How the Chevrolet Camaro Became an IROC-Z

IROC-Z Racer

 

From 1985 until very early in 1990 Chevrolet produced the IROC-Z Camaro. It began with its inception in 1985 as an option add-on to the Z28 model then becoming its own model in 1988, eliminating the Z28 model, to its eventual cease of production in early 1990 and Chevrolet reintroducing the Z28.

The IROC-Z model of the Chevrolet Camaro first made its public appearance in 1985 as an add on option to the 1985 Camaro Z28 model. But its origin began long before that. 

IROC stands for International Race of Champions which is an automobile racing series similar to what NASCAR is. The IROC racing series started in 1974 racing Porsches  prepared by Robert Penske. After one season of racing Porsches, Penske realized the cost to maintain the Porsches for racing was to expensive so in 1975, the series switched to the Chevrolet Camaro.  IROC used the Chevrolet Camaro from 1975 to 1991. Because Chevrolet would race the Camaro under this sanctioning body, in 1985 Chevrolet entered into a licensing agreement to with the racing series and as a result, obtained the right to use the IROC name on its production Camaros.

Thus in 1985, the IROC-Z was born and introduced as an add-on option package to the 1985 Camaro Z28. It was produced for a little over 5 years. By the beginning of the 1990 the last of the IROC-Z's were produced as Chevrolet's licensing/sponsorship agreement was about to expire and Chevrolet made the decision not to renew it. Because of this expiration and nonrenewal, Chevrolet had to immediately stop production of the IROC-Z and reintroduce the Z28 as the performance model of the Camaro lineup. 

This was a mistake in my opinion because of the huge popularity of the IROC-Z. But in retrospect, the IROC-Z has now become a legend in the automotive world because they were only produced for just over 5 years. There were only 166,976 total IROC-Z's made during the years in production. If you subtract the ones that were totaled in accidents and the ones stolen and parted out, you don't have many left. They are fast becoming the modern era's vehicle of choice among collector's. 

Dodge then replaced Chevrolet as the licensee/sponsor of the IROC racing series. Dodge then came out with its own version of an IROC car called the IROC Daytona named after the Dodge Daytona. This car did not and could not compare to the now legendary IROC-Z Camaro. Very few were made and production was stopped because of lack of interest. 

At some point, Pontiac replaced Dodge as the primary sponsor  for the series which is where we are at today. The IROC series currently races the Pontiac Trans AM. With all the success of Chevrolet IROC-Z Camaro, you wonder why General Motors would reacquire the rights and not go back to the Camaro.

In any event, this should tell you that IROC-Z Camaro's are rare and becoming valuable because of the limited production. Do you remember the Camaro SS? They were only produced for 6 years and then stopped (until the recent reintroduction in 1996). How valuable is a 1960's SS Camaro or an early 70's SS Camaro in any condition? That's my point.  

If you own an IROC-Z, keep it, give it to your children when they get older. Think of how you would feel if your dad saved his 67 SS Camaro for you. And if you don't have one, by all means go and get one. Then come back here and tell me about. 

I have two of them myself. They are the second and third ones I have owned and I could kick myself in the a!@#$% for getting rid of the first one (had to buy a house). I am looking for a blue one for my wife and I would like to find two more to put away for my sons when they grow up.

Anyhow, that is a brief history of the IROC-Z Camaro. Please check out the write up below. If you have any information on the IROC-Z Camaro, please email me.

1985 to 1990 IROC Racing Series Articles

1985 IROC Racing Series 10 Page Write Up 1985irocwriteup2-1.jpg (156736 bytes)
1985 IROC Racing Series 12 Page Write Up 1985 IROC Racing Series 3 Page Write Up
1988irocwriteup1-1.jpg (81359 bytes)
1988 IROC Racing Series 1 Page Write Up Tubs 1986 Factory IROC-Z Setup to Run SCCA IROC Racing
IrocJapan1.JPG (65692 bytes)  
IROC Racing In Japan  

 

IROC Racing Series Results from 1985 to 1990

  1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
Champion Harry Gant Al Unser Jr. Geoff Bodine Al Unser Jr. Terry Labonte Dale Earnhardt
2nd Darrell Waltrip Bill Elliot Al Unser Jr. Terry Labonte Al Unser Jr. Al Unser Jr.
3rd Bobby Rahal Cale Yarborough Bobby Rahal Scott Pruett Rusty Wallace Martin Brundle
4th Tom Sneva Al Unser Wally Dallenbach Bill Elliott Dale Earnhardt Mark Martin
5th Terry Labonte Darrell Waltrip Darrell Waltrip Dale Earnhardt Scott Pruett Terry Labonte
6th Derek Bell Harry Gant Bill Elliott Geoff Bodine Bill Elliott Emerson Fittipaldi
7th John Watson Bobby Rahal Michael Andretti Al Holbert A. J. Foyt Dorsey Schroeder
8th Cale Yarborough Klaus Ludwig Scott Pruett Al Unser Danny Sullivan Rusty Wallace
9th A.J. Foyt Hans Stuck Mario Andretti Chip Robinson Hurley Haywood Darrell Waltrip
10th Jochen Mass Hurley Haywood Dale Earnhardt Chris Cord Geoff Brabham Bobby Rahal
11th Mario Andretti Jochen Mass Al Unser Bobby Rahal Rick Mears Geoff Brabham
12th Tom Gloy Rick Mears Derek Bell Roberto Geurrero Richard Petty Danny Sullivan

IROC Racing Series Race Car