International sports car racing is incredibly confusing, with half a dozen classes that all look alike and have nearly the same names. Here’s a simple guide that untangles all the tangled mess.

GT racing started many years ago with GT1. It was simple. It was a class of high-flying racing cars derived from road sports cars. Corvettes ran European brands and it all made sense. Then someone chopped off GT1’s head and, like a super Hydra, half a dozen new classes sprouted in its place. We are here to explain everything to you.

This article was written by a Jalopnik reader and motorsport expert Porsche9146. If you have any questions for him, ask Kinja below.

Here’s what you need to know:

GT1 was designed by the ACO as a high-tech production-based race for the factories. He saw the Corvette C6.R, Aston Martin DBR9 and Saleen S7R racing for victories all over the world.

Photo credits (above and above): Getty Images

GT2 was designed by the ACO as production-only professional racing for privateers (mostly in customer cars). He saw 911 GT3 RSR, 430GTC and M3 GT racing for victories all over the world.

Photo credit: Getty Images

GT3 was designed by SRO as a production based pro-am race for privateers (mostly in customer cars). He’s seen Z4 GT3s, 911 GT3 Rs and SLS AMG GT3s race to victory in regional series all over the world

Photo credit: Getty Images

The GT4 was designed by SRO as an am-am, low-tech (barely modified) production-based racer for privateers (mostly in team-built cars). It saw Lotus 2-Elevens and Maserati MC GT4 battle for wins in regional series mainly in Europe.

Photo credit: Marc Braithwaite/Flickr

The GT1 died in 2009 when the ALMS got rid of the class. However, SRO decided they wanted the class to live longer, so they took their FIA GT championship and split it into two parts: GT1 World, a series for old GT1 cars on the world stage with drivers pro-pro, and GT3 Europe, a series for current GT3 cars on the European stage with pro-am drivers.

Photo credit: Andreas Reiffer/Flickr

GT1 lasted two years with moderate success before the grids began to thin out, and in 2011 it disbanded. The name was still being used in 2012 for a new series aimed at pro-am AND pro-pro GT3 teams that raced all over the world. For some reason it was still called the GT1 world. All of his dates outside of Europe and Asia were canceled, so he went GT3 Eurasia most of the time and partnered with GT3 Europe.

Photo credit: hkedwardtong/Flickr

GT1 World and GT3 Europe are now both dead, leaving the real GT1 cars dead for good, but the GT3 class is still raced on a big European stage in the Blancpain endurance series, which allows pro-pro ET pairings pro-am in separate subclasses. Add to that the many regional GT3 series (such as British GT, Grand Am GT and SUPER GT GT300) that still use the cars and it’s one of the strongest classes in the world.

Photo credit: Getty Images

GT4 is also part of the Blancpain Endurance series and many other GT3 classes around the world as it is much cheaper and slower than GT3 allowing it to be a decent power class in GT3.

Photo credit: Jez B

GT2 was hugely successful in the pro-pro scene, to the point that all GT1 teams left GT1 to enter GT2 (they joined through a loophole that allowed factories to race in the series), leading to the GT1 ended in 2010 (this was of course followed by the aforementioned two years of the real world GT1). GT2 was later renamed GTE (for GT Endurance) by the ACO in 2011, and with the rebranding came a new subclass: GTE Am. this was for GTE teams that had an amateur driver and car a year or more. GTE-Pro and GTE-Am use the same cars and race the same weekends.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Japan’s domestic SUPER GT brings another GT class to the table with its smaller GT300 series, which was originally intended for very low power, very high downforce local creations, but a few years ago , they started allowing GT3 cars and they overtook the series. The Z4 GT3, 911 GT3 R and SLS AMG replace the original GT300 CRZ, BRZ and Prii models. Yes, as in the plural of Prius. Its GT500 class, meanwhile, is completely independent and local, but is more of a super touring car series (like DTM, NASCAR or V8 Supercars) than a GT series.

Photo credit: Takayuki Suzuki

Grand-Am only has one GT class, one based on GT3, but it’s fundamentally different from the others in that it’s actually only half GT3 and the rest are tube-frame cars . Next year, the only tube-frame cars will be a team’s BMW M3s and a few Camaros.

Photo credit: Trevor Andrusko / Track 9, Halston Pitman

The American Le Mans Series also has a spec class called GTC, which is reserved for Porsche 911 GT3 coupe cars (named after the road car, not the class). Some cancellation will come in 2014 from ALMS merged with Grand-Am.


Photo credit: Halston Pitman

This article was republished with permission from Porsche914yr74. Follow him on Twitter @porsche914yr74 and in Kinja.


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