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DATE News (chronologically)
02/19/08
iroc
IROC to be liquidated  The  International  Race  of  Champions  (IROC  series)  officials announced today the All-Star auto racing series will liquidate all tools, equipment, race cars and memorabilia in a two-day public auction on March 7th and 8th  at IROC headquarters in Tinton Falls, NJ.

The IROC series has been dormant since the conclusion of the 2006 season due to lack of sponsorship. IROC President Jay Signore said, "We're all very sad to see IROC come to  an end, but the competition for major corporate sponsorship is very tough  and the car manufacturers have not shown any interest.  We kept hope alive as long as we could but now it's time to look forward and move on."

Spanning four decades the IROC series left its mark in auto racing history staging 120 events at 16 different world-class race tracks across the United States and amassing a roster of over 125 of the biggest names in stock car, open wheel and road racing from throughout the world. Twenty-one of those greats have won the elite IROC championship along with the bragging rights of beating out the best of the best.

The IROC series was touted as one of the sporting world's most unique competitions, designed to settle the old argument: "Who is the World's best driver?" The concept, conceived in 1973 by Roger Penske and Les Richter, with Jay Signore at the helm, has proven timeless: Take 12 of the World's best drivers from different types of auto racing, put them in identically prepared race cars with a set of rules eliminating any mechanical advantages and produce a winner based solely on driving skill.

The IROC rules stated drivers were only allowed to adjust the steering wheel and seat position; they were not permitted any input on the set-up of their race cars, which were prepared and serviced by a team of IROC mechanics. The series consisted of four-races on different types of tracks throughout the racing season. Points were awarded to the drivers based on finishing positions in each race, which was approximately 100-miles in distance -- perfect for fitting into a one-hour television time slot. At the end of the final event the driver with the most points was named the IROC champion and awarded $1-million prize.

IROC champions include: Mark Donohue 1974; Bobby Unser 1975; A.J. Foyt 1976 & '77; Al Unser 1978; Mario Andretti 1979; Bobby Allison 1980; (Dormant 1981-1983); Cale Yarborough 1984; Harry Gant 1985; Al Unser Jr. 1986 & '88; Geoff Bodine 1987; Terry Labonte 1989; Dale Earnhardt 1990, '95, '99, 2000; Rusty Wallace 1991;  Ricky  Rudd  1992;  Davey  Allison  1993;  Mark  Martin  1994,  '96,  '97,  '98,  2005;  Bobby  Labonte  2001; Kevin Harvick 2002; Kurt Busch 2003; Matt Kenseth 2004; Tony Stewart 2006.

Racing legend and 1979 IROC champion, Mario Andretti said, "I've been so proud to compete against the best of  the  best  in  the  IROC  series.  It  has  been  a  great  part  of  my  career  and  I  don't  think  I  could  have  truly considered my career complete unless I would have competed in IROC."

NASCAR's Mark Martin holds the record for the most IROC championships and over-all race wins with 5 and 13 respectively. "The success that I have had in IROC has meant more to me than anything else in my career," said Martin.

The  late  Dale  Earnhardt  has  four  IROC  championships  and  is  tied  for  second  with  open-wheel  legend,  Al Unser Jr., with 11 IROC race wins. Unser Jr., said, "I watched my father and Uncle Bobby race in IROC and I thought it would be really neat if someday I would get an opportunity to run IROC. I was fortunate enough to have that day come in 1986. It's was such an honor to be invited to IROC because of what it stands for and all of the great champions who have raced in the series since its inception."

Unbeknownst to everyone, racing phenom, Tony Stewart became the last IROC champion in 2006. Finally, in his fifth try Stewart clinched the title saying, "It's always a huge honor just to run in the IROC series.  When you get the invite you know you did something good the year before. It really hit me to see all the past champions' names. To be on a trophy with that list of great names is something I'm very, very proud of. Anytime you can go out with that talent and then be the champion of champions is something that's pretty special."

The  series  went  dormant  once  before  between  1981  and  1983  back  when  it  was  heavily  reliant  on  car manufacturer  support.    General  Motors  (GM)  revived  the  series  in  1984  to  promote  their  newly  redesigned Chevrolet Camaro, which had been the model used in IROC competition since the second season in 1974.

Signore  said,  "Our  first  year  ('73-'74)  we  ran  the  Porsche  911  in  four  road  course  races,  two  at  Riverside, California  and  two  at  Daytona  International  Speedway.  (NASCAR  founder) Bill France Senior was  watching with Les Richter and added the suggestion of IROC racing with stock cars which were able to run on both, the big ovals and the road courses.  GM stepped up to the plate with the Chevrolet Camaro and the rest is history."

In total, over the course of its 30-seasons, the IROC series raced five different model cars with four different car  manufacturers.  1989  was  the  last  year  of the IROC Camaro and the  series signed with Dodge in  1990 racing their Daytona model. In 1994 Dodge utilized the series to debut its new Avenger model. In 1996 it was back to GM, but this time the Pontiac Firebird was the choice model for the IROC series. With the proposed phase out of the Firebird, GM ended its sponsorship of the IROC series after 2001.

IROC  has  had  major  corporate  sponsorship  throughout  its  history  from  The  Goodyear  Tire  and  Rubber Company  and  has  been  sponsored  by other major corporations including  Annheiser Busch with Budweiser, True Value and Diageo's Crown Royal brand.

The IROC series was birthed out of Penske Racing's former headquarters in Reading, PA. The series moved to  Tinton  Falls,  N.J.  when  it  was  revived  in  1984 with Signore and his wife Barbara heading up the 20,000 square foot facility. Not only did the race shop produce a successful racing program and pristine race cars, it also produced a wealth of professionally trained race mechanics and technicians - all residents of New Jersey.

Signore said, "We were able to staff the team with local racers and other mechanically inclined locals. We had a  very  stringent  training  program  and  very  high  expectations,  all  derived  from  our  association  with  Penske Racing and their motto 'Efforts equals results.'"

Dozens of former IROC employees hold key positions on major motorsports teams, most notably, NASCAR Star crew chief and team owner, Ray Evernham who honed his professional career at IROC between 1983 and 1989 before achieving fame with his accomplishments at Hendrick Motorsports and driver Jeff Gordon.

Signore concluded "We managed every aspect of the IROC series out of this building for the past 25-years and everything has to go in this auction. We have tools and equipment along with a dozen, or so, race ready IROC cars, driver uniforms, helmets, autographed pictures - there's a lot of history here.  It's hard to see it all go, but we've had a great time with the IROC series and no regrets."

For more information on the IROC liquidation contact Auction Liquidation Services at 800-563-9740. For more information  regarding  the  International  Race  of  Champions  go  to  www.irocracing.com  or  contact  George  J. Signore at 732-542-4762.

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