Number 296: The 2019 IMSA WeatherTech Championship Issue
The 50th anniversary of IMSA isn’t just a chance to indulge in the past – but, wow, what an incredible past. It’s also a celebration of the exciting here and now in North American endurance sports car racing.
When you talk of IMSA’s golden ages, the GTP era of the 1980s and early ’90s is a spectacular highwater mark. More recently, the American Le Mans Series, with its mix of high-tech prototypes and relatable GTs tearing up the old script about sports car racing being a marathon, not a sprint, is right up there, too.
But how about we also include the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship?
Pre-season hyperbole? Not a bit of it.
When ALMS and Grand-Am announced their merger in the fall of 2012, with IMSA sanctioning the united championship for its ’13 debut, short-term pragmatism determined the structure and format of the various classes, but proved astute over the longer term. Retaining both series’ GT classes to provide a home for factories and privateers alike was a decision that continues to pay off in quality, quantity and variety. Meanwhile, the transition from Daytona Prototypes to the “P2 on steroids” machines of Daytona Prototype international (DPi) is a case study in how to provide manufacturers with a platform that can showcase a brand and tell a technology story, but without heading down an LMP1-style budgetary death spiral.
Bottom line, we have a series that, front to back, supplies great racing from its heaving grid, and connects with fans on multiple levels.
Connecting with a television audience was always something of a challenge for the IndyCar Series, thanks to its nomadic existence across multiple broadcast partners. Going all-in with the NBC Sports Group for 2019, with six races, including the 103rd Indianapolis 500, on network NBC and the rest on NBCSN, could be a huge booster. Add in newly-announced title sponsor NTT, and we’re definitely liking the momentum the series is building.