IROC I (partially found footage of stock car races; 1973-1974)
The first three races advertised as part of the 1973 Times Grand Prix program.
Status: Partially Found
IROC I was the inaugural International Race of Champions (IROC) season. Occurring from 27th October 1973 to 14th February 1974, Mark Donohue of the SCCA Can-AM series would go on to win the championship and $54,000 in prize money.
IROC is a stock car racing series that was conceptualised by Roger Penske, which would pit the best drivers from several motorsports series against each other. Entry into the series was therefore generally restricted to those who were generally deemed the world's greatest, typically those who recently won a major championship or a major race like the Daytona 500 or Monaco Grand Prix.
Among those competing in the inaugural series were SCCA Can-Am drivers Mark Donohue, Peter Revson, and George Follmer; NASCAR Winston Cup's David Pearson, Bobby Allison, and Richard Petty; USAC Championship Car's Bobby Unser, A.J. Foyt, Gordon Johncock, and Roger McCluskey; and Formula One's Emerson Fittipaldi and Denny Hulme. All drivers would race in Porsche Carrera RSRs. To ensure close racing, the Porsches were built and modified so they were similar as possible to one another, so that it was based primarily on skill rather than mechanical advantages. Further, drivers were also required to swap cars after every race in reverse order.
The first three races commenced at Riverside International Raceway on 27th and 28th October, each lasting over 75 miles. In the first race, Donohue won the pole position from Revson, with Pearson lining up third. Despite setting the best time, Fittipaldi, as well as Follmer, were sent to the back of the field for being late to a race meeting, with Follmer also forgetting his race uniform. Donohue proved dominant, leading every lap of the race to claim victory, ahead of Unser and Revson. Three drivers failed to complete the race; Fittipaldi retired after nine laps following a gas leak, Allison left after 14 due to a transmission failure, while an oil leak ended Pearson's race with two laps remaining.
For the second race, Fittipaldi lined up in front in Donohue's car, while Donohue himself drove a backup car to replace Fittipaldi's stricken one. Follmer also drove a replacement car after Pearson's was deemed too badly damaged to compete. In the race, he climbed the field from ninth to first, leading 16 laps to claim victory ahead of Pearson and Fittipaldi. Donohue's fortunes completely reversed after his Porsche's throttle failed after only seven laps, while Roger McCluskey crashed out after 19.
Race 3 saw Donohue again lead the full 30-lap event to claim victory, ahead of Unser and Fittipaldi. Post-race, Donohue announced what would ultimately be a short-lived retirement, claiming that his final race would be the last IROC I event. He stated "You can't be a driver at 65, and it is something everyone has to face. I don't think I'm getting any better as a driver. Although anyone who has driven a car that fast can appreciate my feelings in giving it up, it's time to go on to something else." McCluskey, Johncock, Petty, and Allison all retired from the event with various mechanical issues.
The final event took place on 15th February 1974, on Daytona International Speedway's road course that lasted just over 95 miles. Here, only the top six drivers in the points standings would compete, which included Follmer (29), Unser (29), Donohue (25), Revson (25), Pearson (24), and Foyt (22). Thus, both Formula One drivers Fittipaldi and Hulme, alongside Allison, Petty, Johncock, and McCluskey, failed to qualify for the last race. Donohue won the pole position, ahead of Revson and Pearson. In the race itself, Donohue controlled proceedings to claim victory and $41,000 in prize money, totalling $54,000 for all races. A duel between Revson and Unser, considered the best racing of the event according to The New York Times, saw them finish in second and third respectively in both the race and the overall standings. Meanwhile, Foyt retired after only two laps following an engine failure, while transmission issues ended Follmer's campaign after 13.
ABC was responsible for filming and later televising the races. It would broadcast them as part of its Wide World of Sports, being billed as "The World Series of Motor Racing". Of the four races, races 2 and 3 were uploaded in-full by SMIFF TV on 14th December 2017 and 26th January 2018 respectively. Races 1 and 4 are currently missing.
- 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 IX (partially lost footage of stock car races; 1985)
- 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)
- The New York Times reporting on Roger Penske establishing IROC and its recruitment of drivers for the inaugural season. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- Porsche 911 detailing the creation of IROC and the usage of identical Porsche Carrera RSRs. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- Racing-Reference detailing the qualifying and race results of race 1. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- Porsche 911R-RS-RSR detailing the specifications of the IROC Porsche Carrera RSRs. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- Racing-Reference detailing the race results of race 2. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- Racing-Reference detailing the race results of race 3. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- The New York Times reporting on the results of races 1 and 2. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- The New York Times reporting on Donohue winning the race and him announcing his retirement. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- Racing-Reference detailing the race results of race 4. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- Racing-Reference detailing the final points standings for IROC 1. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- The New York Times reporting on Donohue winning the pole position for race 4. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- The New York Times reporting on Donohue winning the fourth race and thus the championship. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- The IROC Porsches noting the first IROC series races were televised by ABC. Retrieved 16th Jul '22
- Good Seats Still Available noting all four races were televised by ABC. Retrieved 16th Jul '22