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The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) was a sanctioning body for sports car racing in North America. Since its establishment in 1969, IMSA conducted hundreds of auto races on a variety of permanent and temporary racing circuits in the United States and Canada.
Exclusively in the auto racing business, IMSA organized and officiated professional road racing competitions.
In 1995, a new rival for Ferrari appeared in the Riley & Scott Mk III. The car would make its debut at Daytona, but would retire after the eleventh lap after an engine failure. Ferrari would help the category to score a overall win at Sebring and would take the title for both makes and driver. The Ferrari and the R&S cars were the dominant racers of the series from 1995 to the demise of IMSA at the end of 1998.
After Bishop and France sold the series in 1989 to Mike Cone of Tampa where he relocated the HQ from CT, it had a checkered 1990s with multiple ownerships and a name change to Professional Sports Car Racing (PSR). Cone lacked dedication and full-time commitment and in turn sold it to businessman Charles Slater. Both lost millions in half-hearted attempts to revive the sagging TV ratings. In 1996 Slater sold the organization to Roberto Muller (ex-CEO of Reebok) and Wall Street financier Andy Evans, who also was an IndyCar owner and owner/driver of the Scandia WSC team. Evans and VP of Marketing Kurtis Eide were responsible for the name change to Professional Sports Car Racing (PSR).
Under tremendous pressure from team owners and management Evans sold the series to Don Panoz in 2001, to solidify the sanction for Panoz's American Le Mans Series which had been sanctioned by PSR since 1999. Don Panoz renamed the sanctioning organization back to IMSA and is now the official sanctioning body of the ALMS, as well as the Star Mazda series and the Panoz GT Pro series. The ALMS uses regulations based on those of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but in 2005 the relationship between Panoz and the Le Mans organizers, ACO, became problematic.
A breakaway series formed by the USRRC in 1998 involving the Sports Car Club of America and headed by a group of competitors wanting to keep rules within the United States initially failed. A second attempt with full support of NASCAR's France family and other motorsports notables known as Grand-Am began in 1999. Grand-Am struggled early on, but has proven to be a formidable competitor to the ALMS in recent years with name drivers, considerably larger fields and much closer competition. Much like the split between ChampCar and the IRL this split has be detrimental to the sport as a whole. Attendance, sponsorships and media coverage have dropped dramatically since the split in 1998.
The ALMS and the ACO have disagreed on several points since the inception of their relationship which have caused lower than expected number of entries on the grid. This has forced the ALMS to make decisions that are contrary to ACO rules to boost field size and fan interest by allowing cars to campaign the 2005 season that do not conform to ACO rules. However, the announcement of Porsche's return to Le Mans style Prototypes and several new chassis becoming available for 2006, there is optimism that the ALMS will rebound.
The headquarters office for IMSA is located in Braselton, Ga.