IMSA Trades COTA for Mid-Ohio in 2018

Ford GT leads Audi GT3 car at Lime Rock IMSA race
The No. 67 Ford GT enters a corner at Lime Rock Park. | Photo: Jake Galstad / LAT Images

IMSA interrupted the opening day of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy 200 weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to announce its long-awaited return to the track beginning next year.

Mid-Ohio President Craig Rust joined IMSA President Scott Atherton in delivering the special announcement on Friday morning.

The event, to be held on May 4–6, 2018, will be an IMSA-only weekend. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will make its Mid-Ohio debut while the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will return for its first time since 2013.

The most recent race at Mid-Ohio featuring top-level IMSA machinery was a GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series event on June 15, 2013. Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi won the race prior to collecting back-to-back WeatherTech Championship titles in the premier Prototype class in 2014 and 2015.

The American Le Mans Series last raced at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 5, 2012, with Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf reaching the overall victory.

IMSA DPi LMP2 start at CTMP
Prototype cars lead the field to the green flag at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July 2017. | Photo: Scott R LePage / LAT Images

The 2018 IMSA event at Mid-Ohio will feature each WeatherTech Championship class that will compete next year — Prototype, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona — in a two-hour, 40-minute format.

“Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has a long and storied history of hosting world-class sports car races in front of a loyal and knowledgable fanbase,” Atherton said.

“We will build on that legacy next May with a field of Prototype and GT race cars that represent the pinnacle of the sport. Many of our stakeholders have long been supportive — and quite vocal — regarding a return to Mid-Ohio and we are pleased that we can finally say: ‘We’re back.'”

IMSA Mid-Ohio race announcement by Scott Atherton
Craig Rust and Scott Atherton announce IMSA’s return to Mid-Ohio in 2018. | Photo: Ben Hinc / The Apex

A total of 13 GRAND-AM races and 11 ALMS events have been held at Mid-Ohio.

“We are thrilled to announce that the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be joining our schedule in 2018,” said Rust. “It is a great way to kick off our season.”

“We have a tremendous following of sports car fans and they ask us every year when we might be able to bring the IMSA series back to Mid-Ohio. We are very proud that we were able to work with Scott Atherton and his team to get this done for them, for us and, most importantly, for our fans.”

As part of the Mid-Ohio announcement, Atherton stated that Circuit of The Americas will not be returning to the WeatherTech Championship calendar in 2018. IMSA and COTA mutually agreed on the decision and, per the sanctioning body, both parties are open to working together again in the future.

The deal between Atherton’s sanctioning body and the racetrack, which will last until at least 2020, came together in a matter of weeks.

The full 2018 schedules for the WeatherTech Championship and Continental Tire Challenge will be revealed next Friday, Aug. 4 at Road America.