The next race was to happen at Watkins Glen, for the Camel Continental race. Fifty two cars were entered, and you could find your classical GTP-GTO-GTU mix of cars. Again, the Hendrick Racing Chevrolet Corvette GTP faced a bunch of Porsche 962s. Again Sarel van der Merwe stuck his car on the pole. Bob Tullius and Chip Robinson were next, with the two best Porsche 962s behind them, that is to say, Oscar Larrauri on the Brun Motorsport car, and Al Holbert. The race appeared to be very tough, with Sarel van der Merwe losing twenty six minutes in the pits to have his steering repaired. Bob Tullius had some trouble following an incident while passing a backmarker, and he made several pit stops. The BF Goodrich cars were somewhat slowed down as Jochen Mass had to stop for tyres early in the race. The other car retired with a blown engine. Surviving this very hot race was the Holbert Racing car with Al Holbert and Derek Bell winning the race over Oscar Larrauri and Gianpiero Moretti taking an excellent second place, one lap down. Third overall was the Conte Racing car driven by Whitney Ganz and Jim Crawford, who replaced John Paul Jr. The two BMW GTPs finished at an encouraging fifth and sixth overall. Davy Jones and John Andretti leading their teammates John Warson and David Hobbs. It happened to be such a horrible week end for Dyson Racing, when Drake Olson had a terrible collision with Steve Durst, on a Tiga GT286 Mazda. The Porsche 962 was litterally written off while Steve Durst was seriously injured, suffering from a broken rib and cuts. Two race workers were injured too. This piece of dramatic action led to Drake Olson's being fired by Team owner Rob Dyson. The Lights class was won by the Tiga GT286 Buick driven by Charles Morgan who beat the favorite car, the Spice Fiero driven by Bob Earl and Ray Bellm. This car was slowed by fuel pressure problems. Jim Downing had trouble with the GTPs and was hit twice, only to finish third, far away from the winners. The GTO class was won by the Peerless Chevrolet Camaro driven by Jack Baldwin, who was partnered by Geoff Bodine. The Ford Mustang driven by Scott Pruett and Bruce Jenner led most of the race, but had to slow down following an engine problem. They finished second while John Bauer and Chet Vincentz took a strong third in their beautiful Porsche 930S. Willy T Ribbs had been the fastest qualifyer, but he broke his gearbox early in the race. The GTU class saw another victory by Roger Mandeville and Danny Smith. Second were Tommy Kendall and Bob Reed on the CCR Mazda RX7. Dick Greer and Mike Mees were distant third.
At Portland, a small twenty two car field would take the green. The fastest qualifyer was Geoff Brabham, whose Nissan ZX T GTP was getting better and better. The Chevrolet Corvette GTP driven by Sarel van der Merwe was just behind, for a new without any Porsche first row. But it was not to be the same story for the race, as Al Holbert once again outlastest his opponents. This time he edged Bob Tullius Jaguar XJR7 by 1.557 second. The Nissan took a third place overall, showing some great improvements in reliability, just ahead of the first BMW GTP driven by John Watson and David Hobbs. The first eight cars were on the same lap at the finish. Four cars only were entered in the Lights class, and Jim Downing, who had to fear Bob Earl early in the race, easily won his class when the Spice Fiero retired from the race. Second was Howard Katz, whose Tiga GT286 Chevy proved to be a worthy competition for the Argo Mazda.
At Sears Point, twenty one cars would take the green, with a very interesting field of GTP machinery. Bob Wollek proved once again that the California track was definitely one of his favorites as he took the pole in Bruce Leven's Porsche.
Second in practice was the Dyson Racing Porsche 962, driven by Price Cobb and team owner Rob Dyson. Al Holbert was further on the grid, while the two Ford Probes were on the second row, with Klaus Ludwig driving each of them, with Tom Gloy and Lyn St James. The two BMW GTPs were fifth and sixth on the grid. It seemed that it would be a Porsche-Ford-BMW battle, but the Ford and BMW challenge quickly faded away. Rob Dyson and Price Cobb nursed their car home, while fighting with a faulty cool suit, and the team enjoyed a nice victory over Al Holbert and Derek Bell, who had a great race. Third was the Jaguar XJR7 driven by Brian Redman and Hurley Haywood, who finished just ahead of the Electramotive Nissan ZX T GTP driven by Elliot Forbes Robinson.
Copyright Van Zannis
The car was clearly improving and was now able to finish races. Fifth was the BMW GTP driven by John Andretti and Davy Jones. The Lights class was taken by Jim Downing, again finishing ahead of Steve Phillips, who drove the Tiga GT286 Chevrolet entered by AMF Racing. Bob Earl was sidelined by minor troubles and finished fourth, two laps down.
Road America was the next race, and featured a sixty car field for the Löwenbrau Classic, which was a five hundred mile enduro. This smooth track was properly fitted for the Chevrolet Corvette GTP, which sat on the pole with a new lap record at 1m58s064. The Nissan GTP sat next, with Elliot Forbes Robinson and Geoff Brabham alongside. Davy Jones had stuck the first BMW GTP in third place, with teammates John Watson and David Hobbs next. Klaus Ludwig and Tom Gloy were in fifth place with Al Holbert and Al Unser Jr only sixth on the grid. It looked like Porsche would have some hard times, but it would not be really so. Davy Jones BMW GTP, trying to overtake the Nissan, crashed his car, which ricocheted on the guardrails, and hitting Sarel van der Merwe's car. The other cars were not quite involved in this accident but some were slightly hit by the two cars, and they had to pit for repairs. Geoff Brabham then was ten seconds away from the rest of the field, followed by John Watson, who drove the second BMW GTP. Then John Watson caught up the Nissan, and took the lead of the race. John Watson handed the leading car to David Hobbs, who was now followed by the two Jaguar XJR7s of Bob Tullius and Brian Redman. Their better fuel mileage was a strong advantage as they planned one less pit stop than the turbos. The Nissan was now in fourth place while Al Holbert and Al Unser Jr were now in fifth position. Then the Nissan's engine expired, and the leading BMW had one minute lead over Al Unser, who was ahead of the two Jaguars. Unfortunately for the Bavarian make, the engine quit on lap seventy one, and the car was parked at turn five. Al Unser was now in the lead, with Hurley Haywood now in second place. While the cat seemed to be able to pounce, it didn't as a half shaft snapped on lap ninety two. The Jaguar even lost second place in the closing laps, as Price Cobb and Rob Dyson managed to pass the Jaguar after experiencing problems early in the race. They were five laps down at the finish. The Lights class was won by the very fast Alba AR6 Ferrari driven by Martino Finotto, Ruggero Melgrati and Carlo Facetti. The beginning of the race saw the domination of David Loring, whose Denali had built up a one lap lead over his opponents. However, when he took back the car, his co-driver, Pierre Honegger, had lost the lead and in third place. He would be unable to regain his lead, and the pair finished third in class. Second was the Spice Fiero driven by Chip Ganassi and David Sears. The GTO class was a now traditional Ford versus Toyota duel, and Chris Cord and Jim Adams led most of the race, while Scott Pruett and Bruce Jenner swapped the second place with the other Toyota, driven by Rocky Moran and Dennis Aase. While Chris Cord broke a shift linkage, the other Toyota took the lead, but when Scott Pruett got back into his car, he was within a few seconds from the AAR car. At the finish, the Toyota was still ahead, but by only twelve seconds. In GTU, Roger Mandeville took an early lead, but he lost it after a long pit stop. Tom Kendall then could enjoy first place, then handed the car to Irv Hoerr, who was completely new to this type of car. Roger Mandeville, with co-driver Danny Smith, could catch up the CCR car and finally won his class.
The two cars were far away from the rest of the field as Helmut Silberberger and Dennis Krueger were five laps down.
The Watkins Glen Kodak Copier 500 race was a GTP-Lights race with a strong thirty one car entry. BMW had thoroughly tested and improved their cars on this very track, and they had gathered enough information to set their cars very well. In fact, they were one-two on the grid, with the youngsters ahead of their elders. That would be the perfect race for BMW, with Davy Jones and John Andretti lapping almost everyone, except second an third place finishers. Al Holbert and Derek Bell were second, while Rob Dyson and Price Cobb took a third place. The second BMW, driven by John Watson and David Hobbs retired from the race after suffering from an overheating. The Chevrolet Corvette GTP finished fourth, but started from fifteenth place, it did not appear able to win, while the best Jaguar XJR7 was fifth, and driven by Hurley Haywood and Brian Redman. The Lights class was won by the works Spice Fiero driven by Bob Earl, this time partnered by Chip Ganassi. Second was David Loring, who had a great race with his Denali Mazda. Third place'was taken by Skeeter McKitterick and Tim Coconis, who drove a Rocketsports Alba Oldsmobile.
The next race was to be held at Columbus, for a 500 Miler held on the street circuit. This event featured a very strong forty car field. The Nissan surprisingly took the pole with Elliot Forbes Robinson, Sarel van der Merwe was second. Klaus Ludwig and Pete Halsmer drove a Ford Probe, they were in third place while Jochen Mass and Darin Brassfield put their BF Goodrich Porsche 962 in fourth place.
The track was a street circuit and one man was particularly gifted for setting up his car on such a course. This man was Bob Wollek. The Bayside Porsche 962 was Bridgestone shod and Bob Wollek, who was partnered by Scott Pruett, had a great race. Starting from the twelfth spot, the pair built up a one lap advantage over Darin Brassfield and Jochen Mass.
Copyright Mark Windecker
Brian Redman and Hurley Haywood finished third, one lap down. It was a very tough race with more than fifty per cent of the field out of the race at the chequered. Steve Durst and Michael Brockman took a new win at the wheel of their Tiga GT286 Mazda, with David Loring and Pierre Honegger again taking a second place finish in their Denali Mazda. Jim Rothbarth and Mike Meyer took a third place in a Royale RP40 Mazda. It was a perfect one-two-three for the Japanese make. Jim Downing did not finish the race, but he had already clinched his second Lights title in a row.
The Daytona Finale was the traditional season ending race, this time featuring GTP-Lights-GTO cars in a single race while the GTU cars would compete in a separate race. Sixty four cars were entered, and once again, Sarel van der Merwe set up the fastest lap, followes by John Watson and David Hobbs on the BMW GTP. Klaus Ludwig was third and Al Holbert and Derek Bell were fourth on the grid. The race was kind of exciting, with different makes capable of winning the race. In fact, it would be the sole victory for a non turbo engine this year. The BMW GTP led early in the race, but ran out of gas. The Chevrolet Corvette GTP ran well, but experienced troubles during the race, and Sarel van der Merwe and Doc Bundy finished a distant fourteenth, eight laps down. Al Holbert and Derek Bell didn't win the race, but Al had already clinched the Championship : he finished sixth. The Jaguar driven by Bob Tullius and Chip Robinson finally had its victory on the last race. A welcomed victory after a disappointing season. Rob Dyson and Price Cobb took the second place, with Darin Brassfield and John Morton third in the BF Goodrich car. The Lights class was dominated by the Alba AR6 Ferrari driven by Ruggero Melgrati, who set a new class record in the process.
Copyright Michael Crews
The race was a different story, as the Italian car retired after eight laps. The Tiga GT286 Chevrolet driven by Howard Katz and Steve Phillips took the first ever victory for the GM in the Liggts class. Ron Canizares and Mike Strawbridge took a second place in a Tiga GT286 Mazda, just ahead of class Champion Jim Downing, who drove his usual Argo JM19 Mazda with friend John Maffucci. The GTO class was to be a big fight between Toyota-Ford and Chevrolet. Ford did a special effort for this race, and had four cars entered, amongst which a Coors backed car for NASCAR star Bill Elliott. This time, Ford would beat Toyota as Scott Pruett won the race while Chris Cord took a second place in his Toyota Celica T. Bruce Jenner was third while Jack Baldwin could not do better than fourth in his Chevrolet Camaro. A very special car was to be seen as a road racing Porsche 961 was entered by Porsche AG for Gunther Stekkonig and Kees Nierop. Was this car a token of what laid ahead for the future? It was not to be.
Scott Pruett earned the GTO title driving a Roush Racing Ford Mustang. Bruce Jenner finally finished second in points for his best season ever. Jack Baldwin took a third place in his Peerless Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Things were to change thoroughly in 1987, with the arrival of new cars. The GTU Championship was won by Tom Kendall, who took four wins at the wheel of his CCR Mazda RX7. A surprising title, as he would put it, with an ageing car. Nobody would have given him heavy odds to win the title. But he won, while Roger Mandeville finally fell short of the title by a mere seven points, taking eight wins. What a finish!
Copyright Michael Crews
Al Holbert was the new Camel GTP Champion, and he proved once again he was a great driver, and a great strategist. Always smooth on cars, he outlasted his opponents. The new teams had proved they could become a real threat for the future, and BMW was probably the team to beat for 1987. Alas, and for some unknown reasons, BMW once again announced its withdrawal from the GTP scene. This announcement was a real shock amongst the racing world. The cars were being really sorted out, and they were becoming the cars to beat, but that's life.