IMSA GTO Cougars


NOTE: Credit for some photos courtesy of Mark Windecker and used with permission.

1989 IMSA GTO CougarFor the first time since the late 1960’s, a Cougar was being prepared for race duty in 1989. Ford had previously been racing Mustangs and Merkur XR4Ti’s in the IMSA racing circuit, but for Mercury’s new attitude, the big Cat was given the nod. The IMSA/GTO Stroh’s Light Cougar by Roush Racing went on to win the manufacturer’s cup championship in 1989, and the Whistler Cougar team won again in 1990. These cars (powered by a tubocharged-4 or a V8) literally dominated the IMSA/GTO racing circuit for those two years.

For a long course and endurance racing, the Roush Cougars used a 5.5 liter version of the SVO Cleveland V8, making around 675 horsepower. The V8 cars had a pronounced hood bulge to accommodate the large engine. On tighter courses where handling is important, the Cougars used a turbocharged and intercooled 2.3L 4-cylinder similar to those used in 1988 in the Merkur XR4Ti race cars. Later on, a turbocharged V6 appeared in some cars.


1989 IMSA GTO CougarThe Stroh’s Light IMSA GTO Cougar was piloted by two teams in 1989: Pete Halsmer, Bob Earl and Paul Stewart; and Wally Dallenbach Jr., Dorsey Shroeder and Mark Martin. There were three main cars in total, with a #6 and #9 car split between the teams. The #16 car at left is V8 equipped, as noted by the bulging hood scoop.

1989 IMSA GTO CougarAt Summit Point Raceway, May 1989.

1989 IMSA GTO CougarAt Mid-Ohio, June 1989.

1989 IMSA GTO CougarAt Mid-Ohio, June 1989.

1989 IMSA GTO CougarAt Mid-Ohio, June 1989. Note the alternate body color and number.


1990 IMSA GTO CougarThe 1990 Roush IMSA Cougars were piloted by the team of Pete Halsmer, Robby Gordon and Dorsey Schroeder. The car to the right (#6) was stuffed with a turbocharged V6, as noted by the flat hood. However, as certain tracks demanded different engines, a V8 car was used. Again there were three main cars, with #9 and #15 joining this one. Corporate sponsor for the 1990 Mercury race team was Whistler, a major manufacturer of radar detectors.

1990 IMSA GTO CougarAt Topeka, May 1990.

1990 IMSA GTO CougarGetting back on track at Topeka, May 1990.

1990 IMSA GTO CougarAt Topeka, May 1990. Again, note the alternate color, enlarged rear wing and number.

1990 IMSA GTO Cougar

This is the #6 1990 Whistler Cougar in a museum at Roush Industries, Livonia, MI.

1990 IMSA GTO Cougar