Dec 28 | New Seventh-Generation Porsche 911 to Pace 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona
The latest Porsche 911 road car will lead the field once again in 2012 as the pace car for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 on Jan. 28-29.
ATLANTA, Ga. -- When the Daytona Continental went to a 24-hour event in 1966, the Porsche 911 race car was already part of the field, winnings its class that year in GT 2000 with Jack Ryan, Bill Benecker and Linley Coleman at the helm. So it seems fitting that the latest Porsche 911 road car will lead the field once again in 2012 as the pace car for the 50th anniversary of this iconic sports car classic on Jan. 28-29.
“Porsche has enjoyed a long and successful history in the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” GRAND-AM President Tom Bledsoe said. “Having a Porsche 911 road car pacing this milestone race will be another proud addition to that heritage.”
“The car will lead the field to the green flag at the beginning of the race, and perform all the pace car duties during yellow flags and restarts – a hefty assignment for a 24-hour event at which both weather and track conditions can be unpredictable,” Bledsoe said.
By the late 1950s it was obvious to Porsche that the 356, which was the company’s sole product line since 1948, needed to be updated. Replacing it was necessary, yet perilous. Who knew that the eventual replacement for the 356, the 911, would surpass its predecessor in sales, longevity and glory? Or that it would be so fanatically cherished by its owners that Porsche hasn't been allowed to replace it. Or that the Company would be introducing its latest iteration all the way in 2012?
And, with Porsche Motorsport concentrating on its development of prototypes for Le Mans and elsewhere, there wasn’t much initial effort by the factory for racing the 911, but it became the most successful race car in history, and certainly the most successful race car in the history of the Rolex 24, with 39 overall and class wins - most recently the TRG GT victory in 2011 with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“As the 911 race car and street car histories are completely intertwined, it is fitting that our latest 911 road car pace the Rolex 24,” said Detlev von Platen, president of Porsche Cars North America.
“Everyone will see that this newborn is truly a member of the family,” said von Platen.
From every angle the latest offering is unmistakably a 911, holding true to the Porsche 911 Carrera evolution, not revolution’ design philosophy. The new car has a longer wheel base, but is both lower and lighter than its predecessor. With its two engine sizes, the new 911 Carrera is able to provide improved performance and handling, and even better fuel economy than before. The 911 Carrera is equipped with a 3.4-liter, 350hp six-cylinder boxer engine, while the Carrera S is fitted with a 3.8-liter, 400hp six-cylinder boxer powerplant, both with the optional PDK transmission available.
The first new 911 models will arrive in U.S. dealerships beginning in February of 2012.
The Porsche 911 race car started to make noise in the U.S. when IMSA’s Camel GT series started in 1970, with Brumos Racing and Hurley Haywood taking their 1970 Porsche 911S to its first championship in the 1972 season. Haywood and co-driver and Brumos co-owner Peter Gregg went on to win IMSA championships in 1973, 1974, and 1975, winning the Rolex 24 in both ’73 and ’75 while taking a class victory in ‘72.
After the Porsche 911 Carrera RS and RSR models won IMSA and Trans-Am championships in the mid-70s, the company introduced the radical Porsche 934 and 935 race cars – 911 silhouette bodied cars with big, twin-turbocharged engines that become the cars to beat in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
The 1980s and early 90s were prime time for Porsche Motorsport’s 956 and 962 prototype race cars, and the 911 took a bit of a back seat on the GT side to Porsche 924 and 944-based models.
Then, in 1997, Porsche introduced the GT class 911 GT2R at Le Mans where this 996-based water-cooled coupe promptly won its class, followed by the famous Porsche 911 GT1 which gave Porsche its last overall victory at Le Mans (1998).
The current family of 911 race cars which run at the Rolex 24, in production since 1989, is the 911 GT3 Cup, which was developed for the Porsche Supercup and Carrera Cup one-marque series which take place around the globe. Brumos Racing took the latest version of the car to GT championship in 2011.
The other current 911 race car line is the current Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, driven to an overall victory in the 2003 Rolex 24 and a class victory in 2002 by TRG.
Tickets for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Dec 22 | Rolex 24 Flashback: By The Team Numbers
In preparing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, one needs to be, if not a numbers fan, at least comfortable with dealing with lots of them.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In preparing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, one needs to be, if not a numbers fan, at least comfortable with dealing with lots of them. Deciphering how to properly assemble an effort by breaking down the number of people and all the elements those people need to be doing is like a complex math equation. Putting the budget together from the numbers breakdown occurs after the fact and completes the process.
Putting together even a one-car effort for the race is a challenging endeavor, so imagine extrapolating that out to two, three, four or even five cars for one 24-hour race. That's half the challenge, and half the allure, of the respective efforts put forth by Mike Shank in Daytona Prototypes and Kevin Buckler in GT, on an annual basis for the 24-hour endurance test.
Shank and Buckler certainly aren't the only two team principals concerned with putting together a multicar program for Daytona, but they do have a lot of experience with it, and in mass quantity.
Buckler in particular has stood out, with 66 cars entered in total since TRG's Daytona debut in 1996, and no fewer than five cars entered in every Rolex 24 since 2005! Shank's proven no slouch either, with either two or three DPs proving a staple of his Daytona races since 2006 – even if he didn't run them all for the full season.
"I always get a little competitive pleasure when guys elsewhere say, 'You know, I'm gonna do a second or third car for Daytona because TRG can do it,' and then they find out it was the worst thing they could have wished for," Buckler says. "Since anything can go wrong, if your boat is slightly fragile, don't stick it in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the storm! Really, don't try to start a second car team if you can't do it. It's harder than it looks, and is a logistical management nightmare!"
Buckler knows of what he speaks. While consistently fielding a fleet of Porsche GT3 Cups in the last 15 years, TRG has accrued 10 podium finishes in class at Daytona since 2005 including two class wins. In 2008, the team ran a record seven-car effort, and scored two podiums. So, how does that break down, from the essentials to the mundane?
"We've got several pounds of ice, hundreds of water bottles, 15 golf carts and 10 motorhomes," Buckler says, reciting some of the items off the cuff. "TRG is a 30-person company, and it tends to swell with our longtime guys who come in every year at Daytona, and work with the 'TRG Secret Sauce.' It's very regimented, almost like a military operation. But in total for the race, we'll have 125 people."
Of those 125 people, Buckler estimates at least 10 to 12 rotate on the spotters' stand, six-seven fuelers, eight men on tires, five ladies in hospitality, one sponsor coordinator (who runs around on golf carts and delivers food and new batteries), one motorhome maintenance man checking to ensure power is still going, and one food stocker (his wife). That's plus the usual cast of characters, drivers and regular crew who'd be there anyway.
Buckler describes his Daytona mode of operation as akin to a football or basketball defense running a "zone," having the crew shift as necessary instead of sticking solely to one man or one role.
Shank's team may not match Buckler's in terms of outright crew members, but is no less regimented in its preparation.
"It depends on whether you run one or two cars, but I have my wife coordinating all logistics, and we started two or three months ago," Shank explains. "You start in September and October, securing your hotel rooms and booking your flights.
"Realistically, you begin prepping for the race about four or five months in advance to be safe. The really hard stuff happens within the last three months."
Shank will put nine full-time people on one car, and estimates bringing in a further 11 more with spotters. For Shank's 2011 effort, the team had 12 drivers and 60 people and was happily "over prepared."
A clearer estimation of Shank's breakdown for a normal two-car effort includes: 28 crew, eight drivers, two transporters, 100 sets of tires, 20 hotel rooms and one massage therapist.
For Buckler, the 2012 Rolex 24 will feature its Porsche running about 30 sets between January's "Roar Before the 24" test and the week of the race through the 24 hours. Using 20 gallons of fuel per hour, Buckler estimates roughly 500 gallons of fuel per car.
"Because of that, we'll expect to stop about 25 times as it will be under an hour, but that's about 25 times to screw up," Buckler says.
On the surface, the later it gets in the race, the likelihood increases that caffeine will flow just as fast as fuel in the cars. Although both Buckler and Shank are energetic individuals, they're not necessarily keen on getting amped up by Coke, coffee or Red Bull in the darkest hours of the night.
"Energy-wise, I really pace myself for the race, as if equating it to a marathon since I don't go to sleep," Buckler says. "I won't start pounding any Red Bulls until well after midnight."
"I'll avoid caffeine altogether," Shank counters. "I like an occasional Red Bull and vodka away from the track, but not to wake me up straight. I'll stick to the basics, and maybe have a Diet Coke if I need to wake up. Our whole team stays awake and on the stands."
One strategy Shank employs is utilizing hot soup in the middle of the night.
"At 4 a.m., you'll get head nods, guaranteed," he says. "Heads will get real heavy. We always time head-bob time to having hot soup – I love beef vegetable – and that perks everyone up. Your face hurts from being tired. It's more like 36-40 hours you're awake."
By that stage in the race, the preparation and number breakdown shifts to what's still left to accomplish in the remaining hours of the race. And then when the checkers fly, it's time to shut down the operation, recap, reload and relaunch before doing it all over again 12 months later – after making the necessary number crunches and adjustments.
Dec 21 | DIS Promotes Two Long-Time Executives – John Power and Pete D’Agresta Named Senior Directors
Daytona International Speedway announced today the promotion of two long-time executives at the “World Center of Racing.” Pete D’Agresta has been named Senior Director of Facility Operations and John Power has been named Senior Director of Security.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona International Speedway announced today the promotion of two long-time executives at the “World Center of Racing.” Pete D’Agresta has been named Senior Director of Facility Operations and John Power has been named Senior Director of Security.
Both executives report to Daytona International Speedway Vice President of Operations Andrew Gurtis. The promotions became effective earlier this month.
“Both Pete and John are invaluable resources to our team at Daytona International Speedway,” said Gurtis. “Their expertise and dedication help us host memorable and safe events for our guests all season long. I look forward to their ongoing contributions.”
In his new role, D’Agresta will oversee the daily operation of the facility and maintain personnel schedules and the department’s budget, in addition to capital project coordination and management. D’Agresta also works closely with the various sanctioning bodies during major events, directing emergency repairs as needed. He joined Daytona International Speedway in 1991 as a Facilities Manager. In 2002, he was promoted to Director of Facility Operations, responsible for overall facility maintenance as well as overseeing relationships with vendors, contractors and training staff for emergency repairs.
Prior to joining DIS, D’Agresta was the shop foreman for Consolidated Tomoka. He has studied at Daytona State College and is a graduate of Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, Fla.
As Senior Director, Power oversees all security, traffic and parking for the speedway, including budgeting and staff. He also works closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and the various sanctioning bodies to ensure the safety of guests, competitors and executives. Power joined the speedway in 1996 as Deputy Director of Security. In 2002, he was named Director of Corporate Security for parent company International Speedway Corporation (“ISC”) and in 2006 he was promoted to Director of Security for DIS while continuing to serve in his role at ISC.
Prior to joining DIS, Power was a Division Commander with the Daytona Beach Police Department. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Rollins College and completed management and leadership training at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.
Information on all Daytona International Speedway events is available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Dec 20 | One Great Cause, One Great Race: DIS Teams Up With Kevin Harvick and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for Special Daytona 500 Offer
Daytona International Speedway has once again joined forces with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) for a special ticket package that will deliver the excitement of NASCAR’s most prestigious race – the Daytona 500 – as well as benefit an important cause.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daytona International Speedway has once again joined forces with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) for a special ticket package that will deliver the excitement of NASCAR’s most prestigious race – the Daytona 500 – as well as benefit an important cause. And this year, Daytona has upped the ante by also partnering with 2007 Daytona 500 Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Budweiser Chevrolet Impala.
The NFFF ticket package, which starts at $119 for adults and $79 for children 12 and under, includes a race ticket to the 54th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 26, admission to the FIRE STATION 500 hospitality tent, and an appearance by Harvick.
A portion of the proceeds from each NFFF ticket package purchase will be donated to the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, a tax-exempt, non-profit organization created by the United States Congress to lead a nationwide effort to remember America’s fallen firefighters. Since 1992, NFFF has developed and expanded programs to honor fallen fire heroes and assist their families and co-workers.
“This special ticket offer is a great opportunity for race fans to witness both the excitement and pageantry of NASCAR’s signature event while supporting a very worthy initiative,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We’re proud to assist in NFFF’s mission of honoring America’s fallen firefighters and providing resources to assist their survivors.”
“As a Daytona 500 champion and the son of a retired firefighter, I’m honored to be a part of this great offer for a very worthy cause,” said Harvick. “I look forward to meeting with this special group of firefighters, first responders and their families before climbing into the No. 29 Bud Impala in the hopes of capturing my second victory in ‘The Great American Race.’”
“The Daytona 500 Hospitality Fundraiser is a wonderful opportunity for firefighters to enjoy themselves while supporting the efforts of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation,” said NFFF Executive Director Ron Siarnicki. “Firefighters are very dedicated to our mission, which is to honor the memories of those who died in the line of duty, to provide comfort and support to their loved ones, and to help prevent future line of duty deaths. This event is truly a win-win.”
Information on all Daytona International Speedway events is available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Dec 19 | Michael Shank Racing Takes Part In First 50th Rolex 24 Test
Michael Shank Racing unloads a new Ford Riley during late December Rolex 24 At Daytona test session while the GAINSCO team unveils its driver lineup.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Another major player for the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series took to the stage for the first time Monday at Daytona International Speedway, as the Riley DPG3 took its first laps in preparation for the 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona. NASCAR regular AJ Allmendinger joined John Pew at the wheel of the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley.
In addition, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing had the first public test of its new No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette Daytona Prototype. Two-time DP champs Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty were joined by Memo Gidley, who was announced as the team’s third driver for the Rolex 24.
Other Daytona Prototypes at the special invitational session were the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP of Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor; the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Darren Law, David Donohue and Christian Fittipaldi; and the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Terry Borcheller, JC France and Max Papis.
Rick Ware Racing was the lone GT participant. Miles Maroney, Brett Sandberg, Tomy Drissi, Timmy Hill and John Ware turned laps in the team’s Porsche GT3. The team will field a Ford Mustang for the full 2012 season, with Jeffrey Earnhardt as lead driver.
-- Memo Gidley has competed in 74 Rolex Series races. He last raced a DP in 2010, finishing fifth for Doran Racing in the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona. Gidley won at Mexico City in 2005 with Michael McDowell for Finlay Motorsports. His five podium finishes include second at Watkins Glen’s August race in 2007. He co-drove with Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor for SunTrust Racing, finishing behind new GAINSCO teammates Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty.
-- GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing owner Bob Stallings said that while five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will not be competing with the team in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, he may be part of the driver lineup for the inaugural race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July.
-- Starworks Motorsport team owner Peter Baron and lead driver Ryan Dalziel stopped by to pick up their new Riley DPG3 chassis. The team expects to have the car completed for the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test on Jan. 6-8.
-- The five Daytona Prototypes completed 267 trouble-free laps in the seven-hour session. All times were unofficial.
-- Rick Ware competed in the 1984 Rolex 24 At Daytona, driving a Mazda RX-7 with Paul Lewis, Joe Varde and Scott Pruett – who also was making his Daytona debut. Ware, then 20, was “low man on the totem pole” and drove his first stint at night and in the rain – both personal firsts. Ware’s father – ex-Trans-Am racer John Ware – was first driver to shake down the team’s Porsche on Monday.
-- “This new car came out of the box pretty awesome. I’m impressed with both the reliability and speed. Given that this is only its second test, there is a lot of potential to make it even better. It’s awesome to see how far the Daytona Prototype has come since I first drove one with Brumos Racing in 2003, and how this new car really resembles the road car. I believe it is the future of the Daytona Prototype.” Max Papis, No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP.
-- “My first impressions of the new car are really good. It definitely feels different, and we’re still getting used to the aerodynamic configuration. Everything so far has been very positive. We feel the new Corvette is as fast as it looks.” Alex Gurney, No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP
-- “It’s a little bit different to drive, but it’s awesome. The guys did an excellent job getting it ready. We’re still learning the car, but it’s all good – and it looks beautiful, too. From the driver’s standpoint, our position is a little bit more in the center of the car, and I feel a little bit lower. It’s fine, but it just takes a little time to get used to.” John Pew, No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley
-- “This is my first time testing a sports car. I find road courses are a blast to drive – my best finish last year was 11th at Road America – they’re enjoyable and I feel there is so much more in the driver’s hands at the road courses.” Timmy Hill, 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, No. 16 Rick Ware Racing Porsche GT3
-- “I told Michael Shank that we’ve been saving the last six years to win the big one – the 50th Rolex 24. That’s my excuse why we haven’t won it the last six years. After my first laps in the new DP, the new Riley is really smooth and easy to drive. It’s a nice car and it looks really cool. Overall, the test has been good.” AJ Allmendinger, No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley
-- “You’ve got to remember, our team has changed everything from last season – car, chassis and engine. The guys are still getting their arms around the car and getting to make it their own.” David Donohue, No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP
-- “Since our last test, the team has done a lot of work improving the car and it’s a lot better. We’ve actually gotten to test some new things on the car today.” Ricky Taylor, No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP
The next official activity for the Rolex Series will be the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 5-8. The 2012 Rolex Series opens with the Jan 28-29 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Tickets for all Daytona International Speedway events are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
Dec 16 | DIS Kicks Off Three-Day ARCA Test Session
The annual three-day ARCA Racing Series test session in advance of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 kicked off at Daytona International Speedway.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Two-time Daytona 500 winning crew chief Larry McReynolds, who serves as an analyst on the NASCAR broadcast team for FOX Sports, watched over his son Brandon as the annual three-day ARCA Racing Series test session kicked off on Friday at Daytona International Speedway.
Approximately 60 drivers are participating in the test session in advance of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season opener on Saturday, Feb. 18, the kick-off event to the stock car portion of Speedweeks 2012.
The 20-year-old McReynolds is turning laps at the “World Center of Racing” in the No. 4 Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports as he prepares for his first start on the 31-degree high banks of Daytona International Speedway.
McReynolds participated in the ARCA test two years ago with Eddie Sharp Racing, but didn’t have plans at the time to compete at Daytona. This year’s test is different. He knows he’s preparing for his Daytona debut in the upcoming 80-lap, 200-mile event.
“It’s a little more serious,” McReynolds said. “We’re always looking for speed. I think you got some guys out here laying down some PR laps. That’s not what Turner Motorsports is about. We’re down here for a legit test to see how fast we can go with what we’re going to be racing. I think we got a good piece.”
In background of the test is Brandon’s father Larry McReynolds, who won the Daytona 500 serving as the crew chief for Davey Allison in 1992 and Dale Earnhardt in 1998.
“When we won the 500 here with Davey in 1992, Brandon was not even a year old,” Larry McReynolds said. “He was Davey’s godson. I’ve got pictures of him in Victory Lane wrapped up in a baby’s blanket. It’s pretty cool to see him make laps here.”
During this week’s test, McReynolds stays at a distance but is always ready to offer advice to his son.
“He’s been racing since he was seven,” McReynolds said. “I’ve always played a huge role in his racing whether it was paying the bills or running the race team. We did that for a number of years with our own stuff. But Steve Turner and Turner Motorsports are giving him a great opportunity with great people.
“It’s actually kind of neat just being down here and being dad and just listening on the radio. At the end of the day, I can look at him and tell him things that I heard or saw or this is something you might want to think about. I do not want to be a meddling dad. I want to be here and support him and the race team and enjoy watching his career grow.”
Brandon McReynolds is unsure of his 2012 plans but hopes it will be at Turner Motorsports.
“We’re still working on it. I hope to be over at Turner Motorsports. I really enjoy working with those guys. They’ve let me do some testing over the offseason and I ran Talladega with those guys. I feel like I’ve got a really good home over there. We’re working away on it. It takes sponsorship to make race cars go around these days and we’re working on it. We’ll see what happens.”
Owens returns to the track as a mom: Daytona Beach native Alli Owens had a one of the biggest smiles in the garage during the first day of testing.
The 23-year-old Owens, who attempted to qualify for the February NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at DIS, sat out the majority of the 2011 season to have a baby. After giving birth to a daughter in October, Owens is ready to return to the track.
“It’s huge,” Owens said. “I just had a baby a couple of months ago. To be able to come back out here after everybody pretty much wrote me off . . . it seems like if you’re a mom, you’re done.”
During the test, Owens is driving the No. 1 Ford for Andy Belmont Racing and is planning on making her fourth career start in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.
Her husband Paul Chodora, who works for a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team, is serving as her crew chief for the test.
Owens, with sponsorship from Baby Jock, is only scheduled to compete in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 but is exploring opportunities in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series for 2012.
“I was nervous,” Owens said of having a baby and then returning to racing. “It’s never been done before. You never see females who decide to have a family come back and be successful in the sport. We’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done before.
“To be back out here this year, it’s been even more special because I am a mom and now I’m getting the respect of being a parent and a driver.”
ARCA testing continues on Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A section of the Oldfield Grandstands will be open free to the public with access available through the lobby of the Daytona International Speedway ticket office.
Tickets for the 54th running of the Daytona 500 and other Speedweeks 2012 events are available online to www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.