Rocky’s Road – To Success

Mike Rockenfeller in the Audi R10 at Sebring. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Mike Rockenfeller in the Audi R10 at Sebring. [Photo by Jack Webster]

Every so often, a driver comes along who not only has incredible driving talent, but who is also a really nice guy. Mike Rockenfeller fits that bill perfectly.

Rocky, as he is known to everyone in racing, started his career back in 1995, racing karts at age 11. In 2001, he started racing cars. Then in 2002, he joined the Porsche Junior team and his path has been straight up since then. In 2005 he became a full time Porsche factory driver, winning the GT2 class driver championship in the FIA-GT series, taking 6 wins on the way to the championship. Also in 2005, he won the GT2 class at Le Mans.

For 2006, Rocky spent more time in the US, racing a Porsche RS Spyder for Roger Penske and trying his hand at Grand Am, taking two wins in that series in addition to winning the American Le Mans race in Houston and taking second place at Petit Le Mans.

In 2007 he became an Audi factory driver, beginning a long and successful career with Audi that continues to this day.
2010 was quite the season for Rocky, as he started off the year by winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona overall in the Action Express Racing Porsche Riley and followed up with the overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, piloting the Audi R15.
He won the 2013 DTM Championship for Audi and continues to be quite busy, racing for Audi and driving whatever he can, whenever he can. As Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich of Audi says: “Mike’s not only a fast race driver but a perfect fit for Audi outside the cockpit as well.” Rocky’s easygoing manner and easy smile has made him a favorite of both fans and the motorsport press.

We recently sat down with Rocky at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, where he was racing for Corvette Racing in the GTLM class. Audi graciously loaned him to Corvette for the race, and he responded by assisting in Corvette’s epic 1-2 finish. Rocky was disappointed at coming in 2nd in that classic battle, but for two teammates to be fighting for the lead after 24 hours of racing was incredible.

“The last years I have been in a Corvette DP car so there was already a little connection so the end of last year they asked me if I would be interested in driving for them in the GTLM and straight away I was happy about that because to be in a factory car is always great” Rocky told us. He went on to say: “Obviously, the next step was to get the clearance from Audi. Doug Fehan (Corvette) and Dr. Ullrich (Audi) have known each other a long time and Audi gave me permission to drive. Now I am here and obviously very happy to be at Daytona. I am really enjoying it and this is a great team. GTLM is the best class with the best cars. I think that’s where the best battles will be – in GTLM. We are ready for the challenge.”

He sure got that right. It was an incredible battle for the whole 24 hours, and one for the ages.

Rocky obviously has great regard for Daytona International Speedway. Ask him about his greatest race, and he doesn’t hesitate.

“2010 Rolex 24. Obviously, Le Mans is the one everyone thinks is the most important in endurance racing, but Daytona for me is very tough. When we went into the race (in 2010) we didn’t expect to be competitive to win the race on the track. You can always win a race because you are lucky, but on pure speed, I was not optimistic at all. Once the race started however, we were right there. The car was set up just right and we beat the Ganassi guys. To beat them you have to be really good. I was so proud, because I had a tough season before that in DTM in 2009. It was a great start to the new year to win at Daytona. I went on to win at Le Mans and had a great year in DTM – so for Daytona in 2010 I have great memories. It was actually more emotional in a way than to win Le Mans, even though Le Mans was more important to my career. Daytona was much more emotional, perhaps because going into the race victory was so unexpected. The team and Gary Nelson did a fantastic job.”

Rarely will victory be unexpected when Mike Rockenfeller is behind the wheel, regardless of which car or series in which he will be driving. He is fast and has maturity behind the wheel that many drivers will never be able to match.

Mike Rockenfeller is a man on the move.

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