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Sebastien Bourdais 2012
Sports Cars Have Brief, Exciting History of Action at Brickyard

IMSA sports car racing returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a nine-year hiatus this weekend, Sept. 15-17. In honor of the inaugural Battle on the Bricks, let’s take a look back at the three epic years of sports car racing that set the stage for the return and this year’s battle.


Background: The NASCAR Cup Series debuted at IMS in 1994. At the time, no official support races were part of the schedule. That all changed in 2012 when IMS was added to the Grand American Road Racing Association (GRAND-AM) schedule. (GRAND-AM was one of two sanctioning bodies that would merge to form IMSA for the 2014 season.)

On July 6, 2011, track, NASCAR and GRAND-AM officials announced the Super Weekend at the Brickyard during a press conference held at the start-finish line. The Super Weekend, held July 26-29, 2012, included a NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday and both a GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race on Friday, in addition to the NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday.

The 2012 race weekend was the first time in IMS history that races took place on the 2.5-mile oval and 2.534-mile road course during the same weekend. The 13-turn, 2.534-mile road course originally opened in 2000 and was used for the Formula One United States Grand Prix from 2000 to 2007. In 2013, the road course was reconfigured to make the circuit more competitive and better for fans. The result is the current 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course where IMSA will do battle in 2023 and beyond.

The top series sanctioned by GRAND-AM, the Rolex Sports Car Series included two classes – Daytona Prototypes and production-based Grand Touring cars.

The Race: The inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race was held on July 27 with 24 cars taking part in the event.

Four-time INDYCAR SERIES champion Sebastien Bourdais teamed with Alex Popow to capture the overall win. Bourdais took the checkered flag under caution in the No. 2 Soloson Ford Riley Daytona Prototype fielded by Starworks Motorsport in the three-hour race.

Indianapolis 500 veteran Scott Pruett and teammate Memo Rojas finished second in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW Riley fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor finished third in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette fielded by Wayne Taylor Racing of nearby Brownsburg, Indiana.

Andy Lally and John Potter teamed to win the GT class in the Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 Cup, finishing fifth overall.

Bourdais took the lead for good on Lap 74 of the three-hour race, which ended after 91 laps. He dove under Ryan Dalziel entering Turn 1 for the decisive move.

There were three caution periods after Bourdais took the lead. But he was able to pull away on restarts each time.

The wild race, which featured 13 lead changes, was slowed by caution nine times for 34 laps due to aggressive, fender-banging action throughout the field. Heavy rain also came and went twice in the three-hour event, creating tricky, ever-changing track conditions.

In the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Lawson Aschenbach and Eric Curran teamed up for victory in the No. 01 CKS Autosport Camaro GS.R in a race that also ended under caution.

Daniel Rogers and Seth Thomas combined to win the ST class in the Brickyard Sports Challenge in the No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i.


Back-to-back: The Super Weekend returned in 2013. Plagued by heavy, overcast skies, the race ended at 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 26 in one of the darker finishes in IMS history. But Dalziel had no trouble finding the Yard of Bricks for the finish.

Dalziel and Popow drove the No. 2 Soloson BMW Riley Daytona Prototype to victory, giving Starworks Motorsport its second consecutive Brickyard Grand Prix triumph in the three-hour race on the 13-turn, 2.534-mile IMS Grand Prix course.

Pruett, a two-time INDYCAR SERIES race winner, and teammate Rojas again finished second Friday in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW Riley fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, 3.438 seconds behind the winners.

Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty finished third in the No.99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP, with Brendon Hartley, Pierre Kaffer and Scott Mayer finishing fourth in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport BMW Riley.

Rubens Barrichello and Doug Peterson placed fifth in their No. 77 Ford/Dallara after Barrichello, who won the 2002 United States Grand Prix at IMS, saw his bid to become the first driver to win two major events at IMS come to an end when he headed to pit lane for gas late in the race while leading.

Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 veteran Max Papis teamed with Jeff Segal to win the GT class, placing 14th overall in the R. Ferri/Aim Motorsport Ferrari 458.

In the Brickyard Sports Car Challenge for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, the team of Bryan Sellers and Mark Boden teamed up for a victory in the No. 46 Trim-Tex/BCKSTGR/Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 in a race that ended under caution.

Terry Borcheller and Mike LaMarra teamed to win the ST class in the No. 23 Automotive Chemicals BMW Group/Excelda Manufacturing BMW 128i.


Changes: The landscape of sports car racing changed in 2014.

The 2014 United SportsCar Championship was the inaugural season of the International Motor Sports Association's (IMSA) new series created out of a merger of the Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series. The comingled series included races at 12 venues, one of which was IMS in 2014.

There were four classes involved in the championship: Prototype, Prototype Challenge, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona.

The fastest classes were the Prototypes and PC machines. They looked like exactly what you might expect from the word “prototype,” with sleek designs and big rear wings. The classes had both closed cockpit (where the driver opens a very small door to get into the car) and open-cockpit (the driver just jumps in the car like it was a convertible) machines.

The second style of cars were GT machines, which are readily recognizable as cars you’d like to have in your driveway: Ferraris, Corvettes, Porsches, and Vipers. There were two different GT-type classes: GTLM and GTD.

The second class of the GT cars, “GTD,” had similar cars as GTLM, with Vipers, Ferraris and Porsches that are driven by line ups that feature both professional and amateur drivers.

In addition to the series changes, the drivers encountered a new track layout at IMS, where several corners were revised or bypassed for faster options. This is the road course as we know it today.

Friday of the Super Weekend would now include the 2-hour, 45-minute Brickyard Grand Prix on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.

The Race: With four classes and 49 cars in competition, the United SportsCar Championship Brickyard Grand Prix made for a non-stop passing festival through the full two-hour, 45-minute race distance to open the Super Weekend at IMS in 2014.

Action Express Racing drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi continued to build their IMSA championship momentum with a win at the Brickyard Grand Prix.

Fittipaldi opened the race from behind the wheel and emerged from a wild start to muscle his way into the lead, which he held for the opening 24 laps.

Barbosa took over with over two hours of the race yet to go but made just one more pit stop as he was constantly checking with the team to make sure he had the fuel needed to get to the finish.

The Action Express drivers crossed the line nearly 50 seconds ahead of the second-place car of Pruett and Sage Karam. The race was the second of the year at IMS for Karam, who also impressed in his INDYCAR SERIES debut in the Indianapolis 500.

Another 2014 Indianapolis 500 race starter had a big day as Jack Hawksworth, who raced for Bryan Herta in INDYCAR competition, scored a victory in Prototype Challenge competition along with his co-driver Chris Cumming.

It was a history-making day, as well, for the Dodge Vipers as American driver Jonathan Bomarito and his Canadian co-driver Kuno Wittmer were able to bring the snarling V-10 machine and its iconic livery a new benchmark of success with a GTLM victory in the team's first-ever race at the Speedway.

Adding to the international flair was the GTD class victory for the Ferrari of Jeff Westphal and Alessandro Balzan, who brought home the final checkered flag of the day.

The two and a half-hour race saw both the top GS and ST Classes doing battle to kick off the action-packed Super Weekend in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Stevenson Motorsports scored the team’s third IMSA win in a row and fourth of the season as Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis combined to bring the red, white and blue No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro Z/28.R home in first place for the GS class after a wild race.

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