Meet IMSA’s 11 GT Manufacturers – The Most of Any Series in the World

By John Oreovicz

IMSA Wire Service

What produces a cumulative 5,800 horsepower, costs nearly $1.9 million and can launch from a standstill to 60 mph in an average of 3.34 seconds?

It’s the 11 production cars that represent the manufacturers participating in the Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) and GTD fields in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – the most manufacturers of any series in the world. These high-performance machines were designed to be the closest thing to a race car that you can drive on the street.

The road cars serve as “halo” vehicles for their respective manufacturers, demonstrating their engineering excellence. The racing cars – all of which are built to FIA GT3 specifications to make them eligible for sports car championships around the world – challenge these manufacturers to create the ultimate expression of their initial vision.

Here’s a closer look at these magnificent road cars alongside one of IMSA’s GT class contenders that was inspired by them:

Lexus RC F Track Edition / No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3

When Lexus arrived in the U.S. market in 1989, its core attributes were quality and refinement. Since then, Toyota’s flagship brand has increasingly added a sporting flair to its vehicles, exemplified by the RC luxury sport coupe – especially in “F” trim, which signifies both flagship and Fuji Speedway, the iconic Japanese racetrack where the F package performance parts were developed. The F replaces the four- and six-cylinder engines found in standard RC models with a sonorous 5.0-liter V-8 that kicks out 472 horsepower. The RC F Track Edition features active aerodynamics and weight-reducing carbon-fiber body components. Vasser Sullivan has campaigned the RC F GT3 with great success in IMSA, winning the GTD PRO championship in 2023.

Mercedes-AMG GT-R / No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3

AMG was formed as a tuning house that became the leading modifier of Mercedes-Benz cars. Mercedes was so impressed, it acquired AMG in 2005 and AMG-branded models now represent the top end of the Mercedes lineup in terms of luxury and performance. The Mercedes-AMG GT that debuted in 2014 was the second car developed in-house by AMG as an exclusive model. The GT features a front-mounted V-8 engine and styling reminiscent of the legendary 300SL “Gullwing” from the 1950s. The “R” version of the GT bumps engine output from 456 to 585 horsepower. For the GT3 racing car, AMG replaces the road car’s 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 with a roaring, naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 mill. Winward Racing has started the 2024 season with GTD class victories at Daytona, Sebring and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in the No. 57 Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Lamborghini Huracán STO / No. 78 Forte Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2

Lamborghini emerged as Ferrari’s main serious rival for building road-going supercars. The ‘60s Miura and ‘70s Countach established Lamborghini’s reputation for exotic mechanicals and wild styling, and the angular theme established by the original Countach continues to inspire the look of Lamborghini’s cars. The V-10 powered Huracán, introduced in 2014 and refreshed in ’19, is the marque’s most sporting model. Lamborghini frequently releases special editions of the Huracán, but the top of the line is the GT3, which was treated to a second EVO update last year. A modified 620-horsepower version of the Huracán is also the platform for the IMSA-sanctioned Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America single-make championship.

Porsche 911 GTS / No. 77 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R

After more than 60 years and multiple generations, the Porsche 911 is one of the world’s most recognizable sports cars. Size, weight, power and luxury accoutrements have increased over the decades, but the 911 still stands as arguably the most usable “daily driver” sports car on the planet. Porsche offers a dizzying array of 911 trim levels, faithful to the original concept of a rear-mounted flat-six engine. Many consider the 473-horsepower, turbocharged 911 GTS the sweet spot of the current Type 992 lineup. Porsche has achieved an unmatched record in global sports car racing as evidenced by the fact that the marque earned its 600th and 601st IMSA victories at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last weekend. The 911 GT3 R continues as the marque’s standard bearer in championships around the globe.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 / No. 4 Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports Corvette Z06 GT3.R

The Corvette has been a popular choice as a racing platform since the early 1960s, but it wasn’t until the ‘90s that Chevrolet instilled the street version of America’s most popular car with handling capabilities to match its straight-line speed. That development trend coincided with the emergence of Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller, Chevrolet’s longtime sports car racing technical partner. Pratt Miller’s racing expertise resulted in continual improvements to the C5, C6 and C7 generation Corvettes for the road, culminating in the development of the mid-engine C8 generation of Corvette. The 670-horsepower Z06 is the most performance-oriented Corvette model outside of the racing GT3.R, developed by Pratt Miller and engaged in its first season of WeatherTech Championship competition.

Aston Martin Vantage / No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 EVO

Before an Aston Martin served as James Bond’s favored set of wheels, the British marque compiled an enviable record in sports car racing. Aston’s modern ownership group has re-emphasized the firm’s commitment to on-track competition, and 2024 saw the latest generation of the Vantage unveiled in both racing and road car form. Interestingly, the GT3 race car appeared first, running the Rolex 24 At Daytona with light camouflage on a few key styling elements. The production Vantage with a 656-horsepower turbocharged V-8 was revealed just prior to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Cadillac, engineered for greater driver engagement.

Acura Integra Type S / No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3

Honda has a remarkable racing legacy with both motorcycles and cars. The ultimate expression of company founder Soichiro Honda’s philosophy of small, nimble sports cars was the original 1991 NSX, which featured development input from legendary Formula 1 star Ayrton Senna. The second-generation NSX, which was produced from 2017-23, emphasizes Acura’s devotion to technology, with a turbocharged V-6 engine that features a hybrid energy recovery system like the concept used in the Acura ARX-06 that races in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class of the WeatherTech Championship. As with the NSX, Acura designates the premium high-performance version of its Integra sports sedan Type S.

Ford Mustang Dark Horse / No. 64 Ford Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT3

Like the Porsche 911, the Ford Mustang recently celebrated its 60th birthday and is an equally important model for its maker. And like its American counterpart the Chevrolet Corvette, the Mustang has developed into an increasingly capable sports car over the last 30 years. The seventh-generation “S650” Mustang, which is brand new this year, is highlighted by a new model called Dark Horse, which features a high-revving 500-horsepower V-8 along with performance-tuned brakes and suspension. Ford also rolled out the first-ever GT3 racing version of the Mustang this year; the car was developed by Multimatic Motorsports, which is also fielding a two-car effort in the GTD PRO class of the WeatherTech Championship.

Ferrari 296 GTB / No. 34 Conquest Racing Ferrari 296 GT3

Enzo Ferrari once declared, “A Ferrari is a 12-cylinder car.” When he started building a smaller mid-engine model in the late 1960s, he called it Dino 246 GT. Ferrari finally acknowledged the Dino’s successor, the V-8 powered 1975 308 GTB, as a Ferrari; following a range of V-8 successors that culminated in the 458 Italia, the modern equivalent 296 GTB introduced in 2022 utilizes a twin-turbocharged V-6 with a wide cylinder vee of 120 degrees. A plug-in hybrid system elevates total power to a staggering 819 horsepower. Ferrari’s reputation alone makes it a benchmark for other sports car manufacturers, and the 296 maintains that aura with aplomb. The 296 GT3 is entering its second season of worldwide competition and earned a crown jewel victory at this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona in the hands of Risi Competizione.

McLaren 720S / No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports McLaren 720S GT3 Evo

Long before it became a premium maker of exotic sports cars, McLaren was a racing car manufacturer, winning Can-Am and Formula 1 championships in the 1960s and ‘70s. The first McLaren road car released for sale was the limited production 1994 F1 designed by Gordon Murray. McLaren’s modern era of road cars dates to 2011, and since then, the manufacturer has created a staggering array of variations on a modular mid-engine platform. McLaren chose the 720S that bowed in 2018 when it set out to create an entry eligible for GT3 sports car racing; the production car’s name was derived from its turbo V-8’s 720 Pferdestarke (710 horsepower) output. The 720S GT3 received an Evo upgrade in 2022.

BMW M4 CS / No. 557 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3

The BMW “3-series” replaced the beloved 2002 in the mid-1970s and established itself as the German marque’s bestseller through the 2000s. BMW’s M competition division created a performance version called the M3 in 1986 to establish a now legendary lineage of capable sports sedans. BMW now calls two-door versions of its compact sedan line the 4-series, with the range topped by the M4. As with its predecessors, the latest G82 version of the M4 sacrifices nothing in the quest for driving enjoyment. The 2025 CS version of the M4 unveiled to the public the day after it participated in this photo shoot at Laguna Seca sheds weight and bumps the 3-liter, twin-turbo straight six’s output to 543 horsepower. Paul Miller Racing ran away with the 2023 IMSA GTD class championship with the M4 GT3, while stalwart team Turner Motorsport made its 557th start with BMW in Sunday’s race at Monterey, surpassing the legendary Schnitzer Motorsport as the team with the most starts in the world for the manufacturer.

Speedway Digest Staff
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