TCR has been taking over the racing world since its launch in 2015 and the popularity we see in Europe and Asia is starting to spread across the oceans to North America. Three main series feature TCR machines here in the States – IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge, SRO America’s TC America, and the Canadian Touring Car Championship.
With all three TCR grids being on the smaller side (by that I mean not enough cars to run on their own) all series run multi-class with GT4 or lower-level touring cars spread throughout the grid, something that makes the North American series unique, but also goes against the traditional TCR format we see with WTCR, TCR Europe, or TCR Germany.
I’ve often called for a true TCR North America championship to be established (which IMSA holds the license to) for a few reasons: 1) That’s my preference as TCR single-class racing is fantastic and when it’s paired with GT4, TCA or other classes, it often gets overlooked when the battles on track are worthy of full-race coverage on their own. 2) The three North American series that have TCR all have small grids individually that could not support the class on their own.
TC America attempted to run TCR on their own starting this season, but that idea was squashed by WSC due to the previously mentioned IMSA license. Now if IMSA, SRO America, and CTCC could work together to form a sustainable and cost effective TCR North America championship, the grids would be robust while visiting some of the best and most diverse circuits on the continent.
While the scenario of the three series working together to form a TCR North America championship is admittedly a pipe dream, something that may be realistic (and a way to start a true TCR North America championship one day) would be to form an end-of-the-season “super weekend” that invites all North American-based TCR competitors together for a three-race TCR North American Cup.
Put politics aside and bringing the three grids together at the end of September or early October would be a fun and strong way to end the season while giving the drivers and teams something a little extra to strive towards.
Use WSC-based BoP, slap on a set of spec tires (Michelin or Pirelli), have a rotating circuit each year and let them go at it over two or three 40 minute races to find the North American TCR Cup champion. For example the 2020 TCR North America Cup could be at Laguna Seca, 2021 could be at Mont Tremblant, 2022 at Road Atlanta, and so on.
With a decent prize and rewards purse, this could easily turn into the premier touring car weekend and really help jump start the category in North America. And who knows, maybe it could be the foundation of a true championship similar to how TCR Europe has progressed (although different circumstances with FIA WTCC helped there).
TCR is a fantastic format but one that has not truly been shown off in North America. Starting a TCR North American Cup weekend could be the spark it needs.