1968 BMW 2002: IMSA Radial Special

1968 BMW 2002 IMSA RS

Well, we can credit craigslist with teaching me about a racing series I never knew existed. This 1968 BMW 2002 found here on craigslist for $12,750 is said to have raced in the IMSA RS Challenge, later known as the Champion Spark Plug Challenge. The goal: limit modifications to suspension adjustments of no more than one inch and pack the field full of subcompact sedans. It began in the early 70s and cars like this 2002 were common entries due to IMSA’s goal of stoking interest in the sport by featuring cars seen every day on American roads. Combined with the emphasis on racing cheaply and keeping maintenance costs to a minimum, it’s easy to see that the Spec Miata series wasn’t necessarily an original idea! Does anyone remember cars like this 2002 going wheel-to-wheel with other subcompacts in the 70s?

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Jeff, you’re not old enough! I not only remember it, I watched one or two of these races. Yup, I’m ancient…

  2. Rick

    Living 5 miles from Mid-Ohio, saw quite a few of these contests. Yep, I too am long in the tooth!

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Rick, that’s where I saw them too. But I fell in love with the Boss 302 Trans Am cars instead…

    • jim s

      do over to the track for AMA vintage days?

  3. jim s

    between imsa and scca trans am, showroom stock, improved touring and production classes i saw a lot of these race. some on tv and a lot in person. saw a spec mazda race in person last summer which was great fun to watch. i think this BMW with a logbook would be a very interesting way to get into vintage racing. i wonder why it has been listed for a month with no buyers. great find.

  4. sir mike

    god i really am old.saw them in 1973.at Pocono raceway.BMW,Datsun,Renault Le Car,Mazda RX2,Team Highball Gremlins,MK2 Cortina GT,Toyota Corolla,Fiat 124,Opel,Pinto,Capri,Colt.
    it was the Goodrich Radial Challange Series then.the other series was the Camel GT Series.
    had to look but found the program from the event..$1.00…remember the Camel girls giving out free sample packs of Camels…try that today..oh what memories..

    • jim s

      nascar used to give out free smokes also ” back in the day “. and renault le car had a spec series at one time. you could rent a ride, one team had a car carrier jammed full of r5’s that were for rent. they were a lot of fun to watch race, seen more then a few with road rash on the roof.

      • sir mike

        yes…that was the Archer Brothers…back in 84 when i ran a parts store a yellow one with Renault on the hood stopped in.he’s coming in and i’m going out to look at it.he ran with the Archers on east coast events.when he sold it he gave me the Archer ”big yellow book”…the bible of Renault 5 racers.wish i wouldn’t have sold it now.

  5. Jeff Lavery Staff

    Wow – some great memories here, guys! I am jealous I didn’t get the chance to see these events in person. They sound like everything I love about a racing series.

  6. NickF

    Talk about bring back memories. I crewed on a team who competed in C Production in Canada. We took a brand new 1970 240Z and went road racing. It was originally purchased as a driver for the owners wife but that lasted only about two weeks. It was undrivable on the street a few months later. It was fun and was it fast!

  7. Norm T

    yes sir , watched many races at R.A. ! Come on you know that stands for Road America in Wi. Attended all the June Sprints 67 to 92. Then worked there as campground host 07 to 11 . Many great memories !!

  8. John Matras Member

    There were quasi-factory teams in this too. Engine mods were limited by the carburetor. You had to stay with what the OEM put on there, though you were free to re-jet, etc. On the other hand, compression and camshaft were free. So some of the cars ran very rough in the pits on their “full race cams”. Particularly the Gremlins that were chewing up everyone on the high speed courses. Of course, they had the biggest engines, so what would you expect?

    Well, they had found a loophole in the rules. The Gremlin inline six had the regular downdraft carb sitting out on the usual intake manifold. But what they had done was drill a hole in the intake manifold directly underneath the carb…and then set the carb to run very “rich,” which was leaned out to normal by the air coming in through the hole. Effectively they had increased the size of the carburetor.

    Don’t you just love racing?

  9. Ken

    Jamie,

    You can add me to the list of those that watched this BMW, assorted Dodge Colts, Mazdas etc. race in the on RS series. Now back to the garage….

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