Art Bayless, owner of Bayless Racing, wanted to go road racing with an X1/9. Art had already successfully raced a Fiat 850 Spyder in H Production. The X1/9 was a natural step up.
In 1975 Art traveled to Italy for talks with Ing. Dallara to firm up an exclusive U.S. distributorship for Dallara’s products. At the same time Bayless couldn’t pass up the opportunity of purchasing a Dallara fuel-injected 2-valve engine (rated at 178 hp at 9500 rpm). Art also bought the Dallara sway bars and three-piece wheels, whichwere 13 x 9.5 in the front and 13 x 10 for the rears!
Back in the U.S. Bayless started installing these goodies on a 1974 X1/9 he had bought wrecked. Besides these special Dallara parts, Bayless was using some of the same parts he was selling to his customers: fiberglass fender flairs, Bertone rear trunk lid with integral spoiler, roll bar, Alquati gear box parts, etc.
Because of the extensive modifications done, the Bayless/Dallara X1/9 could not be raced in the SCCA G Production class. The only SCCA class it could fit into was C Sports Racing; a class that featured purpose built lightweight racers with lots of horsepower. This X1/9 was never going to be CSR national champion.
Bayless wanted to debut the X1/9 at the first race of the year, the Stuttgart, Arkansas Nationals in April, 1976. The car was delivered to the paint shop just two weeks before the race. Everything had arrived in time except for the exhaust and sway bars.
During the first practice session the car experienced severe tire rubbing on the fender flairs with the very wide wheels and tires. Since the X1/9 was not running any sway bars, the excessive leaning and swaying in the corners didn’t help the tire rubbing problem.
The Bayless X1/9 finished second in the first national race ever for a Fiat X1/9. More significant was the fact that a full-bodied 1500-pound car nearly beat all of the less than 1000-pound specially built sports racers.
The next race at Mid-America produced another second place, still without the special exhaust or sway bars. Hutchinson, Kansas was the next stop for the X1/9 “sports racer”. This time Bayless had the Dallara exhaust and sway bars installed. The special exhaust brought the full 178 horsepower to bear, while the adjustable sway bars made the car easier to handle. There were high hopes for this race. After a poor start Bayless moved into the lead. The first X1/9 ever to lead a National race in the U.S. The lead was short lived though, as the fuel line busted and most of the gas was pumped to the ground by the high volume fuel pump. Even though the car was retired fromthe race Bayless was still awarded second place because he was so far ahead of the rest of the field.
Bayless earned enough points to qualify for the National Runoffs in Atlanta. This one race crowns the national champion in each racing class. This is what SCCA amateur road racers work towards all year long, to make it to Road Atlanta.But, things did not materialize as Art Bayless had hoped. In practice the X1/9 had an off-the-track excursion that resulted in some minor damage. But, it was enough to affect its performance in the race and the car was retired after four laps.
In the following years the X1/9 proved it was a winner in SCCA production racing in the hands of Richard Davis, Bob Boig, Bob Thomas, and others.
In Europe, Australia, the U.K., and America, Fiat X1/9s are still competing and winning in autocross, hill climbs, road racing, and rallying.