Powell Racing History

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Powell Racing History

The History of Professional Street Stock Endurance Racing

Professional street stock endurance racing has a long history in North America dating back to 1985. The series has went through various name changes, and several different san­ctioning bodies through the years. Its allure to both fans and manufacturers alike is that real cars, that are produced on the assembly lines of manufacturer plants all over the world, are raced in an endurance format (races that last two to twenty four hours) that test the limits of the machine.

Professional Street Stock Endurance Racing Timeline:

Years

Sanctioning Body

Series Name

1985 SCCA Playboy Cup
1986-1989 SCCA Escort Endurance Challenge
1985-1994 IMSA Firehawk Series
1995-1998 PSR Endurance Challenge
1997-2000 BMG Motorola Cup
2001 Grand Am Grand Am Cup

In 1972, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) formed a new class for showroom stock vehicles. In the summer of 1979, a 24-hour race was held on the Ohio track of Nelson Ledges for these street stock vehicles. The success of that 24-hour race over the next several years prompted SCCA to form a professional series for 1985, called the SCCA Playboy Cup, giving birth to the modern era of professional street stock endurance racing.

Powell Motorsport campaigned two Corvettes in the SCCA Playboy series with future stars such as Ron Fellows, Scott Goodyear, R.K. Smith, and Richard Spenard driving for them. Powell Motorsport competed in the SCCA series until the end of the 1987 season, claiming multiple top threes, and a win at Sears Point in 1985. For Powell Motorsport, the next few years were spent with team leader John Powell developing, promoting, and organizing the very successful Corvette Challenge series.

At the same time that SCCA started their professional series in 1985, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) was working in conjunction with the tire manufacturer Firestone, to develop a similar professional series to showcase Firestone's high performance brand, Firehawk.

The two ran as rival series to each other until the fall of 1989 when SCCA decided to restructure the Escort Endurance Challenge, and in doing so they shortened the races in the series. With the series no longer being endurance based (longer than one hour races), the only professional street stock endurance series in North America was the Firehawk Series being sanctioned by IMSA.

By 1990, the Corvette Challenge Series had served its purpose in American racing and it was no longer in existence. Powell Motorsport returned to the 1990 SCCA Escort World Challenge (sprint based) Series, and won the season long Driver's Championship with R.K. Smith driving a Chevrolet Corvette.

Powell Motorsport then took the next few years off from racing. Team leader John Powell took the down time from racing to grow the Powell Motorsport driving school. John's son, Devon, had taken an interest in racing, and wanted to start driving if, but only if, his father wanted to be involved with teaching him. The Powell’s spent the next several years traveling throughout the USA, and Canada, even Europe as Devon began to develop into a very strong kart driver.

Back in the world of sedan racing, the IMSA Series thrived over the next ten years. With the backing of Firestone the series grew as manufacturers began to show their support and interest in the series. The 1996 season saw IMSA renamed Professional Sportscar Racing (PSR), as it changed ownership several times from 1995 through 1998.

With PSR was suffering from instability, Canadian promoter David Berman started a Canadian based professional street stock endurance series in 1997. The timing couldn't have been more perfect for Powell Motorsport. Devon had some strong successes in karting, but knew that his real passion lie in driving real cars, and real General Motor cars to be more specific.

With Devon driving a Chevrolet Camaro SS, Powell Motorsport won the inaugural Driver's Championship. By also winning the Team Championship, and the Manufacturer's Championship, Powell Motorsport captured their first of a record breaking three consecutive Triple Crowns (Driver, Team, and Manufacturer Championship).

With a series sponsor in the form of the multi-national conglomerate, Motorola, The 1998 season saw Berman take the series south of the Canadian border, and many American competitors from the PSR Endurance Challenge came over to race in the series. Powell Motorsport traded in their Camaro for a Pontiac Firebird, but continued to dominate. Facing increased competition from their American counterparts, Powell Motorsport took home five wins and their second straight Triple Crown with their Pontiac Firebirds.

Berman's success with the series, along with management changes at PSR, meant that the PSR Series was discontinued at the end of 1998. Berman's Motorola Cup was now the premiere professional street stock endurance series in North America. The 1999 season saw Powell Motorsport facing even more competition as more competitors now infiltrated the series from the now dead PSR series, yet Powell Motorsport was still able to take their third straight Triple Crown home as well as three wins.

The 2000 season saw a change in professional street stock endurance racing, as for the first time since the mid 80's, the series allowed for super exotic cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, and the Saleen SR.

Powell Motorsport returned to their roots as they once again campaigned a Corvette for the first time since R.K. Smith won the World Challenge Championship in 1990 driving for them. They already had extensive experience with the LS1 motor in the Corvette, from their development of the Firebird, and felt that they could apply that knowledge to the Corvette. However, the LS1 motor was not ready for the increased horsepower and cornering loads that the Corvette presented it with, and Powell Motorsport spent much of the 2000 season developing the reliability of the Corvette. Despite reliability issues, Powell Motorsport still took home two wins and the Manufacturer's Championship for General Motors.

When the Motorola sponsorship money went away in the fall of 2000 David Berman worked with the Grand Am sanctioning body, and Grand Am took over the series, but allowed for the same rules and venues as 2000, giving the series a virtually seamless transition from the Berman Group to Grand Am.

Powell Motorsport continued to run their Corvette in 2001. With the engine development that took place in the 2000 season, most of all the reliability issues had been worked out of the engine, and in the ten race season, Powell took home six wins , and Powell Motorsport took home their fourth Triple Crown in five years, and fifth straight Manufacturer's Championship for General Motors.

2002:

Locked in a battle all season against many Porches, the Sunoco Corvette team moved into first place mid season, but lost the championship when the exhaust system was ripped off in a Doug Goad off course excursion. Devon Powell continues to run the Powell RaceShop and prepare his own team Corvette. Crew Chief Dave Stevenson won the “Crew Chief” of the year award for the second year in a row.

2003:

Powell Motorsports Place In Canadian Racing History

Powell Motorsport is the most successful Canadian team in professional racing. Having claimed four Driver Championships (1990, 1997, 1998, and 1999), the team has achieved more than any other Canadian team, which isn't easy to claim considering some of the other top Canadian teams in racing.

Brian Stewart Racing: A regular in the Indy Lights category, Brian Stewart Racing has been campaigning in the Indy Lights category since 1988, taking home two Driver Championships and 37 wins.

Multimatic: Mutlimatic is a major component supplier to the big three, especially Chrysler and Ford. The Multimatic effort went up against Powell Motorsports head to head 1998 and 1999 in the Motorola Cup, with Powell Motorsport coming out on top with both Championships. The team has scored two professional Championships, and was the first Canadian team to win the Le Mans 24 hours.

Year

Series

Wins

Notes

1985 SCCA Playboy Endurance Series 1  
1986 SCCA Escort Endurance Series 0  
1987 SCCA Escort Endurance Series 0  
1988 Corvette Challenge - Powell Operated and Promoted Series
1989 Corvette Challenge 2 Powell Operated and Promoted Series
Arm's Length Powell Team Finished Second In Championship
1990 SCCA World Challenge 3 Driver, Manufacturer
1991 Karting 1 Won 24 Hours Race at Mosport
1992 Karting -  
1993 Karting -  
1994 Karting -  
1995 Karting -  
1996 Karting -  
1997 Canadian Pro Enduro Series - Drivers, Team, Manufacturer
1998 Motorola Cup 5 Drivers, Team, Manufacturer
1999 Motorola Cup 3 Drivers, Team, Manufacturer
2000 Motorola Cup 2 Manufacturer
2001 Grand Am Cup 6