With so many great American sports car
drivers, the toughest part of deciding the
list is who gets left out. Among those
knocking on the door were…
Bill Auberlen (TOP RIGHT) was the
subject of great angst and agony in our top
six. The Californian’s body of work since the
1980s has been impeccable, and despite a
limited number of overall wins, his 50-plus
GT class victories place the BMW specialist
atop every American tin-top driver.
There are the sentimental favorites: Dan
Gurney and A.J. Foyt scored endurance
wins at Daytona and combined for their
legendary win for Ford at Le Mans in 1967
(MAIN). Gurney, in particular, made a
sizeable impact in sports cars as a driver,
team owner and constructor.
Their contemporaries also made
indelible contributions to sports car
racing. George Follmer shadowed Mark
Donohue with USRRC, Trans-Am and
Can-Am titles; two-time Le Mans winner
Masten Gregory was the articulate voice
of the U.S. sports car driver; Parnelli
Jones participated in comparatively few
sports car races, but his efforts in the
factory Ford Boss 302 Mustang survive
earning five titles from 1973-’ 79. Jack
Baldwin, Johnny O’Connell, Willy T. Ribbs
and Tommy Kendall earned an obscene
amount of hardware and titles in IMSA GT
or Trans-Am during the 1980s and ’90s;
John Paul Jr. tamed the fiercest tubeframe
Porsches; Bobby Rahal, Dorsey Schroeder
and Butch Leitzinger won big races or
titles, and while a GTP title eluded him,
Davy Jones took over from Holbert as the
top American in GTP and is the last U.S.
driver to earn an overall win at Le Mans.
Following big sports car wins for
Nissan and Corvette, Johnny O’Connell
has become Pirelli World Challenge’s
immovable object with Cadillac; Andy
Lally has run out of arm space to wear all
of the Rolexes he’s earned from winning
24-hour races. And, finally, we have Patrick
Long (LEFT), the current standard for
American GT excellence as a champion
and Le Mans winner for Porsche.
And looking ahead, do we expect to
add the likes of Joey Hand, Tommy
Milner, Colin Braun, Ricky and Jordan
Taylor, Dane Cameron, and other
homegrown talents to the list in the
future? Yes, with great anticipation.
Choosing only six all-time American sports car racing greats was a tough, tough call. So who to leave out?
Ford brought some incredible driving talent to
Le Mans during its late-1960s domination of the
24 Hours, but Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt (ABOVE)
were its only all-American winning crew in 1967.
as the lasting image of Trans-Am; whether
it was in cars bearing his Chaparral logo
or Euro exotics, Jim Hall’s driving ability
preceded his pioneering innovations, which
netted wins at Daytona and Sebring.
Peter Gregg was IMSA’s first star,