The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced today the second class of inductees for the IMSA Hall of Fame, and like the inaugural class it features an intriguing lineup of both competitors and cars that helped define North America’s premier sports car organization.
The IMSA Hall of Fame lives digitally at www.imsahalloffame.com, with inductees chosen from a larger group determined by a nominating committee comprised of past and present IMSA executives and members of the media. BDO, a corporate partner of IMSA, validates the HOF voting. The 2024 class will be showcased during the WeatherTech Night of Champions on Oct. 13 at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia.
Today’s announcement comes during IMSA’s season-opening weekend at Daytona International Speedway for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“Our second round of inductees is a fantastic follow-up to last year’s debuting class,” IMSA President John Doonan said. “We feel like we’ve landed on a great formula for determining inductees; in IMSA both the drivers and the cars are the stars. Always has been, always will be. And that makes for an amazing hall of fame.”
IMSA Hall of Fame Class of 2024
A star internationally in endurance sports car racing, Englishman Derek Bell became one of IMSA’s marquee names in the 1980s and ‘90s, primarily behind the wheel of another HOF inductee – the Porsche 962. One of those 962s, sponsored by Lowenbrau, remains one of the most popular cars in IMSA history. Bell had 19 overall victories in IMSA, three in the Rolex 24 (1986, ’87, ’89). He also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times.
If you wanted sports car excellence in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, Australian Geoff Brabham provided: the son of three-time Formula One World Champion Jack Brabham won four consecutive IMSA GTP titles from 1988-91, driving a car that is also inducted this year – the Nissan GTP. A 24 Hours of Le Mans champion in 1983, he won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring twice (1989, ’91), two of his 25 IMSA race victories.
Downing’s racing success – and his influence on safety initiatives – form an impressive resume. On track, he was a force in the Radial Sedan class and then dominated in GTU production cars and Camel Lights prototypes; he posted 24 IMSA victories in his driving career. And in his “spare” time he co-invented the HANS (Head and Neck Restraint System) which revolutionized auto racing and has saved many lives. Emphasis on the word “many.”
They rightfully called the late Moretti “Mr. MOMO”: he was the man who brought the Ferrari 333SP to IMSA, a car that won 56 races worldwide from 1994-2003, including three victories at Sebring (1995, ’97, ‘98) and one at the Rolex 24 (1998). Moretti was one of IMSA’s most successful “gentleman” drivers, co-driving to 10 overall victories.
This is a case where the inductee’s name speaks for itself. Riley designed numerous IMSA cars over the years, most notably the Riley & Scott open-cockpit prototypes and later, the Riley Daytona Prototypes. Riley chassis have won seven Rolex 24 championships, all with different engines. Riley founded Riley Technologies in 2001 with his son, Bill, who continues to be a championship winning IMSA team owner and operator today.
Before he became one of NASCAR’s most prolific team owners, the “Cat in the Hat” prowled the IMSA garage, with most success coming with Ford Mustangs. The Roush Racing team, with NASCAR legend Mark Martin a key driver, captured five Rolex 24 class victories between 1989-95 – concurrent with Roush’s rise in NASCAR’s Cup Series. Fittingly, the Roush Ford Mustang is also a 2024 HOF inductee.
Here’s your imagery: bright blue, Nos. 83 and 84, becoming one of the winningest cars in IMSA history. Geoff Brabham, also being inducted this year, was the official main wheelman but he had first-rate help in the form of co-drivers like Chip Robinson. As already referenced, Brabham drove Nissans to four consecutive IMSA GTP championships.
This car was an absolute staple in IMSA from the late 1970s to the early 1980s before the exotic GTP category was unveiled. Drivers in those cockpits included HOF inductees Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood. Porsche 935s won the Rolex 24 and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring six times each.
These remarkable production-based hot rods dominated IMSA’s GTO class for most of the 1980s. The ever-evolving driver lineup was likewise remarkable, including Tommy Kendall, Mark Martin, Dorsey Schroeder, Lyn St. James and IMSA HOF inductee Scott Pruett.
All-American Racers, a company founded by the late, great Dan Gurney, one-upped Nissan’s IMSA success by winning 21 of 27 races the team entered from 1991-93 with the Eagle MkIII prototype. That includes 17 consecutive victories. Juan Manuel Fangio II – nephew of the great Formula One champion – led the driver lineup.