1996 Riley & Scott MKIII By Ascott Collection

Which car in the Sport-Prototype category of the mid-90s symbolizes the American fire and passion for cars and the power of the machines of that time better than the Riley & Scott MKIII? None! As the chief rival of the Ferrari 333 SP that was built at the same time, the Riley & Scott MKIII gleaned numerous successes in endurance and sprint races. It had a long life, racing in the IMSA GT Championship, the USRRC, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and also the European championships (such as the International Sports Racing Series and the FIA Sports Car Championship)

Created in 1995 as veritable WSC Category monsters, there were Riley & Scott cars still racing until 2005, making for a 10-year-long career. Chassis 006 reflects the ease with which the Riley & Scott MKIIIs carved themselves out a place in endurance racing. Chassis 006 made five appearances in the 24 Hours of Daytona, two appearances in the 12 Hours of Sebring and one appearance in the Petit Le Mans race. A 100% American track record, with a win in the Texas 500 Miles in its very first race!

A fast, easy-to-maintain American car

While Ferrari was launching their “American Dream” project with the 333 SP, the Americans Bob Riley, Bill Riley and Mark Scott (Riley & Scott Cars Inc.) were also launching a similar project on paper, to produce a car that met the new WSC regulations, which came into force in 1994 in the United States. The World Sports Car category was the new category that replaced the GTP, a kind of American version of the LMP1. Their idea was to create a fast, affordable car requiring little maintenance.

The Riley & Scott outfit was still young (founded in 1990) and had already built a car for the Trans-Am, as well as a road car. The MKIII project was to be their most emblematic project.

The body chassis was made of a frame of steel tube and carbon composite panels. The chassis had a double wishbone suspension with coil springs activated by a push rod. The engine bay was designed to be large enough to accommodate a variety of naturally aspirated engines used by the IMSA teams. The basic MKIII could thus be configured with a V8 Ford, a Chevrolet or an Oldsmobile engine.

The Riley & Scott MKIIIs’ career debut was planned as for 1994 but was finally pushed back. Due to the scant interest shown for the first version of the “Mark III”, the car was not raced in 1994. The car was revised and fine-tuned, and finally made its debut in 1995. Dyson Racing was the first team to use one of the cars, replacing a Spice-Ferrari. At Daytona, the only car entered completed just 11 laps, with the Ford engine preventing it from going any further. Sebring produced a modest 37th place. But in the Road Atlanta race, Dyson Racing managed to win. Four more victories followed, with James Weaver finishing second in the IMSA driver standings, just two tiny points behind Fermin Velez. The career of the Riley & Scott MKIII had at last taken off. Above all, it had found its true calling. On the bumpy, bruising circuits of the United States, it truly danced and managed to overcome all difficulties.

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Report by ascottcollection.com

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