The inaugural class for the IMSA Hall of Fame has been selected and includes four drivers, three IMSA founders and four iconic race cars from throughout the sanctioning body’s 54-year history. Six members of the inaugural class are members of the RRDC, including four in memoriam.
The inductees will be honored as part of October’s WeatherTech Night of Champions held following the Motul Petit Le Mans season finale to celebrate the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and crown series champions.
Speaking of champions, the four drivers selected for induction into the inaugural IMSA Hall of Fame class – Peter Gregg, Hurley Haywood, Al Holbert and Scott Pruett – all RRDC members, multiple-time IMSA champions and multi-time winners of the world’s most prestigious sports car races. Joining the inaugural IMSA Hall of Fame class are the three founders of the International Motor Sports Association: John and Peggy Bishop (RRDC members) and Bill France Sr.
In addition to the seven people selected to the first IMSA Hall of Fame class, four iconic race cars – the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Ferrari 333 SP, Mazda RX-7 GTU and the Porsche 962 – also have been selected for enshrinement.
“These seven individuals and four race cars are the epitome of excellence in IMSA and global sports car racing,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “There can only be one inaugural class, and each of these inductees unquestionably qualifies as a ‘First Ballot Hall of Famer.’ We could not be prouder to welcome John and Peggy, ‘Big Bill,’ Peter, Hurley, Al and Scott – as well as the C5-R, 333 SP, RX-7 GTU and 962 – into the IMSA Hall of Fame.”
These inductees were selected from a larger group determined by a nominating committee comprised of past and present IMSA executives and an esteemed group of media members. BDO, which was introduced as a corporate partner of IMSA earlier this year, validated the accuracy of the 2023 IMSA Hall of Fame voting results.
Plans call for a mix of influential people and race cars to be inducted into the IMSA Hall of Fame each year.
“We are grateful to our nominating committee for thoughtfully presenting several highly successful race cars and key players from the IMSA paddock that were deserving of our consideration,” said Doonan. “It was challenging to reduce the initial list of nominees into a smaller group for a ‘final ballot,’ and even tougher to decide who would be chosen for this year’s class of inductees. We are confident in this year’s selections and know that many of those nominees will one day be enshrined in the IMSA Hall of Fame as well.”
The IMSA Hall of Fame will live in an online environment. A standalone website will launch later this year.
THE IMSA HALL OF FAME INAUGURAL CLASS – 2023
John and Peggy Bishop – Husband and wife co-founded the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) along with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. Led IMSA from 1969 through 1989. John Bishop served as IMSA President throughout his tenure, while Peggy managed IMSA staff, registration, timing and other essential processes. Grew IMSA from sanctioning body for Formula Ford races on small ovals to pinnacle of worldwide sports car racing. Prior to forming IMSA, John Bishop previously worked for the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), where he played an instrumental role in the creation and operation of Can-Am, Trans-Am and Formula 5000. [Image courtesy of International Motor Racing Research Center]
Bill France Sr. – Founder of NASCAR co-founded IMSA in 1969 with John and Peggy Bishop. Provided initial financial support for IMSA using a business model based on the successful NASCAR stock car program. Brought international sports car endurance racing to Daytona International Speedway with a three-hour race in 1962, which expanded to 24 hours in 1966. A motorsport visionary who supported stock cars, sports cars, motorcycles and any other form of the sport that could fit into the France family’s growing portfolio of racing facilities. [Image courtesy of Automotive Hall of Fame]
Peter Gregg – One of IMSA’s first stars and the most successful GT driver of the 1970s. Co-drove with Hurley Haywood to the first IMSA GT race victory at VIRginia International Raceway in 1971. Ten-time IMSA champion (1971 GTU, 1973 GT CHALLENGE, 1973 GTO, 1974 GT CHALLENGE, 1974 GTO, 1975 GTO, 1978 GT CHALLENGE, 1978 GTX, 1979 GTX) and four-time overall winner of the Rolex 24 At Daytona (1973, 1975, 1976, 1978). [Sportscar Digest image]
Hurley Haywood – Winningest overall major endurance race driver of all time. Five overall Rolex 24 At Daytona victories (1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1991). Three 24 Hours of Le Mans overall victories (1977, 1979, 1981). Two Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring victories (1973, 1981). Co-drove to first IMSA GT race victory with Peter Gregg at VIRginia International Raceway in 1971. Four-time IMSA champion (1971 GTU, 1972 GT CHALLENGE, 1972 GTU, 1994 NORTH AMERICAN ENDURANCE CUP CLASS 1). [RACER image]
Al Holbert – Most overall race victories in IMSA with 49. Seven-time IMSA champion (1976 GT CHALLENGE, 1976 GTO, 1977 GT CHALLENGE, 1977 GTO, 1983 GTP, 1985 GTP, 1986 GTP). Became fifth driver in history to win major endurance racing “triple crown” (Daytona, Le Mans, Sebring) and is one of only nine drivers to win each race overall. Rolex 24 At Daytona winner in 1986 and 1987. Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring winner in 1976 and 1981. Three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner (1983, 1986, 1987). [Pinterest image]
Scott Pruett – Nine IMSA championships (1986 GTO, 1986 GT Endurance, 1988 GTO, 2004 GRAND-AM DP, 2008 GRAND-AM DP, 2010 GRAND-AM DP, 2011 GRAND-AM DP, 2012 GRAND-AM DP, 2018 GRAND-AM DP ENDURANCE CUP). Tied with Hurley Haywood for most overall Rolex 24 At Daytona overall victories with five (1994, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013) and all-time leader in Rolex 24 class wins with 10. Overall Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring winner in 2014. Owns 60 career IMSA victories, which is second on all-time IMSA winner’s list. [Zimbio image]
Chevrolet Corvette C5-R – Claimed 31 victories, 50 podium finishes and 24 pole positions in 55 races from 1999 through 2004. Won four constructor’s championships, four team championships and three driver championships. Earned overall victory in 2001 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Had three class victories in 24 Hours of Le Mans (2001, 2002 and 2004). Won Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (2002, 2003 and 2004). [Image courtesy of Richard Prince]
Ferrari 333 SP – Claimed 56 victories and 69 pole positions in 144 races worldwide from 1994 through 2003. Won IMSA constructors’ championships in 1995 and 1998, an IMSA driver championship in 1995 and an IMSA team championship in 1998. Won Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring three times (1995, 1997, 1998). Won 1998 Rolex 24 At Daytona. [Image courtesy of Bill Tuttle]
Mazda RX-7 GTU – Won GTU class (for engines with a displacement under 2.5 liters) in debut race at Daytona in 1979 with two-rotor rotary engine. Two Mazda factory cars finished on the podium in every race in 1980 en route to championship. Program shifted to privateer entries from 1981 through 1987 with RX-7 drivers claiming seven straight GTU championships. Car was instrumental in launching the careers of legendary IMSA drivers including Scott Pruett, Tommy Kendall, Bill Auberlen and many others. [Mark Windecker image]
Porsche 962 – Debuted at the Daytona 24 Hours in 1984 with Mario and Michael Andretti as co-drivers and won the pole position. Led the race before technical problems removed it from contention. First IMSA victory came in 1984 six-hour race at Watkins Glen. Won Daytona 24 Hours five times (1985-87, 1989 and 1991) and 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1985, 1987 and 1994. Won IMSA GTP championship every year from 1985 to 1988. [Image courtesy of Peter Gloede]