IROC XVII (partially lost footage of stock car races; 1993)
The opening Daytona race advertised as part of the 1993 Daytona 500 race program.
Status: Partially Lost
IROC XVII was the 17th International Race of Champions (IROC) season. Occurring from 12th February to 31st July 1993, Davey Allison of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series would claim the title posthumously, having passed away from a helicopter crash prior to the final race.
As is tradition with IROC seasons, IROC XVII consisted of twelve invited drivers deemed among the best of their respective motorsports series. Among these included NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers Allison, Bill Elliott, defending champion Ricky Rudd, Alan Kulwicki, and Harry Gant; PPG Indy Car World Series racers Al Unser Jr., his father Al Unser, and Arie Luyendyk; IMSA Camel GT's Geoff Brabham, Davy Jones, and Juan Manuel Fangio II; and SCCA Trans-Am Series driver Jack Baldwin. The stock car utilised was the Dodge Daytona prepared by Jay Signore, with the season marking the last time the car was utilised in IROC, having been selected since 1990.
The opening race occurred at the Daytona International Speedway on 12th February, with Fangio starting in pole position. He would quickly lose the lead to Allison, with Jones, Rudd, and Unser Jr. taking it over in consecutive laps. Rudd and Unser Jr. then continually re-passed one another starting from lap 10, with Rudd eventually controlling proceedings from laps 17 to 34. Meanwhile, Elliott, who started seventh, climbed the field and eventually passed Rudd for the lead on lap 35. Allison also emerged in contention, despite being involved in a collision with Unser Sr., which forced the latter out after 31 laps following a head-on crash into a wall. A duel between Elliott and Allison emerged, with the former taking victory by a car length. Unser Jr. finished third, while Rudd fell down to fifth. Post-race, Jones explained his win, stating "It all came down to experience on that last lap. I just got a bit close to him and touched him in the rear. As soon as I got back in it, I got in his dirty air and I slammed the car into the wall. All I could do then was hold on."
The second round, held on 27th March, was the first time IROC visited Darlington Raceway. Heading into the event, Unser Jr. and Luyendyk were both forced to withdraw because of injuries. Unser Jr. had separated his left shoulder while conducting an IndyCar test at Phoenix in February 1993. Meanwhile, Luyendyk suffered back issues and other negative health effects following a crash during practice for the 1993 Indianapolis 500. They were replaced by Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace respectively, neither of whom were eligible for points and would start last for the event. Meanwhile, Unser Sr. started on pole position due to IROC's reversed order regulations. After leading the first two laps, Unser would be passed by Kulwicki, who would control the first position from laps 3 to 11. However, Allison then climbed the order after starting ninth, eventually passing Kulwicki on lap 12. From there, Allison controlled the remaining 49 laps to claim victory, ahead of Earnhardt and Gant. Brabham crashed out after 9 laps, while mechanical issues forced out Kulwicki and Elliott after 14 and 26 laps respectively.
Heading into the third race held at Talladega Superspeedway on 1st May, tragedy struck. On 1st April 1993, Kulwicki was killed in a plane crash alongside three other passengers, aged 38. The 1992 Winston Cup champion, Kulwicki was in fact the first owner-driver to win the championship since Richard Petty achieved the feat in 1979. He would later be inducted into Bristol Motor Speedway's Heroes of Bristol Hall of Fame in 1997. IROC would replace Kulwicki for the remaining two races with Earnhardt, with all prize money, $45,000 in total, going towards three charities. Meanwhile, Luyendyk and Unser Jr. returned, the former starting in pole position. It was a highly competitive race, with 18 official lead changes noted between seven drivers. Elliot and Unser Sr. crashed out on laps five and six respectively, while both Jones and Luyendyk were eliminated after 12 laps. Brabham retired after 33 laps following a mechanical failure. It appeared that Allison, who started last, was on-course for the win, having overtaken Unser on Turn 1 during the final lap. Three turns later however, Allison ran out of fuel, allowing Unser to regain the first position, holding out against Baldwin and Earnhardt to claim victory. Unser became the first driver outside of NASCAR to win at an IROC Talladega race.
Further tragedy occurred prior to the final race at Michigan International Speedway on 31st July. On 13th July 1993, Allison was killed in a helicopter on-route to Talladega, aged 32. A contender for the 1992 Winston Cup, Allison had also won that season's Daytona 500, and remained in contention for the IROC XVII title. He would later be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1998. Allison was replaced for the final race with Terry Labonte. Fangio opted not to compete in the event, while Unser Sr. started from pole position. He was quickly passed by Baldwin, who in turn was overtaken by Earnhardt, the latter leading until lap 20. Baldwin again moved by on lap 21, but Earnhardt would then control proceedings between laps 24-39. However, he then faced challenges from Elliott and Brabham, the latter moving ahead on lap 42, and edging out Elliot by .410 seconds to claim victory. Unser Jr. finished third, while Labonte moved to sixth after passing Rudd and Luyendyk on the final few laps. As Earnhardt and Labonte's results counted towards Kulwicki and Allison's points, it allowed the latter to claim the title posthumously, 2.5 points ahead of Unser Jr. The $175,000 in prize money would go to a trust fund for Allison's children. Post-race, Labonte stated "I was glad to win this one for Davey. He was just a great guy and a tough, tough competitor. I knew the whole Allison family and it’s a real honor to win it for them. I don’t like the circumstances for being invited, but it worked out good."
From 1987 to 2003, all IROC races would be televised by ABC, with coverage also provided by ESPN. Three of the IROC XVII broadcasts have publicly resurfaced; on 4th October 2018, SMIFF TV uploaded the ABC coverage of the Daytona race to YouTube. He would also upload the ABC Darlington race broadcast on 18th January 2021, and had previously uploaded the ABC Talladega event coverage on 8th October 2016. However, the Michigan race has yet to publicly resurface.
- 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 IX (partially lost footage of stock car races; 1985)
- IROC XII (partially lost footage of stock car races; 1988)
- IROC XXV (partially lost footage of stock car races; 2001)
- IROC XXVI (partially lost footage of stock car races; 2002)
- Race Line Central detailing the rules and regulations of IROC. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- Archived IROC summarising the season. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- The Los Angeles Times reporting on Elliott winning the first race. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- The Washington Post reporting on Unser Jr. withdrawing from the second race after sustaining injuries from a testing accident. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- The Herald-Tribune reporting on Luyendyk's injuries that forced him out of the second race. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- The Los Angeles Times reporting on Allison winning the second race. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- UPI reporting on Kulwicki passing away in a plane crash. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- Motorsport Memorial page for Alan Kulwicki. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- The Los Angeles Times reporting on Earnhardt replacing Kulwicki for the final two races. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- The Los Angeles Times reporting on Unser Jr. winning the third race. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- The New York Times reporting on Allison passing away in a helicopter crash. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- Motorsport Memorial page for Davey Allison. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- The Los Angeles Times reporting on Brabham winning the final race, and Allison posthumously becoming champion thanks to Labonte. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- GMEFI noting IROC's races from 1987 to 2003 were televised by ABC and ESPN. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22
- Austin LaPlante's IROC race broadcast YouTube playlist. Retrieved 2nd Nov '22