DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – There will be no trophies handed out or champagne sprayed at the end of the day on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, but GRAND-AM Road Racing teams are treating this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona testing as seriously as any event on the 2012 schedules.
Fans can get a glimpse into the future beginning on Friday in the three-day test session, the final tune-up for Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge teams before the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the start of the 2012 racing season.
A strong turnout of 57 Rolex Series and 55 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge cars are entered, including top drivers and teams in a variety of new cars.
Corvette Daytona Prototypes from Action Express Racing, SunTrust Racing, Spirit of Daytona and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing head a 14-car DP turnout which will also include a look at new Riley DPs from Michael Shank Racing and defending Rolex 24 and Rolex Series champions TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
DP entries have also been filed from Starworks Motorsport, Doran Racing Krohn Racing, and 50+ Racing/Predator.
The GT class will have a strong presence as well with 40 cars entered. Extreme Speed Motorsports, AF Waltrip, Risi Competizione and AIM Autosport Team FXDD will shake down the new Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am, while APR Motorsport and Oryx Racing will debut customer entries in the Audi R8 GRAND-AM.
Defending GT class champions Leh Keen and Andrew Davis return with Brumos Racing and will be joined by endurance racing legend Hurley Haywood in the No. 59 Porsche GT3.
Joey Hand and Graham Rahal will again join defending Rolex Series champs Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley, while the team's second car will be driven by international racing superstars Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya and former Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray.
Other drivers with NASCAR ties expected to attend include Boris Said (No. 94 – Turner Motorsports), Max Papis (No. 9 – Action Express Racing), Colin Braun (No. 76 – Krohn Racing), Michael Waltrip (No. 56 – AF Waltrip), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 15 – Rick Ware Racing) and Michael McDowell (No. 6 – Michael Shank Racing). Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year winner Andy Lally moves to the Rolex Series full-time in 2012 and will be piloting the No. 44 Porsche GT3 for Magnus Racing.
Hollywood actor Patrick Dempsey (No. 40 – Dempsey Racing) and AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson (No. 50 – 50+ Racing/Predator) will also take their passion of sports car racing to the high banks of Daytona.
World Series pitcher C.J. Wilson (No. 03 C.J. Wilson Racing) and GRAMMY Award-winning music producer Jim Jonsin (No. 07 Rebel Rock Racing) are part of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge test, while Multimatic Motorsports and drivers Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell will debut the new Aston Martin Vantage eligible for GS competition.
Testing is open to the public, running from 9 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 per day. Ticket holders for the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona and children 12 and under will receive free admission. In addition to the testing sessions, there will also be open garage access as well as fan forums, pit stop demonstrations and tech talks.