October 15, 2020

The IMSA GTO Class Pushed Excitement Over the Top

The IMSA GTO Class Pushed Excitement Over the Top

The IMSA GTO Class Pushed Excitement Over the Top

While IMSA’s ground-pounding GTP cars pushed the limits of racecar technology, another class of cars – GTO, or Grand Touring Over – delivered excitement that drivers of everyday sports cars could identify with. Featuring production touring cars displacing over 2.5 liters, the GTO class was dominated first by Corvettes, then Shelby Mustangs, then an array of Cougars, 280ZXs, Celicas and finally 300ZXs. In short, legendary cars that could win on Sunday, and be sold to the car enthusiast on Monday.

As competition heated-up in the 1980s, engine displacement limits were increased to 3.0 liters, and the cars became a lot less recognizable from their street counterparts. Space frames and flared fiberglass body panels started appearing as the manufacturers poured money into the increasingly competitive series. The cars were now serious racing machines run by factory-sponsored teams.

That arms race seemed to escalate with the introduction of the 1989 Audi 90, whose Quattro all-wheel drive configuration was poised to become a game changer against Clayton Cunningham Racing’s Nissan 300ZX Turbo. The 300ZX would survive the onslaught, logging seven top-five finishes in 1989. Ultimately, Nissan would go on to win both the manufacturer’s and driver’s championship in 1992 and 1994, as well as an overall win at the 1994 Daytona 24 Hours, and 1st in Class at the 24 Hours of LeMans that same year.

With only seven factory-supported Nissan 300ZX Turbos ever built by Cunningham Racing, the chances of owning one were slim. Now, chassis #002, one of the early team cars which posted 45 starts at the hands of ace drivers John Morton, Steve Millen and Jeremy Dale, is becoming publicly available through Stratas Auctions. Largely original and track-prepared, the car is ready to relive the glory days of IMSA’s legendary GTO series at the hands of a lucky new owner.

 

 

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