1996 marked the twenty-sixth season of the International Motor Sports Associationís (IMSA) GT Championship.
In the mid-90s, the International Motor Sports Association went through a transition period and made changes to the classes. In 1994, they introduced the World Sports Car Championship (WSC). These were two-seater open cockpit cars with normally aspirated motors. Fuel capacity was limited to 18.5-gallons and vehicle weight was determined by engine configuration and displacement.
In the case of production-based cars, gone were the GTS, GTO and GTU classes. In 1995, the Grand Touring Supreme-1 (GTS-1) and Grand Touring Supreme-2 (GTS-2) classes were introduced. GTS-1 was for two-wheel drive tube frame cars with engines between 4.0 and 6.0-liters. The GTS-2 division followed similar rules; however, engine displacement was restricted to between 2.0 and 3.8-liter motors.
The ten-weekend schedule kicked off in February with the Rolex 24 at Daytona and was followed a month later by the 12 Hours of Sebring. Next, the teams travelled to Road Atlanta for the Grand Prix of Atlanta. This would be the first of four weekends where all divisions did not compete together. The GTS-2 was in one group and the GTS-1 along with WSC in another. Next on the calendar was a 500-mile contest at Texas World Speedway. The Dodge Dealers Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park was another split event. Then the teams went to Watkins Glen International for a six-hour race. In July, the series headed west to Sears Point Raceway for a GTS-2 race and a combined WSC and GTS-1 contest. Travelling north of the border to Canada, the championship made a stop at Mosport International Raceway. Upon returning to the United States, separate races were conducted for the GTS-2 and GTS-1/WSC categories in Dallas. The finale was held October 6th, where the season began, Daytona International Speedway.
The eighth round of the 1996 IMSA Exxon series took place at Mosport International Raceway. The Chrysler Mosport 500 was held on August 25th. Teams would compete on the ten turn 2.459-mile road course.
|Winning overall and the WSC category were Butch Leitzinger and John Paul, Jr. The No. 20 Dyson Racing Riley & Scott MK III started in the third position. At the start of the Chrysler Mosport 500, Leitzinger wasted no time moving to the front. After the final round of pit stops, Paul was in first-place, but under pressure from Max Papis. Papis passed Paul in the chicane on the last lap, but he retook the lead in the final turn.|
|The GTS-1 pointís leader entering round eight at Mosport was Irv Hoerr. He campaigned the No. 1 Brix Racing Oldsmobile Aurora. In the qualifying session, Hoerr recorded the ninth-fastest time and started first in class. The plan was for him to share the driving duties with Darin Brassfield. However, Hoerr drove the Chrysler Mosport 500 solo and won his category, finishing sixth overall.|
|Sharing the No. 30 Ferrari 333 SP were Didier Theys and Max Papis. Papis qualified the Ferrari on the pole. Theys, who drove the first stint, lost the lead to Butch Leitzinger on the opening lap but remained in contention. Papis was the closer and an error on the final lap by the leader, John Paul, allowed him to grab first place at the chicane. However, Papis had a miscue entering the last turn, which gave Paul the top spot.|
|The Prototype Technology Group entered two BMW M3 in the GTS-2 category. Sharing the No. 06 were Boris Said and title contender Pete Halsmer. Said who joined the team at Watkins Glen qualified sixteenth fastest and was gridded second in class. Said drove the opening stint and moved into the lead. Halsmer maintained the pace after the driver change and despite contact, he captured the GTS-2 victory.|
|Like Road Atlanta and Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Mosport had a hump on the fastest part of the track, which caused the quicker cars to lift the front end. A makeshift chicane was installed on the Mario Andretti straight to address the issue and prevent competitors from going airborne. Unfortunately, it was hit by a number of competitors during the race causing full-course caution periods to reset the chicane.|
|Canaska Southwind Motorsports entered a pair of Dodge Viper GTS-R in the first two rounds of the 1996 IMSA Exxon series. The teamís best result was a sixth in the GTS-1 category at the 12-Hours of Sebring. They returned to the championship for round eight with drivers Joe Varde and team principal Victor Sifton. The time away from the track allowed the crew to develop the car, which paid off with a second-place result.|
|The Ferrari 333 SP made its debut in 1994 at Road Atlanta. Jay Cochran captured the carís first victory at the same event. Two years later, the Ferrari was still very competitive. Part of the carís success could be attributed to the engine. The Ferrari F310E is a V12 motor with double overhead camshaft cylinder heads and five valves per cylinder. The normally aspirated 3997-cc engine produces 650-bhp at 11,000-rpm.|
|To increase his odds of securing the GTS-2 title driverís and the manufacturerís titles, Peter Halsmer was entered in both Prototype Technology Group BMW M3. If need be, Halsmer was scheduled to share the No. 07 BMW with the teamís newest member, Bill Auberlen. Before the driver change, Boris Said was in the lead and the decision was made to put Halsmer in the No. 06 BMW. Auberlen would drive alone and finish second.|
|It was a difficult weekend for the WSC points leader, Wayne Taylor. Taylor had victories at the 24-hours of Daytona, 12-Hours of Sebring, Texas and Sears Point but led Max Papis by just five markers. He qualified fourth overall and in class driving the No. 4 Doyle Racing prepared Riley & Scott MKIII. Taylor ran as high as third but ran afoul of the officials and received two Ďdrive-throughí penalties. He would finish fourth.|
|1||WSC||Leitzinger / Paul, Jr.||Riley & Scott Mk III||Dyson Racing||111||-|
|2||WSC||Theys / Papis||Ferrari 333 SP||Momo Corse||111||-|
|3||WSC||Moretti / Theys||Ferrari 333 SP||Landshark Racing||111||-|
|4||WSC||Wayne Taylor||Riley & Scott Mk III||Doyle Racing||111||-|
|5||WSC||Velez / Hermann||Ferrari 333 SP||Scandia Engineering||110||-|
|6||GTS-1||Irv Hoerr||Oldsmobile Aurora||Brix Racing||107||-|
|7||GTS-1||Sifton / Varde||Dodge Viper GTS-R||Canaska/Southwind||106||-|
|8||WSC||Katz / Downing||Kudzu DLM Mazda||Downing/Atlanta||106||-|
|9||GTS-1||Cunningham / Brassfield||Oldsmobile Aurora||Brix Racing||106||-|
|10||GTS-2||Said / Halsmer||BMW M3||Prototype Technology Group||103||-|
|11||GTS-2||Bill Auberlen||BMW M3||Prototype Technology Group||102||-|
|12||GTS-2||Schumacher / Pilgrim||Porsche 911 Carrera Cup||Schumacher Racing||101||-|
|13||GTS-2||O'Steen / Pace||Porsche 911 Carrera RSR||Schumacher Racing||101||-|
|14||GTS-2||Quiros / Cohen / Said||BMW M3||Mattco Racing||100||-|
|15||GTS-2||Nathan Ulrich||Porsche 968||Nathan Ulrich||100||-|
|16||GTS-2||Martini / Wagner||Porsche 911 Carrera RSR||Team A.R.E.||100||-|
|17||GTS-2||Haywood / Hessert||Porsche 911||Alex Job Racing||100||-|
|18||GTS-2||Bretzel / Law||Porsche 911||Race Central||99||-|
|19||GTS-2||Bye / Trott||Porsche 993 Cup||Doug Trott||97||-|
|20||WSC||Jones / Jamieson||Magnum SC205||Eclipse Racing||92||Accident|
|21||GTS-1||Morgan / Morgan||Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme||Charles Morgan||88||-|
|22||WSC||Caffi / Montani / Dacco||Chevron B73||Target 24||68||Mechanical|
|23||GTS-1||Dan Osterholt||Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme||Dan Osterholt||47||Mechanical|
|24||GTS-1||Scott Maxwell||Ford Mustang Cobra||Multimatic Motorsport||35||Engine|
|25||WSC||Bentley / Cochran||Riley & Scott Mk III||Lee Payne Racing||33||Overheating|
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