In an unusual bidding format, the Michael Fux IROC Collection will be offered for sale at Mecum Auctions’ Kissimmee event in January.
Here’s the deal: There are five 1996 Pontiac Trans Am cars that were used in the International Race of Champions series — plus a spare engine. They will be put up for auction under a format in which the winning bidder gets his or her pick of the cars, each one carrying the price of the winning bid.
However, if the winning bidder wants fewer than all five cars, bidding reopens under the same format, and until all the cars are sold.
The cars include the IROC series test car driven by Sam Hornish Jr. at Daytona in 2003, plus cars driven by and still in the livery of Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr. and the Dale Earnhardts, Senior and Junior.
Earnhardt Jr. was behind the wheel of the Chassis No. 8 car in 1999 when his father beat him to the finish line by 0.007 seconds at Michigan International Speedway in the closest finish in IROC history. Dale Sr. drove the same car to victory at Talladega that same year.
The car had been driven previously by Mark Martin, who took it to victory in the first IROC night race in 1997 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Mecum expects the Earnhardts car to sell for $50,000 to $75,000.
The Stewart car is Chassis No. 30, and was driven by Stewart in 2006, the series’ final year. He took it to an eighth-place finish at Daytona en route to his series championship that year. It previously had won twice at Daytona, in 2004 with Ryan Newman and in 2005 with series champion Mark Martin.
The Truex car is Chassis No. 1 and was driven by more than 25 drivers during its IROC run, which included winning the last IROC race, in 2006 at Atlanta with Truex at the wheel.
Al Unser Jr. drove it to victory at Talladega in 1996, Martin at California in 1998 and Bobby Labonte at Talladega in 2001. Also driving it in various IROC events were Earnhardt Sr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jarrett, Kevin Harvick, Newman, Scott Pruett, Rusty Wallace, Geoff Bodine, Helio Castroneves and Stewart. According to Mecum, this is the car with “the richest history and provenance of the group.”
The Kenseth car, Chassis No. 4, was used for testing, practice and racing, “which means it was driven by practically every IROC participant in years 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2006,” according to Mecum. Kenseth drove the car at Atlanta in 2005, but Stewart won with it in 2002 at Daytona.
The Hornish car, Chassis No. 32, was raced at Daytona in 2003 by Hornish Jr., but then became part of the series test fleet for use by various racers.
The pre-sale estimated value of the Stewart, Truex, Kenseth and Hornish cars is $40,000 to $50,000 each.
The spare engine, a 500-horsepower GM 350cid V8, has an estimated pre-sale value of $5,000 to $10,000.
The International Race of Champions launched in 1972 and put the world’s leading racers from Indy, Formula One, NASCAR and even drag racing in competition. The series first used Porsche Carrera RSR cars, and later Chevrolet Camaros, Dodge Daytonas and Avengers before the Pontiac Trans Ams.
Proceeds from the IROC collection sale will benefit the Michael Fux Foundation, the philanthropic effort launched by Fux, who immigrated with his family from Cuba in 1958 when he was a teenager.
The family settled in Newark, New Jersey, where it lived in a seventh-story walk-up apartment. Fux started buying and selling used car batteries and tires, went to work in department stores (becoming a vice president by age 30), then launched his first textile business before founding mattress and bedding companies that enabled him to build a large car collection.