1976 was the year the Chevrolet Monza took off. Its development had been fulfilled and the car became a true winner. It was not to happen before the Atlanta round however.
The first race : the 24 Hours of Daytona was won by BMW who did win a very strange race. Grand National cars were allowed to run the race and the overall purse was $100000. Peter Gregg, Brian Redman and John Fitzpatrick won a race that was stopped during 2H40 when the official discovered water in the gas. The time spent in the pits was used to purge the circuits and some teams made extra repairs on their cars. The BMW had a comfortable 17 laps lead which permitted her to keep her advantage as it ended the race at a very slow pace.
Next race, at Sebring, was a race that nobody seemed willing to win. Hour after hour, each leader was stopped by some incident. John Greenwood had once again won the pole, and set a new track record. At the start, Greenwood took the lead during 15 laps. Just before the end of the first hour, he unfortunately hit a backmarker : he came back to the pits for lengthy repairs and was soon withdrawn from the race on the 36th lap. Then David Hobbs would grab the first place and hold it until the 63rd lap. But the car suffered technical maladies and Michael Keyser then was able to take the lead, but he was soon hit by another car. He pitted for some repairs on his damaged exhaust pipes. A new Porsche Carrera had taken the lead, it was Jim Busby-Carl Shafer car. They led the race until midway point. Their advantage was about one lap over Bob Hagestad-Jerry Jolly car when they lost a wheel on the course. Bob Hagestad-Jerry Jolly took the lead, they were just ahead of Al Holbert-Michael Keyser car, two laps down. They were to be stopped by an electrical problem, and relinquished the lead to Holbert's car. The BMWs had been slowed down by mechanicals, and Al Holbert-Michael Keyser won the race by a two laps margin over John Gunn-Carson Baird in another Porsche Carrera. The first non-Porsche car was Peter Gregg-Hurley Haywood, on their BMW 3.0CSL, who finished strongly to take seventh. The GTU was won by the Porsche 911S driven by David McClain-Dave White.
Next race was held at Road Atlanta, a 100Miler. Al Holbert was christening his new Chevrolet Monza. He had to face a strong challenge by Michael Keyser, who ran a similar car, and won his first race with the Monza. Second was Michael Keyser and third Peter Gregg on his BMW 3.0CSL. Michael Brockman was fourth in his customer Greenwood Corvette. Eight Monzas took the start of this race! Brad Frisselle won the GTU class in his Datsun over Dave White, driving a Porsche 911S.
Laguna Seca saw another Holbert victory. He finished just ahead of Peter Gregg, Michael Keyser was third.
Photo courtesy Greenwood Corvettes
At Ontario, Jim Busby won a wild race over Peter Gregg in his Porsche Carrera. In fact, he was fighting hard with his boss and sent him spinning on the last lap to win the race! Third was George Dyer on a Porsche Carrera too. Walt Maas took the GTU category on his Porsche 914/6, second was Jim Cook on a Porsche 914/6 too, Brad Frisselle was only fourth, and Bob Sharp was third in the GTU class.
Lime Rock was the closest race of the season as George Dyer won over Michael Keyser with a one thousands of a second margin! Brad Frisselle was back in the GTU winners' circle, and won over Walt Maas.
Mid Ohio saw a reversal of the roles as Michael Keyser won the race over Al Holbert. Jim Busby was the hero of the race as he took third place after starting 31st and working his way through the field. In GTU, it was again Frisselle-Maas for a one-two show.
The Paul Revere 250 at Daytona was a night race and Al Holbert won again over George Dyer and Peter Gregg. Brad Frisselle won over Rusty Bond Porsche 911S in GTU.
The next race was held at Sears Point for the first time. Jim Busby dominated the qualifying sessions. He easily won the race, again beating George Dyer and Peter Gregg. Al Holbert started 47th and finished 4th. Walt Maas won again in GTU, edging Brad Frisselle for victory.
At Talladega, bad weather ruined a very special race and Peter Gregg emerged as the winner. Second was Phil Currin who scored his best result of the year in his Corvette. Bob Christiansen finished third in a Camaro. Brad Frisselle won over Dave White on a Porsche 911S in GTU.
At Pocono, Al Holbert won again to stretch his points lead. Peter Gregg was second and Elliot Forbes Robinson was a surprising third overall driving a Bob Sharp Datsun 260Z. He easily won the GTU class.
At the Mid Ohio 6 Hours, turbocharged cars were to be allowed for the first time. Jim Busby ran solo to win the race over Peter Gregg-Hurley Haywood on a BMW 3.0CSL. Al Holbert finished third. Brad Frisselle-John Morton finished fifth overall to easily win the GTU class. George Follmer-Doc Bundy were fourteenth overall on the Dickinson backed Porsche 934. Another Porsche 934 was driven by Paul Miller who took twentieth.
At Road Atlanta, a 500km race, Al Holbert won over Jim Busby and Michael Keyser-Jim Trueman took third place. Charlie Kemp was the fastest qualifyer on his Ford Cobra II. His car seemed to have gained a new reliability and was now a serious contender for the win. Brad Frisselle-John Morton won the GTU class over Rusty Bond-Ren Tilton Porsche 911S.
The next race at Laguna Seca, for the second time of the year, saw another victory by Jim Busby, driving his usual Brumos Porsche Carrera. Second was Peter Gregg and third Hurley Haywood on a Porsche 934. Michael Brockman was fourth on his Corvette. The GTU class was taken by Walt Maas in his Porsche 914/6 over Jim Cook in a similar car. Brad Frisselle did not enter the race. Al Holbert, Peter Gregg and Jim Busby posted a great fight from the beginning of the race. After each of them dropped from the top spots, Michael Keyser took the lead and won the race over Charlie Kemp, in his vastly improved Ford Cobra II, and Danny Ongais on a Porsche 934. The latter who soon become one of the most prominent figures in IMSA racing for the next years. The GTU class was again won by Brad Frisselle, who finished ahead of Elliot Forbes Robinson's Datsun. Al Holbert won his first title on a Chevrolet Monza, and it was the first time that an American manufacturer would win a major international series. Brad Frisselle easily won the GTU title, posting eight wins on his Datsun 260Z. Walt Maas was the runner-up, taking four wins in a limited schedule.