitted with the Chevrolet V8 6,0L engine developing 570hp. The car sported the latest aerodynamical effects and displayed a ground effect chassis supposed to stick the car to the track. Carl Haas, Lola US importer, was not quite convinced with the project, and he needed people to purchase the cars, so Brian, acting as a manager-salesman, contacted Roy Woods and Ralph Cooke and together they formed Cooke-Woods Racing, who purchased the car. The small team had John Bright as crew chief, an expert mechanics who had helped develop the car and knew it inside out. The small team was located in Mountain View, California, in Bob Garretson's shop and the car was checked out after each race.
The Lola T600 Chevrolet (HU01) entered the 4th race of 1981 season, driven by Brian Redman. It was immediately a winning combination : the sleek design of the car as well as Brian Redman's world class driving being a real advantage over the Porsches. As it turned out, the car proved extremely reliable throughout the season, and eventually won the Championship!
At the end of the season, Brian had won 5 races and finished 5 times at the second place. Brian Redman was the 1981 Champion and Porsche had been defeated for the first time since 1977. As it turned out later, the Cooke-Woods Racing organisation was dismantled and, in 1982, Roy Woods left the team, who became Cooke Racing, but without Brian Redman, and no more success. Two other cars had run in 1981 in the hands of Chris Cord and John Paul, with good results but no victory. Things changed in 1982 with one victory for John Paul Jr at Laguna Seca and four victories for Interscope Racing with Danny Ongais, Ted Field and Bill Whittington but they did not win the Championship as John Paul proved his driving expertise driving both the Lola and a couple of Porsche 935 Turbos to become the 1982 Champion. In 1983, Ted Field was entered as the potential IMSA winner and the car was to be fitted with a Chevrolet V6 3,4L Turbo engine, given for 700hp. Consistent development problems plagued the car and the story came abruptly to an end when Ted Field, the team owner, slammed the door and quit the racing scene at Miami, leaving Danny Ongais alone with the car! Different cars were entered in 1983 but with little success, Cooke Racing, Conte Racing and Kalagian Racing tried to do as well as Brian Redman in 1981 but new GTP cars had appeared then and Lolas just seemed to be outdated only two years after their race debut. Cars were to be seen until 1986 but made only for the fields. However, this car had opened a new era in IMSA racing and, from this time, GTPs went to dominate the series for long years. IMSA had stepped into a new and bright future, a successful one.
Results for 1981 season
Car #7 driven by Brian Redman(HU01)
|Mosport||2||co-driving with Eppie Wietzes|
|Road America||2||co-driving with Sam Posey|
|Pocono||2||co-driving with Ralph Cooke|
Car #19 driven by Chris Cord(HU05)
|Mosport||29||co-driving with Jim Adams|
|Road America||3||co-driving with Jim Adams|
|Pocono||4||co-driving with Jim Adams|
Car #8 driven by John Paul Jr(HU04)