Dec 15 | 1978 Rolex 24 Overall Champion No. 99 Brumos Porsche 935 Joins the 50th Anniversary Display

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The No. 99 Brumos Porsche twin-turbo 935 driven to the overall victory in the 1978 Rolex 24 At Daytona is the latest addition to the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 display.

1978 Rolex 24 At Daytona winner

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The No. 99 Brumos Porsche twin-turbo 935 driven to the overall victory in the 1978 Rolex 24 At Daytona by Rolf Stommelen, Antoine Hezemans and Peter Gregg is the latest addition to the display of overall Rolex 24 At Daytona championship cars to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the twice-around-the-clock challenge on January 28-29.

The No. 99 led a dominating performance by Porsche in the 1978 twice-around-the-clock challenge.  After leading lap eight, the Brumos Porsche took the point on lap 14 and never relinquished the position for the remainder of the race.

Although the car was on pace to set a new race record, the team paused during the final half hour of the race to clean the car and apply new decals in order to stage an all-Porsche group photo on the final lap. Stommelen, Hezemans and Gregg took the checkered flag with a 30-lap margin of victory and an average speed of 108.743 mph, and Porsche swept the top seven positions in the race.

Gregg, who was driving the team’s sister car, the No. 59 Brumos Porsche single-turbo 935 with Claude Ballot-Lena and Brad Frissele, drove a shift in the No. 99 car in the early morning hours of the race. For Gregg, one of the most successful racers in the Rolex 24, it was his fourth and final triumph in the grueling endurance race.

For Stommelen, the 1978 Rolex 24 win was his second of four overall triumphs in the Rolex 24. Along with Scott Pruett, Stommelen has the distinction of winning the Rolex 24 in three different decades.

The No. 99 Brumos Porsche twin-turbo 935 joins the field of previously announced 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
• 1984 Rolex 24-winning No. 00 Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March
• 1993 Rolex 24-winning No. 98 Eagle GTP
• 1994 Rolex 24-winning No. 76 Nissan 300ZX-Turbo
• 1995 Rolex 24-winning No. 10 Kremer Porsche K8 Spyder

To view the complete list online, visit http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Vanity-Pages/50th-Rolex-24/50-Years-of-Champions-Display.aspx. Additional cars will be announced as they are secured to be part of this one-of-a-kind display.

In addition to the 50th anniversary display during the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the championship cars will also be on display at the Rolex 50 Years of Champions, a charity gala on Thursday night, January 26th at the Ocean Center. Daytona International Speedway has partnered with the Halifax Health Foundation to host the event with the admissions proceeds benefiting the Halifax Health Foundation, which includes the area’s only Level II Trauma Center. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Halifax Health Foundation office at (386) 254-4111.

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).

Dec 14 | 2012 Budweiser Shootout At Daytona Lineup Announced

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In what could be the deepest and most talented field to date, NASCAR announced today the list of eligible competitors for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout.

Budweiser Shootout

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In what could be the deepest and most talented field to date, NASCAR announced today the list of eligible competitors for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout.

The 34th annual season-opening event launches Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 18 with start time set for 8:10 p.m. FOX Sports and MRN Radio will broadcast live nationally. Criteria for the non-points race are based upon the following qualifications, with eligibility based on a driver having been active in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series during the 2011 season:

• The highest ranked 25 competitors in 2011 Driver Points
• Previous winners at Daytona, including the Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, and Budweiser Shootout events

“The criteria for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout ensures race fans that the best NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will battle for a coveted victory on the historic high banks,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “Throughout its long history, the Budweiser Shootout has produced plenty of fireworks on the track and race fans can expect another exciting star-studded night of racing as we kick off the new NASCAR season.”

“The 2012 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona has all of the ingredients to be one of the most exciting races in the event’s 30-plus year history,” said Rob McCarthy, vice president, Budweiser. “We can’t think of a better way to kick off a new season than by continuing this great tradition and watching the best drivers in NASCAR battle it out under the lights at Daytona.”

“By taking the top 25 competitors in last year’s driver points and combine that with former race winners at Daytona, you have all the ingredients for an extremely deep and talented field of drivers for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “When you take a look at the roster of drivers that this entails, I have to believe this is one of the most competitive fields that have ever been assembled for this event.”

The race distance will again be 75 laps (187.5 miles), consisting of two segments – 25 and 50 laps. Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments there will be a 10-minute pit stop allowing teams to pit to change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Crews will be permitted to work on cars and will be allowed to perform functions they would do on a normal pit stop in a regular NASCAR Sprint Cup event. All work must be performed on pit road or in the garage. Changing of springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends will not be permitted.

Starting positions will again be determined by a blind-draw at the annual Budweiser Shootout Draw Party on Friday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. on the SPEED stage in the Midway, outside Turn 4.

The Budweiser Shootout was first held in 1979 and was originally known as the Busch Clash. Kurt Busch is the defending race champion.

Tickets for the Budweiser Shootout start at $39, with special advance pricing available for tickets purchased in January, and admission is free for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased for all 2012 Speedweeks events including the Budweiser Shootout online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Drivers eligible for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout include:
2011 Top 25 Driver Points
Tony Stewart
Carl Edwards
Kevin Harvick
Matt Kenseth
Brad Keselowski
Jimmie Johnson
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jeff Gordon
Denny Hamlin
Ryan Newman
Kurt Busch
Kyle Busch
Clint Bowyer
Kasey Kahne
A.J. Allmendinger
Greg Biffle
Paul Menard
Martin Truex Jr.
Marcos Ambrose
Jeff Burton
Juan Pablo Montoya
Mark Martin
David Ragan
Joey Logano
Brian Vickers

Others (criteria in parentheses)
Bill Elliott (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400, Budweiser Shootout)
Geoff Bodine (Daytona 500, Budweiser Shootout)
Derrike Cope (Daytona 500)
Michael Waltrip (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
Jamie McMurray (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400)
Trevor Bayne (Daytona 500)
Terry Labonte (Budweiser Shootout)
Ken Schrader (Budweiser Shootout)

Dec 13 | DIS, Dempsey Racing Team Up On Special Rolex 24 Ticket Package

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Daytona International Speedway and Dempsey Racing have partnered for the second straight year on a special Rolex 24 ticket package.

Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daytona International Speedway and Dempsey Racing have partnered for the second straight year on a special ticket package that will let fans experience the excitement of America’s most prestigious sports car race – the Rolex 24 At Daytona – while benefiting two important causes.

Available for $64 per ticket, the Dempsey Racing package for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29 includes:
-- Two-day infield/grandstand admission (Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday, Jan. 29)
-- Group meet and greet with Dempsey Racing drivers on Saturday morning prior to the start of the Rolex 24
-- Dempsey Racing hero card
-- Rolex 24 event hat

A portion of the proceeds from each ticket sold will benefit both the Team Seattle Guild and the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing.

To purchase the ticket package, click here.

Dempsey Racing will once again campaign a two-car effort in the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season-opening event for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.

Patrick Dempsey, the star of the ABC hit show Grey’s Anatomy, and Joe Foster will return as the lead drivers behind the wheel of the No. 40 Visit Florida Mazda RX-8 GT while Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman will be the full season drivers on the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish with Team Seattle Mazda RX-8 GT. The expanded final driver lineups on both cars for the Rolex 24 will be announced in the coming weeks.

In the 2011 Rolex 24, Dempsey, Foster, Espenlaub and Tom Long finished on the podium in the GT class with a team career-best third. Long will continue to be a part of the team next season as the designated replacement driver when Dempsey’s busy Hollywood schedule forces him to miss races.

Space is limited for the Dempsey Racing package. To purchase tickets, call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com

Dec 13 | Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Unveils 2012 Rolex 24 Driver Lineup

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Defending Rolex 24 champions announce driver lineups for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24.

2011 Rolex 24

INDIANAPOLIS – Five-time and reigning GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Cars Series Champions (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011) Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced its season-long program for 2012, including their engine manufacturer partnership and driver line-up for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Long-time partner TELMEX returns as the primary sponsor of the No. 01 Dinan-Prepared BMW Riley piloted by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, the most-successful driving duo in GRAND-AM history, who return for their sixth consecutive season with CGRFS.

BMW Power returns for a third consecutive season through the support and assistance of BMW of North America, LLC and Dinan Engineering.  The 5.0-liter BMW M S62 V8 power plant has driven the team to 14 Daytona Prototype class victories in 24 races over the last two seasons.

In addition, the four-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winners (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011) will again run a two-car effort for the 50th running of the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona, featuring eight drivers representing some of the best talent the motor racing world has to offer.  Pruett and Rojas will unite with Chip Ganassi Racing Indy car teammate Graham Rahal and sports car racing talent Joey Hand to form the lineup in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Dinan-Prepared BMW Riley, while Team Target IZOD IndyCar Series pilots Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti join their NASCAR teammates at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray in the No. 02 Target/TELMEX Dinan-Prepared BMW Riley for a second consecutive year.

The team comes into 2012 as the defending Rolex 24 At Daytona Winners and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Champions.  Franchitti is also the defending IZOD IndyCar Series Champion, while Hand is the defending Rolex 24 At Daytona and Sebring 12 Hour GT Winner, as well as the American LeMans Series GT Titleholder.

CGRFS’ one-two finish in the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona marked the first time a team had reached the four-win mark since Brumos Porsche (1973, 1975, 1978, 2009), and the quickest to do so in the race’s 50-year history.

Tickets for the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

 

Dec 13 | 1995 Rolex 24 Overall Champion No. 10 Kremer Porsche K8 Spyder Joins the 50th Anniversary Display

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The No. 10 Kremer Porsche K8 Spyder will join the display of overall Rolex 24 championship cars in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the twice-around-the-clock challenge on January 28-29.

1995 Rolex 24 winner

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The No. 10 Kremer Porsche K8 Spyder, driven to the overall victory in the 1995 Rolex 24 At Daytona by Jurgen Lassig, Christophe Bouchut and Giovanni Lavaggi, will join the display of overall Rolex 24 championship cars in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the twice-around-the-clock challenge on January 28-29.

In the 1995 Rolex 24,with the turbocharged Le Mans World Sports Cars eligible to compete in the twice-around-the-clock challenge, the factory Kremer team made its return to Daytona for the first time since 1978 with a pair of Porsche K8s.

Despite a late rule change by IMSA that restricted the air intakes for the new Porsches, the No. 10 Kremer Porsche K8 Spyder covered 680 laps, 2,456.4 miles and averaged 102.289 mph on its way to a five-lap victory.

With the victory, Bouchut, who had won the 1993 24 Hours of Le Mans, earned the distinction of being the first driver ever to win both 24 hour races on the first attempt.
 
The No. 10 Kremer Porsche K8 Spyder 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
• 1984 Rolex 24-winning No. 00 Kreepy Krauly Porsche-March
• 1993 Rolex 24-winning No. 98 Eagle GTP
• 1994 Rolex 24-winning No. 76 Nissan 300ZX-Turbo

To view the complete list online, visit http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Vanity-Pages/50th-Rolex-24/50-Years-of-Champions-Display.aspx. Additional cars will be announced as they are secured to be part of this one-of-a-kind display.

In addition to the 50th anniversary display during the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the championship cars will also be on display at the Rolex 50 Years of Champions, a charity gala on Thursday night, January 26th at the Ocean Center. Daytona International Speedway has partnered with the Halifax Health Foundation to host the event with the admissions proceeds benefiting the Halifax Health Foundation, which includes the area’s only Level II Trauma Center. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Halifax Health Foundation office at (386) 254-4111.

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).

 

Dec 12 | Rolex 24 Flashback: Viper's French Connection Delivers a Victory

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The French ORECA team was intent on coming home with some silverware when it packed up to leave for the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2000. The target was class victory in the GTO division and perhaps, thought team boss Hugues de Chaunac, even a place on the overall podium.

Rolex 24 Viper

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The French ORECA team was intent on coming home with some silverware when it packed up to leave for the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 2000. The target was class victory in the GTO division and perhaps, thought team boss Hugues de Chaunac, even a place on the overall podium.

Yet it could never have imagined that its production-based Dodge Viper would prevail over the much faster prototypes and win the endurance classic outright. Sure, all the purebred racers went out or were delayed that year, but ORECA’s victory was much more than a case of last man standing at Daytona International Speedway.

ORECA’s V10-engined muscle cars were involved in a dogfight for class honors lasting the whole race. It just so happened that the confrontation between the factory Dodge team and Corvette Racing in the GTO class turned into the battle for outright victory come the race’s closing hours on Sunday morning.

And what a battle! The winning Dodge Viper GTS-R driven by Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy only briefly had the luxury of a lead of a full lap, with the race still being fought out at breakneck speed as it entered its final hour. The Viper’s final margin of victory over the best of the Chevrolet Corvette C5-Rs was a shade over half a minute, at that time the closest finish in the history of the 24 hour-race at Daytona. It was also the first outright triumph for an American production-based car.

The victory was all the more remarkable because ORECA and Dodge weren’t even supposed to be going to Daytona. The team had mounted one-car campaigns at the 24 Hours in 1997 and ’99, but the race wasn’t initially on a program that centered on taking Chrysler, Dodge’s parent, into the prototype category at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

De Chaunac remembers getting a call from Chrysler motorsport boss Lou Patane in November ’99.

“It was a very late decision taken by Chrysler and Dodge,” he explains. “We got the green light only six to eight weeks before the race, so it was a very short timeframe. But at the same time we knew the car very well.”

ORECA already had two class wins with the Viper at Le Mans to its name, not to mention championship successes on both sides of the Atlantic. But from 1999, it had a new rival in the form of Chevrolet and the potent Corvette C5.R.

Three Vipers were ranged against two Corvettes at Daytona in 2000, and each of the five cars would take a turn in the class lead at some stage of a thrilling race. The GTO fight was initially distilled into a three-way battle between the winning No. 91 Viper, the No. 93 sister car driven by David Donohue, Ni Amorim and Jean-Philippe Belloc, and the best of the Pratt & Miller-run Corvettes shared by Andy Pilgrim, Kelly Collins and Franck Freon. The second ’Vette, in which Ron Fellows was joined by Justin Bell and Chris Kneifel, lost time after early delays.

Beretta drove a strong stint during the night to break away from teammate Donohue and the Pilgrim Corvette. It was the kind of performance that the Monaco driver would become famous for in a long sports car career, but it was all the more remarkable given that he was suffering from chickenpox. 

“I was really feeling bad and had to call the doctor at 5 a.m., but when your car is leading, there’s no way you’ll give up,” he recalls. “It was a race I really wanted to win, and then there was the Rolex watch [the prize on offer to class and overall winners].”

Such was the rate of attrition among the prototypes that the best of the Vipers was sitting an amazing second overall just 10 hours into the race. The only car standing between ORECA and victory was Dyson Racing’s Riley & Scott, winner of the previous year’s Rolex 24.

That remained the case for another 10 hours until, with just four hours to go, its Lincoln-badged Ford engine dropped onto four cylinders. It was only a matter of time before it was overhauled by the best of the GTO cars.

Which brand of GTO car it would be remained in doubt, however. The challenge of the Pilgrim/Collins/Freon car had fallen away on Sunday morning, but the Fellows/Bell/Kneifel entry worked its way back into the picture as the race wore on. They’d lost time in the early stages, with two slow stops and then a refueling glitch that briefly stranded the car out on the circuit, but their flat-out pace and clever strategy had brought them back onto the lead lap. 

What they didn’t know as they charged after the Viper was that its drivers were having to nurse fifth gear through the final couple of hours of the race.

“We had to be careful to manage each gear change when we went into fifth. It was an old H-pattern gearbox and, whenever possible, we would try to miss out fifth gear," says Beretta. “At the same time, the Corvette was running fast and pushing us hard.” 

De Chaunac remembers being particularly concerned about the transmission as the race drew to a close. Reassurance came from the man out in the car on the Daytona International Speedway.

“Karl was in the car for the finish and we asked him about the gearbox with something like 20 minutes to go,” says de Chaunac. “His reply was, ‘Hugues, you sound stressed, don’t worry, everything is under control...”

It was, but only just. The Corvette crossed the line 30.879 seconds after the Viper, taking an overall victory that was as deserved as it was unexpected.

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