The IROC name may be closer associated with the Chevy Camaro, but it was the Pontiac Trans Am that actually served as the backbone of the series in its latter years until its demise over a decade ago.
After it went belly-up in 2007, the organizers of the series sold off all the assets – including the cars. Several of those wound up in the vaunted collection of Michael Fux. Now they’re coming up for auction, providing the rare opportunity to restart the action – this time as a vintage racing series.
Not to be confused with the (truly international) Race of Champions that takes place at the end of each racing season at shifting locations around the world, the so-called International Race of Champions was primarily targeted at drivers and fans of American oval-track racing.
It started back in 1974, when Mark Donohue won the title in a Porsche Carrera RSR – his last victory before perishing in a Formula One crash in Austria the next year. After that, it switched to all-American machinery: Camaros for twelve years, then Dodge Daytonas and Avengers for six, before moving on in 1996 to the Pontiacs you see here for the last eleven.
Based on the road-going Firebird, the IROC Trans Ams were stripped out and fitted with competition-spec V8 engines capable of producing as much as 500 horsepower, with four-speed transmissions, Penske shocks, Brembo carbon brakes, and big fat Goodyear Eagle slick radials.
Each driver piloted identical machinery, and it attracted some big names: Mario Andretti, Jody Scheckter, James Hunt, Emerson Fittipaldi, AJ Foyt, Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Helio Castroneves, and Sebastien Bourdais all participated at one time or another. These five were driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and Martrin Truex Jr, with the fifth example mostly used as a test car.
Mecum will auction off all five, along with a spare engine, in Florida on Friday, January 5. Those hoping to snag the entire grid will be able to bid on the first one, and if they win (and so choose), have that same sale price applied to the others as well. So if you’re interested in starting your own vintage racing series based on 20+year-old cars, better head to Kissimmee next week. And bring your checkbook, because each is valued at about $45k, and another $7,500 for the spare engine… adding up to an overall pre-sale estimate of over $230k for the whole lot.