Getty Images

Mid-Ohio returns to IMSA schedule in May 2018

1 Comment

LEXINGTON, Ohio – The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will make its return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar in 2018, marking the first time Mid-Ohio has been part of an IMSA calendar since the 2014 merger that brought together the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and American Le Mans Series.

Mid-Ohio’s return to the calendar will occur in May 4-6, 2018, and will serve as the venerable Lexington, Ohio permanent road course’s kickoff to its new season.

This race replaces Circuit of The Americas, which is off of next year’s calendar.

It’s been since 2013 when GRAND-AM last competed there and 2012 when ALMS did, and from 2007 through 2012 ALMS was always on the same weekend as the Verizon IndyCar Series raced at the track.

Besides IMSA’s Scott Atherton and Mid-Ohio track president Craig Rust, Mike Hull (Ford Chip Ganassi Racing), Bobby Rahal (BMW Team RLL) and Mike Shank (Michael Shank Racing) were also present at today’s announcement.

The full release from IMSA is below.


In a news conference this morning at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) President Scott Atherton and Mid-Ohio President Craig Rust jointly announced the return of IMSA racing to the historic, 2.258-mile road course on the weekend of May 4-6, 2018.

The event weekend will be headlined by the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which will compete at Mid-Ohio for the first time. In addition, the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will return for the first time since 2013.

“Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has a long and storied history of hosting world-class sports car races in front of a loyal and knowledgeable fanbase,” said Atherton. “We will build on that legacy next May with a field of Prototype and GT race cars that represent the pinnacle of the sport. Many of our stakeholders have long been supportive and quite vocal regarding a return to Mid-Ohio and we are pleased that we can finally say ‘We’re back.’”

The most recent top-level IMSA race to be held at Mid-Ohio was a GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series event on June 15, 2013 won overall by Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, who went on to win back-to-back WeatherTech Championship Prototype titles in 2014 and 2015. The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) raced at Mid-Ohio for the final time on Aug. 5, 2012 won overall by co-drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf.

There were a total of 13 GRAND-AM races and 11 ALMS events at Mid-Ohio. GRAND-AM and the ALMS merged following the 2013 season to form the WeatherTech Championship, which began operation in 2014.

“We are thrilled to announce that the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be joining our schedule in 2018. It is a great way to kick off our season,” said Rust. “We have a tremendous following of sports car fans, and they ask us every year when we might be able to bring the IMSA series to Mid-Ohio. We are very proud that we were able to work with Scott Atherton and his team to get this done for them, for us – and most importantly for our fans.”

As part of the announcement, it also was confirmed that IMSA will not be returning to Circuit of The Americas in 2018. IMSA and Circuit of The Americas mutually agreed on the decision and the two companies continue to have a positive, healthy relationship. Both are open to working together again in the future.

Entire 2018 schedules for the WeatherTech Championship and Continental Tire Challenge will be announced next Friday, Aug. 4 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

Ker Robertson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?