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Car names come from many places and ideas. Some car names sound like they come from ordinary words, like the Honda Integra or the Subaru Impreza. Others are deliberately named after famous racing drivers and sometimes famous race tracks as well. This time we’re looking at cars named after famous races. Next time you see one of these cars on the road, you’ll know its name wasn’t based on a racing driver or racing circuit, nor was it a play on words, but rather a famous racing series. 

Pontiac Trans Am is named after a current racing series

Road American Trans Am race at Elkhart Lake
Road American Trans Am race at Elkhart Lake | Alvis Upitis/Getty Images

The Trans-Am Series is a sports car racing series out of North America. It started in 1966 and still competes today on road courses and street circuits. Trans Am accepts cars from virtually all walks of life and not just domestic brands, including Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Aston Martin. As of 2020, Trans Am is making an expansion to Australia and New Zealand. Trans Am competitors must use overhead-valve, naturally aspirated, carbureted 6-liter V8 engines that produce at least 850 horsepower in cars that cannot weigh less than 2,780 pounds. It’s effectively a stock car series like NASCAR was before fuel injection. 

The Pontiac Trans Am needs no introduction. It was a pony car that started in 1967 and took its leave in 2002. Always with a V8, the Trans Am survived many eras of emissions standards and outlasted other sports cars in its class. When it finally bit the bullet, it had 350 horsepower from a 5.7-liter V8. 

Ferrari Daytona SP3 hopes to recapture some magic

Ferrari Daytona SP3 front
Ferrari Daytona SP3 front | Ferrari

The 24 Hours of Daytona is the season-opening event of the IMSA SportsCar Championship that takes place at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Ferrari saw victory there in 1967 when it took all three podium positions, and now it hopes to relive some of that success with the Daytona SP3. As a recently announced performance car, the Ferrari Daytona SP3 is a borderline race car that employs an 830-hp V12 and Formula 1-derived aerodynamic technology. 

Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z’s namesake may revive soon

The International Race of Champions (IROC) was a stock car racing series based in North America that ran from 1974 until 2006. Each race saw 12 drivers compete with identical cars from Porsche, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Pontiac. Each season had four races at either oval or road courses, including (but not limited to) Texas International Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Riverside International Raceway, and the California Speedway. 

While on a search for funding, the IROC closed down in 2007 and never restarted. However, news recently broke that a new International Race of Champions series will start soon, with Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana as front-runners, according to ESPN. The Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z lasted for a short while in the 1980s, but its best iteration came in 1989 with the IROC-Z 1LE. It had 230-hp Corvette 5.0-liter V8 with a manual transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, an aluminum driveshaft, an oil cooler, and beefy suspension. 

Cars get their names from various places, and while some might seem random, the more you know, the more you can appreciate.


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