PRODUCTION CLASSES? YEAH, RIGHT...
Break out a race today between the Audis,
Fords, Nissans, Toyotas, plus Mazda’s
deafening 4-rotor Mazda RX-7s and
Ferrari France’s F40s, and we just might
forget today’s GT Le Mans class exists.
IMSA’s small-bore class was the perfect
place for cars in the sub-300hp range, and
if there was one model that defined GTU, it
was Mazda’s pint-sized RX- 7. Twin-rotor
13Bs buzzed away night and day and, like
Porsche’s 962, the RX- 7 was almost a
shoo-in at the enduros. Seven straight
GTU titles put it in a class all of its own.
Nissan took the fight to its Japanese
rival with the bulging 240SX and a silky,
naturally-aspirated V6 that ended the
The V6-powered 240SX
signed off from GTU
competition with a
championship for Butch
Leitzinger in 1993.
IMSA GTU’s defining
car, the rotary-engined
RX- 7, amassed seven
straight titles between
1979 and ’ 85.
Toyota entrusted its
Celica GTU program to
AAR in 1983, which
delivered eight class
wins in three seasons.
dragsters masquerading as road-racing
machines. Bob Sharp Racing’s divine
selection of turbocharged, 6-cylinder
Nissans predated Clayton Cunningham
Racing’s factory Nissan program. But in
CCR’s aggressive hands, a pair of
GTP-inspired 300ZXs challenged Roush’s
twin Cougars for turbo superiority.
The Noah’s Ark theme was completed
by Audi and its duo of mesmerizing 90s.
With Hans Stuck leading the German
assault, the turbo, 5-cylinder, all-wheel-drive Audis owned the turns and the
hearts of all those who heard the
chirping, screaming cars in GTO trim.
It was a majestic time for the class.
RX-7s reign, and Mazda soon responded
with the faster, squarish MX- 6.
IMSA’s entry-level class was the only place
where fans could see outrageous versions
of their daily drivers swap paint, and among
the most interesting – and forgotten – GTU
gems, Dodge’s factory team freely flirted
with front- and rear-wheel drive options.
Full Time Racing’s Dodge Daytonas
missed out on Manufacturers’ titles, but
claimed Drivers’ honors in 1991 after its
4-banger won 75 percent of the races.
Feisty 4-cylinder Pontiac Fieros brought
another memorable dynamic to the class,
and even AAR’s baby Celicas cut their
teeth in GTU before turbo fury beckoned.
Similar to the GTP
class ZX-T, Clayton
Nissan 300ZX GTO
racers used a
version of Nissan’s
VG30 V6, but with
twin turbos. Power
output reached as
high as 800hp!
Audi’s all-wheel-drive 90 Quattro
was a one-year
wonder in IMSA
GTO, but won seven
races with Hans
enduros at Daytona
and Sebring blunted
his title hopes.
ZX POWER TRIP
ONE AND DONE