DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The International Motor Sports Ass’n and the Sports Car Club of America share much in common.
Their reasons for existence are essentially the same: to organize, regulate, promote and grow road racing throughout North America.
It was a natural, then, when the sanctioning bodies announced a partnership last year to work together for the benefit of both – and for motorsports in general as well. Mike Cobb, SCCA president and CEO, is energized at the thought of the closer collaboration with IMSA.
“There’s a common thread in our DNA and that’s the essential ingredient in any successful partnership,” Cobb said. “We’ve got it and we’re excited about leveraging it going forward.”
The SCCA already has a longstanding relationship with IMSA and other U.S. racing sanctioning bodies, providing course workers, flaggers and other behind-the-scenes personnel at professional events. These SCCA members volunteer for roles vital to successful race operations.
The newer, stronger collaboration with IMSA is made with the intent to grow the following and membership of both organizations and, as Cobb said, “to work together as partners to create the next generation of drivers and workers.”
IMSA President John Doonan, an SCCA member and amateur racer himself, agreed.
“The partnership announced last year builds on the solid foundational relationship that IMSA and SCCA have developed through the years,” Doonan said. “This collaboration allows us to highlight the benefits of both organizations to a wider audience, one that shares the same passion Mike and I have for road racing and wants to see it keep prospering. Getting motorsports fans and enthusiasts more involved at all levels will help assure that growth continues for years to come.”
SCCA focuses on providing a myriad of events for the non-professional driver, something it’s done for more than 75 years. From Track Days and Track Night in America events for drivers who want to increase the enjoyment of driving their personal vehicle in a safe, comfortable environment, to Road Racing and Time Trials that have a more competitive edge, SCCA offers a multitude of ways to satisfy that urge for amateur enthusiasts craving a little excitement. SCCA members also have the opportunity to volunteer trackside at events ranging from SCCA up to IMSA and other professional racing sanctioning bodies.
IMSA, in existence more than 50 years, caters to those with professional racing aspirations, sanctioning seven series highlighted by the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Building that bridge between the two organizations was a priority for Doonan when he took over as IMSA president in late 2019. Doonan, Cobb and officials from both groups met at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January 2020 to nail down details of the partnership.
“John has a real passion for working with an entity like the SCCA to help us attract, grow and develop the next generation of workers and drivers to better support the motorsports category that we all love,” Cobb said. “That’s really the core of the conversation and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
The effort begins in earnest this year, with cross-promotion of each organization’s activities and events to expose them to a broader audience and increase interest and participation. It shows that no matter the skill level, there’s a place for everyone with a passion for motorsports.
Long-range discussions for the partnership include development of a ladder system to take promising SCCA drivers to the IMSA ranks. For now, though, the focus is on exposing how to enjoy the best of both worlds that SCCA and IMSA have to offer.
“How we access motorsports is different,” Cobb said. “Some access it through driving a prototype car at IMSA, some access it through their personal daily driver at a regional level with SCCA.
“That’s really one of the things we’re trying to tap into through the IMSA-SCCA partnership, is saying, ‘Hey, not only can you come out and play with the SCCA through amateur fun with car type pursuits – whether that’s Solo or Road Racing or Track Days or Time Trials, Road Rally, etc. – you can also access professional-grade motorsports through pursuit of volunteering at motorsports events.’”