IROC IX (partially lost footage of stock car races; 1985)
IROC IX was the ninth International Race of Champions (IROC) season. Occurring from 15th February to 10th August 1985, Harry Gant of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series would go on to win the championship and $158,200 in prize money after edging out Darrell Waltrip in a tiebreaker.
IROC IX was the second season of IROC's return, following a hiatus after the 1979-1980 season. Among the changes included the introduction of IROC's own production car, the IROC-Z, following a deal with Chevrolet to produce a higher trim Camaro. IROC would also receive television coverage from CBS from 1984 to 1986. The series would additionally revert back to the four-race format, consisting of twelve invited drivers deemed the best among their respective motorsport series. For 1985, this included NASCAR Winston Cup drivers Gant, Waltrip, Terry Labonte, and defending champion Cale Yarborough; CART PPG IndyCar World Series' competitors Bobby Rahal, Tom Sneva, A.J. Foyt, and Mario Andretti; Formula One World Championship racers Derek Bell, John Watson, and Jochen Mass; and Trans-Am Championship's Tom Gloy. Unlike in previous seasons, all twelve drivers were eligible to compete in all four races.
The first race commenced at the Daytona International Speedway on 15th February, with Watson in pole position. Yarborough quickly took the lead following a strong start, but would be passed by Foyt four laps later. Andretti exited after a mechanical failure just five laps in, while Gloy crashed out after 15. On the last turn of the final lap, Foyt was still leading ahead of Yarborough and Sneva. Yarborough attempted a slingshot maneuverer but sidedrafting prevented him from moving ahead. Both were approaching the final turn with Yarborough on the side of Foyt, and Sneva closing up to Yarborough. However, Sneva hit Yarborough's rear, causing the latter to hit Foyt's left rear, and causing all three plus Rahal to spin out. Waltrip, who started 11th in the event, suddenly assumed the lead after running fourth, claiming victory in the process. Sneva and Foyt recovered to finish second and third respectively, Yarborough fell to sixth, while Rahal was unable to cross the line and was classified ninth.
On 8th June, the second round occurred at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. As per IROC's reverse order regulations, Andretti started in the first position, while Waltrip was last. Andretti took advantage of his position by leading the first 27 laps. His main competition was Rahal, who was considered a "home" driver for this event. Rahal attempted a pass on the leader, but ended up colliding and causing Andretti to spin-off. Rahal inherited the lead, holding onto it for the final two laps to claim victory, ahead of Watson. Andretti recovered to finish third. The third race was due to commence at the Talladega Superspeedway on 27th July. However, excessive rain forced the event's cancellation, with no alternative date being arranged since it was meant to be a Winston Cup supporting race.
The final race commenced at the Michigan International Speedway on 10th August, with Waltrip starting in the first position. Andretti was absent for the event, after breaking his collarbone and fracturing his right hip socket at the 1985 Michigan 500. Waltrip led for the first four laps before being passed by Labonte. Labonte would then engage in a duel with Gant for the remaining duration of the race. Gant led from laps 10 to 29, before Labonte moved back into the first position for laps 30 to 45. Aside from Labonte leading on lap 44, Gant controlled proceedings from laps 36 to 48, before Labonte moved in front on lap 49. Labonte was ahead on the final lap, but Gant, despite making contact with Labonte at Turn 4, made one final move to gain the lead and win by four feet. Yarborough took third, while Foyt retired after 27 laps following a mechanical failure.
Waltrip finished fourth, and was level on 45 points with Gant. Gant notably had moved from ninth in the standings to joint-first following his victory at Michigan. Per IROC's rules, the tiebreaker is based on who finished higher in the final Michigan race. Thus, Gant edged out Waltrip to claim the title, and $158,200 in prize money.
As noted previously, CBS provided coverage for IROC IX races. Two of its three broadcasts have publicly resurfaced. On 12th April 2020, SMIFF TV uploaded the Mid-Ohio race. Meanwhile, on 12th September 2022, Dave W provided the CBS coverage of the Michigan event. However, the Daytona race broadcast is missing. According to Austin LaPlante, the Daytona race was available on the OldSchoolNascar channel, but it was removed following the channel's termination. As of the present day, the only available footage of the Daytona race is of the finish.
- IROC I (partially found footage of stock car races; 1973-1974)
- IROC II (partially found footage of stock car races; 1974-1975)
- IROC III (lost footage of stock car races; 1975-1976)
- IROC IV (partially found footage of stock car races; 1976-1977)
- IROC VI (lost footage of stock car races; 1978-1979)
- IROC VII (partially found footage of stock car races; 1979-1980)
- IROC XII (partially lost footage of stock car races; 1988)
- IROC XVII (partially lost footage of stock car races; 1993)
- IROC XXV (partially lost footage of stock car races; 2001)
- IROC XXVI (partially lost footage of stock car races; 2002)
- CarThrottle noting IROC's hiatus. Retrieved 30th Oct '22
- CarThrottle summarising the races and changes made to the series. Retrieved 30th Oct '22
- GMEFI noting IROC's races from 1984 to 1986 were televised by CBS. Retrieved 30th Oct '22
- Archived IROC Racing summarising the season, and providing race results and the final championship standings. Retrieved 30th Oct '22
- UPI reporting on Andretti's injuries the 1985 Michigan 500 that prevented him from competing in the final IROC IX race. Retrieved 30th Oct '22
- UPI noting Gant won the title following the tiebreaker, based upon each driver's position in the final race. Retrieved 30th Oct '22
- Austin LaPlante's IROC race broadcast YouTube playlist. Retrieved 30th Oct '22