During the Baltimore ALMS race weekend in 2012, rumors began to surface of a merger. Eighteen months later, it's here, and the American sports car world finally unites for it's grandest event of all. Get to know every facet of this historic event with this megaguide.
Sports Car Racing At Daytona - A History
Section by DannyCatSteve
The first sports car event held at Daytona was in 1959, sanctioned by USAC and the FIA, and was won by Antonio Von Dory and Robert Mieres in a Porsche. Three years later, a 3-hour event known as the "Daytona Continental" was run as part of the FIA's International Championship for GT Manufacturers. After two more years, the distance was changed to 2,000 kilometers, and finally in 1966, it was extended to become the twice-around-the-clock classic we know today.
The early years bared witness to the classic sports car rivalries of the era; Porsche, Ford, and Ferrari, all fighting for victory. A GT40 piloted by Lloyd Ruby won the first 24 hour race, and in the years that followed the event became one of the main battle grounds between Porsche and Ferrari. Ferrari claimed a famous 1-2-3 form finish victory in the 1967 running, and Porsche duplicated the feat a year later.
1973 was the first victory by arguably the race's biggest name. Hurley Haywood won the race four- times in the 1970s, and would win a fifth crown in the 1991 running. Between 1982 and 1997, the 24 hours of Daytona was run exclusively as part of the IMSA GT championship. In this era, famous IndyCar stars such as the Unsers, Andrettis, and A.J. Foyt stood on the top step of the podium; a plethora of international stars such as Brundle, Bell, and Boutsen also achieved glory.
Following the dissolve of IMSA GT, the U.S. Road Racing Championship (the predecessor to Grand-Am) began sanctioning the race. In the new century, it competed with the other famous endurance race in Florida – the 12 Hours of Sebring, run by the American Le Mans Series. Grand-Am introduced a new class in 2003 that would fight for overall victory. Chip Ganassi's team dominated the DP years; his driver, Scott Pruett, is now tied with Haywood for most victories in the event.
Now, a new era is about to begin. The stars of both ALMS and Grand-Am will team with drivers from IndyCar, NASCAR, and even V8 Supercars, for the first united Rolex 24 since 1997.
The Result Of Unity
The merger of Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series has been a long and arduous one, but the result is something that takes the strengths of the the two series to create the ultimate possible field of American sports car racing cars. From LMP1, LMP2, LMPC, DP, GTE, Grand-Am GT, GTC and GX comes just four classes, explained by our own Nobody below.
The Prototype class consists of Daytona Prototypes, LMP2s, and the DeltaWing. To keep the class competitive and avoid getting in the way of the slower classes, the DPs were sped up from last year, while the LMP2s were slowed down. The DPs got a power increase, a dual-element rear wing, and more freedom in the suspension and brakes. To slow down the LMP2 cars in the corners and help make up speed on the straights, IMSA is requiring the Le Mans Prototypes to run their low downforce Le Mans aero kit. The DeltaWing is still running to its own regulations, but presumably IMSA and the team have been communicating to try to get the DW to run somewhere close to the DPs and LMP2s. Teams are free to choose any drivers for the Prototype class.
Prototype Challenge (PC)
Prototype Challenge carries over mostly unchanged from the ALMS. The only change so far is that the Oreca FLM09 is running slightly more rear wing to keep the delta to the top Prototype class the same as the delta was between P2 and PC in the ALMS. As in the ALMS, the Prototype Challenge class is Pro-Am, with 4 and 5 driver teams only being allowed 2 professionals. If the team chooses to run only 3 drivers, then only 1 professional is allowed.
Grand Touring Le Mans (GTLM)
The GTLM class is directly carried over from the ALMS's GTE class. GTLM will see the all new C7.R take on challengers from Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, SRT, and BMW. As in the Prototype class, teams are free to choose any drivers.
Grand Touring Daytona (GTD)
Grand Touring Daytona was supposed to be a continuation of the Grand Am GT class, but Porsche released a 991 specifically for the GTD class, rendering all of last year's GAGT 911s ineligible for GTD. The good news for GTD is that IMSA is allowing FIA GT3 cars to enter if they use a spec rear wing. GTD will see Aston Martins, 911s, Audi R8s, 458s, an SRT Viper and a BMW Z4 race with the same driver restrictions that PC has.
All Walks Of Life - The Drivers Of The Rolex 24
Section by Shea Holbrook
New and veteran drivers return for the longest endurance race of the year. "The Future" has brought a new kind of hype to racing and we figured what better way than to highlight young guns and, well, the old guys behind the wheel of a new era.
To get right into it, we'll start with the most distinguished racing machine on the entry list, the No. 0 DeltaWing Prototype. This year, UK native Katherine Legge flies solo as the only female pilot to drive a Prototype in the 24 hour endurance race, while American Formula One hopeful, Alexander Rossi, joins the four driver lineup.
One of Scotland's leading professional drivers, Ryan Dalziel is back in the saddle with the No. 1 Patron ESM HPD Prototype. If you know Ryan, you know his personality and needless to say, what is the series doing handing him over their Twitter (@continentaltire) account? For the duration of the race, Dalziel is giving fans a behind-the-scenes look into what a driver is thinking and doing, on- and off-track. You can chat with him using the hashtag, #RDalziel. So, feel free to ask him anything for everyone else's entertainment! But seriously, Ryan is the perfect personality for this gig.
The wolf pack has reunited as the Taylor family comes together for a once in a lifetime opportunity, driving with daddy. Wayne Taylor comes out of retirement to drive with sons, Ricky and Jordan and former co-driver, Max "The Ax" Angelelli in the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype. Wayne, a two-time Daytona 24 winner could go into retirement, again with another 24 win.
Fifty Plus Racing, you gotta love these guys. The over fifties are set to drive the No. 50 Highway TO Help Riley Prototype with AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson leading the Highway to Help Team in Alzheimer's Awareness.
Grassroots driver Tom Long is one to cheer for. Tom has earned his career from racing Showroom Stock, MX-5 Cup (where he won his first championship in 2005), his first career race in the Grand Am Continental Tire Series he won, he lead several hours of the 2011 Daytona Rolex 24hr (got a podium finish with Dempsey Racing's Mazda RX8) and was runner-up in the 2012 Continental Tire Series ST Championship. Currently, Long is the Team Manager and a full-time lead driver for Freedom Autosport, while also scoring a huge gig co-driving for SpeedSource with their all new Mazda SKYACTIV Clean Diesel program in the Prototype category.
Young gun Sage Karam has secured himself his dream ride with Chip Ganassi in the No. 01 Riley Daytona Prototype. We're hearing the 2013 Indy Lights Champion, gets the "graveyard shift," the midnight to 2 a.m. stint. This opportunity gives Karam a chance to further associate himself with the Ganassi team and prove he's ready for an Indy 500 race in 2014.
21-year-old NASCAR driver Kyle Larson is behind the wheel of the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing machine. Larson is seriously busy. As a rookie his focus is on the NASCAR Cup car as the replacement for Juan Pablo Montoya at Chip Ganassi Racing. He also just recently competed in the Chili Bowl sprint car race last week winning the race of champion's event. Kyle has proven he can wear many hats but, this weekend the only hat he'll be wearing is that of the Rolex 24. Maybe the team will capture an actual Rolex watch to go with the hat.
Sean Rayhall has spent the past few years climbing to the top of the charts and recently captured the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship in 2013, then made his Prototype Challenge debut at Petit Le Mans where he finished 2nd with 8Star Motorsports. Rayhall has signed for a full season in the No. 87 BAR1 Motorsports Prototype Challenge car.
The debut of United Sports Car Racing sees an unsurprising capacity grid, filled in all four classes with competitive entries. Each and every car is detailed below, and most are shown in beautiful pictures by Halston Pitman of MotorSportMedia, though some didn't run in practice 1 when these pictures were taken and are thus either represented by their team mates or by no picture at all. Alongside relevant (and irrelevant) info with each car are a few subjective ratings: A "Driver rating" that judges the overall strength of the lineup in relation to the other lineups in the class on a scale from 1 to 5, a "Car rating" that judges the overall strength of the car in relation to the other cars running in the class, a "Power ranking" that judges how competitive the car has been in relation to the remainder of the field in practice, qualifying and prior races and a "Reliability index" that rates the reliability of cars as comparable to either a notoriously bulletproof Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, a relatively stable Volvo 240, a shoddy but functional Jaguar E-Type or a Jaguar XKR RSR GTE, falling apart at the seams. The reliability index is applied only to the Prototype contenders.
0 - David Price Racing (As DeltaWing Racing Cars)
Deltawing DWC13 - Andy Meyrick, Alexander Rossi, Katherine Legge, Gabby Chaves
Starting Position - 7th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 3, Reliability Index - Jaguar E-Type, Power Ranking - 7th
NOTES: The fan favorite finally comes to the track that it was unwittingly built for. If it can hold together through the night (Always a question with any car built by Don Panoz), it might be a legitimate contender at the end. Katherine Legge one of only two women in the race, the only in a Prototype, and she's shown exceptionally well this weekend. Her reward was a shot to qualify the car instead of F1 hopeful Rossi, and she delivered in fantastic fashion by slotting into P7. Road & Track once thought Gabby Chaves was a woman. He's not.
01 - Chip Ganassi Racing
Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype - Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Jamie McMurray, Sage Karam
Starting Position - 8th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 4, Reliability Index - Jaguar E-Type, Power Ranking - 2nd
NOTES: Your eternal Grand-Am dominators and annual Rolex favorites. The new EcoBoost Fords began the year with a recurring issue where they melted down like a shoddy Russian nuclear reactor after around 3 hours of heavy use, however. Yes, that's a high school IndyCar hopeful (Karam) and a NASCAR veteran (McMurray) filling out the lineup.
1 - Extreme Speed Motorsports
Honda HPD ARX-03b (LMP2) - Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, David Brabham
Starting Position - 14th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 2, Reliability Index - Volvo 240, Power Ranking - 14th
NOTES: An IRL champion, a last-minute ChampCar pilot in that extremely strange 2007 season and the ALMS's most consistently entered (and one of the most consistently competitive) driver for all but the last two years of the series, all driving an LMP2 car together at Daytona. We are truly in a whole new world of sports car racing.
02 - Chip Ganassi Racing
Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype - Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson, Marino Franchitti
Starting Position - 5th, Driver's Ranking - 5, Car's Ranking - 4, Reliability Index - Jaguar E-Type, Power Ranking - 3rd
NOTES: That Chip Ganassi responded to the tragic forced retirement of the legendary Dario Franchitti by filling his seat in this entry with his brother, longtime sports car journeyman Marino Franchitti, is yet another great example of Chip Ganassi being a wonderful team owner. Alongside Franchitti is his brother's longtime IndyCar team mate and your reigning IndyCar champion, Scott Dixon, and his brother's direct IndyCar replacement, Tony Kanaan. He's also slotted his young NASCAR phenonomen Kyle Larson into this car. He impressed in his three NASCAR Nationwide Series outings on road courses last year and he won an iRacing round in spec Miatas I watched once, so he should be pretty impressive here.
2 - Extreme Speed Motorsports
Honda HPD ARX-03b (LMP2) - Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Simon Pagenaud, Anthony Lazzaro
Starting Position - 13th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking -2, Reliability Index - Volvo 240, Power Ranking - 15th
NOTES: It's clear to all that the highlight of this car is Pagenaud, in a one-off appearance over the IndyCar offseason. He's finished in the top five in both of his first two full IndyCar seasons despite driving for the underfunded and under-equipped Sam Schmidt Motorsports, and before that he was the fastest driver in both Honda and Peugeot's factory Prototype programs. One year, he held a full time position with both teams at the same time. Lazzaro also drove for Sam Schmidt in IndyCar, albeit in an earlier iteration of both, and was once considered to directly replace Bill Elliott in NASCAR's top series.
5 - Action Express Racing
Corvette Daytona Prototype - Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastien Bourdais, Burt Frisselle
Starting Position - 3rd, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 5, Reliability Index - Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, Power Ranking - 6th
NOTES: With the second Action Express car being relegated to a part time schedule as part of a partnership with Alan Docking Racing, this is essentially the team's lone entry. Barbosa and Fittipaldi are both proven DP experts, while Bourdais has excelled in his runs in the cars over the past two years.
6 - Muscle Milk Pickett Racing
Oreca 03-Nissan (LMP2) - Lucas Luhr, Klaus Graf, Alexander Brundle
Starting Position - 10th, Driver's Ranking - 5, Car's Ranking - 3, Reliability Index - Volvo 240, Power Ranking - 10th
NOTES: The pacesetter in the admittedly small ALMS LMP1 field since their arrival in the category, MMPR has of late held the same relationship with that small field that Chip Ganassi Racing has held within the top class of Grand-Am. Unfortunately, a new car (Their fourth car in the past five years) and a circuit clearly not friendly to Le Mans Prototypes will likely diminish their shot at the win greatly. Look out for them from Sebring on, though. The Luhr-vs-Pruett battles looming ahead of us could be the stuff of legend, and the very reason that a united American sports car racing series holds so much promise.
07 - SpeedSource
To Be Named Mazda-Lola Diesel Thing - Joel Miller, Tristan Nunez, Tristan Vautier
Starting Position - 17th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 1, Reliability Index - Jaguar XKR-RSR GT2, Power Ranking - 17th
NOTES: Just like Mazda's GX cars last year, these cars are very, very pretty. Just like Mazda's GX cars last year, these cars are expected to remain very, very pretty, either in a garage or stuck behind a wall for the last 22 hours of the race after an early failure. The fact that the car is yet to be officially named, even halfheartedly on an entry list like the Deltawing DWC13, tells you all you should know about how crunched for time the team working on this entry has been.
9 - Action Express Racing (With Alan Docking Racing)
Corvette Daytona Prototype - Burt Frisselle, Brian Frisselle, John Martin, Fabien Giriox
Starting Position - 4th, Driver's Ranking - 2, Car's Ranking - 5, Reliability Index - Volvo 240, Power Ranking - 13th
NOTES: This car is the direct result of a very strange partnership between Action Express Racing and Alan Docking Racing that, if all goes to plan, will see the first ever Coyote Daytona Prototype G3 and Alan Docking Racing's FIA WEC LMP2 car share the load for a partial schedule. However, it all starts with the standard Action Express Corvette running with the team's Frisselle brothers and ADR's Martin and Giriox.
10 - Wayne Taylor Racing
Corvette Daytona Protoype - Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor, Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli
Starting Position - 6th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 5, Reliability Index - Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, Power Ranking - 4th
NOTES: Last year's Grand-Am driver's champions. In that championship season, Jordan Taylor went from racing against the amateurs in the first stint of races to racing to the end, passing and besting the very best in the class. Perhaps his most impressive drive came in an incredible race at a pointless Kansas "Road course", where he stared down Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Pruett and beat him in a long one-on-one duel for the win. His older brother Ricky, whom he directly replaced at the family team last year, will join him to play second fiddle throughout the season, but given what the younger Taylor unleashed in 2013, he too could be holding something truly incredible in reserve. Also, their dad Wayne is coming out of retirement to drive with the pair. Wayne Taylor wears a rotation of different tinted glasses, much like Bono, and he is noted as looking quite a bit like legendary Beatle Paul McCartney, so he's basically the most successful recording artist of all time, despite presumably not performing music.
31 - Marsh Racing
Corvette Daytona Protoype - Boris Said, Eric Curran, Bradley Smith, Max Papis
Starting Position - 11th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 5, Reliability Index - Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, Power Ranking - 11th
NOTES: Marsh Racing moves up from Grand-Am GT, where they fielded an unsupported Corvette for the past few years. They've recruited Max Papis for the event, pairing both members of this incredible finish from the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Montreal.
42 - OAK Racing
OAK Morgan-Nissan - Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov, Gustavo Yacaman, Oliver Webb
Starting Position - 15th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 2, Reliability Index - Volvo 240, Power Ranking - 12th
NOTES: OAK Racing is the only European P2 team to take a shot at the inaugural Tudor United Sports Car Prototype Championship. One of their full season pilots, Gustavo Yacaman, caused quite a stir in the 2013 Grand-Am championship when he went through a three or four race string of being an absolute danger on the track, but those calls for his license have since died down as he's matured into a slightly more patient racer.
50 - Highway To Help
Dinan-Riley Daytona Prototype - Byron DeFoor, Jim Pace, David Hinton, Frank Beck
Starting Position - 12th, Driver's Ranking - 1, Car's Ranking - 4, Reliability Index - Volvo 240, Power Ranking - 16th
NOTES: The guy from AC/DC drove for this team in this race once. Now, he just does commercials for them. This is the most notable thing about Highway To Help.
60 - Michael Shank Racing
Ford-Riley Daytona Protoype - John Pew, Oswaldo Negri, Jr., AJ Allmendinger, Justin Wilson
Starting Position - 9th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 4, Reliability Index - Jaguar E-Type, Power Ranking - 8th
NOTES: The fan favorite 2011 Rolex winners find themselves in an odd situation, being both the pseudo-factory Ford team in Daytona Prototype (Doing most of the promotional work in the past and having run the speed record car a few months back) while also being the clear #2 team in Ford's pecking order this weekend (Thanks to Chip Ganassi's recent decision to move from Dinan power to Ford power for the new championship). Once again, their relatively weak full season lineup of Oswaldo Negri, Jr. and John Pew is bolstered by perhaps the most powerful 1-2 punch of endurance drivers of all, NASCAR star AJ Allmendinger and IndyCar star Justin Wilson. The notoriously lanky Wilson was one final race wreck away from finishing in the top 5 in last year's IndyCar championship despite driving for a team known for it's instability and penny pinching ways, while Allmendinger would have all but certainly finished in the top two in last year's Indianapolis 500 if not for a loose set of belts that put him off-cycle on fuel stops.
70 - SpeedSource
To Be Named Mazda-Lola Diesel Thing - Sylvain Tremblay, Tom Long, James Hinchcliffe
Starting Position - 16th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 1, Reliability Index - Jaguar XKR-RSR GT2, Power Ranking - 18th
NOTES: Just like the 07, the 70 is an absolutely beautiful specimen of Mazda engineering. Just like the 07, the 70 will have achieved a moral victory if it still finds itself circulating come hour 8. The car is based on a Lola LMP2 design to some extent, but Mazda is listed as the constructor.
78 - Starworks Motorsports
Dinan-Riley Daytona Prototype - Alex Popow, Scott Mayer, Brendon Hartley, EJ Viso, Sebastian Saavedra
Starting Position - 18th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 4, Reliability Index - Jaguar E-Type, Power Ranking - 9th
NOTES: Starworks has fielded some incredible teams in the past few years, but with their world champion amateur of 2012 Enzo Potolicchio having started his own team in 2013, their primary pro driver Ryan Dalziel since departed for Extreme Speed Motorsports and their legendary one-off Daytona pilot Allan McNish retired from full time auto racing, the lone (And last minute) Starworks PD entry is understaffed, at best. Brendon Hartley is a newly signed factory Porsche LMP1 pilot and a rising star (With great hair!), but the other two professionals in the car are IndyCar pay drivers who find themselves without rides heading into 2014. The primary amateur in this car, Scott Mayer, is most notable as the man who repeatedly failed Indianapolis 500, Rookie Orientation and is by most opinions in way over his head. The secondary amateur in the car, Alex Popow, is a very quick and fairly steady amateur indeed, but he is splitting his time between both this entry and one of the Starworks PC cars, and splitting focus on two cars is difficult for professionals, let alone amateurs. It's also worth noting that this car is expected to be next seen with a factory built Honda engine, a first for any Daytona Prototype.
90 - Spirit of Daytona Racing
Corvette Daytona Prototype - Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante, Mike Rockenfeller
Starting Position - 2nd, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 5, Reliability Index - Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, Power Ranking - 1st
NOTES: Many considered Spirit of Daytona racing the de facto factory Chevrolet/Corvette team in Grand-Am racing over the past few years, but with harmony finally restored to American sports car racing, Chevrolet's primary focus is on their two GTLM Corvettes. Thus, this car's lineup suffers, yet despite this it still includes an overall Le Mans winner, DTM champion and current Audi factory driver in Mike Rockenfeller.
99 - Bob Stallings Racing
Corvette Daytona Prototype - Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Memo Gidley, Darren Law
Starting Position - 1st, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 5, Reliability Index - Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, Power Ranking - 5th
NOTES: For many years, BSR has been considered the great rival to Chip Ganassi Racing in the DP ranks. However, they've waned in recent years, and their first assault on this united championship will only be part time.
7 - Starworks Motorsport
Oreca FLM09 - Alex Popow, Martin Fuentes, Isaac Tutumlu, Kyle Marcelli, Pierre Kaffer
Starting Position - 8th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - N/A, Power Ranking - 5th
NOTES: Marcelli has been a standout in PC for the past few years and Alex Popow is a great amateur as ever, but Popow's attention is split between this entry and the Starworks Daytona Prototype.
08 - RSR Racing
Oreca FLM09 - Chris Cumming, Alex Tagliani, Rusty Mitchell, Conor Daly
Starting Position - 5th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Power Ranking - 7th
NOTES: Tagliani is your full-time pro in this car, a suitable landing spot for an IndyCar pilot that's spent a career on the cusp of true success without ever reaching it. He was quick in IndyCar and he was quick in a Grand-Am Ferrari in a few appearances last year as well. Conor Daly is also here while seeking either a GP2 or an IndyCar ride for 2014, but both appear rather unlikely, given his lack of funding and limited success in the three seasons he's spent in GP3.
8 - Starworks Motorsport
Oreca FLM09 - Sam Bird, Renger van der Zande, Mirco Schultis, Eric Lux
Starting Position - 2nd, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - N/A, Power Ranking - 2nd
NOTES: Hooray, Sam Bird! He almost won the GP2 championship last year, and upon the realization that this is entirely irrelevant to both F1 success and any chance at getting a seat in F1, he decided to take a shot at finding a ride in the US, preferably in IndyCar. Unfortunately, all he's found himself with so far is a one-off LMPC ride, albeit a relatively strong one in Starworks.
09 - RSR Racing
Oreca FLM09 - Bruno Junqueira, Duncan Ende, David Heinemeier Hansson, Gustavo Menezes
Starting Position - 3rd, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - N/A, Power Ranking - 3rd
NOTES: Did you know that the entire IMSA license application form is just one question, requesting nothing more than the spelling of "David Heinemeier Hansson"? The spelling is listed in the question, so it's not very difficult, but it does succeed in weeding out those who aren't paying attention. That's why Rodin Younessi isn't here. Also, Junqueira and Ende are proven as one of the strongest LMPC pairings around. Not Braun-and-Bennett strong, but very strong nonetheless...
25 - 8Star Motorsports
Oreca FLM09 - Enzo Potolicchio, Tom Kimber-Smith, Michael Marsal
Starting Position - 9th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - N/A, Power Ranking - 6th
NOTES: Among real amateurs, not the so-called "Notable silvers" listed as such by IMSA despite being true professionals, Potolicchio is still the strongest in the world. He's new to LMPC, but that designation has meant something in Daytona Prototypes, LMP2 cars and GT cars. Expect it to mean something here as well. Michael Marsal owns an MP4-12C, so you know he's either a fax machine enthusiast or a man with both a large amount of money and great taste in hypercars.
38 - Performance Tech Motorsports
Oreca FLM09 - Ryan Booth, Raphael Matos, Tomy Drissi, Gabriel Casagrande, Julio Campos
Starting Position - 4th, Driver's Ranking - 2, Car's Ranking - N/A, Power Ranking - 8th
NOTES: Tomy Drissi's in this car, so you know it's either a low end NASCAR racer or a PC car that's all but certainly sponsored by a big movie sequel you weren't yet aware of. Julio Campos is not, to my knowledge, related to the group that founded the Campos Meta F1 team that eventually became HRT.
52 - PR1/Mathiasen
Oreca FLM09 - Frankie Montecalvo, Gunnar Jeannette, David Cheng, Mike Guasch
Starting Position - 7th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - N/A, Power Ranking - 4th
NOTES: Jeannette was a champion and a near-champion in the first two years of the LMPC class, but found himself running with the soon-shuttered Luxury Racing squad in the 2012 FIA WEC and the ELMS-only RAM Racing squad in 2013, meaning that this will be his first race in a PC car since he took the 2011 championship. Let's hope he doesn't fade into obscurity again come Sebring.
54 - CORE Autosport
Oreca FLM09 - Colin Braun, Jon Bennett, James Gue, Mark Wilkins
Starting Position - 1st, Driver's Ranking - 5, Car's Ranking - N/A, Power Ranking - 1st
NOTES: CORE Autosport has proven itself from day 1 to be the most competitive team in LMPC. Braun is an absolute superstar in this car, and has been since he joined the team. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that this is the favorite for the PC win, and if the strongest Prototype cars are to falter, this could easily be your overall winner.
87 - BAR1 Motorsports
Oreca FLM09 - Sean Rayhall, James Kovacic, Doug Bielefeld, Gaston Kierby, Tonis Kasemets
Starting Position - 6th, Driver's Ranking - 1, Car's Ranking - N/A, Power Ranking - 9th
NOTES: Yes, those are real names. This from the team that ran Chapman "Friend of the Jenner family" Ducote in 2013.
Grand Touring Le Mans
3 - Corvette Racing
Corvette C7.R - Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Ryan Briscoe
Starting Position - 11th, Driver's Ranking - 5, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 1st
NOTES: Corvette Racing is debuting a wholly new car for the first time since 2009, but they've been putting pretty major updates on their GTE variant of their C6.R for quite a while. Magnussen's son is set to run his first season in Formula 1 in 2014 with McLaren, but his age and experience hasn't taken an ounce of speed from him. The reigning ALMS champions are the reigning ALMS champions for a reason
4 - Corvette Racing
Corvete C7.R - Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Robin Liddell
Starting Position - 4th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 3st
NOTES: Last time Corvette Racing ran at Daytona, their car featured both Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and his son. Expect to see a lot of clips of that run this weekend.
55 - BMW Team RLL
BMW Z4 GTE - Bill Auberlen, Andy Priaulx, Joey Hand, Maxime Martin
Starting Position - 8th, Driver's Ranking - 5, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 8th
NOTES: Featured in this car are BMW's most steady set of GT hands, a current DTM driver, a 2013 DTM driver and a 2014 DTM driver. Martin was incredible in his outings with the BMW GT programs last year and should be here again, while Hand and Auberlin have spent their entire careers being incredible.
56 - BMW Team RLL
BMW Z4 GTE - Dirk Muller, John Edwards, Graham Rahal, Dirk Werner
Starting Position - 7th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 10th
NOTES: John Edwards is perhaps the most under-rated GT driver in America, but he's in his second year of a factory ride (His first year of being an every-race pilot) and he's finally getting the credit he deserves. Rahal, meanwhile, is an IndyCar pilot whose value to the series is constantly overstated, since there is strangely still a popular line of thought among the IndyCar community stating that the only thing standing between the series and world domination is some moderate success for the son of Bobby Rahal.
57 - Krohn Racing
Ferrari 458 GTE - Tracy Krohn, Nick Jonsson, Andrea Bertolini, Peter Dumbreck
Starting Position - 9th, Driver's Ranking - 1, Car's Ranking - 3, Power Ranking - 11th
NOTES: The only pro-am entry in GTE and by far the slowest throughout the weekend.
62 - Risi Competizione
Ferrari 458 GTE - Matteo Malucelli, Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni, Olivier Beretta
Starting Position - 10th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 3, Power Ranking - 7th
NOTES: Didn't set a qualifying time thanks to some gearbox issues on their out lap. Corvette Racing fans do not like Olivier Beretta. Or Risi Competizione, for that matter.
91 - SRT Motorsports
SRT Viper GTS-R - Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goosens, Ryan Hunter-Reay
Starting Position - 1st, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 5, Power Ranking - 2nd
NOTES: SRT's first full season of this new era went very well last year, but their debut at Le Mans was disappointing at best. If their Daytona debut doesn't follow suit, look out for this 91, which looks to have the stronger of the two Viper lineups. Hunter-Reay is your 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series champion. Dominik Farnbacher looks like actor Ben Schwartz, most notable as Parks & Recreation's Jean-Ralphio Sapherstein.
93 - SRT Motorsports
SRT Viper GTS-R - Robert Bell, Jonathan Bomarito, Kuno Wittmer
Starting Position - 3rd, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 5, Power Ranking - 4th
NOTES: Why doesn't this car wear #92? I'm not sure of that, but this is a legitimate contender for the class win. As Ryan Eversley has noted in the past, Kuno Wittmer is Canadian.
97 - Aston Martin Racing
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE - Stefan Mucke, Darren Turner, Pedro Lamy, Richie Stanaway, Paul Dalla Lana
Starting Position - 6th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 3, Power Ranking - 6th
NOTES: Aston Martin has made many a one-off run in the ALMS over the past few years, and this year they've committed to a partial schedule ahead of time. To begin their assault on the North American Endurance Championship series-within-a-series, they've filled one of their V8 Vantage GTE cars with, from the looks of it, every driver they have under contract save Fred Makowiecki.
911 - CORE Autosport (As Porsche Motorsport North America)
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (991) - Nick Tandy, Richard Lietz, Patrick Pilet
Starting Position - 2nd, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 5th
NOTES: A full factory entry run by the very CORE Autosport team that's dominated LMPC over the past few years and fielded a very competitive privateer Porsche entry in some ALMS events last year. The Daytona-only livery is uninspiring, but it's intended to reflect the company's return to the top class at Le Mans and the company's continued return to factory GT racing.
912 - CORE Autosport (As Porsche Motorsport North America)
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (991) - Patrick Long, Michael Christensen, Jorg Bergemeister
Starting Position - 5th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 9th
NOTES: Long and Bergemeister are forever intertwined in the minds of ALMS fans thanks to their years as co-drivers at Flying Lizard Motorsports, but of the pair, only Long is in this car for the full season. He's joined for that assault by new factory Porsche driver Michael Christensen, which many initially saw as a strange choice over fellow new factory Porsche driver Fred Makowiecki, but the latter is tied up in a contract dispute with Aston Martin Racing that sees him technically under contract with both teams while racing for neither.
Grand Touring Daytona
007 - TRG-AMR
Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - David Block, Al Carter, Brandon Davis, James Davison
Starting Position - 3rd, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 3, Power Ranking - 19th
NOTES: New cars, same TRG. They're only fielding two cars this year, but that's not stopping them from their tradition of filling their extra Rolex seats with gentlemen racers. Davison is, however, far from a gentleman racer. He's been trying to break into IndyCar for years now, and he impressed when he finally got a chance in a DW12 last year.
009 - TRG-AMR
Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - Calum Lockie, Pete McIntosh II, Robert Nimkroff, Max Riddle
Starting Position - 9th, Driver's Ranking - 1, Car's Ranking - 3, Power Ranking - 26th
NOTES: It seems TRG's sourcing it's pilots from the same pool that BAR1 is. You have to wonder, though, why does Mr. McIntosh go by "The Second" and not "Junior"?
18 - Muehlner Motorsports North America
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Eugenio Amos, Earl Bamber, Bradley Blum, Alexandre Imperatori, Ronald Zitza
Starting Position - 12th, Driver's Ranking - 2, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 25th
NOTES: Porsche's new 911 GT America is the only non-GT3 entry in the GTD category, rather strange in particular because Porsche makes a GT3 911, the GT3 R. In the past, the 997-based 911s dominated this race, thanks in no small part to their slim profile, but the 991s find themselves on the opposite end of the power scale this year, with their best entry qualified 11th. This is not their best entry.
19 - Muehlner Motorsports North America
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Bob Doyle, Robert Gerwitz, Mark Kvamme, Jim Michaelian, Randy Pobst
Starting Position - 26th, Driver's Ranking - 2, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 29th
NOTES: Pobst has been a star in the Pirelli World Challenge of late, piloting AWD Volvos to the front of the field time and time again. However, with his team (K-Pax Racing) selling their cars, it's looking likely he won't have the chance to do the same this year. With a murky future ahead, he'll only be more upset with himself for qualifying P28 of 28 in GTD this year, but he did so while still being within 1.8 seconds of P1 in the class and outqualifying both of Mazda's Prototype entries.
22 - Alex Job Racing
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen, Shane Van Gisbergen, Shane Lewis, LP Dumoulin
Starting Position - 14th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 11th
NOTES: Van Gisbergen is a temperamental star in Australian V8 Supercars, always near the front but always causing trouble. He'll have to suppress his Woody Woodpecker-like instigation ability for a full 24 hours if he wants to have a shot at the win in the 28-car GTD category.
23 - Alex Job Racing/Team Seattle
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Ian James, Mario Farnbacher, Marco Holzer, Alex Riberas
Starting Position - 18th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 15th
NOTES: Farnbacher is the brother of SRT Viper driver Dominik Farnbacher and will pilot this car for the full season. Unlike his brother, he doesn't look like Ben Schwartz. Holzer is a Porsche factory driver, and a very fast one at that. Legendary video game production company Valve's Gabe Newell is one of many big names supporting this car's "Team Seattle" charity and is expected to be at most United Sports Car events in 2014.
27 - Dempsey Racing
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, Andrew Davis, Marc Lieb
Starting Position - 11th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 12
NOTES: Everyone knows who Patrick Dempsey, the most famous amateur in sports car racing today, is. However, what everyone may not know is that I have personally been nearly run over in a sports car racing paddock twice, and both times, Dempsey was behind the wheel of the car I was in the way of. This is in no way indicative of his on-track performance or anything else about him. Lieb is a Porsche LMP1 pilot and could be an overall Le Mans winner come June. Fans of Grand-Am's old "I'm A Grand-Am Driver" commercials will note that Joe Foster is a juggler.
28 - Dempsey Racing
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Christian Engelhart, Rolf Ineichen, Klaus Bachler, Lance Wilsey
Starting Position - 24th, Driver's Ranking - 2, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 24th
NOTES: "Rolf Ineichen" and "Klaus Bachler" are two very, very German names.
30 - NGT Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Henrique Cisneros, Kuba Giermaziak, Christina Nielsen, Nicki Thiim
Starting Position - 16th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 10th
NOTES: This time last year, NGT was a real contender. Tragically, the pilot that made this possible, Sean Edwards, was lost late in 2013. It's still a strong team, but no longer a favorite. On a lighter note, they have one of the two women in the field in their car in Christina Nielsen. She, her co-driver Nicki Thiim and Starworks driver Brendon Hartley all sort of have the same haircut.
32 - GMG Racing
Audi R8 LMS - Alex Welch, James Sofronas, Frank Stippler, Marc Basseng
Starting Position - 22nd, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 5, Power Ranking - 13th
NOTES: Sofronas and Welch ran well with GMG in the Pirelli World Challenge series last year, and the two combine for what should be a fairly competitive entry in IMSA's new combined championship. They're joined by Audi factory pilot Frank Stippler for the race, as well as Marc Basseng, who is most famous for having driven a Pagani Zonda R on the Nurburgring.
33 - Riley Motorsports
SRT Viper GT3-R - Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sebastian Bleekemolen, Emmanuel Collard
Starting Position - 5th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 3, Power Ranking - 4th
NOTES: The debut of SRT's new GT3 Viper has gone well in testing, but the Rolex will nonetheless be it's first race. The drivers are strong, but a new car is always hard to trust in a 24 hour race.
35 - Flying Lizard Motorsports
Audi R8 LMS - Seth Neiman, Dion von Moltke, Alessandro Latif, Filipe Albuquerque
Starting Position - 21st, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 5, Power Ranking - 3rd
NOTES: The Lizards leave their past with Porsche to embark on a new era with Audi. Albuquerque is a DTM pilot, as well as a city in New Mexico.
44 - Magnus Racing
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Andy Lally, John Potter, Wolf Henzler, JF Dumoulin
Starting Position - 13th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 2nd
NOTES: Perhaps the most competitive of all the GT Americas entered. Almost hired one-time Jalopnik sports car live blogger Ryan Eversley as a driver, but went with the gentleman Dumoulin and instead hired Eversley as a live pit lane video show host. A strange team.
45 - Flying Lizard Motorsports
Audi R8 LMS - Nelson Canache Jr., Spencer Pumpelly, Tim Pappas, Markus Winklehock
Starting Position - 19th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 5, Power Ranking - 7th
NOTES: Canache ran a full season of ARCA in 2012 with Billy Venturini's team. He was not very good in ARCA. As an amateur in a sports car, he's much more in his element, and far more competitive.
46 - Fall-Line Motorsports
Audi R8 LMS - Charlie Putman, Charles Espenlaub, Oliver Jarvis, James Walker
Starting Position - 29th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 5, Power Ranking - 14th
NOTES: Jarvis is an LMP1 pilot for Audi. This is perhaps the weakest R8 in the field, which is a bit like being the worst superhero. Even if you're just Aquaman, you've still got a superpower on everyone else.
48 - Paul Miller Racing
Audi R8 LMS - Bryce Miller, Rene Rast, Christopher Haas, Matthew Bell
Starting Position - 28th, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 5, Power Ranking - 1st
NOTES: What a difference a change in classes can make. Paul Miller Racing failed to make much of an impact as a privateer Porsche team in the ALMS, but in the pro-am GTD team, they're already a championship favorite and they were one failed technical inspection away from pole in the 28-car class.
49 - AF Corse (As Spirit Of Race)
Ferrari 458 GT3 - Piergiuseppe Perazzini, Gialuca Roda, Paolo Ruberti, David Rigon
Starting Position - 27th, Driver's Ranking - 2, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 20th
NOTES: AF Corse is one of the strongest sports car teams in the world and Ferrari's factory representative in the FIA WEC. So, why did they pick the grammatically incorrect "Spirit of Race" team name for their two partial season GTD entries? That's a question only AF Corse can answer. Perazzini is most notable as the Ferrari pilot involved in Anthony Davidson's terrifying 2012 Le Mans wreck.
51 - AF Corse (As Spirit Of Race)
Ferrari 458 GT3 - Matt Griffin, Marco Cioci, Michele Rugolo, Jack Gerber
Starting Position - 23rd, Driver's Ranking - 2, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 22nd
NOTES: Man, Spirit of Race sure is an awful team name, isn't it? I mean, "Spirit of ___" is a time honored great name for anything, but you really have to put a noun that can stand on it's own in that blank for it to work. "Spirit of Racing" would be a perfectly fine, if generic, team name.
58 - Snow Racing
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Madison Snow, Jan Heylen, Marco Seefried
Starting Position - 15th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 23rd
NOTES: Snow is very competitive in IMSA's GT3 Challenge series and ran well at the Rolex last year. Heylen spent 2013 with Mike Hedlund at JDX in the ALMS with moderate success.
63 - Scuderia Corsa
Ferrari 458 GT3 - Alessandro Balzan, Jeff Westphal, Toni Vilander, Lorenzo Case
Starting Position - 1st, Driver's Ranking - 4, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 6th
NOTES: Your 2013 Grand-Am GT champion. Unfortunately for Scuderia Corsa, GTD is Grand-Am GT on steroids.
64 - Scuderia Corsa
Ferrari 458 GT3 - Rod Randall, John Farano, Ken Wilden, David Empringham
Starting Position - 25th, Driver's Ranking - 2, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 27th
NOTES: Scuderia Corsa has three entries in this year's race, the only team to do so without partnering with another team on at least one of their cars.. A page out of TRG's book.
65 - Scuderia Corsa
Ferrari 458 GT3 - Francisco Longo, Daniel Serra, Xandinho Negrao, Marcos Gomes
Starting Position - 2nd, Driver's Ranking - 1, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 28th
NOTES: A car not entirely of note in a section already well committed to having notes on every entry.
71 - Park Place Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Jim Norman, Craig Stanton, Norbert Siedler, Timo Bernhard
Starting Position - 7th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 9th
NOTES: Bernhard is another Porsche LMP1 pilot and a Le Mans winner. Jim Norman once won a race after rolling a car. It was a Grand-Am GX race against two Mazda6s that weren't putting up much of a fight,, but that's still impressive.
72 - SMP/ESM Racing
Ferrari 458 GT3 - Boris Rottenberg, Sergey Zlobin, Maurizio Mediani, Mika Salo, Mikhail Aleshin
Starting Position - 8th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 16th
NOTES: Every other team has each of their drivers' hometowns listed alongside their country of origin. For some reason, this is not the case here, and each driver's hometown is listed just as their country of origin. Salo is from simply "Finland", Mediani from just "Italy", and all three of the remaining pilots rather humorously from simply "Russia". Aleshin is an IndyCar rookie in 2014.
73 - Park Place Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Patrick Lindsey, Kevin Estre, Connor De Philippi, Jason Hart, Mike Vess
Starting Position - 17th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 18th
NOTES: De Philippi isn't yet a Porsche factory driver, but is a Porsche development driver in Germany. He's the only competitive American in Carrera Cup Germany and well on his way to a shot at one of the company's factory seats. He ran very well at the 24 Hours of Dubai earlier in the month and has done well in both pre-season testing and practice for this event. His name is one you will want to remember for the future.
81 - GB Autosport
Porsche 911 GT America (991) - Damien Faulkner, Patrick Huisman, Bob Faieta
Starting Position - 20th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 2, Power Ranking - 17th
NOTES: GB Autosport is a new team for 2014, surprisingly the only one in the massive GTD class. Faulkner was TRG's star in 2013 after the departure of Spencer Pumpelly at the end of 2012, just as Pumpelly was TRG's star in 2012 after the departure of Andy Lally at the end of 2011. The moral of the story? James Davison should still be in GTD next year and in a very competitive car, but it might not be at TRG...
94 - Turner Motorsport
BMW Z4 GT3 - Dane Cameron, Paul Dalla Lana, Augusto Farfus, Markus Palltala
Starting Position - 10th, Driver's Ranking - 5, Car's Ranking - 3, Power Ranking - 5th
NOTES: Cameron lost his Prototype ride when Team Sahlen's unexpectedly scaled back at the end of 2013 and thus found himself scrambling for a seat at a most inopportune time. He eventually landed in Turner Motorsport's new BMW Z4, but after the incredible runs he made in the 2013 Grand-Am season, he's more than worthy of a prototype ride in 2015.
555 - Level 5 Racing
Ferrari 458 GT3 - Scott Tucker, Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Jeff Segal, Alessandro Pier Guidi
Starting Position - 4th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 8th
NOTES: These two Level 5 458s are built from the ashes of both Level 5's 2013 LMP2 program and Alex Job Racing's 2013 ALMS GTE program. It's a strong combination on paper, but the team hasn't run a Ferrari in the past, and that's a difficult position for a team to be in given that this class of 29 is filled almost entirely by long time GT teams.
556 - Level 5 Racing
Ferrari 458 GT3 - Terry Borcheller, Mike LaMarra, Guy Cosmo, Milo Valverde
Starting Position - 6th, Driver's Ranking - 3, Car's Ranking - 4, Power Ranking - 21
NOTES: Cosmo was quick in his years driving Ferraris for Extreme Speed Motorsports. Very quick. However, this is the only race he's signed for in any capacity in 2014. A good showing in the race and that will change quickly.
How To Follow
The shattering of SPEED into the depths of the FOX television empire has made the Rolex 24 more difficult to follow than ever in 2013. It starts on the FOX network itself, but two hours in switches to the near-invisible Fox Sports Two network, before switching to online coverage and finally resuming in the morning on Fox Sports One.
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM - FOX Network
4:00 PM - 9:00 PM - Fox Sports Two
9:00 PM - 7:00 AM - IMSA.com
7:00 AM - 3:00 PM - Fox Sports One
However, we have no prior television engagements here at Rennsport. We don't have much but a URL, really. Thus, we will be live blogging here for all 24 hours of the race itself. Even the inevitable 2 hour fog caution.
All of the photographs in this guide came from the brilliant Halston Pitman of MotorSportMedia. Check out his work at www.racemsm.com.
Tomorrow, American sports car racing begins anew, at full strength for the first time in over a decade. When the sun rises over Daytona, the racing season will have begun, and with it, the long-awaited future of sports car racing itself. Be prepared.