Here, and elsewhere, the Superstar Racing Experience brainstormed by Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham, which made its prime-time debut Saturday on CBS, has been the subject of impressive media focus. It was gratifying to see the organizers publicly salute the series that directly inspired SRX, the original International Race of Champions, which was the offspring of Roger Penske and then-NASCAR executive Les Richter, the former NFL star. When it first aired via tape delay on ABC, the IROC series matched the world’s best drivers from a broad range of disciplines in – at first – identically prepared, rainbow-hued copies of the 1974 Porsche 911 RSR, Stuttgart’s in-house, factory-built production race cars. Those 911s still exist, in very small numbers, and we can tell you from personal observation that they pull enormous prices when they come up for sale at auctions, their Recaro seats having been creased by butts belonging to the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi, A.J. Foyt and Richard Petty, to name some of the IROC participants. So with the hoopla over SRX, it’s no coincidence that a new volume closely examines these straight-up exotic pieces that introduced motorsports to TV as mass-market entertainment.
For their brief time in IROC, which shortly switched to more fixable Camaro-bodied stock cars as the series continued, these 911s are some of the most instantly recognizable competition cars in Porsche history. They’re a fitting topic for this hardcover history authored by one of America’s most accomplished automotive journalists, former Motor Trend executive editor Matt Stone. The IROC Porsches is a 192-page hardcover, prominently illustrated with 200-plus photos, and published by Motorbooks. It’s organized the right way: Each chassis number gets its own mini-chapter with a full race accounting and an update on the car’s present whereabouts. Here’s an example of what we mean: Chassis 0090, finished in orange, is a double IROC winner, the second of which went to IROC star Mark Donohue at Daytona in his final professional victory before he died in 1975 following a Formula 1 testing crash. After post-IROC stints in California, Australia and the United Kingdom, 0090 now occupies an exalted place in a Swiss collection of Porsches. The book, very useful to Porsche enthusiasts, has a lot of detailed info like this, which is always a major plus.