TOPEKA, Kansas (Jan. 4, 2017) -- James E. "Jim" Kaser, the first head of SCCA Pro Racing®, passed away last week in Naples, Florida after an illness. Kaser oversaw the first SCCA® professional racing series, the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC), and will be inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame during the 2017 SCCA Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet taking place later this month.
The success of USRRC led Kaser to organize a series initially involving two Canadian races, thus giving birth in 1966 to the Canadian American Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the Can-Am series. Soon after, Kaser's Pro Racing department introduced America's longest running road racing series, the Trans-American Sedan Championship, later known as Trans Am®.
It was Kaser's success with these series that resulted in the most significant change ever to the Sports Car Club of America®. Lee Hill, SCCA's new Chairman of the Board of Directors, said that is when the Club turned from being solely an amateur's club to also become a professional, international sanctioning body and organizer.
"We were very sorry to hear of Jim's passing," Hill said. "He was a very significant figure in the early years of the club, was the first head of SCCA Pro Racing, and is probably best remembered as the architect of the USRRC, Can-Am and Trans Am."
Kaser was a driver but became a fulltime employee of the SCCA in 1963.
Campaigning mostly Alfas on Midwest circuits, Kaser dabbled with a Lotus II, Corvette, Porsche RSK and a Formula 1 Lotus 19.
He stated in 1963, "time being what was, I gave up racing when I went to work for the SCCA, though Chuck Stoddard and I did drive a factory Alfa to a class win at the '64 Sebring."
Photo: Jim Kaser, in sunglasses, chatting with driver Denny Hulme
Photo Courtesy of Kaser Family