Yesterday, 6/6/14, the founder of IMSA, John Bishop, passed away. It was just two months short of one year since his beloved wife, Peg, also passed. John was a giant in the Motorsports Industry. You can read of all he accomplished in his obituary. What you will not read there is the story of how close he was to The Central Florida Region.
It was 1972 and CFR was on its financial knees. John approached us and asked if CFR would be interested in providing Staff for the upcoming 24 Hours of Daytona (it wasn’t the Rolex then). Our answer was an emphatic YES. The event was a success and, although we did not know it then, a bond had been fused between our two organizations.
As time went by, other IMSA events were scheduled within our state. It was during the planning phases of these events that John always recommended CFR to work the event. This caused a bit of dismay amongst our neighboring Regions but the organizers elected to go with the sanctioning body’s wishes. Our fees were received as reasonable and we never had a problem collecting. Lest we forget, these events were the Miami Grand Prix, Tampa Grand Prix, Grand Prix of Palm Beach and, yes, even The Grand Prix du New Orleans. These venues lasted for several years and enabled CFR to hone its expertise and also participate in the various SCCA St. Pete Grand Prix. We saved our money, streamlined our operations and thus we are in the financial position we enjoy today.
Around 1984 John was our featured speaker at the Annual Meeting. He spoke like he was a CFR Member and received a standing ovation. Shortly after that, IMSA was sold and sold again and now we have the Tudor combined series. Hopefully it will flourish but I don’t think it will have the flavor of that Golden Age which we enjoyed back “in the day”. In 2010, we invited John to again be our speaker at the Gainesville Annual Meeting. Sadly, he declined due to his health.
Although we cannot thank him in person, CFR still remembers and appreciates his help and support those thirty to forty years ago. He was truly one of the Great Ones and I doubt we will see his equal again…… Godspeed John.