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IMSA Interested in Electric Single-Make Series

IMSA expresses interest in launching electric single-make series; PWC monitoring E TCR developments…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

IMSA President Scott Atherton has laid out ambitions of launching a single-make electric race series, which could join the sanctioning body’s portfolio of North American-based sports car racing championships in the years to come.

The organizer of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which features manufacturer involvement from more than a dozen automakers and a global link to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is in the frame to expand its involvement to the emerging EV industry.

Atherton said the most logical entry point would be a partnership with a manufacturer that’s wanting to race its production-based car.

A number of IMSA manufacturer partners, including Porsche, Audi and Mercedes, are set to launch its first all-electric vehicles in 2019, alongside expanding EV lineups from Nissan, BMW, Chevrolet and Ford in the years to come.

“IMSA has an interest across our platforms of adding an electric single-make category to our composite of platforms, of championships, of series,” Atherton told e-racing365.

“We’ve had individuals approach us about launching electric GT championships where IMSA would be the sanctioning body and it would be almost organic growth. That’s not our business model.

“If you look at our single-make categories: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Ferrari Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo, something along those lines but with electrified powertrains…

“It’s interesting what Jaguar is doing with Formula E. The welcome mat is out within IMSA to pursue something similar.”

While currently having seven series under its sanction, plus the North American rights for a standalone TCR championship and previous discussions with ITR for a potential U.S.-based DTM series, Atherton admits they have plenty on their plate at the moment but sees the long-term prospects of EV technology.

“I think it’s not a question of if, it’s when,” he said. “But it is something that, with all that we have on our plate right now, it’s not been a primary focus.

“We’re not out there aggressively pursuing it. But if there was an OE that wanted to approach us with that as their initiative, we would be open arms, open ears.”

PWC Also Monitoring EV Developments

WC Vision, producers of Pirelli World Challenge, is also keeping a close eye on developments in the electric racing scene, according to President and CEO Greg Gill.

Gill admitted he’s taken a keen interest in the recent launch of the E TCR platform, which will feature a spec powertrain and battery but with manufacturer-built chassis.

PWC and North American rights-holder IMSA have both launched TCR classes this year in their respective championships.

“The TCR information was great news and now we’ll see how [they] adopt it,” Gill told e-racing365. “We as a series are looking at [E TCR] very closely.

“I think TCR is really interesting because it’s so new, it gives you an opportunity. That’s probably easier than saying, hypothetically, an electric GT3 car.

“TCR in general is also targeting a younger demographic. I think you would find the [EV] adoption being easier too. If you had to hypothesize, I think that would be a good first step.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of e-racing365. Dagys, who launched the industry-leading Sportscar365 in 2013, spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. NaBUru38

    March 28, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    “We’ve had individuals approach us about launching electric GT championships where IMSA would be the sanctioning body and it would be almost organic growth. That’s not our business model.”

    I dont understand the phrase. What is and is not IMSA’s business model?

    Sanctioning competitions by other promoters? Having privateers running cars by different manufacturers?

  2. Matt e

    March 28, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    I would start by trying to electrify the LMP3 series.
    I think that would be a good place to start.

    • Sir Skidsalot

      March 29, 2018 at 9:01 am

      Lectric cars = snore fest…ZZZZZZZ! This is ‘Merica damn it!

      • MCD

        April 23, 2018 at 3:14 pm

        I’m American (and older, and conservative actually). Your comment is just stupid. Go watch NASCAR’s gradual extinction, that’s where the real snore-fest has been for a decade.

    • Mike S

      March 29, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      Yeah get rid of best sounding Protos with the NA V8.

    • Matt

      March 30, 2018 at 12:43 am

      Yeah makes total sense. Give racing a slow death. First, kill off fan interest in the feeder series, and work up to forcing all headlining series to run electric cars.

      Honestly, what is wrong with you people? Don’t you remember what made you become racing fans? Without the sound, racing loses it emotion.

  3. WBrowning

    March 29, 2018 at 9:03 am

    As a corner worker, electric race cars scare the crap out of me. Just sayin’

    • RobertB

      March 29, 2018 at 10:15 am

      Explain, please.

      • daedalus

        March 29, 2018 at 10:34 am

        because you can’t hear them coming, they sneak up on you!

        Eventually 2 decades from now most major series including IMSA and PWC will probably be mostly electric once that battery tech improves a bit more with power and energy density and electric cars are mass market affordable (almost there).

        They just need them to make a better noise like a “normal” race car, once that happens all opposition to electric race cars will disappear (apart from the old farts, back in my day types).

        • Slicks in the wet

          March 29, 2018 at 10:56 am

          I’d imagine electric danger during accidents too. Can I touch the car or not? How do you easily put out 1000lbs of lithium ion on fire?

          • Larry

            March 29, 2018 at 11:42 am

            Slicks, right on point with that statement.

          • Mike S

            March 29, 2018 at 4:06 pm

            Thick rubber gloves and boots. Safety workers and cornerworkers will be referred to rubbermen.

        • Andy Flinn

          March 30, 2018 at 9:27 am

          Daedalus, there’s no need to go “back in the day.”

          Old IMSA Camel GT old farts like me (I’m almost 50) loved the way the GTLM Corvettes and Porsches sounded rounding the safety pin at Sebring. Just about as cool as the Greenwood Corvettes and DeKon Monzas from 40 years ago.

          More of that GTLM noise please.

          And don’t get me wrong. I think electric passenger vehicles are a great idea. I like the Teslas. I just don’t have any interest in watching electric race cars.

    • Larry

      March 29, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Also as a corner worker, I agree.

      Remember the special training we had to have for responding to the Audi hybrids when they were racing here?

      I also flash back to all the extra gear for the hybrids we had to have when I worked the combined IMSA/WEC race at COTA.

      Electric cars are gonna be worse and the same cautions will apply to street cars when they get in a wreck.

      You people that want this crap, including on the street, really don’t think about the consequences of getting what you want.

      And, as someone noted already, they sneak up on you. 🙂

    • MCD

      April 23, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      The solution to all of this will be robo-racing. Without drivers, you can just use robot corner workers. No one will be at risk.

  4. Andy Flkinn

    March 29, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Two years ago, IMSA eliminated historic/vintage races at Sebring in favor of LMP3 and stationary historic/vintage displays. This year, after several complaints, they brought the historic/vintage races back (limited to Wednesday and Thursday – nothing on Friday).

    Maybe next year if IMSA decides to include a single “electrified” series they can do away with the historic/vintage car presence at Sebring altogether.

    Twenty years from now I can’t imagine someone strolling up to the fence at Sebring and saying, “The single-make EV series (complete with the sound of screeching tires) is what got me exited about sports car racing.”

  5. Slicks in the wet

    March 29, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Where are the positive and negative leads?

    Gonna attach them to my balls. Insanely more fun than single make electric car rac-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz-ing.

  6. N8

    March 29, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    What’s the end goal here? Is it to embrace the “technology du jour”, or is just to separate an OEM from a large chunk of their money?

    I’m sorry, but there is no place for all electric cars in an endurance championship. It makes no sense to give a manufacturer this kind of platform when the technology is completely irrelevant to the kind of racing IMSA sanctions.

  7. Harry Manback

    March 29, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    I find this shocking.

  8. Mike S

    March 29, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Won’t go to these races. Not interested. Good to help future technology in road cars which is the factor but not interested in no noise. Boring.

    • Harry Manback

      March 29, 2018 at 4:55 pm

      But… If it’s a support series like IMSA Prototype Challenge, GT3 Cup Challenge, and Super Trofeo, then you’ll already be at the track. What are you going to do, go sit in your car in the parking lot for an hour and spray a can or spray paint upside-down into a lighter in protest? What if you’re camping? Pack everything up, drive out of the venue, then turn around and drive right back and get everything set up again?

      • Matt

        March 30, 2018 at 12:37 am

        The electric series would be the time during the day where I go to the pits, go back to my tent, or get some food. Literally anything that avoids watching the race.

        And I understand what Mike S is saying. I will also never attend a standalone electric series event. It’s sad to think that my favorite sport might become something I no longer care about in future. It’s insane how many ignorant people believe electric cars are the “clean” future of transportation when they’re actually just are destructive to the environment.

        • DEJ

          March 30, 2018 at 10:23 am

          Yes,people just think that if its electric there is no pollution . However that electricity has to be generated. How much extra coal has to be burned? Then if its from atomic power, how are the spent rods taken care of. Tesla has the best electric car so far.. but way to expensive, and still range limited. Very difficult to travel cross country.They do sneak up on you.

          • Mike S.

            April 1, 2018 at 3:21 pm

            Yeah when millions of cars are plugged in where does the electricity come from?? Just from a hole in the wall. Won’t even go into the the battery pollution side in producing and supposed “recycling.” No additional “clean energy” infrastructure will be needed at all. Those can just pop up overnight without review. No additional power plants that aren’t clean won’t be needed I am sure and everyone wants that in their back yards for electric cars. Petrol fueled cars are dirty for sure. Electric cars just aren’t as clean as everyone thinks they are.

      • Mike S

        March 30, 2018 at 1:53 am

        Nope go back to RV and not watch get a reload in the Solo cup, relax and just really not care as a nap will be easy with no sound, actually I would be afraid of hearing the track announcer and no cars which which is even worse no couldn’t take a nap then. Check schedule and make a plan for rest of day. Thinking about it this should be a great break for the day for me. A reset lunch break when e series comes out. I actually like it now.

      • Andy Flinn

        March 30, 2018 at 9:33 am

        Harry, if this happens, it will be my opportunity to cruise the paddock, visit the vendors, check out the “noisy” historic/vintage cars (hopefully they’ll still be around) or seek refreshments.

        The only think worse would be Formula E.

        • Harry Manback

          March 30, 2018 at 3:44 pm

          Which is generally what I do when GT3 and Super Trofeo are out, because I could care about a bunch of rich guys [who aren’t rich enough to buy an endurance ride] take each other out in T1 of Lap 1 (which is the only time they are bunched up and have the opportunity to even be near each other to crash into each other… that is until one overcooks a turn and brings out a FCY). And honestly, I probably won’t care about this either… however, because it’s yet another a single-make series, not because of what the propulsion is.

          My point: So really, the only difference is you (Andy), Mike, and Matt are a bunch of old guys who don’t like change.

          • Andy Flinn

            March 31, 2018 at 2:25 pm

            Harry, change isn’t always better.

            The 1974 Mustang was a perfect example.

            I share your view of most single-series racing; however, I’m not sure how EV will make it any better.

  9. Brifred

    March 29, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    They lost me at “Elecrtic Single Make Series”. Super Gt/ DTM class cars with 650 hp 4cyl turbo engines that have P2 performance will make me buy a ticket.

  10. Eric Johnson

    March 30, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    It should be easy to be better than Formula-E.
    And if it’s not ….

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