In September 1996, the International Motor Sports Group purchased the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA).
On March 14, of the following year IMSA became the Professional Sportscar Racing, Incorporated.
The sanctioning body focused on converting the growing popularity of sports cars racing into a
solid fan base and developing long-term marketing partnerships. Two of Professional Sportscar Racing’s
major partners were Virgin Interactive, a technology and entertainment company and the petroleum giant Exxon.
Championships were contested for two major categories – World SportsCars and GTS, which consists of three classes.
The eleven race season started in the first weekend of February and ended in late October. The WSC and GTS categories completed in separate contests with the exception of three events – Rolex 24 at Daytona, Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring and First Union Six Hours at the Glen.
Round seven of the 1997 Exxon World SportsCar Championship was held at Mosport Park. Competitors raced around the ten turn 2.459-mile road course in a two-hour contest.
|The first lap of round seven for the 1997 Exxon World SportsCar Championship at Mosport Park. Leading the field of thirteen entrants into corner one is the pole-winning No. 43 Acxiom Racing Ferrari 333 SP driven by Ron Fellows. Behind Fellows in the No. 16 Dyson Racing Riley & Scott MK III, which started in row two in the fourth spot and is piloted by Butch Leitzinger. Behind the leaders is the Moretti Racing Ferrari.|
|Since General Motors pulled its support from the Trans Am series local favourite Ron Fellows has been a free agent. As luck would have it, the Morgan Racing team was in need of a replacement as one of the team’s drivers, Eliseo Salazar, was not available. Fellows would share the No. 43 Ferrari 333 SP with Rob Morgan. Fellows put the car on the pole. The pair led the most laps and they scored their first WSC victory.|
|The No. 16 Riley & Scott MK III was shared by Butch Leitzinger and James Weaver. They won the previous race at Sears Point and received an additional 50-lbs of ballast. Weaver topped the timesheets in practice but was only fourth fastest in qualifying. Leitzinger started the race and moved into first-place during the stops. Weaver was third during his final stint, but a miscue by Dibos Racing allowed him to finish second.|
|Another team to benefit from the Dibos Racing fuel miscalculation was Doyle Racing. The defending WSC champion, Wayne Taylor, shared the No. 1 Riley & Scott MK III with Eric Van de Poole. They were gridded sixth for the start of the two-hour contest and led laps 55-59. Despite the oil pressure warning light flashing on the Oldsmobile Aurora engine, the car finished the race in the third position.|
|Moretti Racing entered two Ferrari 333 SP. Sharing the No. 27 Ferrari were Didier Theys and team principal, Gianpiero Moretti. In the qualifying session, Theys recorded the third-fastest time. The duo remained in contention during the race, but an issue with the radio was the team’s undoing. Theys was having problems hearing the team and pitted just after the track went green. The pair would finish fourth.|
|Jim Downing’s latest Mazda Kudzu made its North American debut in round seven at Mosport Park. The first outing for the car was at Le Mans in June, where the team finished seventeenth overall despite some issues. The new Kudzu was built with a stronger tub to handle the four-rotor motor. The car also uses bigger tires and wheels and a stronger transmission. Downing and his teammate Barry Waddell finished eighth.|
|As the race neared its conclusion, the No. 3 Dibos Racing Ferrari 333 SP of team owner Eduardo Dibos and Fermin Velez was in the lead. The car, which qualified fifth overall, moved into the top stop when most teams pitted for the final time. The Dibos team decided to gamble on fuel consumption and left Velez on the track. Unfortunately for them, the Ferrari ran out of gas with two laps remaining and they finished fifth.|
|1||1||Fellows / Morgan||Ferrari 333 SP||C.A.R.S.||86||-|
|2||4||Weaver / Leitzinger||Riley & Scott Mk III||Dyson Racing||86||-|
|3||6||Taylor / Van De Poele||Riley & Scott Mk III||Doyle Racing||86||-|
|4||3||Moretti / Theys||Ferrari 333 SP||Moretti Racing||86||-|
|5||5||Velez / Dibos||Ferrari 333 SP||Dibos Racing||84||Fuel|
|6||9||Jones / Bentley||Riley & Scott Mk III||MSI||81||-|
|7||12||Field / Smith||Spice||Intersport||80||-|
|8||11||Waddell / Downing||Mazda Kudzu||Downing Atlanta||75||-|
|9||2||Montermini / Hermann||Ferrari 333 SP||Moretti Racing||71||Suspension|
|10||10||Mucha / Guimont||Courage C41||Courage Competition||62||-|
|11||8||Pace / Jochamowitz||Riley & Scott Mk III||Team Peru||48||Engine|
|12||7||Elliott Forbes-Robinson||Riley & Scott Mk III||Dyson Racing||40||Transmission|
|13||13||Edd Davin||Argo||Davin Racing||1||Steering|
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