A legacy that began when NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and John and Peggy Bishop co-founded the original International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) in 1969 took a step into the future this week at the International Motorsports Center (IMC).
IMSA and International Speedway Corporation (ISC) Chairman Jim France – the son of Bill France Sr. – joined IMSA CEO Ed Bennett and NASCAR President Mike Helton to unveil the addition of IMSA logos to signage outside the eight-story IMC building that is headquarters to IMSA, NASCAR and ISC.
The “new” IMSA is the result of a merger between the Daytona Beach-based GRAND-AM Road Racing, which operated and sanctioned the Rolex Sports Car Series as its top series, and the previous iteration of IMSA, which was based in Braselton, Ga. and sanctioned the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and its development and single-make series.
The Rolex Series and ALMS have merged to create the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which makes its debut in 2014 with the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26.
“It’s been an exciting year merging GRAND-AM with the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, so it’s an honor today to unveil the new IMSA logo that has united us all,” Bennett. “One of the first things we needed to do was establish the sanctioning body for our new venture, and based on a great deal of feedback, the obvious choice was to return to IMSA.
“Today was made possible by the great vision of the France family, the important relationship between Jim France and Don Panoz (founder of the ALMS), and the tireless effort and cooperation from our industry partners and employees.”
The International Motorsports Center is just the fourth home to IMSA in its existence. It was based in Bridgeport, Conn. from its founding through the conclusion of the 1988 season when it moved to Tampa, Fla. IMSA had been based in Braselton since 2001.
“Daytona never lost its connection to sports car racing and the passion Jim France has for it was instrumental in IMSA’s return to Daytona in the International Motorsports Center along with NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation,” said Helton. “Jim’s father, Bill France, Sr., and mother, Annie B. France, and John and Peggy Bishop first created IMSA back in 1969 because of the passion the France family had for motorsports beginning even before NASCAR’s inception in 1948.
“Today’s unveiling is as much symbolic and fun as it is a business announcement because it’s like IMSA has come back home after all these years. The opportunity and the excitement that we can collectively contribute to more motorsports under our umbrella is right before us.”