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Motorsports: John Bishop, IMSA and Racing Center founder, dies at 87

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Via press release from the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) in Watkins Glen, N.Y. on Wednesday June 11, it was announced publicly that John Bishop, 87, co-founder of the IMRRC as well as the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), passed away on June 5 in San Rafael, California.

Bishop has been described as "the most respected leader in the history of road racing in America," according to the press release.

On its opening in June 1999, the Racing Research Center was dedicated to Bishop in recognition of his important role in its formation. The Center was created to be a preminent repository of all materials related to motor sports in all series and at all tracks, worldwide.

"John was a giant in the sport," said J.C. Argetsinger, Center president and a lifelong friend of the Bishop family. "His achievements as a leader and innovator are unsurpassed, but he will also be warmly remembered in the hearts of drivers and entrants at all levels for his genuine interest in their welfare.

"I am deeply saddened by his death. I’m also humbled that John and Peggy’s son, Mitch, and their four lovely granddaughters chose the Racing Research Center as the beneficiary of memorials in John’s honor," Argetsinger said.

Bishop’s wife, Peggy, died last year. Two sons, Marc and Marshal, predeceased their parents.

Bishop served as chairman of the Center’s Council from its inception through 2004 and remained an active Council member and chairman emeritus until his death.

The Center’s collections include the corporate records of the IMSA, which the Bishops founded in May 1969 in partnership with Bill France and NASCAR.

The Bishops’ personal collection in the Center’s archives boasts photographs from John’s many years at the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) in a variety of positions, including as executive director at the end of his tenure.

The collection also holds original artwork by Bishop, a talented artist who began his professional career as an industrial designer.

While he was with SCCA, Bishop is credited with creating the U.S. Road Racing Championship series, followed by the Can-Am, Trans-Am and Formula 5000 race series.

Under IMSA’s umbrella, Bishop introduced international endurance racing to North America in the GT series.

The Bishops sold IMSA in 1989, but John’s involvement in racing continued, serving as a director of ACCUS FIA and as a commissioner of NASCAR and the first commissioner for the Grand-American Road Racing Association.

John Bishop will be posthumously inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in August. He was named to the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2011.

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