Oct 18 | Special “Behind The Scenes” Tour Daytona Available For PRI Attendees

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Motorsports enthusiasts and industry members planning to attend the 24th annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show in December can take advantage of a special opportunity to visit the “World Center of Racing.”

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Motorsports enthusiasts and industry members planning to attend the 24th annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show in December can take advantage of a special opportunity to visit the “World Center of Racing.” 

A ‘behind-the scenes’ tour of the legendary Daytona International Speedway is being offered on Wednesday, November 30, 2011.  The day-long tour costs $125.

Daytona International Speedway will host the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 28-29, 2012 and the 54th Annual Daytona 500 on February 26, 2012.

In addition to a tour of the speedway, participants will enjoy lunch in the Sprint Tower while taking in panoramic views of the track, meet 2010 Rolex 24 winner João Barbosa, stand on the ‘Spotter’s Perch’ high above the track, take a thrilling ‘Hot Lap’ on the 31-degree High Banks (optional) and learn about racing’s history at International Speedway Corporation’s Archives.  Lastly, participants will stroll along Daytona Beach and visit the North Turn Bar and Grill, the northern marker of the historic beach races that were held between the dunes and the sea. 

The Motorsport Industry Association is organizing the tour for PRI and Daytona International Speedway.  For more information and registration, please visit www.performanceracing.com/tradeshow/events/daytona_day_trip.html or www.the-mia.com.

For more information and tickets for all Daytona International Speedway events, log on to www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

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

Oct 13 | Rolex 24 Flashback: The Long Winding Road

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Here’s how you win a Rolex 24 at Daytona: You cover more miles of the Daytona International Speedway road/oval course in 24 hours than anybody else. It’s that simple – while being extraordinarily complex and difficult, too, of course.

Rolex 24

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Here’s how you win a Rolex 24 at Daytona: You cover more miles of the Daytona International Speedway road/oval course in 24 hours than anybody else. It’s that simple – while being extraordinarily complex and difficult, too, of course.
 
Although time remains a constant, the number of laps and miles the winning car clicks off can, and often does, vary significantly from year to year. Weather, caution periods, mechanical problems, tweaks to the track layout, and the type of cars competing for the overall win all play their part, as does the skill, commitment and strategy of the guys behind the wheel.
 
Set at 2,760.86 miles in 1982, the Rolex 24 at Daytona distance record has stood for 30 years. That effort finally eclipsed the 2,758.44 miles covered in 1970 and has remained the benchmark up until the present day, despite the best efforts of some of the fastest, most spectacular sports cars on the planet in the three decades following it.
 
Here’s a look back at those record-breaking milestones, plus some “close but no cigar” moments since.  
 
1970: 2,758.44 miles

The Group 5 supercars took center stage, with Porsche’s 917 and the Ferrari 512 undoubtedly the class of the field.

A perfect combination of reliability and speed, plus misfortune for their rivals, propelled the No. 2 John Wyer Racing-entered, Gulf-sponsored 917 to the overall victory, with primary drivers Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen, joined by Brian Redman in a cameo role, driving flawlessly throughout.
 
Running untroubled and having the luxury of setting its own (very rapid) pace, the lead 917 ran 724 laps and 2,758.44 miles on what was then a 3.81-mile track layout, and had a cushion at the end of some 45 laps over its No. 1 sister car in second.
 
The winning 917’s average speed of 114.866 mph shattered the previous record of 107.388 mph, set by Lloyd Ruby and Ken Miles in the first 24-hour race at Daytona, back in 1966.
 
Redman was sharing the team’s No. 1 car with Jo Siffert, but never had a realistic shot at victory in it after suffering a cut tire in the third hour that tore the brake line, then losing another 90 minutes to change the clutch in the early morning hours. It was during that clutch change that Wyer put Redman in the No. 2 car for a stint, having been unable to convince Kinnunen (who spoke little English) that it might be a good idea to ease the pace and conserve the car a little.
 
When Redman returned to the No. 1 car, he worked his way from fourth to second with two hours remaining, but brushed the wall and lost five minutes for hasty repairs. That put Mario Andretti’s Ferrari 512 into second, until a stunning charge from Siffert saw the place change again with just four minutes of the 24 hours remaining. 
 
That 1970 win was Rodriguez’s third at Daytona, but his first in the 24-hour era. He would add a fourth a year later, sharing with Jackie Oliver in another 917, the duo completing only 688 laps and 2,621.28 miles, after overcoming the sort of mechanical issues that are so much a part of taking on and beating the clock.
 
1982: 2,760.86 miles

A dozen years later, the Rodriguez/Kinnunen/Redman triumph of 1970 still held the Daytona distance record. That was until another Porsche, this time an iteration of the ultra-successful 935, came through to trump it in the hands of Rolf Stommelen and John Paul Sr. and Jr.
 
The previous two years had seen the record come close to being broken. The original 3.81-mile course configuration had been lengthened slightly to 3.84 in 1976 and by the beginning of the 1980s, teams and cars were homing in on the elusive 2,758.44-mile benchmark.
 
In 1980, Stommelen co-drove the winning Porsche 935 with Reinhold Joest and Volkert Merl, completing 715 laps and 2,745.6 miles – less than 13 miles short of the record. A year later, the 935 of that man Redman, Bobby Rahal and Bob Garretson came up just shy, too, posting 2,718.72 miles and 708 laps.
 
In 1982, it all came right in the fifth straight overall triumph for a 935 at Daytona. Although Paul Jr. was making his Daytona 24 debut, he was by no means lacking for pace, and lead driver Stommelen wasn’t lacking for confidence.
 
“Before the race I asked Rolf, ‘Who’s the team to beat here?’” Paul Jr. said. “He answered, ‘We are.’ He was incredibly cocky, but he was very good.”
 
Once two of their closest rivals, also in 935s, fell by the wayside, the path was sealed for a record run. The Paul Sr.-entered Porsche led from two hours into the race all the way to the finish, with its only ailment en route a cut tire from driving over a bottle on the track. The oil was never topped up, the hood never even lifted as the trio ran an extraordinarily clean and fast 24 hours to post a record 2,760.86 miles (adding up to 719 laps of the slightly longer track, compared to 1970’s 724 on the original configuration).
 
Near misses in the GTP era

After making its Daytona debut in 1984, it seemed Porsche’s awesome 962 might stand the best chance of beating its predecessors, the 917 and 935, as the  outright distance record-holder at Daytona. But, although the 962 won five of seven Daytona 24s from ’85 to ’91, it never beat the ’82 mark. The ’87 winning car set the 962’s best mark in a 24-hour race at Daytona, covering 2,680.68 miles.
 
In 1992, the record was almost broken, by the factory Nissan R91CP driven by Japanese shoes Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Toshio Suzuki. Nissan had five cars entered – three from the U.S. and two from Japan – and was the outright favorite under new regulations introduced that year.
 
The Nissans suffered minimal mechanical ailments compared to the aging 962s and the Japanese trio completed 762 laps of the current 3.56-mile circuit (the most of any configuration), and a total distance of 2,712.72 miles at 112.897 mph average speed – a record for the 3.56-mile circuit, but 48 miles short of the outright record. 
 
Chasing the record

In the current era of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Daytona Prototypes have come very close to beating the outright mileage record on a couple occasions. The way the race has evolved in recent years, with multiple cars vying for the lead at near-sprint-race speeds, it’s not surprising that the record might be in sight, given good weather, few cautions and decent reliability.
 
In 2010, the Action Express Porsche-powered Riley, with its unusual Porsche Cayenne SUV-based 5-liter V8, built by the Lozano Brothers, ran 755 laps in the hands of Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller, Ryan Dalziel and Mike Rockenfeller. That number is the highest in the DP period and the third-most laps ever completed by a winning car, and equates to 2688.14 miles.
 
And just this past year, although the winning Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas/Joey Hand/Graham Rahal Ganassi BMW-powered Riley ran 721 laps and covered 2563.53 miles, a near three-hour caution for fog blighted the record charge. With four cars on the lead lap once again after 24 hours, it served further proof that anyone in the current era could potentially establish a new record distance traveled if the cards fall right.

Oct 11 | 1977 Rolex 24 Overall Champion Porsche 911 Joins 50th Anniversary Display

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The No. 43 Ecurie Escargot Porsche 911 RSR, the overall winning car from the 1977 Rolex 24 At Daytona, is the latest addition to the display of overall Rolex 24 At Daytona championship cars at the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24.

Hurley Haywood

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The No. 43 Ecurie Escargot Porsche 911 RSR, the overall winning car from the 1977 Rolex 24 At Daytona in which legendary Hurley Haywood drove an incredible eight-hour nighttime stint, is the latest addition to the display of overall Rolex 24 At Daytona championship cars that will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the twice-around-the-clock challenge on Jan. 28-29, 2012.

Haywood, who was unsure of the reliability of the new turbocharged Porsche 935s that made its debut in the 1977 Rolex 24, co-drove the ex-Brumos Porsche 911 to his third Rolex 24 victory with John Graves and owner/driver David Helmick.

During the night hours of the race, Haywood, who was gaining time on the track, stayed behind the wheel of the car for an amazing eight-hour stint. In each of the pit stops, Haywood would hop out of the car and enter the tent. When the car was ready to return to the track, Haywood would exit the tent and return to the car with a different helmet to disguise the fact he was still driving.

“Running an eight hour shift was not allowed really,” Haywood said with a chuckle. “Everybody kind of knew what was going on but just to sort of get underneath the wire, I changed helmets. I’d jump out of the car, run into an area that they had roped off and change my helmet. They all knew what I was doing anyway so it really didn’t make a difference.

“They have longer than eight hours of night (racing) at Daytona at that time of the year so my co-drivers did drive a little bit at night but I did a major share in one stint and I really didn’t get that tired. It was one of those things where you looked to see your progress and things were looking good so I (stayed) in.”

“Those cars weren’t that physically difficult to drive. They didn’t have a lot of G loads in the corners under brakes. It wasn’t as tasking. You could never do that today. Three hours is about all you want to spend in our current car whether it’s GT or DP (Daytona Prototype). Back then it was different. The race pace wasn’t particularly gruesome. It was an easier thing to deal with back then but still eight hours is a long time.”

While the new turbo charged Porsche 935s proved to be faster, the Haywood/Graves/Helmick Porsche outlasted them to take the checkered flag. The No. 43 car dominated the final three hours of the race to win by a margin of three laps.

“I was confident that it was going to be a good car,” Haywood said. “When the race started, everybody blew off in the dust and I was going, ‘Boy this was probably not a good move.’ As the race started to progress, (the turbos) started having problems and we started moving up the leaderboard.

“We came up on top after it was all over. It was fun. I had a good time. I love driving those RSRs and the gamble paid off.”

 The No. 43 Porsche 911 RSR joins the growing field of prestigious championship cars previously announced in the display:

• The No. 96 Arciero Racing Lotus-Climax 19B  from the inaugural Rolex 24 (then known as the Daytona Continental) in 1962
• The Porsche 907 from the 1968 Rolex 24
• The No. 98 Eagle GTP from the 1993 Rolex 24
• The Preston Henn Porsches from the 1983 and 1985 Rolex 24s
• The No. 6 Lola T70 Chevrolet from the 1969 Rolex 24
• The No. 9 Bob Garretson’s Style Auto Porsche 935 from the 1981 Rolex 24 At Daytona

Additional winning 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).

Oct 07 | Rolex 24 Flashback: The Year of the Foyt

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A.J. Foyt recalls he had to be asked several times to take part in the 1983 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The four-time Indy 500 winner eventually said yes, at the behest of father Tony, setting in motion one of the more intriguing stories in the history of the 24 Hours.

1983 AJ Foyt

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A.J. Foyt recalls he had to be asked several times to take part in the 1983 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The four-time Indy 500 winner eventually said yes, at the behest of father Tony, setting in motion one of the more intriguing stories in the history of the 24 Hours.

Not only did the racing legend claim victory that year, but a sports car career that had included a win in the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hours was re-ignited. Foyt would be a regular at the Daytona International Speedway for the next six years, taking another victory in 1985 and notching up a brace of second places.

"The only reason I went down there was because of Bill France Sr.," recalls Foyt, who will be Grand Marshal for the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona next January. "He called me three or four times, asking me to come to the 24-hour race. I was sitting in a hospital with my father, who was dying from cancer. It was my daddy who talked me into doing the race; he told me to go out and have some fun."

Foyt was to team up with NASCAR star Darrell Waltrip at the wheel of an Aston Martin-Nimrod backed by Pepsi-Cola, the event sponsor, though the plan quickly went off the rails. The design, which had placed seventh at Le Mans the previous year, didn't like the Daytona banking, the car blowing up after only 121 laps.

That might have been it for A.J. Foyt's sports car career but for the intervention of long-time sports car entrant Preston Henn. He went racing to promote his Swap Shop flea market in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and reckoned there was publicity to be had by putting Foyt in his Porsche 935.

This rather special 935L GTX contender, designed by Drino Miller and built at the workshops of famed Porsche tuner Andial in Southern California, had been qualified on the pole by another racing legend, Bob Wollek. It was arguably the car to win to win the 24 Hours that year, and crew chief Kevin Jeannette wasn't convinced about the wisdom of bringing in a lapsed sports car driver to join Wollek, French veteran Claude Ballot-Lena and Henn.

"Preston asked me about putting A.J. in the car," remembers Jeannette. "I told him that we had a chance of winning the thing and that A.J. had never driven a Porsche before. He looked at me as though I was from another planet. To him it didn't matter if we didn't win, because he'd still have had A.J. Foyt in his Swap Shop Porsche."

Foyt's preparation for taking the controls of the Swap Shop car stretched to sitting in another 935 that was already out of the race – "I sat in Bob Akin's car to familiarize myself with a lot of stuff" – and asking Jeannette a few pertinent questions.

"A.J. said, 'Can I ask a stupid question? What's the shift pattern?'" recalls the crew chief. "I said, 'It's just like a Volkswagen, except that reverse is over and forward. His reply was, 'First of all, do you think I've ever driven a Volkswagen? And second, why would I need reverse?' I thought, 'You've got a point there, Mr. Foyt."

When Foyt climbed aboard the Swap Shop Porsche on Sunday morning he was strapped in by Wollek. The only problem was that the driver who had retaken the lead after an early delay with turbocharger issues didn't realize what was happening.

"We all jumped back over the wall when the car left, and Wollek saw Preston and Ballot-Lena," explains Jeannette. "I don't exactly remember what happened, except saying Wollek saying, 'Who's in the car?' I said it was A.J. Foyt, and he looked at me as though I was kidding. You could tell he was livid.

"The cameras were all there because everyone but Bob knew that A.J. was getting in the car. We were leading the race; we were the big action."

At this point, a microphone was thrust under Wollek's nose. The question was obvious: "So Bob, what do you think of A.J. Foyt joining the team?" The response was less so: "Who the **** is A.J. Foyt?Foyt remembers the late Wollek's antipathy to his recruitment by Henn.

"I understand that Bob was very upset that Preston had put me in there," he says. "I knew nothing about it because he kept us separated until after the race. Maybe they thought I'd give him a slap if I found out what he'd said."

Wollek needn't have worried about Foyt. The IndyCar veteran may have been out of sports cars for the better part of 20 years, but he was immediately on the pace, and in the wet, too.

"He was the quickest of everyone in the wet," says Jeannette. "A.J. was a driver's driver, and in the days before adjustable shock absorbers, he knew exactly what a pound of air did for spring rates. I'd go as far as calling him a genius."

The Swap Shop 935 led through the rain and a late red flag on the way to claiming a four-lap victory. Wollek begrudgingly had to accept the part Foyt had played in the victory.

"Preston asked Bob, 'What do you think of A.J. now? Is he the champion everyone says he is?'" remembers Foyt. "Bob had to say that he guessed so.

"Bob and I actually became very good friends. He was one of the best co-drivers I ever shared a car with beside Dan Gurney at Le Mans. He was a super guy. I thought a lot of Bob after that, and I think he thought a lot of me."

Foyt and Wollek would go on to share more success in sports cars through the mid-1980s. They did an endurance sports car double in 1985, winning first at Daytona and then at the Sebring 12 Hours aboard Henn's Porsche 962 GTP car. Yet it is the '83 victory remains special to Foyt.

A few years later during the month of May at Indianapolis, he was asked on TV to name his favorite race victory. The man with the microphone was expecting him to plump for one of his four victories in the Indy 500, perhaps even his Le Mans triumph, but the A.J. came up with an unexpected answer: The 1983 24 Hours of Daytona in the Swap Shop Porsche.

"I wanted to win that race for my daddy," says Foyt, whose father lost his battle with cancer a few months after the race. "He talked me into doing it, so I never really cared if I won another race after that."

Oct 05 | Daytona 500 One of the Most Valuable Sporting Event Brands According to Forbes.com

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The Daytona 500, recognized as “The Great American Race” and the premier event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, is also one of the most valuable sports brands in the world according to the Forbes Fab 40 published this week on Forbes.com

2011 Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Daytona 500, recognized as “The Great American Race” and the premier event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, is also one of the most valuable sports brands in the world according to the Forbes Fab 40 published this week on Forbes.com.

Using Forbes.com’s proprietary data base and methodology, the Fab 40 values the top 10 names in sports in four distinct categories: athletes, businesses, events and teams.

For the third straight time, the Daytona 500 – NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race – placed in the top 10 most valuable sporting events brands at No. 7. It was the only motorsports event on the Top 10 List.

“The power of the Daytona 500 brand remains unmatched in motorsports,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “The recognition by Forbes.com not only validates the significance of this prestigious event to its fans and competitors, but also demonstrates the incredible global reach and value ‘The Great American Race’ represents to our partners.”

On a newly repaved racing surface, the 2011 Daytona 500 produced one of the most exciting races in event history. The Wood Brothers’ Trevor Bayne – at the age of 20 – became the youngest Daytona 500 champion and new records were established for different leaders (22) and lead changes (74).

The complete Top 10 list for most valuable sporting events brands in the world were: NFL’s Super Bowl; The Summer Olympic Games; FIFA World Cup; Major League Baseball’s World Series; UEFA Champions League; the Winter Olympic Games; the Daytona 500; NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four; Major League Baseball’s All-Star Week  and the Kentucky Derby.

For the complete Forbes Fab 40 article, visit http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2011/10/03/the-forbes-fab-40-the-worlds-most-valuable-sports-brands-3/.

Tickets for the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26 as well as other Speedweeks 2012 events can be purchased online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

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.  The special offer expires Feb. 1.

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

Oct 03 | DIS To Keep Bikers Busy With Activities during Fall Cycle Scene

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Daytona International Speedway will continue the tradition of exciting, must-see activities for motorcycle enthusiasts as well as showcasing thrilling racing on the historic high banks during the upcoming Fall Cycle Scene on Oct. 13th - 16th.

Fall Cycle Scene

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona International Speedway will continue the tradition of exciting, must-see activities for motorcycle enthusiasts as well as showcasing thrilling racing on the historic high banks during the upcoming Fall Cycle Scene on Oct. 13th -16th.

Among the activities that the “World Center of Racing” has planned include:

• Free Demo Rides: Outside of historic Daytona International Speedway located in the Midway, motorcycle enthusiasts can test-ride the latest and greatest motorcycles with free manufacturer demo rides.

• Monster Dash: On Friday night, Oct. 14, bikers will get the chance of a lifetime to ride Daytona International Speedway in the annual Monster Dash. The paced parade laps around the motorcycle course will begin at approximately 6 p.m. Price is $30 per bike and includes an exclusive Monster Dash patch. Tickets are available Thursday Oct. 13 and Friday Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Monster Dash ticket booth located in Thunder Alley outside Turn 4 or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Halifax Humane Society.

• Daytona Motorcycle Marketplace: Bikers can find the nation’s top aftermarket parts, accessories and apparel companies at the Daytona Motorcycle Marketplace located in the Midway display area.

• Budweiser Cool Your Pipes Zone and Thunder Alley: Cool your pipes with two great names – Budweiser and Daytona International Speedway. Bikers can spend the day catching up with old friends at the Budweiser Cool Your Pipes Zone inside Thunder Alley in the Midway where they can enjoy a cold Budweiser and great food next to the area’s largest vendor, display and demo ride marketplace. Thunder Alley will also showcase entertainment, games and contests.

• Live Entertainment: Bands will be performing live on the Thunder Alley stage on Friday, Oct. 14th (The Trans Ams) and Saturday, Oct. 15th (Crashrocket).

• Bikini contest: The annual Hooters bikini contest and fashion show sponsored by Hot Leathers will be staged in Thunder Alley located outside Turn 4 in the Midway on Saturday, Oct. 15th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

• Bike builder appearances: Bike builders Brigitte Bourget and Eddie Trotta will have meet and greets with bike enthusiasts during Fall Cycle Scene. Bourget will be available at the Bourget Bike Works display on Friday, Oct. 14th between 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. while Trotta will be at the Thunder Cycle Design display on Saturday, Oct. 15 between noon and 1 p.m.

 RV Parking: RV parking is available inside the “World Center of Racing” infield.   RV Camping (with hook-ups) is available for $295 and RV camping (no hook-ups) is $175 which also includes two adult admissions for the weekend’s racing activities.  Motorcycle trailer parking is $25. For more information, call 1-800-PITSHOP.

For more information on Fall Cycle Scene, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.

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

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