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The IROC Porsches

a baby-blue Porsche 911 RSR, with only two wheels on the ground, coming around a corner of a racetrack.

Book Review - The International Race of Champions, Porsche’s 911 RSR, and the men who raced them

The Porsche 911 RSR, with its close-combat pedigree, was the logical choice for the International Race of Champions. This book is about that race, that car, and the men who partook.

By Guest Author: Roger Lundblad

Mon, Sep 20, 2021 07:10 PM PST

Book Review: The IROC Porsches - The International Race of Champions,  Porsche’s 911 RSR, and the Men Who Raced Them

Author: Matt Stone

Foreword by George Follmer

Publisher: Motorbooks

Format: Hardback,192 Pages

ISBN: 9780760368251

Illustrations: 200 color photos

$60.00 USD / £45.00 BPN

Published: June 22, 2021

Photos courtesy of the publisher

Born in the white-hot competition of international Group 4 combat, Porsche’s 911 RSR emerged from that gauntlet as a true thoroughbred. And, when they came looking, the RSR’s close combat pedigree made it the logical choice for International Race of Champions founders Roger Penske, Les Richter, and Mike Phelps.

a page-spread from the book "The IROC Porsches" with an image of one of the Porsches on race-day.
A page-spread from the book "The IROC Porsches"

International Race of Champions - IROC

1973-1974 was the inaugural year for the International Race of Champions, a series that matched the best of America’s and Europe’s racing community and placed them in the identical racing-bred 911 RSRs. Although the Porsche RSR appeared only in the inaugural season, it captured the hearts and minds of race fans everywhere. Coupled with a television package to match the star power of the participating drivers, the IROC series generated immediate attention.

a page-spread from the book "The IROC Porsches" with an image of the auction where Jerry Seinfeld thinned his herd of Porsches.
Porsche collector and TV Star Jerry Seinfeld's IROC clocking in at over 2.3 million dollars.

Behind The Scenes View

Author Matt Stone has written an in-depth history of the all-star cast of drivers and the car they were given to race. The IROC Porsches gives an intriguing behind-the-scenes view of how Roger Penske - with input from driver Mark Donahue - worked with the Porsche factory to produce 15 as near as possible identical 911 RSRs.

all of the colorful Porsche 911 RSR that were driven in the first International Race Of Champions
They were playfully colorful, and the racing press called them "Jelly Beans" ... they were anything but.

Their proven reliability and performance came with a significant development advantage over other makes. Pulling this off was no small feat - doable thanks to Penske’s long association as a former racer and his involvement with the Can-Am series. And no, the IROC wasn't the first-ever single-model-spec series. There had been other - sporadic - "all-star" events before it - what made the IROC unique was it's widely varying assortment of drivers's backgrounds.

Drivers From All Classes Of Motorsports

What made this match-up unique was that it brought together a group of drivers from all the classes of motorsports - Formula One, Trans-AM, NASCAR, and USAC’s IndyCar were all represented.

a page-spread from the book "The IROC Porsches" with an image of one of the Porsches as well as an image of some of the racers.
Petty, Fittipaldi, Donahue, Follmer, Hulme ... some of the "C's" in IROC

The races were divided between Riverside International Raceway and the Daytona International Speedway. Both tracks provided the drivers - with this wonderful variety of backgrounds - an opportunity to compete on tracks that played to their strengths. Switching from the steep banking at Daytona to the esses at Riverside, the challenges presented by both venues fell on both the drivers and the hardcore 911 RSR.

the cover of the book "The IROC Porsches", featuring a few of the Porsches racing towards the reader.
The front cover of "The IROC Porsches"

The Cars Of IROC

The story of The IROC Porsches does not end with the departure of the Porsche after that one first season. The Chevrolet Camaro assumed the role until 1989. Then Dodge was next up in the IROC story, providing cars from 1990 to 1995. The final chapter was written with GM returning to the series - this time with the Pontiac division’s Firebird. Like its Dodge forbearers, the Firebirds were built to NASCAR Winston Cup specifications. By this time the driver lineup mirrored the cars’ roots - NASCAR drivers dominated the starting grid.

A Book For Porsche Fans

Longtime fans of the Porsche brand will find highly-respected motorsport historian and author Matt Stone’s selection of photos that accompany the history of each IROC RSR a compelling addition to his fact-filled narrative, as the RSR solidified its place in Porsche lore. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that the author tracked down every car and presents sort of a detailed "CarFax"-report on each. And, yes, they all still exist.

I hope that it’s already been made clear, but I’ll summarize anyway - "The IROC Porsches" is a lavishly-produced, loving-written book that deserves a place of honor in any Porsche library.

Review Author Roger Lundblad is an acknowledged expert on all things Porsche.

About The Author

Roger Lundblad

Guest Contributor

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