Journal: Here’s How Audi Quattro Dominated American Road Racing In The Late-’80s

Here’s How Audi Quattro Dominated American Road Racing In The Late-’80s

By Michael Banovsky
September 16, 2016
7 comments

Even with an all-star lineup, beautifully-designed machines, and enough funding to film the entire endeavor, Audi’s dominance of the ’88-’89 Trans-Am season was still pretty unexpected. This is 40 minutes of Hurley Haywood, Hans-Joachim Stuck, and Walter Röhrl roaring around the U.S., with cinematography straight out of Top Gun.

Down on power compared to its mostly V8-powered competitors from Detroit-based manufacturers (four of which are now extinct!), the German team under the Audi Sport banner quickly learned how to maximize both the car’s 500-odd horsepower and its circuit-focused quattro system. In 1988, the team fielded the 80 quattro, with the 90 quattro being entered into IMSA competition the year after. In its first year of competition, the 80 earned eight wins.

Long story short, in less than two years, the car had been developed to produce more than 700 horsepower, which erased most of the advantage that competitors had over Audi’s cars. Canadian driver Scott Goodyear joined the team in 1989, helping to wield what was essentially Group B rally technology mated to a race car-like space frame and composite bodywork. With seven wins, the team finished second overall despite missing a few of the longer races…and the car was retired.

Even with an all-star lineup, beautifully-designed machines, and enough funding to film the entire endeavor, Audi’s dominance of the ’88-’89 Trans-Am season was still pretty unexpected. This is 40 minutes of Hurley Haywood, Hans-Joachim Stuck, and Walter Röhrl roaring around the U.S., with cinematography straight out of Top Gun.

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DWarren
DWarren

The text mentions the Audi, but fails to mention the awesome team that made it happen… Bob Tullius’ Group 44, Inc. out of Winchester, Va.

Carter
Carter

You reference the 80 quattro, but ’88 was the 200 quattro. It was largely a production chassis too, making it more impressive. The 80 was used later in STW form in Europe, but to my knowledge was never raced in America.

Lms
Lms

These were such sublime cars, and really solidified Audi’s motorsport rep. But, you’ve got a couple duplicated paragraphs 🙂

mogwai
mogwai

Perhaps this is not a coincidence, but the robust online auto racing simulator iRacing just released the IMSA Audi 90 GTO last week. While not a fan of the car myself, it is certainly a fantastic homage to an odd but successful duck in the 1989 season. If you know someone with the game, tell them to buy the car and let you run it around Summit, The Glen or LRP!