Nov 30 | DIS Partners with WESH NBC Ch. 2 for ‘Share Your Christmas Food Drive’

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Daytona International Speedway, the “World Center of Racing,” is joining forces with the Orlando NBC television affiliate WESH Ch. 2 for the station’s annual “Share Your Christmas” food drive

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona International Speedway, the “World Center of Racing,” is joining forces with the Orlando NBC television affiliate WESH Ch. 2 for the station’s annual “Share Your Christmas” food drive to ensure that hundreds of families in need will be able to enjoy the holiday season.

All race fans that donate at least four cans of food inside the lobby of the Daytona International Speedway ticket office between Wednesday, Nov. 30 and Monday, Dec. 12 will receive a ticket for a free 30-minute Daytona International Speedway Tour.

On Monday, Dec. 12, the Speedway will serve as a live location for the station’s “Share Your Christmas” food drive with all the non-perishable food gathered from the food drive benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank and the Salvation Army of Central Florida.

Information on all Daytona International Speedway events is available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway).

 

Nov 29 | 1984 Rolex 24 Overall Champion No. 00 Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March Joins the 50th Anniversary Display

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The No. 00 Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March will join the display of overall Rolex 24 At Daytona championship cars to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the twice-around-the-clock challenge on Jan. 28-29.

Kreepy Krauly

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The No. 00 Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March driven by a trio of South African drivers Sarel van der Merwe, Tony Martin and Graham Duxbury will join the display of overall Rolex 24 At Daytona championship cars to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the twice-around-the-clock challenge on Jan. 28-29.

Owned by Kreepy Krauly, a South African manufacturer of swimming pool-cleaning equipment, the team was based out of Atlanta and had never competed at Daytona International Speedway. The only team member with prior racing experience at Daytona was van der Merwe.

The team didn’t experience too much drama in their first Rolex 24. With the exception of running out of fuel and a broken gearshift knob, the No. 00 car didn’t suffer any serious setbacks in the race, which featured the chicane for the first time.

The Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March took the lead for the final time on Lap 254 and scored a nine-lap margin of victory. The team completed 640 laps, 2,476.8 miles and averaged 103.119 mph.

The No. 00 Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March joins the field of historic championship cars in the display:
• The No. 96 Arciero Racing Lotus-Climax 19B  from the inaugural Rolex 24 (then known as the Daytona Continental) in 1962
• 1966 Rolex 24-winning No. 98 Ford GT Mark II
• 1968 Rolex 24-winning Porsche 907
• 1969 Rolex 24-winning No. 6 Lola T70 Chevrolet
• 1970 Rolex 24-winning No. 2 Gulf Porsche 917
• 1977 Rolex 24-winning No. 43 Porsche 911 RSR
• 1981 Rolex 24-winning No. 9 Bob Garretson’s Style Auto Porsche 935
• 1982 Rolex 24-winning No. 18 JLP Porsche 935
• The Preston Henn Porsches from the 1983 and 1985 Rolex 24s
• 1993 Rolex 24-winning No. 98 Eagle GTP

Additional cars will be announced as they are secured to be part of this one-of-a-kind display.

The Rolex 24 At Daytona, the kick-off event to Speedweeks 2012 as well as the international motorsports calendar, showcases the world’s best drivers competing against each other lap after lap for 24 hours on Daytona International Speedway’s challenging and demanding 3.56-mile road course.

Tickets for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona are on sale online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway).

Nov 28 | Tickets for the 2012 Daytona Preseason Thunder Fan Fest On-Sale Wednesday, Nov. 30

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Race fans can purchase tickets for the popular Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 9 a.m.

Carl Edwards
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Race fans can purchase tickets for the popular Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 9 a.m.

The stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take to the legendary 2.5-mile tri-oval at Daytona International Speedway for three days of testing on Thursday, Jan. 12 through Saturday, Jan. 14.

The Preseason Thunder Fan Fest sessions are scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 12 and Friday, Jan. 13 and include autograph sessions, driver question and answer sessions, show cars and displays, music and a photo opportunity with the 2012 Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy. In addition, fans can ride the high banks under the lights by purchasing a Richard Petty Driving Experience ride along.

Tickets for Daytona Preseason Thunder Fan Fest are $20 and available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. Children 12 and under will receive free admission.

Advanced reservations are available (limited availability) for the autograph sessions with participating 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. Additional driver autograph sessions will be held on both days with wristbands available the day of the event.

Scheduled to appear on Thursday, Jan. 12 in the 5 p.m. session are 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Jeff Burton, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, David Ragan, Kasey Kahne and Danica Patrick. In the 7 p.m. session, drivers scheduled to appear include Kyle Busch, Regan Smith, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Bobby Labonte, Clint Bowyer, AJ Allmendinger and Brian Vickers.

On Friday, Jan. 13, drivers appearing in the 5 p.m. session are Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne.

The Roar Before The Rolex 24, the tune-up session for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series teams in advance of the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, is set for Jan. 6-8. Tickets are $15 daily for the Roar Before The Rolex 24, which will include activities such as driver fan forums, tech talks, pit stop demonstrations and a photo opportunity with the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona trophy. 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona ticketholders and children 12 and under will receive free admission.

Tickets for both the Daytona Preseason Thunder Fan Fests and the Roar Before The Rolex 24 are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway’s social media channels on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway).

Nov 21 | Daytona International Speedway Offers “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” Ticket Specials

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Race fans can give the gift of racing excitement at Daytona International Speedway with the “World Center of Racing’s” “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” Thanksgiving holiday ticket specials.

2011 Budweiser Shootout

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Race fans can give the gift of racing excitement at Daytona International Speedway with the “World Center of Racing’s” “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” Thanksgiving holiday ticket specials.

On Friday, Nov. 25 (Black Friday) and Monday, Nov. 28 (Cyber Monday), Daytona International Speedway will have the following $49 ticket package specials available for race fans to select from as they conduct their holiday shopping:

• An infield/grandstand ticket with garage access for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29, a savings of 35%.
• Infield/grandstand ticket for the Budweiser Shootout/Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 18 with admission to the Pre-Race Party that includes an appearance by 2007 Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick, Hooters wings and beverages, a savings of 29%.
• General admission grandstand ticket for the Gatorade Duel At Daytona qualifying races on Thursday, Feb. 23 and a Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race pass, a savings of 24%.
• General admission grandstand ticket for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, Feb. 24 and a Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race pass, a savings of 24%.

Additionally, on both Friday, Nov. 25 and Monday, Nov. 28, race fans will receive free shipping (a savings of $14) for all tickets purchased (phone orders only).

To take advantage of the “Black Friday” and Cyber Monday” ticket specials, race fans can call 1-800-PITSHOP between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/deals.

In addition to the ticket specials, children 12 and under are free in Sprint FANZONE during Speedweeks 2012 and free in the general admission areas during the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Budweiser Shootout, Gatorade Duel At Daytona, NextEra Energy Resources 250 and Daytona 300. New for the 2012 Daytona 500 is special youth pricing.  Children 12 and under will receive 50 percent off all Superstretch grandstand seats for the Daytona 500 with the purchase of an adult ticket while supplies last.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway’s social media channels on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway).

 

Nov 18 | GRAND-AM teams wrap up two-day test for 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24

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Several GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge teams completed a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday in preparation for the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Several GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge teams completed a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday in preparation for the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona.

An early rain shower prevented most teams from participating in the first two hours of Thursday’s test, but the sun came out by 11 a.m. ET and shone brightly for the remainder of the day, allowing teams to continue working toward the start of the 2012 season. This was the second GRAND-AM-sanctioned test since the 2011 season wrapped up at Mid-Ohio in September, with two more scheduled prior to the start of the 2012 campaign. Lap times were not published.

Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge driver Jack Corthell of Cape Canaveral, Fla., was involved in the only incident of the day in the No. 89 Ranger Sports Racing Porsche 997 when he impacted the barrier in the chicane at the end of the backstretch. Corthell was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

Noteworthy

-- Brian Johnson, lead singer for AC/DC, was all smiles late Wednesday after breaking the “50 barrier” by running a lap in the 1:49 range at the wheel of the 50+ Racing/Predator’s No. 50 BMW/Riley. Thursday, Johnson got down to 1:48 laps, “Slowly, but surely chipping away.” Johnson and co-driver, Byron DeFoor will be joined by former winners Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Jim Pace and Carlos de Queseda at the Rolex 24.

-- While Spirit of Daytona driver Antonio Garcia made headlines Wednesday for turning the first laps in the new Corvette Daytona Prototype, the GM driver returned to the Chevrolet-powered Coyote he piloted last season for an afternoon test session. The team used the newly re-numbered No. 09 DP to test new aerodynamic pieces.

-- The No. 8 Starworks Motorsports Ford/Riley team made repairs from the lone incident Wednesday afternoon and was able to get the car back on track for Thursday’s afternoon session. The team worked to repair splitter and nose damage as a result of the accident which occurred in the chicane late in Wednesday’s test. Enzo Potolicchio, who was involved in the Wednesday incident, was able to improve his time in Thursday’s session.

-- James Gue and Gunnar Jeannette were busy throughout the two-day test dialing in the new Ford Focus ST-R, which will make its competition debut in the 2012 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Gue estimated the development program to be one-third complete and is confident the front-wheel drive car will be among the frontrunners in the Street Tuner (ST) class come the season-opening GRAND-AM 200 at Daytona.

The Quotes:
-- "We won’t be able to test our new Riley Gen 3 Daytona Prototype until December 19, but this is still a very important test for us. We’re working on all mechanical stuff, doing a lot of things that we haven’t run before. That way, when we come back here in December, we can concentrate on working on our aerodynamic package.” Michael Shank, owner of the No. 23 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley.

-- “My first time coming up on the banking was such a feeling – just unbelievable. I had a big smile on my face. I thought the car would have less grip, but it was easy to push it right out of the box. I came here 15 years ago and did the tour and watched Daytona 500 practice, but this is my first time here in the paddock.” British Mini Challenge Cup Champion Chris Knox, testing the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.

-- “We went out on slicks and the track actually had quite a bit of grip because there were no puddles out there. We had some brake pads we needed to break in and it was the perfect time because there was nobody out there. I think we’re really developing a great program. We’re off to a great start and Brian (Johnson) and Byron (DeFoor) are really coming along as drivers. We’re a lot farther along than I thought we would be at this point.” Elliott Forbes-Robinson, driver of the No. 50 50+ Racing/Predator Performance BMW/Riley

-- “The competitiveness of the Rolex Series, and especially in the GT category, has been remarkable over the last five or six years. Last year was a knockdown, drag out battle that came down to the last lap of the last race of the season. I think it’s going to be even more competitive and more difficult to win next year because of all these manufacturers that are starting to get involved and other teams that are coming in. I certainly welcome those challengers coming in. It shows health in the series and in the GT category, so I’m really excited about that, but you’ve got to start working. All those that aren’t here, I hope they are working, because we certainly are.” Andrew Davis, No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche GT3

-- “Having been in the Continental Tire series for five or six years now, I think right now, definitely the place to be is in ST. You see a lot of manufacturer involvement with Ford, Kia, Mazda and a lot of the other manufacturers. There are some really good drivers and really good cars and you saw last year how big the fields were. I want to race wherever the most competitive class is, and I think this going to be probably one of the most competitive classes next year.” James Gue, No. 15 Ford Racing/Multimatic Motorsports Ford Focus ST-R

-- “It’s a big challenge to bring a car that’s had the following that this car has had to the track and do the initial shakedown in front of everybody. There was a lot of pressure on my guys that this go smooth and everything was perfect. We ran a ton of laps. I’d say we ran through five or six sets of tires, and the car did everything that we asked it to do. The car ran so well that we actually had the opportunity to tune on it a little bit, which we never expected to have the time to do. We got a lot further ahead this week than we were anticipating. We’re really excited to be a part of this because we believe this car is a game changer. We’re going to keep pushing ahead and hopefully we’ll have these Corvette Daytona Prototypes 1-2-3.” Troy Flis, owner/team manager No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette Daytona Prototype

Coming Up:

The next activity for the Rolex Series will be a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway on December 6-7. The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will join the Rolex Series at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at Daytona International Speedway on January 5-8.

The 2012 Rolex Series opens with the January 28-29 50th anniversary running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The Continental Tire Sports Car challenge season opens with the GRAND-AM 200 at Daytona on Friday, Jan. 27.

Nov 18 | Rolex 24 Flashback: Bell’s Daytona highs (and a couple of lows)

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Derek Bell admits that he sometimes wondered just what he had to do to win the 24 Hours of Daytona. Four times in the early 1980s, just at a time when he was starting to make a habit of winning the Le Mans 24 Hours, he finished second at Daytona International Speedway.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Derek Bell admits that he sometimes wondered just what he had to do to win the 24 Hours of Daytona. Four times in the early 1980s, just at a time when he was starting to make a habit of winning the Le Mans 24 Hours, he finished second at Daytona International Speedway.

Eventually, he cast the monkey off his back and, during a purple patch in the second half of the ’80s, he and the late Al Holbert became the undisputed kings of 24-hour racing. Together they pulled off the Daytona-Le Mans double two years in succession, in 1986-’87, driving for Holbert's eponymous works-backed Porsche team in the U.S. enduro classic and the factory squad from Germany in its European counterpart over in France.

Bell went on to win Daytona again after Holbert’s death in late 1988, winning the ’89 event with Jim Busby’s Porsche squad. That third victory completed a phenomenal run of 24-hour results for Bell that would make him a household name on both sides of the Atlantic. Only once during the ’80s did he finish the season without a podium at either Daytona or Le Mans.
 
The Daytona story for Bell began years before, just as he was starting out on his sports car career. The big break for Bell came when he was picked up to drive a Porsche 917 for John Wyer’s factory Porsche JW Automotive squad for 1971 and the 24 Hours was race two on the International Championship of Makes schedule.

Bell got his feet under the table pretty quickly with Wyer, winning first time out with Jo Siffert in Buenos Aires in early January, but it was hardly preparation for racing at Daytona. Forty years on, Bell admits that he was spooked by the 31-degree banking – not so much by driving on it, but watching his teammate do so.

“We were testing at Daytona after Buenos Aires and I’d been told that I would be driving until 10 a.m.,” remembers Bell. “So when I drove into the track, I went through the infield and over to the banking to have a look.

“As Jo came around, I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God.’ There was a line painted on the track, and the left-front wheel was below the line and the left rear was above the line. The car was going along at 30 degrees from straight ahead. I thought, ‘Bloody hell, is that what I’ve got to do?’”

And that, of course, was in the days before the addition of the Bus Stop chicane on the back stretch.

“You were flat all the way around the banking; you flew into Turn 3 at 220mph,” he continues. “Luckily, I didn’t have any imagination back then.”

Bell and Siffert retired early from Daytona ’71 with engine failure. Engine problems would again spoil the Brit’s chances when he returned with Wyer’s Gulf-sponsored team, now running its own Cosworth-engined Mirage chassis, two years later. This time, he claimed the pole ahead of grand prix driver Francois Cevert aboard a Matra, but a misfire stymied his chances almost from the start.
 
There would be no Daytona return for Bell for another eight years, his absence from the track coming to an end when he was called up by the late Bob Akin to race his Porsche 935 in 1981. Akin’s squad finished second that season and in ’82, but Bell was still not a regular on the U.S. sports car scene. He missed the 1983 race and took part the following year almost by accident. Bell was in Daytona on TV duty and was hauled from the commentary box to share Preston Henn’s 935, the car that had won the previous year with Bob Wollek and A.J. Foyt.
 
“Out of the blue on Saturday night at five or six, long after the race had started, someone from Preston’s team came along saying that A.J. wouldn’t drive in the dark,” recalls Bell. “It wasn’t a problem because there was no TV coverage at night, so I put my overalls on, and Bob and I thrashed all the way through the night before A.J. got back in at dawn and I went back to the TV booth. A most unusual situation.”

The 1984 season was a turning point in Bell’s U.S. career, and it had nothing to do with the Daytona result. By the middle of the year, he would be racing – and winning – regularly with Holbert aboard the new IMSA-spec Porsche 962, the long-wheelbase, single-turbo version of the Le Mans-winning 956.

Bell became a core member of the Porsche-backed Holbert Racing squad that went on to claim a hat-trick of IMSA GTP titles with its owner and then Chip Robinson, but victory at Daytona initially eluded them. First time out with a 962 in ’85, they finished, you’ve guessed it, second. Bell, Holbert and Al Unser Jr. were 13 laps to the good at one point, but engine problems left them 17 laps down on the winning Henn entry at the finish.

“The car stopped out on the banking and I was told to change the plugs,” remembers Bell. “I was repeatedly putting my helmet back on to talk to the team on the radio, then taking it off and running around the back of the car. I remember [Porsche engine legend] Alwin Springer telling me there were five holes to put the wires in. I told him that that was all very well, but there were 12 wires.”

Bell finally broke through at Daytona in ‘86, the Holbert team just edging the Henn’s Swap Shop Racing squad by a shade under two minutes after 24 hours of racing. Holbert, Bell and Little Al were worthy winners, the trio fighting back from brake problems and then again after a broken throttle cable stranded Unser out on the track.

The moment Bell remembers is one that he believes could well have won the race for the Holbert crew.

“It was during the night, and I was right behind Danny Sullivan [driving the Henn car] up on the banking and we caught one of the Tullius Jags,” recalls Bell. “Suddenly, there was a puff of smoke. The engine lunched itself and threw its oil out, which smothered our screens. Danny may have caught more than me and ducked into the pits, whereas I stayed out and soldiered on until the end of my stint. That may well have made the difference at the end of the race.”

The problem for Bell and his teammates the following year was not the proximity of their rivals, rather the proximity of exhaustion. Bell, Unser Jr., Robinson and Holbert won by three laps, but only Bell, the most senior of the drivers, was in any fit state to get behind the wheel at the finish.

“I remember finishing a stint on Sunday and struggling to get my overalls off because I kept getting cramps through dehydration. I was absolutely finished,” recalls Bell. “The team told me that Al would only be able to do one stint, so I said that we still had Chip. When they said he’d had it and wouldn’t drive again, I thought, ‘Oh great.’”

Holbert, who had opted to concentrate on team management duties that year, famously dusted off his overalls to help out his ailing teammates, although Bell remembers his boss short-changing him…
 
“A message came back saying that Al [Holbert] would do one hour, but I would have to finish. After 30 minutes, the team said that Al was pitting in one lap. The adrenalin overtook the tiredness. I ran to the pits and completed the victory.”

Victory number three at Daytona in a Busby Racing Porsche shared with Bob Wollek and John Andretti wasn’t the end of Bell’s career at the Speedway. The 1990s included some highs and lows.

The low was a massive accident between NASCAR Turns 3 and 4 in Giampiero Moretti’s 962 in 1990: “There was a boom, the car dropped and then I was flying. It was a clear night and I remember seeing the stars as I went up. When the car landed, it seemed to keep going for a lifetime. It was a big shunt. The team put it down to a tire failure, but it is my belief that something broke.”

The high also came aboard one of old friend Moretti’s cars, this time a Ferrari 333SP: “I still say that was the best-handling sports car I ever drove. It was like a grand prix car. We led the race and I still remember overtaking Fermin Velez [driving a Scandia Ferrari] to take the lead. We dropped back after a fire, but to have won Daytona in a Ferrari at that stage of my career would have been amazing.”

There were more Daytona appearances for Bell and, perhaps fittingly for a driver who had become a Florida resident, he made his final appearances in sports car racing at the Speedway. He raced a Chevrolet Corvette with son Justin in 2003 and then came back one more time to say farewell five years later aboard a Riley Daytona Prototype.

The car retired before Bell Sr. could drive in the race, but that’s Daytona for you. Sports car racing in general, and 24-hour racing in particular, brings a low for every high, but Bell admits he’s lucky: “I had so many good races at Daytona that I’ve tended to forget about the others.”

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