win. That would be a sentimental pick
given one of his co-drivers is Alex Gurney,
whose legendary father Dan won the first
3-hour Daytona Continental in 1962.
AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson will
be hoping his grandfathered Riley DP
will be rocking, not shaking, all night
long. He makes his debut alongside four
other drivers, including prior Daytona 24
overall winners Jim Pace and Elliott
Forbes-Robinson, in the 50+ Predator/
In GT, SpeedSource brings in Marino
Franchitti and James Hinchcliffe to partner
full-season drivers Sylvain Tremblay and
Jonathan Bomarito in the team’s lone
Mazda RX- 8. Elsewhere, Michael Waltrip
makes his Rolex 24 debut in a Ferrari 458
with Rob Kauffman, Rui Aguas and
Travis Pastrana. Extreme action sports
star Pastrana has dabbled in American
rallying the last few years with Subaru
and is in the process of starting his
NASCAR career with Waltrip.
56 FEBRUARY 2012 RACER.com
Montoya (center) and McMurray (right) are two of a bright array of stars from other branches of racing. (BELOW LEFT) Expect the Ferrari 458 (pictured) and Audi R8 to shine on their Grand-Am debuts.
GT’S LOADED FIELD
Frankly, in Grand-Am’s history, the Rolex 24 hasn’t had a GT
field this stacked in terms of manufacturer entries and
standout driver and team lineups from top to bottom. More
than 40 entries are expected in class from at least eight
different manufacturers – Porsche, Mazda, Chevrolet, BMW,
Ferrari, Audi, Dodge and Ford.
The contenders who fought for the GT class title a year ago
– Brumos Porsche, SpeedSource and Dempsey Mazda, and
Autohaus Camaro are all back with similar lineups.
Meanwhile, ex-open-wheel turned sports car aces John
Edwards and Dane Cameron have signed to full-season rides
with Stevenson Camaro and Sahlen’s Mazda.
Porsche has some high-profile team and driver additions. As
they have since 2005, TRG fields the most GT3 Cups in the field,
with two or possibly three of their five entries bolstering a
realistic shot at winning. NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the
Year Andy Lally returns to his sports car roots at Salt Lake
City-based Magnus Racing, while recent ALMS participants
Flying Lizard Motorsports (one car), Paul Miller Racing (one),
Alex Job Racing (two), Black Swan Racing (one) and NGT
In 1981, Rahal, Redman and Garretson took the third
of six straight Daytona wins for the Porsche 935.
Motorsport (one) have entered the fray
The new stars of the class,
homologated from GT3 to Grand-Am
specs, are a quartet of Ferrari 458s and
likely three or four Audi R8s. Ferrari’s
foursome includes a full-season effort
from AIM Autosport Team FXDD plus the
AF Corse/Waltrip joint entry and usual
ALMS entrants Risi Competizione and
Extreme Speed Motorsports for Daytona.
Risi’s full 2012 plans are still to be
determined while ESM will run
Grand-Am’s North American Endurance
championship rounds at Daytona,
Watkins Glen ( 6 hours) and Indianapolis
( 3 hours) alongside its full ALMS program.
Audi’s first two confirmed teams are
Continental Sports Car Tire Challenge
graduates Team APR, with Humaid Al
Masaood’s Oryx Racing moving from its
prior ALMS LMP1 partnership with Dyson
Racing. Dodge returns with a Viper Comp
Coupe fielded by series veterans Racers
Edge Motorsports, while Ford is also back
in the mix with a Rick Ware Racing-entered Mustang. The late Dale
Earnhardt’s grandson Jeffrey is
tentatively in Ware’s driver lineup.
So, it’s going to be an intense but also fun
Rolex 24 at Daytona, in a manner befitting
the auspicious occasion of its 50th birthday.
Predictions? Not a chance, other than to
say, “expect the unexpected.” And that’s
precisely the kind of event that everyone
(except maybe Ganassi!) can appreciate.