IROC II (partially found footage of stock car races; 1974-1975)

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The opening Michigan race advertised as part of the 1974 Norton 250 race program.

Status: Partially Found

IROC II was the second International Race of Champions (IROC) season. Occurring from 14th September 1974 to 14th February 1975, Bobby Unser of the USAC Championship Car series would go on to win the championship and $41,000 in prize money.


As with the previous IROC series, entrants into the IROC II season were invited, having been deemed among the best of their respective motorsport series.[1][2] Among those competing were USAC Championship Car's Unser, A.J. Foyt, and Johnny Rutherford; NASCAR Winston Cup's Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, and Richard Petty; Formula One World Championship racers Emerson Fittipaldi, Ronnie Peterson, Graham Hill, and Jody Scheckter; and SCCA Can-Am driver George Follmer.[1][2] Last year's champion Mark Donohue had temporarily retired, and therefore did not return to defend his title.[3][1] He nevertheless helped prepare the near-identical cars, which were fitted with Goodyear tyres.[3][1] This prevented Mario Andretti, Al Unser, and Parnelli Jones from competing, as they were under Firestone contracts and were refused permission to enter.[1]

A few alterations were made to the IROC format.[2][1] The Porsche Carrera RSRs were dropped in favour of all drivers competing in Chevrolet Camaros, while the Daytona International Speedway's oval was used at the expense of the infield course.[2][1] The Michigan International Speedway would open the season, the oval having been added to replace one of the Riverside International Raceway events.[2][1] While most drivers had conducted at least some oval driving prior to the series, Peterson was completely unfamiliar with this type of track racing.[2]

The Races

The first round occurred at Michigan on 14th September 1974.[2][1] Despite his lack of oval racing experience, it was actually Peterson who won the pole position.[2] However, Unser quickly gained the lead, and, after briefly losing it, would hold onto the first position for the remaining 49 laps of the 50-lap event.[3][2] Meanwhile, Scheckter was running in fourth ahead of Petty after 16 laps, when the King's front ended up getting underneath the South African's rear, causing his car to plough into the wall and bruise his hip.[3][2] Scheckter admitted he should not have competed in the series as he was battling Clay Regazzoni for the 1974 Formula One World Championship.[3] Nevertheless, he stated the event was "a lot of fun".[3] Meanwhile, Hill retired after 35 laps following an ignition failure.[2] On lap 39, Petty was running in fifth, and made a charge through the field, passing Foyt.[3] But as he passed Pearson, the latter ducked down, causing Petty to spin and collect Foyt, which eliminated both on the spot.[3][2] Elsewhere, Unser's main competition was Yarborough, who was unable to pass despite often being right behind the USAC driver.[3] Unser therefore claimed victory, ahead of Yarborough and Pearson.[3][2] Post-race, Unser felt his car was slightly quicker, but criticised the cars' drafting abilities, stating "The darn things don't slipstream as much as we thought they would."[3]

The second race took place at Riverside on 26th October.[4][2] As per IROC reverse order regulations, Scheckter started first and Unser last.[5][2][4] On the opening lap, the cars of Unser, Allison, Fittipaldi, and Peterson collided.[4][2] Allison smashed into the outside guard rail, causing his Chevrolet to go airborne.[4][2] He suffered a fractured vertebrae from the accident.[2] Unser slammed into a concrete post, causing the post to fly and nearly hit his car again.[4][2] Despite the impact wrecking his car, Unser escaped uninjured.[4][2] The race was stopped for over an hour, with Unser gaining the spare Chevrolet.[4] However, he retired immediately when the car's ignition key became jammed.[4] When the race resumed, Scheckter and Pearson duelled for the lead, repassing one another several times.[4][2] However, Fittipaldi climbed the order, despite his car nursing damage from the opening lap crash, eventually passing Pearson for the first position on lap 22.[4][2] Pearson and Scheckter fell down the order, allowing Foyt and Follmer to move into the podium positions.[4][2] Follmer passed Foyt for second on lap 24, but could do little to challenge Fittipaldi, therefore enabling the Brazilian and newly crowned F1 champion to claim victory.[4][2] Follmer and Foyt remained in second and third respectively.[4][2]

Allison's back injury was deemed not serious following X-ray results, with him making a return for the next Riverside race held the next day.[4][2] Starting from first, Allison maintained the lead throughout the majority of the race despite needing to nurse his broken back, claiming victory in the process.[2] Unser took second, but most media attention centred on Fittipaldi.[2] After starting last following reverse order regulations, the Brazilian made a strong charge through the field to eventually take third.[2] Scheckter retired after six laps following an oil leak, with Pearson also failing to complete the race when his engine failed after 19.[2] In the final race, held at Daytona on 14th February 1975, only the top nine drivers in the championship standings competed, meaning Scheckter, Hill, and Petty were eliminated from the championship.[2]

The series finale is considered one of the greatest in IROC's history, with eight of the competing drivers leading at least one lap, contributing towards 12 lead changes overall.[2] On lap 4, Follmer and Rutherford were eliminated from contention following a crash that also involved Fittipaldi and Peterson.[6][2] Peterson also crashed out after 30 laps.[2] Unser and Foyt were the main contenders for the win, with the former narrowly edging out his fellow USAC driver by just two feet.[2] This was enough for him to also claim the title, with Foyt second, and Yarborough third in both the final race and the standings.[2] Overall, Unser claimed $41,000 in prize money from the series.[2]


ABC was responsible for filming and later televising the races until 1980.[7] Ultimately, none of the full race broadcasts from IROC II have publicly resurfaced, but footage of the opening lap crash in race 2 can be found on YouTube.[8]



The opening lap accident in race 2.


See Also