Image176Having presided over Acura's last factory prototype effort in the American Le Mans Series, IMSA president Scott Atherton was beaming with pride at the site of Acura's new ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international.

"I don't know how you put it into words, this is the culmination of a long haul, and I won't say a dream come true because that wouldn't be accurate," he told RACER. "It's more the fulfillment of a long-term goal. I think from the moment Acura made the decision to stop racing at the Prototype level we've been focused – with them – on bringing them back.

"To have the Acura brand now linked with Penske Racing, involved directly with the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA, [is a] fulfillment of a long-held goal. Back in the American Le Mans Series, [Acura] very effectively divided their resources across a number of different top-tier teams – Fernandez Racing, Andretti Green, Gil de Ferran, Highcroft. Here they focused it all under one roof, under Penske Racing.

"As before, they were all about winning, and they to a degree stacked the deck back in the previous example. Here, any time you go racing with a Penske team behind you, they approach that from a take-no-prisoners perspective. I think we understand that coming into the equation, and that's okay. They're going to step into the deep end of the pool, because there's a lot of people that are already there operating in a very similar way, so this just adds to the equation."

In the upcoming arrival of ARX-05 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, and two-time WeatherTech champion Dane Cameron, Atherton knows IMSA will have a mix of star power and native talent to promote.

"What a great combination," he said. "Juan Montoya, the résumé's incredible. Dane has come through the ranks. He's proven himself at every level, in a GT car, now most recently in prototypes. He's a winner. I think there's more than one example where a car that most people would say was not podium-worthy gets manhandled to the front of the grid and the front of the race and the finish line on the podium – that's Dane Cameron. To have him somewhat homegrown product, we can't take sole claim for that, but still, what a great combination."


Subscribe to Racer


Video: The 2017 Champions Issue

The 2017 Champions Issue of RACER is on sale now. Click here for more information.


RACER Magazine 25th Anniversary Video

33 years of SportsCar magazine history.

See more than 50 On Board videos.