The twisty Californian track would host another GTP race in which Porsche still earned the lion's share. However, Nissan was beginning to set its mark with Geoff Brabham and Elliot Forbes Robinson setting some very good lap times at various tracks. The field was attractive, with twenty one cars entered. Five Porsche 962s would face two Jaguar XJR7s, two BMW GTPs, two Ford Probes, one Chevrolet Corvette GTP and a single March 84G Chevrolet.
The Porsche 962s were the favorites, as per usual, with Al Holbert and Derek Bell leading the field in their Löwenbrau car, entered by Holbert Racing. They would have to face a strong opposition from the Dyson Racing car, driven by Rob Dyson and Price Cobb. Bayside Racing entered one car with Bob Wollek and Paolo Barilla driving. Busby Racing relied on Jochen Mass and Darin Brassfield while Jim Busby teamed up with John Morton in the BF Goodrich mounted cars. Bob Akin had his Coca Cola machine for James Weaver and himself. The German cars, even as favorites, would have to face a string of opponents. Group 44 fielded two cars with Brian Redman and Hurley Haywood in one of the two Jaguar XJR7 cars. Those were evolutions of the XJR5 car, with much more downforce, and a 6,0L or 6,5L V12 engine. The car was also more efficient aerodynamically. Bob Tullius and Chip Robinson were at the wheel of the second car. BMW was fielding two cars, each of them driven by either the youngsters or the veterans. David Hobbs was partnered by John Watson and John Andretti was co-driven by Davy Jones.
Copyright Van Zannis, courtesy Racingsportscars
They had recovered a new health and appeared as potential winners. They sported a 2,0L 4 cylinder turbocharged engine, given for 800hp. Zakspeed had two Ford Probes. Klaus Ludwig being partnered by Tom Gloy, and Lyn St James had Pete Halsmer as co-driver. Electramotive had brought its Nissan ZX T GTP, which should be driven by Elliot Forbes Robinson. He would run solo, a strategy that could be rewarding on such a track. Hendrick Motorsport fielded one Chevrolet Corvette GTP, still to be driven by Sarel van der Merwe and Doc Bundy. Conte Racing also fielded one car, which was a Hawk Buick. Whitney Ganz and Jim Crawford would drive it. The last GTP car to be entered was the Mosler Racing March 84G Chevrolet. This car was to be driven by Brian Goellnicht and Phil Compton. It was virtually the only real private entry. Curiously, the Lights class was only five cars rich. Financial woes seemed to have hit the class. Bob Earl, in the Spice Engineering Spice Fiero, was the new class of the field.
Copyright Kenneth Barton
Jim Downing was to drive his Argo JM19 Mazda solo, and he would oppose his reliability to the Spice speed. He would face Howard Katz and Steve Phillips, in a Tiga GT285 Chevrolet. Jim Rothbarth and Mike Meyer, in the Mike Meyer Racing Royale RP40 Mazda, were clearly slower. As was the Tiga GT285 Mazda driven by Tom Blackaller and Mark Rodrigues. The former being here in order to relax before the upcoming America's Cup. The practice session was dominated by Elliot Forbes Robinson, whose Nissan ZX T GTP. But the Nissan failed to make the practice sheets, and he would start in seventh position. Bob Wollek was the pole sitter, edging Price Cobb and the two Ford Probes driven by Klaus Ludwig and Pete Halsmer. John Andretti was behind them, trailed by John Watson, Elliot Forbes Robinson and Al Holbert. The two Jaguar XJR7s were next. The race showed a lot of promise, with a very competitive field. At the start of the race, Bob Wollek was in the lead, followed by Price Cobb and Klaus Ludwig. Pete Halsmer was out of contention, right from the beginning, losing many places. Behind the three leaders were the two BMW GTPs, eager to fight against the best. Ford seemed quite unlucky as Klaus Ludwig would pit on lap four. A broken A-arm would cost him twelve laps, negating his chances at winning the race. Bob Wollek and Price Cobb would away from the rest of the pack, and Al Holbert, who started from a lowly sixth position, was making his move through the field. He was fifth by lap six. Jim Crawford, running the Hawk Buick, would stop by lap twelve, with a broken gearbox. The Ford drivers would stop and switch cars, with Klaus Ludwig jumping into Pete Halsmer's car while Tom Gloy relieved him in the best placed car. Bob Wollek was still in the lead, slightly ahead of Price Cobb, but his tires were fading away. Price Cobb then took the lead on lap twenty, and he pulled away from him by one second per lap.
Copyright Van Zannis, courtesy Racingsportscars
Bob Wollek then stopped four laps later. A blistered right rear tire was removed, but he lost an additional five seconds for jumping the start. Jochen Mass was forced to pit by a lack of rubber on lap eighteen. Action was not to be denied, as Pete Halsmer passed Al Holbert for fifth. Hurley Haywood spun in turn eleven. While Price Cobb seemed to be settled in first position, the big surprise would come from John Andretti, whose BMW GTP was now in second place. Pete Halsmer was behind him and followed by David Hobbs. Unfortunately for John Andretti, he would be in trouble with his ice chest cool suit breaking loose. He had to pit, leaving his position to Pete Halsmer, soon to be passed by David Hobbs. Then came the refueling period. Rob Dyson would take over the Porsche 962, followed by John Watson, who had replaced David Hobbs. Elliot Forbes Robinson, in his Nissan ZX T GTP, was now in fourth, and was still at the wheel of his car in this very hot California afternoon. It seemed that the cars would begin to suffer from that moment, as engines would suddenly let go in many cars. Pete Halsmer's Ford Probe, James Weaver's Porsche 962 and Jim Busby's Porsche 962. John Watson's BMW GTP was to strike the tire wall while somewhat blocked by a bunch of cars. Bob Tullius Jaguar XJR7 and James Weaver Porsche 962 would all lose their engines. That left Rob Dyson in the lead, with Al Holbert now in second place, followed by Brian Redman's Jaguar XJR7. Elliot Forbes Robinson was third, just ahead of the remaining BMW GTP driven by John Andretti and Davy Jones. Rob Dyson's way to victory was only to be annoyed by a malfunctioning cool suit. He proved that a perfect race preparation would finally pay off. In addition, Rob Dyson also proved that he was an excellent race driver, running only fractions of second off Price Cobb's pace. This being done with a malfunctioning cool suit. The rest of the race was history, and the pair won with a forty one second margin over Al Holbert. The Lights class, which had been dominated by Bob Earl, in his Spice Fiero, in practice, saw him easily escape from the rest of the tiny field. On lap twenty four, however, he would pit with brakes problems. Back to the track, a flat tire sent him again to his pits. Tom Blackaller, who had taken over the lead in his Tiga GT285 Mazda, seemed to be set for a class win when he crashed his car while trying to avoid Brian Goellnicht's March 84G Chevrolet. Howard Katz was the new leader of the race but he was overtaken by Jim Downing three laps from the finish. Jim Rothbarth and Mike Meyer ended up third. All three cars were on the same lap at the end. It was a very dull race for the Lights class, but a good win for Jim Downing.
As a conclusion, the race was great, with many potential winners. It was perhaps the most competitive season ever, with many great makes having a go at GTP racing. About fifteen cars could be a potential winner at nearly every race. It was the golden years of Sportscar Racing and Brian Redman called this season : "This is by far the most competitive road racing series in the world." He was certainly right!