IMSA Co-Founder John Bishop Passes Away

John Bishop

John Bishop worked for the Sports Car Club of America before he and Bill France Sr. created the International Motor Sports Association in 1969. Bishop remained President until 1989. He passed away earlier this week at the age of 87. (Photo: ISC Archives)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Sports car racing legend John Bishop, the visionary co-founder of the International Motor Sports Association, died Thursday in San Rafael, Calif., due to complications from a recent illness.

Bishop co-founded IMSA in 1969 with his wife Peggy and NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.  A surprise telephone "cold call" from France resulted in Bishop's quick trip from Connecticut to Daytona Beach to discuss assembling a new sports car sanctioning organization in North America.

"Bill said he thought there was a need for a new organization and he thought I might be the person to run it," Bishop said recently.  "We met, we talked a lot, drank a lot of scotch, talked more and planned it out.  Peggy and I didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into."

That wasn’t exactly true.  Bishop already had a solid resume as an experienced sports car official with the Sports Car Club of America.  In 1969, he decided he wanted to leave that organization.

"I offered my resignation and the SCCA surprised me.  they accepted it," Bishop said.

With France’s financial assistance, the Bishops built IMSA into a premier sports car organization that peaked in the 1980s and '90s with the Camel-sponsored GT Series, featuring the GTP prototypes.  Bishop sold IMSA in 1989, in part due to health issues.  But he remained a vital part of sports car racing with a lengthy tenure as commissioner of GRAND-AM Road Racing.

Today, IMSA sanctions the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship - which is in its inaugural season after last year's merger between GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series.

"John’s passing evokes grand memories of another era of sports car racing in North America," said IMSA Chairman Jim France, son of Bill France Sr.  "We're thankful John lived to see IMSA sanctioning the new unified sports car series and guiding a new era.  We've lost a man who, once upon a time, was a sports car pioneer.  Over the years, he became a giant in our industry.  Now, he will forever be a legend.

"John and Peggy were especially close to my parents.  They had a relationship that transcended their business dealings.  Our family was always proud simply to know the Bishops.  Having the honor to partner with them in forming IMSA was a bonus.  Godspeed, John."

Earlier this year, it was announced that Bishop would be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in August.

"My dad loved racing and all the things around it, but the thing he loved most of all was the people – and writing the competition rules in an effort to bring everyone together," said Bishop’s son Mitch.  "I always remember something driver Pete Halsmer said about my dad: By building IMSA, he allowed a lot of people to make a living doing something they loved."

Bishop was a Massachusetts native who called Cortland, N.Y., home.  He had moved to San Rafael several years ago.  He is survived by his son Mitch, daughter-in-law Julia, four granddaughters, brother Peter Bishop and sister Ruth Rodger.  He was preceded in death by his wife Peggy (August 2013), and sons Mark and Marshall.

Bishop was 87.

Arrangements are pending, but the family is asking that donations in Bishop’s honor be made to the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Related Topics:

TUDOR United SportsCar

Photos

  • Petit Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Brickyard Grand Prix
  • Brickyard Grand Prix
  • Brickyard Grand Prix
  • Brickyard Grand Prix
  • Brickyard Grand Prix
  • Brickyard Grand Prix
  • Brickyard Grand Prix
  • Brickyard Grand Prix
  • Brickyard Grand Prix
  • Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
  • Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
  • Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
  • Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
  • Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
  • Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
  • Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
  • Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix
  • Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase
  • Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase
  • Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase
  • Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase
  • Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase
  • Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase
  • Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase
  • Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase
  • Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring

Advertisement

  • © 2014 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites