The next race was to be held at Road Atlanta, one of the fastest racetracks in the US. The previous year had seen the victory of the Chevrolet Corvette GTP, and it seemed that everything would go the same way as Sarel van der Merwe put again the Hendrick car on the pole. Second on the grid was the Electramotive Nissan ZX T GTP driven by Geoff Brabham and Elliot Forbes Robinson. Would this race be a repeat of the 1986 race? In fact, not at all. The start of the race was a 1986 replay, as Sarel van der Merwe built up a fifteen second lead over the Nissan ZX T GTP, but then, a head gasket blew and sidelined the car. This gave the lead to the Nissan, driven by Geoff Brabham, but the car eventually retired, six laps later. The race was a total Porsche sweep, with James Weaver and Price Cobb capturing a new win, and beating the Löwenbraü backed car driven by Al Holbert and Chip Robinson. Third and three laps down were Steve and Tom Shelton, who had their best race ever. Six Porsche 962s were in the top six spots. Seventh overall was the very fast Spice Fiero entered by Don Bell, who drove it with Jeff Kline. They captured the Lights class win, while Jim Downing and John Maffucci were second in their Argo JM19 Mazda. Steve Durst and Mike Brockman took a third place in a Spice Fiero.
Copyright Mike Birch
The next race was due to take place at Riverside. The GTP-Lights race was to be held on the short circuit. The Nissan ZX T GTP was stuck on the pole by Geoff Brabham. However, the Aussie was not to maintain his position for long, as Sarel van der Merwe took the lead on the fourth lap. He was soon to set the fastest lap, while the Nissan ZX T GTP was out of the race after twenty laps. Sarel van der Merwe maintained his position untillap sixty three, until a valve spring let go. The race was left to a Porsche-Jaguar battle. Relying on a better fuel efficiency, the Group 44 Jaguar XJR7 driven by Hurley Haywood and John Morton finally overcame the Porsche challenge, and won by a mere three seconds! Darin Brassfield and Wally Dallenbach, who drove the Uniroyal/Goodrich car, took the third place, and finished one lap down. The Lights class was once again dominated by the AT & T Spice Fiero, driven by Don Bell and Jeff Kline. They had to face a challenge by Steve Durst and Mike Brockman, who drove a quite similar car. The two of them finished one-two, while the Argo JM19 Mazda, entered by Jim Downing, took third. A very strange car was to be entered in this race, but it actually did not race. The Pontiac GTA, driven by Doug Goad and Andy Pilgrim, was some kind of UFO racer, with a very long front section and the cockpit located at the rear. It looked like a GT car, which had been heavily modified.
Copyright Dennis Currington
This car was not to be seen later in the season.
At Laguna Seca, under a sunny weather, it was Price Cobb who put the Dyson Racing Porsche 962 on the pole. He was followed by Jim Crawford, who drove the Conte Racing Hawk Buick. Third on the grid was the Chevrolet Corvette GTP, driven by Sarel van der Merwe. Klaus Ludwig was next, in the Bayside Motorsports Porsche 962. While Jim Crawford was an early retirement, the race was won by Klaus Ludwig, who was not plagued by any trouble. Second was Sarel van der Merwe, who could have won if he had not been delayed by some minor troubles. Chip Robinson was next, just ahead of John Morton and Hurley Haywood, in the Jaguar XJR7, while David Hobbs drove the Nissan ZX T GTP to an encouraging fifth place. Don Bell again won the Lights class, ahead of Steve Durst and Jim Downing who came in third place.
At Lime Rock, Holbert Racing brought in two cars, driven by Al Holbert and Chip Robinson. The latter stuck number 14 on the pole, while Hurley Haywood and John Morton were alongside him. Price Cobb and James Weaver were third, with the Ford Maxxum, driven by Scott Pruett and Pete Halsmer in fourth place. Neither Nissan nor Chevrolet entered their GTP machines. Chip Robinson did not last for long and the only surprise in this race was to be provided by Ford, whose Roush entered Maxxum finally took a well-deserved second place. Al Holbert, who drove a perfectly scheduled race, easily won the race. Third overall was the Dyson Racing Porsche 962, driven by Price Cobb and James Weaver. The Lights class was a total upset victory for a newly entered car in 1987. The Z and W Denali Mazda, driven by David Loring, defeated everyone on this very tricky track. Second was Jim Downing, who was partnered by Michael Greenfield, in his usual Argo JM19 Mazda. Don Bell and Jeff Kline took a disappointing fourth place, as they underwent some minor troubles.
At Mid Ohio, a strong twenty five car field took the green for a 500 kilometers race. Geoff Brabham was partnered by Elliot Forbes Robinson in the Nissan ZX T GTP he put on the pole. Al Holbert and Chip Robinson were alongside the Japanese racer. Michael and John Andretti were third on the grid, driving the second Chevrolet Corvette GTP entered by Hendrick Motorsport, just ahead of Price Cobb and James Weaver, while the other Chevrolet Corvette GTP, driven by Sarel van der Merwe and Doc Bundy, was fifth. The race was finally won by Jochen Mass and Bobby Rahal, who inherited the lead seventeen laps from the finish. They overtook the Uniroyal Goodrich car, driven by Darin Brassfield and Bob Wollek. Sarel van der Merwe and Doc Bundy finished third, but experienced a misfire which slowed them down. The Nissan ZX T GTP once again appeared as the fastest car, easily setting up the best lap, but it failed to finish.
The Lights class was once again won by Don Bell and Jeff Kline, who took a sixth place overall in their Spice Fiero. Second were Steve Durst and Mike Brockman who finished one lap down. Chip Mead had a very good race in the Fabcar, and he finished third, edging Jim Downing and John Maffucci.
The West Palm Beach race was the next one. Sarel van der Merwe and Doc Bundy were on the pole, with Al Holbert and Chip Robinson on the outside. Hurley Haywood and John Morton were on the second row, with Bob Wollek and Darin Brassfield in fourth place. The race was to be hardly fought between the Group 44 Jaguar XJR7 and the Holbert Racing Porsche 962. This action packed resulted in a very close finish, as John Morton and Hurley Haywood finally won with a two second margin over the Al Holbert and Chip Robinson. The race was marked by the loss of the Chevrolet Corvette GTP, which was driven by Doc Bundy. A misfire developed, and despite Doc Bundy's attempts to settle it down, the car was a downright mess. It seemed that the fire crew was not fast enough. The Lights class had a new winner, as Chip Mead and Howard Cherry took a well deserved win, driving the Whitehall Fabcar Porsche, Steve Durst and Mike Brockman took the second place. Third were Howard Katz and Steve Phillips in a Chevrolet powered Tiga GT286.
The next race, held at Watkins Glen, was some kind of revival for both class winners. The race was scheduled to take place on the short course, as the entry field did not exceed twenty five cars, so it changed much of the race conditions, as the backstraight was to be run much more times. The pole position fell to Chip Robinson, who set a 1m00s704, which was impressive. Once agajn, Holbert Racing had entered two cars. Al Holbert was in car #1 while Derek Bell was in #14. They started one and two, but Sarel van der Merwe blasted past both of them and took the lead. Starting ninith, Price Cobb was catching up on the leaders and was fourth. The Nissan ZX T GTP, driven by Elliot Forbes Robinson, exploded a tire on lap three and retired. Price Cobb barely avoided him. A full course yellow was now on. At the restart, Sarel van der Merwe was still in the lead, but Derek Bell pitted without a fourth gear. Then Al Holbert and Sarel van der Merwe engaged a duel, which was to last until lap thirty nine. Sarel van der Merwe hit a piece of debris, and blew a tire : he was out. A new yellow caution period was set. Everyone pitted for fuel. Chip Robinson took the wheel of the leading car, and now had a full lap advantage over Vern Schuppan, who drove the Dyson Racing car. The small GTP field was reduced by one unit when Pete Halsmer retired with a broken engine. As Chip Robinson seemed to be set for an easy victory, the car suddenly went out of control, and Chip Robinson hit the tire wall. This last race action gave the lead to Price Cobb and Vern Schuppan, who easily cruised to victory, two laps ahead of the Hotschkis Racing Porsche 962 driven by John Hotschkis and Jim Adams. The remainder of the GTP field had been decimated, and third was the first Lights car, who appeared to be Steve Durst and Mike Brockman, in a Spice Fiero. Second in class was the Argo JM19 Mazda driven by Jim Downing and John Maffucci, who finished just ahead of David Loring in his Denali Mazda.
The next race, held at Portland, seemed to be dedicated to the Nissan, which set up the pole position. However, the Japanese car once again was out of contention very soon, and once again it was a Porsche sweep, with Chip Robinson winning the race over Bobby Rahal and Price Cobb.
Running very strong, the Chevrolet Corvette GTP had moved up to second place when it was hit by a piece of debris. A pit stop threw the car into fourth place at the end. The Nissan retired on lap 84 with an overheating engine. The Lights class was won by Jim Downing. He defeated Don Bell and Steve Durst. This race saw the very first appearance of the Momo March 86G Buick. The car was still unsorted and Gianpiero Moretti and Whitney Ganz finished nonth overall.
At Sears Point, the race was won by Jochen Mass, who drove the Bayside Disposal Porsche 962. Once again, the Chevrolet Corvette GTP did not manage to do better than a third place overall. Second was Price Cobb, still running strong, who Dyson Racing yet another top finish.
Copyright Van Zannis
The Lights class was always a hard fought one. Chip Mead drove consistently and brought a victory to the Fabcar Porsche contingent. He did compensate the lack of power by a better handling car and outdrove Howard Katz, on a Tiga GT286 Chevrolet, and Jim Downing, at the wheel of the oversized Argo JM19 Mazda.
The next race was the third enduro of the year, which meant that every class was mixed at Road America. A fifty five car field was to face some very hard weather conditions.
It would be Elliot Forbes Robinson's first pole position in the Nissan ZX T GTP which was fitted with a new aluminium V6 Turbo block. The Corvette GTP was alongside, but the best time was finally set by Oscar Larrauri, who had to settle for row two, as he realised his time later in practice. After a late minute storm, it was clear that the race would be delayed, as the conditions were long to improve. When the green was set, the Nissan ZX T GTP took the lead of the race and managed to set an eleven seconds lead upon its pursuers. The track was drying quickly and many cars would pit for slick tires. The Nissan easily built up a twenty four second lead when every front runner had switched for appropriate compounds. At that time, Oscar Larrauri had carved his way through second place, but Sarel van der Merwe was becoming more and more oppressive. As the South African soon was past Oscar Larrauri, he was moving close on the leader. Al Holbert was to overtake Oscar Larrauri to become third, while Price Cobb and Hurley Haywood were following. As the routine pit stop began, the Porsche 962 driven by Al Holbert moved a bit closer to the leading car. He was now ahead of the Chevrolet Corvette GTP driven by Doc Bundy. The situation evened out until lap forty nine, when the rain made a sudden appearance. Within a few minutes, the track was awash and the pace car was out. It was suddenly over for the Nissan and the Chevrolet Corvette GTP, which succumbed from water. The race was then red-flagged. The race was restarted on lap sixty, with Al Holbert in the lead, followed by Johnny Dumfries, who drove Rob Dyson's car. Shortly after, Whitney Ganz, who drove the Momo March 86G Buick, hit Hurley Haywood's Bayside Porsche 962, who had slowed while avoiding Chris Cord's Toyota Celica Turbo. The three cars were out, but neither driver were hurt. When the race restarted, Johnny Dumfries was now in the lead, and he knew that his car was running well in such conditions. Derek Bell's car was slowed down by some misfire, and Oscar Larrauri moved past into second place. On a drying track, his tire choice(for wet) might have been wrong, but some showers finally proved him to be right. At the end, Derek Bell was overtaken by the sister car, driven by Al Holbert and Chip Robinson. Six Porsche 962s finished in the top six spots, with Charles Morgan and Jim Rothbarth in seventh position, winding up in first position in Lights class. It was their first ever class victory, and they were just ahead of the second Spice Fiero, driven by Don Bell and Jeff Kline. Jim Downing and John Maffucci finished third in class, two laps down. The GTO class was a new battle between the Toyota Celicas, the Roush Ford Mustangs and the Protofab cars. The rain gave an advantage to Chris Kneifel, nicknamed Reinmeister, who took the lead when Wally Dallenbach's Toyota had to stop for fuel. It was Wally Dallenbach's maiden race on the AAR car, who had to get used to a turbocharged car for the first time. After an early challenge by Scott Pruett, who crashed his car, Chris Kneifel and Paul Dallenbach took the GTO lead and gave Protofab the win, while Greg Pickett and Tommy Riggins finally took the second place over the Toyota.
Copyright Mark Windecker
The GTU class did not bring any change. However, the main question was to know how long the Alderman Nissan would last in the race. Beating the former GTU record by three seconds, it was not challenged in terms of pure speed, on such a track. After twenty one lap, the Nissan was out, and GTU leader Tom Kendall took the lead, chased by Amos Johnson. The ensuing full course caution gave Tom Kendall the win
as Amos Johnson was passed by the leaders, he simply could not get closer to Tom Kendall. Third in class, Al Bacon and Bob Reed completed the 1-2-3 sweep for Mazda.
San Antonio was the next event, and it was a street course. It was also a premiere, which meant that some of organisational troubles were to arise. Despite this fact, no major problem was to be encountered, and Holbert Racing finally managed a trouble free 1-2. Sarel van der Merwe had set the pole, but was struck by fuel feed problems, and he and Doc Bundy had to settle for third. Don Bell and Jeff Kline were into the winners circle, and they finished ahead of the Fabcar Porsche driven by John Higgins and Chip Mead while Tom Winters and Skeeter McKitterick took a third place on a Spice Fiero too.
Copyright Mark Windecker
At Columbus, Porsche once again dominated the race, and swept the top eight spots. The sole opposition to the German fleet appeared, as per usual, the Hendrick Racing Chevrolet Corvette GTP. This car featured a new revolutionary device, which was an active suspension developed by Peter Wright, of Lotus Group. During the race, though, this new system proved rather unwieldy, as the car had to be shut off during a pit stop. Sarel van der Merwe restarted at the back of the pack. He quickly made his way up until sixth, but a valve in the system failed, and he had to retire. Bobby Rahal won the race, with Jochen Mass behind him. Both of them drove a Bayside Motorsports Porsche 962. Price Cobb and Johnny Dumfries were next, while Chip Robinson and Derek Bell were fourth.
Copyright Mark Windecker
The Lights class saw another victory by Charles Morgan, who drove a Spice Fiero. He was followed by Mike Brockman and Martino Finotto and Guido Dacco, who managed to finish the race in their Ferrari powered Alba.
The final round of the season was not scheduled at Daytona, for the first time, but at Del Mar, near San Diego, in California. A street course under a sunny weather. Chip Robinson, who was the new IMSA Champion, seemed to be willing to christen his new crown, and would start on the pole, with Price Cobb alongside. The Nissan ZX T GTP, driven by Geoff Brabham, was besides Bobby Rahal on row two. At the start, Chip Robinson managed to maintain his position, while Sarel van der Merwe ended up his shortest race of the season, when he hit the wall in turn three in lap one. Price Cobb had just missed his start, and he was quickly passed by the two Bayside cars. While Chip Robinson had an amazing three second advantage by the end of lap one, Bobby Rahal and Jochen Mass were next. Price Cobb was behind the two of them but spun on lap nine. He then pitted for quick repairs. Then Chip Robinson was hit by Jim Rothbarth, while lapping him, and a full yellow caution was set for seven laps. Then Doc Bundy crashed the second Chevrolet Corvette GTP, ending up a disastrous day for the team. At the end of this second caution, Bobby Rahal, fighting with a boost pressure problem, was the new leader while Geoff Brabham was now in second place, and Jochen Mass was third. A new race incident was then to happen later, which involved both Bobby Rahal and Geoff Brabham. Lapping Jeff Kline, Bobby Rahal was sent spinning, and the Nissan had to brake hard. As a result, Jochen Mass came to a halt while Geoff Brabham could restart, and take the lead. By lap fifty six, however, Geoff Brabham had a three second lead over Jochen Mass, Derek Bell was a distant third. Then Geoff Brabham spun at the chicane, losing his position then he handed the car to Elliot Forbes Robinson. When everyone had refueled, it was now Jochen Mass who was a clear leader. Chip Robinson had taken the wheel of the car driven by Derek Bell, but he spun heavily on lap seventy four, and he was out once again. While Bobby Rahal was now in second place, he was struggling without a clutch. Elliot Forbes Robinson, meanwhile, was slowed down by a set of tires that picked up some unwanted debris. He made an extra pit stop and finished in sixth place. The end of the race saw Oscar Larrauri get past Bobby Rahal, and grab a well deserved second place. Jochen Mass was just running at his own pace. In doing so, he easily won his fourth race of the year, and scooped the biggest prize ever offered by IMSA: $85000! The Lights class offered some interesting racing, but IMSA had decided that every Camel Lights car had to make one pit stop, even if it could run without any refueling. Jeff Kline, once again, was fastest in practice. At the start, however, it was Jim Rothbarth who took the lead in a dominating way. Skeeter McKitterick was next while Chip Mead had to work his way from the back of the pack. Then Jim Rothbarth sent Chip Robinson out, and the caution which ensured him a one lap advantage. The second caution was used by the leaders to switch drivers. Jeff Kline, who had passed Skeeter McKitterick, was gaining on the leader, when he tangled with Bobby Rahal. The AT & T Spice Fiero then cruised to an easy win, while Howard Katz and Steve Phillips finally took a very rewarding second place, while Jim Downing and John Maffucci secured a new Lights title by finishing third in class.
The season was over, with Chip Robinson emerging as the new IMSA Champion, and a new rising star. The 1988 would be a long awaited one. Porsche again dominated the series, but things would become more and more tough. TWR would enter a pair of Jaguar XJR9s, while Nissan was becoming threatening. The season to come was a thrilling one!
The Lights class saw Jim Downing win thanks to his consistency, but the opposition was becoming tough, too.
Copyright Mark Windecker
Chris Cord was the new GTO Champion, with the AAR Toyota Celica Turbo, defeating Ford and Chevrolet. Tom Kendall was again in his CCR Mazda RX7, a car which had become the most successful ever in the series.
The Camel GT Championship was simply becoming more and more professional. A new era was to begin, with many great races to come, in every class.