Testing usually isn’t the world’s most exciting prospect. I’ve gone to several test sessions over the years, and it’s usually just watching a handful of cars go around the track a few times, go into the pits for an extended period of time, and then repeat. Usually, it’s cars I’ve just finished watching for a season, and rarely is it something other than, “It’s been over a month since I last saw race cars and if I don’t hear them right now, I’m going to lose my mind on my boss and coworkers.”
Today was different. Today was special. Today was one of those days that will go down in North American sportscar racing history. Today has made me pretty confident in this statement: 2016 is going to be the best year to date of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (formerly Tudor United SportsCar Championship).
A little bit of history: I was one of the people who said way back when that they needed to have GT3 machinery. I thought the fact that they didn’t lead the charge in that way was a huge misstep for IMSA from the beginning. I couldn’t figure out the decision. So when IMSA announced they were bringing in the GT3 machinery for 2016, I was thrilled. This is what people want to see, this was what was going to put IMSA GT racing on the map. Okay, so they were a little behind a couple of other series, but it’s better late than never.
The wait was worth it. I know people keep saying 2016 is going to be a “meh” year for the series, but I’m here to tell you that isn’t the case. There was a sense of excitement at today’s testing that I haven’t felt before. People were buzzing about the new GT cars, about the GT3 machinery, about the new Ford. Every single person I talked to mentioned the new cars, and it really did seem like excitement was building for a season that’s still two months away.
The Ford GT is everything you could possibly want it to be. Not only is it an absolutely incredible looking machine, it’s fast and it sounds fantastic. I tweeted earlier today that it rocks your soul, and it really does. This is a car that is really going to change GTLM and it’s going to capture your imagination. I can’t imagine anyone not loving this car, and I’m looking forward to the battles it will be involved in.
And as for that GT3 machinery I’ve been hoping for? GTD is going to be a really interesting class this year. From the Mercedes to the Audi to the Lamborghini to the Porsche…this is going to be an awesome class with some great racing. It’s a breath of fresh air in American sportscar racing and it’s just the kind of shift we all needed. Testing didn’t feel routine today. It didn’t feel like hours upon hours of watching five or six cars go around the track. Thirty cars took the track today, and it felt like I was really watching something special, something new.
I know 2016 is looking like a lot of old with some new mixed in. I know it seems like another lame duck year until the new prototypes in 2017. But I’m telling you, this was a preview into all the best IMSA has to offer us. We’re looking at the beginning of a series that isn’t a weird ALMS and Grand-Am hybrid, but an actual racing series that will grow and develop for years to come. Are there problems? Of course there are. But name me one series that doesn’t have problems, that is completely perfect. You can’t do it. So I’m here to tell you that 2016 is going to be an amazing year, but hey, if you don’t believe me, I managed to find a few guys who were more than happy to help me out. This is a great time to be a fan of American sportscar racing, and even the drivers are excited to see what comes next.