The inaugural class for the IMSA Hall of Fame has been selected and includes four drivers, three IMSA founders and four iconic race cars from across the sanctioning body’s 54-year history.
The inductees will be honored as part of October’s WeatherTech Night of Champions, which takes place after the Motul Petit Le Mans season finale to celebrate the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Crown Series Champions.
The four drivers selected for induction into the first class of the IMSA Hall of Fame – Peter Gregg, Hurley Haywood, Al Holbert and Scott Pruett – were all multiple IMSA champions and multiple winners of the world’s most prestigious sports car races. The three founders of the International Motor Sports Association: John and Peggy Bishop and Bill France Sr. join the first class of the IMSA Hall of Fame.
In addition to the seven people selected for the first class of the IMSA Hall of Fame, four iconic race cars – the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, the Ferrari 333 SP, the Mazda RX-7 GTU and the Porsche 962 – were also selected for patronage.
“These seven individuals and four race cars epitomize excellence in IMSA and global sports car racing,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “There can only be one induction class, and each of these rookies undoubtedly qualifies as a ‘First Hall of Famer.’ We couldn’t be more proud to welcome John and Peggy, ‘Big Bill’, Peter, Hurley, Al and Scott – as well as the C5-R, 333 SP, RX-7 GTU and 962 – to the IMSA Hall of Fame.”
These inductees were selected from a larger pool determined by a nominating committee made up of past and present IMSA executives and an esteemed group of media members. BDO, which was introduced as IMSA’s Corporate Partner earlier this year, has confirmed the accuracy of the 2023 IMSA Hall of Fame voting results.
Plans call for a combination of influential people and racing cars to be inducted into the IMSA Hall of Fame each year.
“We are grateful to our nominations committee for carefully presenting several highly successful race cars and key players from the IMSA paddock who deserved our attention,” Doonan said. “It was a challenge to whittle down the initial list of nominees to a smaller ‘final vote’ group and even more difficult to decide who should be chosen for this year’s rookie class. We are confident in this year’s selections and know that many of these nominees will one day also be enshrined in the IMSA Hall of Fame.”
The IMSA Hall of Fame will live in an online environment. A standalone website will launch later this year.
IMSA Hall of Fame Class of 2023
John and Peggy Bishop
The husband and wife co-founded the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) along with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., led IMSA from 1969 to 1989. John Bishop served as IMSA president throughout his tenure, while Peggy managed the IMSA staff. registration, timing and other basic processes. IMSA has grown from a punishing Formula Ford racing body on small ovals to the pinnacle of world sports car racing. Before founding IMSA, John Bishop previously worked for the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), where he was instrumental in the creation and operation of Can-Am, Trans-Am and Formula 5000.
Bill France Sr
The founder of NASCAR co-founded IMSA in 1969 with John and Peggy Bishop. Provided initial financial support to IMSA using a business model based on NASCAR’s successful stock car program. Brought international sports car endurance racing to Daytona International Speedway with a three-hour race in 1962, which expanded to 24 hours in 1966. A motorsports visionary who championed stock cars, sports cars, motorcycles and every other form of the sport , which could fit into the growing portfolio of racing equipment of the French family.
One of the first stars of IMSA and the most successful GT driver of the 1970s. Teamed with Hurley Haywood to first IMSA GT race victory at VIRginia International Raceway in 1971. Ten-time IMSA Champion (1971 GTU, 1973 GT CHALLENGE, 1973 GTO, 1974 GT CHALLENGE, 1974 GTO, 1975 GTO, 1978 GT CHALLENGE GTX, 1979 GTX) and four-time overall winner of the Rolex 24 At Daytona (1973, 1975, 1976, 1978).
The overall winningest major endurance racer of all time. Five total wins at the Rolex 24 At Daytona (1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1991). Three overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1977, 1979, 1981). Two Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring wins (1973, 1981). Co-driver to first IMSA GT race win with Peter Gregg at VIRginia International Raceway in 1971. Four-time IMSA Champion (1971 GTU, 1972 GT CHALLENGE, 1972 GTU, 1994 NORTH AMERICAN ENDURANCE CUP CLASS 1).
Most total IMSA race wins with 49. Seven-time IMSA Champion (1976 GT CHALLENGE, 1976 GTO, 1977 GT CHALLENGE, 1977 GTO, 1983 GTP, 1985 GTP, 1986 GTP). Became the fifth driver in history to win the “triple crown” of major endurance races (Daytona, Le Mans, Sebring) and is one of only nine drivers to win every race overall. Rolex 24 At Daytona winner in 1986 and 1987. Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring winner in 1976 and 1981. Three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner (1983, 1986, 1987).
Nine IMSA championships (1986 GTO, 1986 GT Endurance, 1988 GTO, 2004 GRAND-AM DP, 2008 GRAND-AM DP, 2010 GRAND-AM DP, 2011 GRAND-AM DP, 2012 GRAND-AM DP, 2018 GRAND-AM DP ENDURANCE GLASS). Tied with Hurley Haywood for most overall Rolex 24 At Daytona wins with five (1994, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013) and all-time class leader in Rolex 24 wins with 10. Overall winner of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2014. Has 60 IMSA career wins, which is second on the all-time IMSA wins list.
Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
Scored 31 wins, 50 podium finishes and 24 pole positions in 55 races from 1999 to 2004. Won four constructors’ championships, four teams’ championships and three drivers’ championships. Won overall victory in 2001 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Has three class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2001, 2002 and 2004). Won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (2002, 2003 and 2004).
Scored 56 wins and 69 pole positions in 144 races worldwide from 1994 to 2003. Won the 1995 and 1998 IMSA Constructors’ Championships, the 1995 IMSA Drivers’ Championship and the 1998 IMSA Teams’ Championship .Won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring three times (1995, 1997, 1998). Won the 1998 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Mazda RX-7 GTU
It won the GTU class (for engines with displacement under 2.5 liters) in its debut race at Daytona in 1979 with a twin-rotor rotary engine. Two factory Mazda cars finished on the podium in every race in 1980 en route to the championship. From 1981 to 1987, the program shifted to privateer entries, with RX-7 drivers winning seven straight GTU championships. The car helped launch the careers of legendary IMSA drivers including Scott Pruett, Tommy Kendall, Bill Oberlen and many others.
It debuted at the 1984 Daytona 24 Hours with Mario and Michael Andretti as co-drivers and won pole position. He was leading the race before technical issues forced him out of the race. IMSA’s first victory came in 1984 in a six-hour race at Watkins Glen. Won the 24 Hours of Daytona five times (1985-87, 1989 and 1991) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1985, 1987 and 1994. Won the IMSA GTP Championship every year from 1985 to 1988.