IROC XII (partially lost footage of stock car races; 1988)

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The Riverside race advertised as part of the 1988 Budweiser 400, and marking the end of major races held at the track.

Status: Partially Lost

IROC XII was the 12th International Race of Champions (IROC) season. Occurring from 12th February to 13th August 1988, Al Unser Jr. of the CART PPG IndyCar World Series would go on to win the championship, his second IROC title, and an IROC record $211,900 in prize money.


As is tradition with IROC seasons, IROC XII consisted of twelve invited drivers deemed among the best of their respective motorsports series.[1][2] Among these included CART PPG IndyCar World Series drivers Unser Jr., his father Al Unser, Bobby Rahal, and Roberto Guerrero; NASCAR Winston Cup Series competitors Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, and Geoff Bodine; IMSA Camel GT's Al Holbert, Chip Robinson, and Chris Cord; and SCCA's Scott Pruett.[3]

The four-race calendar received one alteration compared to the previous season.[2][3] While the first, third, and fourth races would be held at the Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, and the Watkins Glen International as before, the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course was replaced by the Riverside International Raceway for that year's second event.[4][2][3] It marked the first IROC race held at Riverside for nine years, but also the last.[4] Deemed the "birthplace of IROC", it would ultimately prove to be the last year Riverside would hold races, as the track would be foreclosed and demolished so a shopping mall and housing could take its place.[5][4][2] This IROC race would be the second-to-last major event held at Riverside, the final one being the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race the 1988 Budweiser 400.[4][2][5][3]

The Races

The first event occurred at Daytona on 12th February.[3] Guerrero was unable to compete as he suffered a near-fatal accident during a test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 10th September 1987.[6][3] For the race, Elliott started in pole position, and would control proceedings throughout the 40-lap event.[3][2] Nevertheless, he did face pressure from Earnhardt, who climbed from sixth to second and was only two car lengths behind Elliot when the latter reached the chequered flag.[3][2] Labonte finished third, while Robinson was last and three laps down after an accident that forced a caution period, though he was able to finish the event.[3]

Guerrero recovered to compete at IROC's final Riverside race on 11th June.[3][4] Per IROC's reversed order regulations, he started in pole position, with Elliot last.[3][1][2] However, he quickly lost said lead to Robinson, with Pruett moving from fifth to second after pressurising Guerrero off the track by lap 10.[7][2][3] Pruett proved Robinson's main competition for the next 20 laps, finally making his way through on Turn 7 during lap 21.[7][3][2] From there, he edged out Robinson for the remaining nine laps, winning by about two seconds.[3][7][2] This was not only Pruett's first IROC victory, but also the first for a road racer in 18 IROC events.[7][3] Unser Jr. claimed third, while Guerrero ended up colliding with a stalled Earnhardt, both retiring after ten laps.[7][3] Post-race, Preutt expressed his disappointment of Riverside's closure, stating "Riverside has been a good track for me. I hate to see it close. In 1986, I started last and won a Trans-Am race here. I was in a GTO race in Charlotte on Saturday, took a red-eye out here and had to start last because I missed qualifying."[7]

Prior to the third round at Michigan on 6th August, Cord underwent abdominal surgery, forcing him out of the race.[3] Guerrero started in pole position, leading the first four laps before being passed by Bodine.[2][3] From there, Bodine led the remaining 46 laps, edging out Earnhardt, who again started sixth and climbed to second, by about .783 seconds.[3][2] Unser Jr. took third, in a race featuring no retirements.[3] With this victory, Bodine now led the championship heading into the final race.[3]

The final event, held at Watkins Glen on 13th August, saw a repeat of Bodine and Unser Jr. as the top two competing drivers.[3][2] Unser Jr. passed Bodine for the lead early on, with the latter crashing out after 16 laps.[3][2] Ultimately, Unser Jr. never relinquished the lead, beating out Labonte by 1.58 seconds to claim victory, with Pruett taking third.[3][2] Unser Jr. claimed the title with 66 points, compared to Labonte's 55, and Pruett's 51.[3] This was his second IROC title after IROC X in 1986, with his $211,900 in prize money setting an IROC record.[3][2]


From 1987 to 2003, all IROC races would be televised by ABC, with coverage also provided by ESPN.[8] Three of the IROC XII broadcasts have publicly resurfaced; on 18th July 2018, Ron Swett would upload the ABC broadcast of the opening Daytona event to YouTube. Meanwhile, SMIFF TV uploaded the third and fourth rounds on 25th February 2019 and 2nd February 2017, being covered by ABC and ESPN respectively. However, the latter upload immediately shows the race and none of the pre-race coverage. The Riverside race broadcast has yet to resurface, although it was on YouTube by September 2018 before being taken down.[9][10] Nevertheless, some highlights can be found in a YouTube video.



Race 1.

Race 3.

Race 4.

IROC XII highlights, including from Riverside.


See Also