An Epic Rolex24 At Daytona

Daytona Beach, FL (January 29th, 2012) – With 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 in the books, the around the clock spectacle at Daytona was one to be remembered for a long time. The battle between Michael Shank Racing and Starworks Motorsports for the win was epic, not what you would have thought when they started the event. All the prerace hype was on Chip Ganassi Racing who did not win another Rolex and many thought the new Corvettes were going to run away and hide. T’was not to be as Michael Shank got his biggest win with drivers Ozz Negri, John Pew, IndyCar driver, Justin Wilson and NASCAR driver, AJ Allmendinger. The No. 60 ran a record lap count of 761 trips around the 3.56-mile road course with new Penske Cup driver, Allmendinger running the last 3 hours and getting his biggest win of his career.

In my opinion, this year’s race was had the strongest field in the history of the event and it was really boost for sports car racing. Starting the season with record attendance and hopefully strong TV numbers is what the sport needs. The big story for those involved directly with the race was the infield being sold out. I knew when I arrived Wednesday, I had a feeling this was going to be big. They made all the teams’ park outside of the track and the track sold out of parking in the infield which meant many were on the outside, not looking in, but walking in. Many teams and media members were not too happy but this a good thing to be mad about. Even Tommy Kendall, former Trans-Am champion now SPEED TV commentator had to park on the outside.

The other neat thing was all the past champions and the winning cars being at the event. They did such a great job of putting this together and had a lot going on for the fans inside and outside the track, where do you start when you have motorsports legend Jackie Stewart standing in for American Racing Icon, A.J. Foyt. Derek Bell, Brian Redman and Booby Rahal were just some of the names at the RRDC (Road Racing Drivers Club) dinner. The dinner held annually in the Bill France room at the Daytona Experience is a must. George Follmer getting the Phil Hill award was neat to see and well deserved.

This and That: Was nice to see German driver, Mike Rockenfeller returning to Daytona after winning it a couple of years ago with Action Express. Had a chance to chat with Mike because this year he will be the number 1 driver in the DTM Series for Audi driving the new A5. Needless to say he is really looking forward to it, and thinks this will be his chance to win some races and the championship. The new car is really good and the team is great. Also had a chat with fine Scottish driver, Alan McNish. A few weeks earlier McNish was testing the new improved R18 for this season at Sebring. Happy with the car however said he was very disappointed about Peugeot pulling out of the WEC this year. Never afraid to mince words, he said he “wanted to beat them on the track.” Wanted to thank Hurley Haywood and the Brumos Porsche team for their hospitality this weekend. Brumos drivers Andrew Davis and Leh Keen returned to the team this year. Although hoping to score the ultimate victory with a Rolex 24 win. The team came home third in GT class. Brumos legend Hurley Haywood returned to the cockpit to make his 40th Rolex 24 start. Also joining the Brumos lineup was Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb, who made his second start as a Brumos driver. The question is, was this Hurley’s last race? I’m not guessing anymore. Congratulations to Andy Lally and the Magnus Racing #44 Porsche GT3 who dominated the class, beating 44 other cars in a strong field of talented drivers.

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