IMSA Evaluating End-Of-Year Non-Points Race at Sebring

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

IMSA could hold an end-of-year non-points event at Sebring International Raceway, aimed at its pro-am, global-spec classes, according to the sanctioning body’s CEO Ed Bennett.

Bennett revealed to Sportscar365 that the concept, currently under the working title of “IMSA Encore,” could feature a combination of LMP3, GT3, GT4, GT Cup and MPC machinery in an endurance race format.

While the concept is still being evaluated, Bennett said it could debut as early as next year.

“The idea would be in November or December, does it make sense to do some kind of standalone race with different global specs?” Bennett told Sportscar365.

“I don’t know what the combination might be; we’ve got to talk to people to see what could make sense.

“LMP3 would be a candidate, GT3, GT4 would also be candidates. Some would say how do you feel about GTC, like a Porsche class? And Mazda Prototype Challenge too.”

Bennett said “IMSA Encore” has been discussed internally since its acquisition of Sebring during the merger with Grand-Am in 2013, but the recent introduction of global platforms, such as LMP3 and GT4, has created a potential opportunity.

IMSA debuts the ACO-spec LMP3 cars this week at Sebring, in the opening round of the new-look Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda Series, which features 45-minute sprint races.

“For the LMP3 guys, we’d like to see them have one longer race,” Bennett said. “Something longer than three hours is probably too long to start with.

“We’d like to give them something special and different, a one-off.

“You think about Sebring; this is one of the tracks we operate as a group. It could use another event.

“It’s still warm [in November/December]. If it was a one-off after all the other championships are done, we might be able to do something unique and fun.”

Bennett said the races would be open to all competitors that have compliant cars to the class, and not just limited to full-season IMSA teams.

“Anybody with the right spec car that fits that,” he said. “It would be great to have people potentially from around the world. Why not?”

21 Comments

  1. Joe Thornton

    March 16, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Lets pray this race happens, finally a great idea from IMSA

  2. av

    March 16, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I continue to wish for a wec race at sebring. Including invitational entries from other series as it is done for le mans.

  3. LugNutBro

    March 16, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    I tell you one thing, after watching the first LMP3 race from Sebring today I sure wish IMSA could have found a place for them in a format that is longer than 45 minutes. Awesome cars

    • Mike S.

      March 16, 2017 at 9:35 pm

      I agree. Those V8’s sound good. If Caddies weren’t in head of IMSA class with their V8’s I would rather hear the P3 V8s tear it up in a race than the sedated turboed P2’s.
      WEC won’t go to rough tracks I don’t think. Sebring is rough which is part of its charisma and character for sure but just saying.
      Hey experimenting is great. No points have some monetary awards and trophies and try it. If its a failure okay adjust or don’t do it the next year.
      Are the GT3’s close to P3 speeds? I am too lazy to look at the time differences.

      • David

        March 17, 2017 at 12:56 am

        Yes

      • Thomas

        March 17, 2017 at 4:52 am

        What turbocharged P2 cars? P2 cars have a V8 in then that sounds epic

  4. Matt

    March 16, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Keep it all GT or all prototype. And go to a different track. IMSA really needs to get back to Mid Ohio.

    • Michael

      March 16, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      Oh I agree. Call me biased because it’s my home track, but Mid-Ohio always had awesome Grand-Am and ALMS races. I’d love to see the IWSC go back.

    • Thomas

      March 16, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Mid Ohio in November or December?

      • someone

        March 16, 2017 at 8:24 pm

        It would certainly be interesting conditions

  5. tuckerc

    March 16, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    I vote YES.

    • jason

      March 16, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      I vote NO. We already got COTA 24, Laguna 8, and 24 of Thunderhill

      • Steven Ellis

        March 17, 2017 at 12:45 am

        Are you saying you want less racing?

  6. TheGhostOfScottTucker

    March 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    This has potential to become a great event. Anybody remember back in the 90’s they used to do an event at sebring around september or october for the IMSA GT championship. I really hope IMSA pushes this event. Would love to see a 3 class race with P3, GT4, and GTC with Porsche cup cars, Ferrari Challenge, and Lamborghini Super Trofeo. Of course in a dream world I’d like to see a exhibition WeatherTech series race with a huge monetary prize for the overall and class winners.

    • Bakkster

      March 17, 2017 at 9:56 am

      They also used to race at Daytona three times a season. The 24h to open the season, a finale race, and the Paul Revere night race that started at Midnight on July 4th.

  7. guest

    March 16, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    The Sebring 4 Hours of Cautions sponsored by The Color Yellow.

    • Mike S.

      March 16, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      wah wah Debbie Downer is here.

  8. Max

    March 16, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Would love to see a WEC combined or included weekend at Petit Lemans

  9. kevlow

    March 17, 2017 at 5:54 am

    This would be an awesome event and Sebring is a track that could bring teams from all over, especially in the winter. The LMP3 car are built for longer races and need to run for more then the short sprints in the PC class. There is a growing number of LMP3 cars and by Dec 2018 may likely be a strong class in itself. Seeing P3, lites, Cup, GT4 mixing it up in a four to six hour race would be great. However, I think they could push it up to eight to ten hours and would probably have a better car count.

  10. Jack

    March 19, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Great Idea!

  11. 996corsa

    March 20, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Sounds good! Hope they do it, great weather there in November, pretty much past hurricane season by then. I’ve been to the early December vintage race there before, had great weather and it’s still out of peak season then in FLA, so travel/hotel costs are reasonable.
    I think a 6-8 hour format would be great as it encourages multi-driver lineups.
    Which would be a benefit to the Pro-Am teams, allowing them to book more paying drivers to reach the required budget. This would also help open up the door for foreign teams to make this a realistic proposition.
    If 6-8 hours is deemed too much for the smaller protos, let them have their own shorter event on the day before. That would make for a nice full weekend schedule. Maybe they open that race up to those cool little NASA protos and Radicals, etc.? That seems to go over well at the 25 hours of Thunderhill event.

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