2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible

IMSA Schedule Offers Chance for Dream Drives

This IMSA.com Contributor Has a Wish List of Vehicles to Get to Every Event This Year

By John Oreovicz

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It snowed this week in Indianapolis – suffice to say, a rare meteorological occurrence. So, it seemed like a good day to pull out the Rand McNally atlas and a copy of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule and daydream about warmer times and places.

In Fall 2020, Acura loaned me an NSX to drive from my home base to the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. I took a slight detour to incorporate some notable driving roads, including the Cherohala Skyway and the Tail of the Dragon. It made for a wonderfully memorable experience (in case you missed it, you can find it HERE), and it got me thinking about fantasy travel scenarios for upcoming events on the 2021 IMSA slate.

The race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is known as the Acura Sports Car Challenge Presented by the TLX Type S. Obviously, an Acura TLX Type S is the right car for that trip. The TLX is built in Marysville, Ohio, barely an hour from Mid-Ohio. There are some beautiful roads in the vicinity of the circuit, but I’d head south to the Hocking Hills region, for spectacular scenery and an even better driving experience for which the Type S (a high-performance version of the TLX sport sedan) would be perfectly suited.

2021 TLX Type S
Acura TLX Type S

I can’t think of a better vehicle to drive to the Detroit Grand Prix than a Cadillac. But what would I choose? One of the newly introduced V-series sports sedans – ideally the range-topping CT5-V Blackwing, with a hand-built, 668-horsepower supercharged V-8? Or perhaps the subdued luxury of the latest-generation Escalade?

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Cadillac Escalade (left), CT5-V Blackwing (right)

Given Watkins Glen’s history as a Formula One track, wouldn’t it be cool to take a car with F1 pedigree? Niki Lauda, Carlos Reutemann and Gilles Villeneuve won the U.S. Grand Prix at The Glen for Ferrari in the late ’70s, and as much as I love the 308 GTS that Magnum P.I. drove, a current F8 Tributo would be a much less high-strung travel companion.

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Ferrari F8 Tributo

McLaren also has history at Watkins Glen, with Emerson Fittipaldi clinching the 1974 F1 title there and James Hunt winning two years later on his way to the 1976 crown. Billed as “more usable than traditional rivals,” the McLaren GT would be the perfect match for a few days touring the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

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McLaren GT

Remaining in the northeast for the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, I think a comfortable SUV would be ideal for cruising New England. The Audi Q7 and BMW X5 come immediately to mind, but practical alternatives exist in the form of the Mazda CX-9 and the highly regarded Hyundai Palisade. Any of these choices give a family the space to stretch out while still enjoying a sporty driving experience.

Audi, Bmw
Audi Q7 (left), BMW X5 (right)
Mazda, Hyundai
Mazda CX-9 (left), Hyundai Palisade (right)

The IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America demands a real sports car. Let’s go for a truly enduring classic – the Porsche 911. I can’t think of any car I’d rather take to a Friday fish fry on a summer night in Wisconsin.

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Porsche 911

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is in the heart of what Road & Track used to call “Sports Car Country.” My choice for a run down the 17-Mile Drive for a round of golf at Pebble Beach or Cypress Point? Aston Martin, though I can’t decide between the Vantage Roadster or the new DBX SUV. Guess it depends on whether I’m bringing a twosome or a foursome.

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Aston Martin Vantage Roadster (left), DBX SUV (right)

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend has been delayed from April to September, but there is no bad time for driving in Southern California. Keeping it within the Acura corporate family, a Honda Civic Type R would be a great choice. Or you could be rebellious and rekindle memories of Toyota’s 40-year sponsorship of the Long Beach event in a new-generation Supra, or perhaps the recently refreshed GR 86. Better still, a Lexus RC F, like those that race in the GT Daytona (GTD) class of the WeatherTech Championship.

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Honda Civic Type R (left), Toyota Supra (center), Lexus RC F (right)

The IMSA headliners for the Michelin GT Challenge At VIR are the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GTD class entries. Let’s take a car relevant to the event – say, a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (lead image) – the production base for the racing Corvette C8.R – to represent GTLM or a Mercedes-AMG GT standing up for GTD. A Lamborghini Huracán would be another interesting choice. I’ve never been to VIRginia International Raceway, but if the track is any indication, I can guarantee there are superb driving roads nearby that would showcase the abilities of any of those fine sports cars.

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Mercedes-AMG GT (left), Lamborghini Huracán (right)

That leaves the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, a weekend that also includes the two-hour finale for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. Ford and Alfa Romeo are competitors in that race, so let’s drive there in an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, or perhaps a Ford Mustang Mach 1 – the closest production Mustang you’ll find to the cars that compete on track.

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Ford Mustang Mach 1 (left), Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (right)

No matter what kind of driving experience you are looking for, the 18 manufacturers that compete in IMSA offer plenty of compelling options.