Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pace Yourself: 1989 IROC-Z Players Challenge Series Race Car

By Glenn -- For those of us who like cruise around town stealthily there are hordes of vehicles to serve that need. For those of us who like to stand out, a factory street legal race car can fit the bill nicely! Find this 1989 IROC-Z Players Challenge Car near Vancouver, BC via Craigslist for $19000.00 CDN ($14450.00 USD at today's rate).

Waaay back in the '80s when GM was battling it out on the streets with Ford, GM Motorsport teamed up with tobacco manufacturer Players to produce the Players Challenge Cup Series in Canada under the new SCCA category "Showroom Stock". Running from 1986-1992, these races would usually take place the same weekend and on the same track as an Indy or Grand Prix event. GM built small quantities of IROC's and Trans Ams each year for teams to thoroughly thrash around some of the fastest tracks in Canada. The cars eventually found their way into US SCCA & IMSA Firestone Firehawk series as well.

All cars built for this series were equipped with the elusive 1LE package. This included Corvette big brakes, engine oil cooler, aluminum drive shaft, a baffled fuel tank, and a host of other items for performance. When first offered, this package wasn't something you could buy off the dealer lot. If you wanted to order it you needed to know the sequence of add/delete options to trigger the 1LE package. Additionally, this example has the R7U code indicating it was built specifically for the Player's Race Series which included individually tuned shocks. Power comes from the 5.0L HO engine through a factory modified 5-speed for better acceleration.

Serving as a designated pace car helped spare this example from extended torturous duty. It also meant the creature comforts for street use remained intact. No mileage is indicated in the ad, but it appears the car spent a good bit of time being pampered since it paced it's last event. Other than some noticeable wear on the steering wheel the interior looks very good for the age.

No, Greg Moore or Jacques Villeneuve didn't grace the seats of this example, but it's a genuine factory race car none the less and just begging to get out on the track again. It may even qualify for vintage racing with some sanctioning bodies. With limited quantities built, this is sure to be one of the best left out there. Strap in and enjoy the ride!

Find another street ready race car longing to be exercised?

When not receiving complaints of "distracted by cars...again" from his wife, Glenn can be found in the kitchen whipping up exotic cuisine and nourishing nosh.


  1. The only way to pull this off is if you look like Miss Linda Vaughn.
    I just don't have the hair for it anymore.
    [image src="" width="400px"/]

  2. Mileage isn't listed, but by the looks of the drivers seat they were many, or they were scary. Looks kinda like a lot of puckering going on....

  3. I clicked comment with every intention of making fun of this car. But darn it, it seems as if it really could be a good time. But those stickers?

  4. I remember the Players GM Series quite well. Our Formula Ford series used to run on the same cards once in a while. Great fun to watch.

    That was the same era that also produced the Porsche 944 Cup and the Honda Michelin series for stock Civics. It was a golden period for affordable showroom stock racing.

    You can keep all your high-tech "real" race cars. Give me 30 or 40 more or less identical cars, with dodgy brakes, skinny tires, and drivers with stars in their eyes. Woohoo!

  5. Echo to Bobinott, this era of the Showroom Stock/Playboy/Escort/Firehawk Series was incredible. I was lucky enough to work for a west coast participant for a number of years during this time. We ran a eclectic mix; Starions (ex Dave Wolin, those cars would have made Smokey Yunick proud), Supras, Mustangs, Mirages, etc.

    Such a diversity of performance and such specials that came from the factories, notably Porsche's lightweight 944s, Turbos, & S2s, the above Camaro LE1, Mazda GTU-S, and others.

    The current Continental Challenge is good, but the cars are far from stock.


Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.