In 2006, the International Motor Sport Association (IMSA) introduced IMSA Lites. The series was created to provide an opportunity for drivers competing at the amateur level to advance to a professional series or to prepare for a category such as the American Le Mans (ALMS). The mission is to develop future drivers and teams for the ALMS. Three years later, the series was exceeding IMSA's expectations.

IMSA Lites features three classes of purpose-built sports racing prototypes – Lites 1, Lites 2 and Lites 3. The primary factor determining the categorization of a car is engine displacement.

  • Lites 1 (L1) – This is the fastest category. The most common vehicle in this group is the Elan DP-02 manufactured by Elan Van Diemen. The DP-02 features a carbon fiber monocoque fitted with an aerodynamic package that includes a front splitter, diffuser and rear wing. The car is powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder Mazda MZR motor mounted to a six-speed sequential transmission.
  • Lites 2 (L2) – This group includes several chassis and engine combinations. The West WR1000 is a popular choice powered by a 1000-cc Kawasaki ZX engine. The car also uses an electronic paddle-shift system.
  • Lites 3 (L3) – Only one car competes in this category. The Van Diemen DP-06, introduced by the Sports Car Club of America in 2002, is powered by a 2.3-liter Mazda MZR engine.

2008 IMSA Lites Championship consisted of six race weekends, with doubleheaders at each event.

  • March 13-14 – Sebring International Raceway
  • May 17-18 – Miller Motorsports Park
  • July 11-12 - Lime Rock Park
  • August 23-24 – Mosport International Raceway
  • October 2-3 - Road Atlanta
  • October 18-19 – Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

In addition to a driver’s championship, there are also titles for Teams and Constructors.

The opening rounds of the 2008 IMSA Lites Championship presented by Hankook Performance Tires were held at Sebring International Raceway during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring event. Drivers would compete in two races around the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course.

Series newcomer Jonathan Goring won the opening two rounds of the L1 IMSA Lites Championship at Sebring International Raceway in the No. 14 Inspire Motorsports Elan DP-02. Sports cars were a new challenge for Goring, whose experience was in open-wheel competition. He won the 2005 Skip Barber Championship with four victories in fourteen races and finished fifth in last year's Star Mazda Championship.
Another driver sweeping the opening weekend's races was Australian Tom Drewer. Drewer competed in the L2 category driving one of the four West WR1000 prepared by PVM Racing. Drewer also started his motorsport career in open-wheelers. But in 2007, he won the AMRS Thunder Sports Championship in a factory-supported West WR1000. The No. 45 West WR1000 started on the class pole both days.
The L1 podium for race one of the 2008 IMSA Lites Championship presented by Hankook. In the center is the winner from Inspire Motorsports, Jonathan Goring. The runner-up, Joel Feinberg, stands to the left, who drove for the Primetime Race Group. Eurosport Racing's Matt Downs completed the rostrum and finished third overall and in class.
Joel Feinberg competed in the inaugural season of the IMSA Lites Championship and finished second in the points chase. He returned to the series in 2008, driving the No. 7 Primetime Race Group prepared Elan DP-02. Feinberg qualified fourth for the weekend's first contest and finished 0.0582-seconds behind the winner, Jonathan Goring. In the finale, he earned another runner-up result by 0.252-seconds.
Grabbing the L3 honours in the opening round at Sebring International Raceway was Sports Car Club of America veteran Chris Funk. 2008 was the former Spec Racer Ford competitor's third season in the IMSA Lites Championship. Driving the No. 5 KC Racing Van Diemen DP-06, he finished second in last season's title chase. In the final race of the event race weekend, Funk retired on the opening lap.
The weekend's first podium for the 2008 L2 IMSA Lites competitors at Sebring International Raceway. In the center is the winner, Tom Drewer, who drove the No. 45 PVM Racing West WR1000. The runner-up, Alain Nadal, stands on the left side of the rostrum. The third-place finisher is Drewer's teammate and the owner of PVM Racing, Eric Vassian.
Alain Nadal drove the No. 44 Ansa Motorsports West WR1000 in the L2 category of the IMSA Lites Championship. This was Nadal's first year in the series. He qualified nineteenth overall and third in class for race one but moved up the order, finished fourteenth and claimed second in L2. Nadal delivered similar results in the finale, finishing in the runner-up position and fifteenth overall.
Tanner Baker was one of the many newcomers joining this year's IMSA Lites Championship. He drove the No. 08 Van Diemen DP-06 in the L3 group. Despite his rookie status, Baker captured the race one pole over Chris Funk by 0.369-seconds. Unfortunately, he fell to a third-place finish. In the weekend's final contest, Baker would redeem himself. Errors by Brian Schofield and Chris Funk gave Baker the win.
The L3 rostrum for the weekend's opening round of the 2008 IMSA Lites Championship at Sebring International Raceway. In the center from KC Racing is the winner Chris Funk. On the left is Funk's KC Racing teammate and runner-up, Kelly Toombs. Completing the rostrum is race one's category pole-sitter and third-place finisher Tanner Baker.

1L1Jonathan GoringElan DP-0211-
2L1Joel FeinbergElan DP-0211-
3L1Matt DownsElan DP-0211-
4L1Jonathan GoreElan DP-0211-
5L1Charlie ShearsElan DP-0211-
6L1Shelby MershonElan DP-0211-
7L1Gary GibsonElan DP-0211-
8L2Tom DrewerWest WR100011-
9L1Jon BrownsonElan DP-0211-
10L1Tom MabeyElan DP-0211-
11L1Fred KaimerElan DP-0211-
12L1Anthony NicolosiElan DP-0211-
13L1Michael MallinenElan DP-0211-
14L2Alain NadalWest WR100011-
15L1Antonio DownsElan DP-0211-
16L1Johnny Meriggi(Elan DP-0211-
17L1Richard BerryElan DP-0211-
18L1Tommy ThompsonElan DP-0211-
19L2Eric VassianWest WR100011-
20L2Alex GonzalezWest WR100011-
21L3Chris FunkVan Diemen DP-0611-
22L1Dan WeylandElan DP-0211-
23L2Ray LangstonWest WR100011-
24L3Kelly ToombsVan Diemen DP-0611-
25L3Tanner BakerVan Diemen DP-0611-
26L1Lucas DownsElan DP-0211-
27L3Larry LambertVan Diemen DP-0611-
28L1Darryl ShoffElan DP-029-
29L3Brian SchofieldVan Diemen DP-067Did Not Finish
30L2Bill ChapmanWest WR10007Did Not Finish
31L1Josef NewgardenElan DP-026Did Not Finish
32L2Jim GarrettWest WR10003Did Not Finish
33L3Chris DoyleVan Diemen DP-062Did Not Finish
34L3Ricky TaylorElan DP-020Did Not Finish

1L1Jonathan GoringElan DP-0212-
2L1Joel FeinbergElan DP-0212-
3L1Josef NewgardenElan DP-0212-
4L3Ricky TaylorElan DP-0212-
5L1Matt DownsElan DP-0212-
6L1Jonathan GoreElan DP-0212-
7L1Shelby MershonElan DP-0212-
8L1Lucas DownsElan DP-0212-
9L1Jon BrownsonElan DP-0212-
10L1Gary GibsonElan DP-0212-
11L1Johnny Meriggi(Elan DP-0212-
12L2Tom DrewerWest WR100012-
13L1Richard BerryElan DP-0212-
14L1Darryl ShoffElan DP-0212-
15L2Alain NadalWest WR100012-
16L1Michael MallinenElan DP-0212-
17L1Dan WeylandElan DP-0212-
18L1Fred KaimerElan DP-0212-
19L3Tanner BakerVan Diemen DP-0612-
20L2Alex GonzalezWest WR100012-
21L3Brian SchofieldVan Diemen DP-0612-
22L3Larry LambertVan Diemen DP-0612-
23L1Tom MabeyElan DP-0212-
24L3Chris DoyleVan Diemen DP-0611-
25L1Anthony NicolosiElan DP-0211-
26L1Charlie ShearsElan DP-029Did Not Finish
27L2Jim GarrettWest WR10008Did Not Finish
28L2Ray LangstonWest WR10006Did Not Finish
29L1Antonio DownsElan DP-022Did Not Finish
30L3Kelly ToombsVan Diemen DP-062Did Not Finish
31L3Chris FunkVan Diemen DP-061Did Not Finish
32L2Eric VassianWest WR10000Did Not Finish
33L1Tommy ThompsonElan DP-02-Did Not Start
34L2Bill ChapmanWest WR1000-Did Not Start

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