The Nissan Grand Prix of Miami, as it was dubbed, was the second race of the 1990 season. The race was to be a hard fought one, with NPTI anxiously willing to take revenge after the Daytona disaster. The IMSA series had changed a lot, with shrinking fields and TV coverage now deciding when the race was to be held. Furthermore, the town tracks had their own requirements, and you could wait for a yellow flag caution series to be displayed. This 8th Grand Prix of Miami could boast a high quality field. NPTI fielded two Nissan ZX T GTPs, driven by Geoff Brabham-Chip Robinson-Bob Earl and Geoff Brabham-Derek Daly. They were supported by yet another Nissan ZX T GTP, which was entered by Busby Racing, and driven by John Paul Jr, co-driven by Kevin Cogan. The car was the ex-Electramotive one, and should do well in the hands of such drivers. In fact, it will. The main opposition for these favorites appeared to be, once again, in the form of the Castrol Jaguar XJR10s. Davy Jones and Martin Brundle drove the first car and Price Cobb drove the second one with John Nielsen. These cars were improved versions of the XJR9, and featured a sleeker desigh. For that particular race, they wore an additive front spoiler, designed to provide them with more downforce. The other outsider for the win was the AAR Team. Two Eagle Toyotas were entered, and driven by Rocky Moran, while Drake Olson drove the other car. It was decided that both of them would run solo. Then you had a bunch of Porsche 962s. Dyson Racing had one car for James Weaver and Scott Pruett, very much willing to reiterate their 1988 win. Dauer Racing, a well established German racing team, as well as a car builder, was here with Bob Wollek and Raul Boesel. Gianpiero Moretti was partnered by Derek Bell on his Momo backed 962C. The two other cars were apparently less competitive, with Swiss driver René Herzog entering his Alucraft sponsored 962C, which he would drive with Hurley Haywood, and David Seabroke, along with Bill Adam on another 962. Three Spices would try to compensate their relative lack of power, on such a course, with torque. Amongst these cars was the Works car, which was to be driven by Alberto Naon Jr. In the first place, this talented young driver was to be partnered by Emerson Fittipaldi, a racing legend. Unfortunately, this Miami based driver, who could draw thousands of Hispanic fans, was not able to race a Camel backed car-don't forget that his Indycar was Marlboro backed- so he had to retire from the race even before it began. Bernard Jourdain would eventually run as Alberto Naon's co-driver. Another interesting car was the Miller Racing entered Spice SE89C Chevrolet driven by Wayne Taylor and Jim Miller. The last car was Pontiac powered. It was the Koll Motorsports Spice SE88C, which was to be driven by Dan Marvin and Jeff Kline. A special car was to debut at this very race, it was the Audi turbo powered Gebhardt, which was entered by Momo Racing, and driven by Costas Los and Almo Copelli. This car was quite under development and had not any chance for the win. The remainder of the field was provided by the Lights class, with several highly competitive cars on such a track.
Copyright Mark Windecker
Spice was the favorite, with the Works car driven by Firmin Velez and Tomas Lopez. This car was Buick powered and would prove highly fast. The other top team was Bieri Racing, which fielded a Ferrari powered Spice for IMSA regulars Martino Finotto and Ruggero Melgrati. A Tiga GT 288, also Ferrari powered, was entered too for team owner Uli Bieri and John Graham. S and L Racing also fielded a Spice SE89C Buick for teammates Scott Schubot and Linda Ludeman, while you could find two cars entered by Essex Racing for Tom Hessert and Charles Morgan, and Ferdinand de Lesseps and Howard Katz. David Tennyson ran the Denon backed Ferrari Spice SE89C with Calvin Fish. Ken Knott drove another car while Oscar Manautou and David Rocha had the oldest car, a SE87C Pontiac powered. That meant eight cars that were Spice in the Lights class. The English manufacturer was clearly the reference as the leading chassis builder in the small class. In fact, two ageing Argo JM19Cs were entered along with the Tiga. Max Schmidt had a Mazda powered car, while Brent O'neill and Jean de la Moussaye drove the Performance Tech Buick powered car. That left little room for guessing what make could win the Lights class. The practice sessions were dominated by Derek Daly, who drove the #83 Nissan. Next to him was Drake Olson, followed by Alberto Naon, who was surprisingly fast with his Spice, Geoff Brabham was only fourth. The Jaguar XJR10s were a bit down on the grid. But things would worsen for the TWR team whose car was to be driven by John Nielsen and Price Cobb. In fact, the engine suffered a lot during practice and the car could not get another engine in time so it would be withdrawn. The Lights class was dominated by Firmin Velez, who drove the works Spice SE90C Buick. He shattered the previous mark by more than four seconds, which was incredible! Ruggero Melgrati was second, one second slower. The race was to be narrated by David Hobbs, who had some trouble doing his job for ESPN, as the race was to be constantly hampered by some relentless caution periods. At the start, everyone was waiting for Alberto Naon Jr to jump in the lead, as he had nobody in front of him on the grid, but it was Drake Olson who was the quickest of all, and took the lead. In fact, as nobody expected it to happen, Drake Olson would run a race of his own, forgetting everyone on the track. While doing this, his teammate Drake Olson, who ran much more slower, hit the pitwall on lap thirteen. A few moments later, Geoff Brabham would pit with gearbox problems, followed by Davy Jones.
Copyright Mark Windecker
Alberto Naon, who had slightly hit the wall at the start, stopped for a new front nose, losing a lot of time, and being out of contention right from the beginning. Davy Jones would have to do one more lap before effectively stopping, having missed his own pit, and then retiring with an engine gone. While Drake Olson was running on his own, every pit crew was busy devising what the pit strategy was to be. One or two pit stops, that was the great question. The leader had chosen the second solution, and pitted for fuel on lap forty four. In doing so, Raul Boesel, who drove the Dauer Porsche 962, took the lead, followed by Scott Pruett, on the Dyson Racing Porsche 962. In third was the Nissan ZX T GTP initially driven by Chip Robinson and Bob Earl, which was now driven by Geoff Brabham. Brent O'neill then stuffed his car in the wall on lap fifty four, and the pace car was out again. Confusion then was thrown into the race as everyone would pit for fuel, and Drake Olson pitted for the second time. At the restart, it was a drag race between Bob Wollek, who had taken the wheel of the Dauer Porsche 962C and Drake Olson, who drove the Eagle Toyota. Ironman, which was Bob Wollek's nickname, took the lead and would escape from the remainder of the pack. He was now followed by James Weaver, Drake Olson and Chip Robinson, who ran nose-to-tail. Then Drake Olson would hit James Weaver's Porsche, whose oil pressure was at a low point. That left only three cars for the win. Easily leading the race, it appeared that Bob Wollek could be the winner when his pace suddenly slowed down. Drake Olson, who could take back the lead, fretted impatiently and made the fatal mistake. The Eagle Toyota was stuck in the wall, with Drake Olson still wondering why he behave in such a way! Chip Robinson, who was next, watched the action and grabbed the lead, carefully avoiding the debris on the track. The NPTI Nissan was on the lead, and never relinquished it to anyone. Thirty four laps were left, and the path to victory had never been so clear. Next to him was another Nissan ZX T GTP, driven by John Paul Jr, who was back on a track this year and Kevin Cogan. It would be the best result for this car in 1990. James Weaver and Scott Pruett finished third, just ahead of the Lights class winner, which was the Spice SE90C Buick driven by Firmin Velez and Tomas Lopez.
Copyright Mark Windecker
An incredible feat, which was hailed by every spectator. The car managed to finish just ahead of the Alucraft Porsche 962, driven by Hurley Haywood! A great race, according to everyone.
It was a lucky race for Nissan, which was not supposed to win until the last quarter of the race.