IROC VI (lost footage of stock car races; 1978-1979)

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The road racing qualifier and final, advertised as part of the 1978 California Grand Prix race program.

Status: Lost

IROC VI was the sixth International Race of Champions (IROC) season. Occurring from 17th July 1978 to 17th March 1979, Mario Andretti of the Formula One World Championship would claim the title. It was also the first IROC season to feature qualifying races.


In previous IROC seasons, twelve drivers would be invited after being deemed among the best of their respective motorsport series.[1] For IROC VI, 24 drivers were invited, and were split into three qualifying groups consisting of NASCAR, USAC, and road racing drivers.[2][1] In these qualifying races, the top four finishers qualified for the finals.[1][2] After that, the twelve qualifying drivers would first compete in a road racing event at Riverside International Raceway, before later competing in the oval final held at the Atlanta International Raceway.[2][1] Whoever accumulated the most points would be declared the champion.[2][1]

The Qualifying Races

The NASCAR qualifier occurred on 17th June 1978 at the Michigan International Speedway.[2] The eight NASCAR Winston Cup drivers included Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Donnie Allison, Neil Bonnett, David Pearson, Benny Parsons, Dave Marcis, and Darrell Waltrip.[2] Waltrip was the only driver not to finish the race, following a collision with Yarborough after four laps.[2] In this 50-lap event, Bobby Allison started on pole with a speed of 154.682 mph, and despite 15 lead changes and continual pressure from Yarborough, would win by three feet.[2] Yarborough, Donnie, and Bonnett also qualified for the Finals.[2]

On 16th September, the USAC qualifying race took place at the Michigan International Speedway.[2] Among the eight USAC Championship Car drivers included two-time champion A.J. Foyt, defending champion Al Unser, Gordon Johncock, Tom Sneva, Danny Ongais, Johnny Rutherford, Rick Mears, and Bobby Unser.[2] Al Unser won the pole position with a speed of 155.106 mph, while Rutherford, Mears, and Bobby Unser would all collide after lap two, forcing out the red flag.[2] Following another competitive race with 15 lead changes, Foyt, who started sixth, claimed victory three feet ahead of Unser, with Johncock taking third and Sneva fourth.[2] Ongais was the only finishing driver to be eliminated from the series.[2]

Finally, the road racing qualifying race commenced on 14th October at Riverside.[2] The pool of eight drivers consisted of Formula One World Championship racers Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Alan Jones, Patrick DePailler, John Watson and Niki Lauda; IMSA Camel GT's Peter Gregg and David Hobbs.[2] Lauda was out after one lap following a broken clutch, while everyone else successfully completed the 30 laps.[2] Gregg, who achieved pole position with a speed of 102.580 mph, led from start to finish, with Fittipaldi, Andretti, and Jones also joining him for the final races.[2]

The Finals

With the twelve competing drivers decided, the Road Racing Final occurred on 15th October at Riverside.[2][1] Johncock won the pole position with a speed of 102.917 mph, with Gregg starting second, and Bobby Allison third.[2] Johncock performed strongly, leading the first 27 laps.[2] On lap 18, Foyt's handling failed, while Unser exited after 25 laps following an engine failure.[2] Two laps later, Johncock was approaching the scene where Unser's engine blew, only to spin on oil that leaked from it.[2] He recovered, but lost the lead to Andretti and fell to sixth.[2] Andretti edged out Yarborough to by .985 seconds to claim victory, with Allison taking third.[2][1]

The Oval Final occurred at Atlanta on 17th March 1979, with Foyt ultimately not starting the event.[3][2][1] The starting positions reflected where each driver finish in the Road Racing Final, meaning Andretti was in pole position.[2] Unser spun on the opening lap, with Sneva encountering the same misfortune a lap later.[2] It was noted that because Atlanta was exclusively utilised for NASCAR events, the NASCAR drivers generally held the advantage thanks to their greater track experience.[1][2] Donnie Allison retired after 17 laps after losing a valve cover.[2][1] Meanwhile, Unser lost control after 57 laps, where he was also hit by Johncock.[3][2] Unser was taken to hospital for X-ray checks to his head, neck and jaw.[3] The final eight laps saw a four horse race for the win, with Bonnett and Andretti swapping the lead several times.[2][1][3] Allison and Yarborough then entered the affair, successfully passing Andretti and utilising both sides to try and overtake Bonnett.[3][2][1] Bonnett remained strong however, and Andretti narrowly passed Allison and Yarborough for second on the final lap.[3][2][1] Bonnett beat out Andretti by a foot to claim victory, but Andretti became the series champion thanks to finishing consistently on the podium, claiming $75,000 in prize money.[3][2][1] Allison pipped Yarborough for third.[2][1]


ABC was responsible for filming and later televising the races until 1980.[4] Ultimately, none of the IROC VI race broadcasts have resurfaced, and no footage of the races is currently publicly available.[5]



See Also