The 1988 SCCA Trans Am Niagara Falls Grand Prix would be the only race ever held on the street circuit that was created specifically for this event. The race itself is fascinating, it includes amateur racing driver and former Olympian Bruce Jenner taking on the likes of Walter Röhrl, Hurley Haywood, Willie T. Ribbs, and many more.
The 1988 Trans Am season would be so dominated by the Audi 200 quattro with 8 wins and 13 podiums from 13 races that the rules would be changed from 1989 onwards to ban both all wheel drive cars and foreign engines.
The Niagara Falls Street Circuit was an interesting track, it featured unforgiving barriers combined with a somewhat bumpy surface – a recipe for disaster for a number of the drivers not used to it.
Walter Röhrl was not one of these unfortunate drivers. He was one of the greatest rally drivers in the world at the time, and he had countless hours of experience piloting cars at high speeds on loose and uneven surfaces within inches of both trees and brave spectators.
If anything the Niagara Falls Street Circuit was easier than his regular day job and he lapped the field except for Scott Pruett, the second place finisher who was 1 minute and 21 seconds behind.
Röhrl would later be quoted as saying:
“I am not interested in winning by one second. There are people who say: ‘that was a really tough fight, I won by one second!’ I want to win by 10 minutes. That makes me happy.” – Walter Röhrl
Plans were underway to make the Niagara Falls race a regular annual event but for reasons that are lost to history it never came to be. It seems a shame as the track provided some excellent racing with a number of great vantage points for spectators – including a multi-floor car park.
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