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Tribute dinner to honor the U.S. Road Racing Championships

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Laguna Seca USRRC, 1965. Ken Miles (#98), Ed Leslie (#96), and Bob Johnson (#97) in their Shelby American Cobras lead at the start. Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company.

In 1962, the SCCA launched its first racing series aimed at professional drivers, the U.S. Road Racing Championship (USRRC). Though the USRRC lasted just six seasons, it furthered the careers of drivers like Mark Donohue and George Follmer, and ultimately paved the way for the launch of the Can-Am series in 1966. On April 9, 2016, the Wally Parks NHRA Museum will host the USRRC Roundtable of Legends and Hall of Fame dinner, featuring a reunion of series participants and staff.

By the 1961 season, events like the USAC Road Racing Championship, the Times Grand Prix and the Players 200 made it clear to the SCCA that a professional racing series, one that paid winners with more than just a trophy, was badly needed. The SCCA’s USRRC debuted at Daytona in February of 1963, conveniently after the final season of rival USAC’s Road Racing Championship, which ended at Laguna Seca in October of 1962.

In the early years, the USRRC ran two classes of sports racers (over 2.0-liters and under 2.0-liters), along with GT cars. Initially, Shelby American’s Cobras dominated in the larger-engine class (and in GT), while Porsche’s RS61 Spyders were the cars to beat in the under 2.0-liter sports racer class. The series evolved over time, and by 1966 the GT class disappeared entirely, replaced by classes for over and under the 2.0-liter mark. The cars evolved, too, and Lola T70s, McLaren M1Bs, and Porsche 906s began to occupy more and more grid spots, offset by the occasional Ford GT40 or Corvette Sting Ray.

While many would argue that the USRRC racing improved over time, it proved no match for the thrill of the Can-Am series, introduced by the SCCA and the CASC (Canadian Auto Sport Clubs) in 1966. For fans, the Can-Am series featured faster cars (governed under FIA Group 7 rules, which allowed for virtually any size engine) and bigger name drivers, but the appeal for teams was likely the larger purses and fewer technical restrictions.

Though the USRRC was run through the 1968 season, by then Can-Am drew the lion’s share of viewership. Still, it’s fair to say that without the success of the USRRC, Can-Am never would have gotten off the ground. April’s dinner will pay tribute to those who participated in the USRRC, paving the way for future professional series in both the United States and Canada.

The event is limited to 100 tickets, priced at $149.95 each, and the evening will include cocktails, dinner, a panel discussion, USRRC Hall of Fame inductions, awards, book signings and a silent auction. Invitees include George Follmer, Lothar Motschenbacher, John Morton, Oscar Koveleski and more. For additional details, or to purchase tickets, visit