Five races in two days, instead of one five- or six-hour marathon, will give the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix of Endurance a streamlined look when it returns to Riverside International Raceway April 25-26.
The main event, which used to mix GTP, GTO, GTU and Camel Lights cars in one big International Motor Sports Assn. race, will be split into two races.
The GTPs, exotic prototype turbocharged machines featuring the Porsche 962 of defending champion Ron Dyson and Price Cobb, and the Camel Lights, non-turbocharged versions of the GTP cars, will race together in the 500-kilometer (310.5-mile) main event. The GTO and GTU cars will race together in a 300-kilometer (186.3-mile)preliminary. Both of those races will be run Sunday April 26, after a 45-minute race for international sedans.
An all-new program will give Saturday race fans competition as well as qualifying for all GT races. Parnelli Jones Firestone will sponsor a Sports 2000 race of 30 minutes and a Firehawk Endurance Challenge of three hours--with former Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones as one of the competitors.
Jones, who led the first 107 laps of a similar race two years ago at Riverside before the engine blew in his Camaro, will be in a Nissan 300ZX with Steve Johnson of La Verne as his co-driver.
The cars that won all four previous GTP races will be at Riverside, although not necessarily in the same hands.
Al Holbert, five-time Camel GT champion who managed and then helped Chip Robinson, Derek Bell and Al Unser Jr. drive the Lowenbrau Porsche 962 to win the 24 Hours of Daytona, will share the ride at Riverside with Robinson. The Holbert-Robinson team also finished second in the 12 Hours of Sebring to Bobby Rahal and Jochen Maas, and second again last week at Road Atlanta to Cobb and James Weaver.
The race will have a special significance for Holbert, since Riverside is the only track on which he has not won an IMSA race. The Porsche specialist from Warrington, Pa., has won a record 47 races while winning the championship in 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985 and 1986.
Cobb and Dyson are entered as drivers for Dyson's Porsche 962, although there is a possibility that Weaver may sit in for Dyson.
Geoff Brabham and Elliott Forbes-Robinson, drivers who have won at Riverside in other equipment, will be in the Nissan GTP that they drove to victory in the Grand Prix of Miami.
The Porsche 962 that won Sebring will be in the hands of a new team. Instead of Rahal and Maas, the drivers will be Bruce Leven and David Hobbs.
Other prominent combinations include Pete Halsmer and Scott Pruett in a Mustang GTP, Hurley Haywood and John Morton in a Jaguar XJR-7, Doc Bundy and South African Sarel Van der Merwe in a Corvette GTP, Jim Crawford and Whitney Ganz in a Buick Hawk, and veteran Brian Redman and Chris Kniefel and youngsters Darrin Brassfield and Wally Dallenbach Jr. in a pair of 962s.
Paul Newman will attempt to keep his winning streak going in the GTO race in a Nissan 300ZX Turbo. Two weeks ago, the 62-year-old actor-driver started his parlay by winning an Oscar for his role in "Color of Money." A week later he watched his Indy car win the Long Beach Grand Prix with Mario Andretti driving. Now it's on to Riverside.
Also new for endurance racing at Riverside, the short course of 2.54-miles will be used. This eliminates Turn 8 and shortens the long back straightaway.
SPRINT CARS--California Racing Assn. cars and drivers will return to Ascot Park for a Parnelli Jones Firestone points race Saturday night after an unusual weekend in Phoenix where Mike Sweeney made a rare pit stop to change tires and still managed to win the main event. The win enabled Sweeney to pass Bubby Jones for the points lead with 561 to 552 for the veteran from Glen Avon. Defending champion Brad Noffsinger is third with 539.
MOTORCYCLES--National speedway champion Bobby Schwartz is making the most of his decision to remain home instead of riding in the British League this season. Schwartz swept main events at Ventura, San Bernardino, Ascot Park and the Orange County fairgrounds last week. He will be out this week to try for a repeat performance, starting tonight at Ascot's South Bay Stadium. . . . Mike Faria, 1986 speedway rider of the year, will be honored next Wednesday night during the Inland Speedway's weekly program. . . . The Continental Motosports Club will hold a motocross Friday night at Ascot Park, replacing the scheduled Off-Road Outlaw Championships, which were canceled by promoter Marty Tripes. . . . Shorty Seabourne, 50, of Torrance, who injured his back in an accident during practice for last week's AMA national championship half-mile race, is recuperating in the intensive care unit at Little Company of Mary Hospital.
STOCK CARS--Marcus Mallett, the first black driver to win a Winston Racing Series event four years ago at Ascot Park, has taken over the points lead in the Curb Motorsports pro stock division and will be out to increase it in Sunday night's main event. Mallett celebrated his 27th birthday last week by winning a double-points event and moving ahead of defending champion Ron Meyer. . . . NASCAR sportsman, street stock and Figure 8 cars will share the billing Saturday night at Saugus Speedway. Hobby stocks, foreign stocks and jalopies will race there Friday night.
ONE LAP--Don Garlits will flag off 75 teams Friday in Troy, Mich., for the Uniroyal-Goodrich One Lap of America, an 8,000-mile road rally successor to the Cannonball Run. The cars will have a stopover Monday at Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach. Among the entries are Indy car driver Scott Brayton in a Shelby Dodge Daytona Z, defending One Lap champion John Buffum in an Audi Turbo Quattro, Kelly series champion Irv Hoerr and Michael Andretti in a pair of Oldsmobile Toranado Trofeos.
MIDGETS--Rick Gray and Denise Bennet will resume their United States Auto Club points battle in three-quarter midgets Friday night at Ventura Speedway.
VINTAGE CARS--Paul Canary, driving a '64 Corvette, averaged 113.9 m.p.h. for the 125-mile La Carrera Classic from Ensenada to San Felipe last Saturday. Second was Bill Hays, in a '66 Cobra 427, followed by Philipe de Lespinay in a Porsche RS. Peter Giddings won the pre-1955 class in a '27 Bugatti, and Bruno Goldberg won the vintage class in a '58 Devon SS.