- 24 Hours of Daytona
24 Hours of Daytona Venue Daytona International Speedway Corporate sponsor Rolex First race 1962 Duration 24 hours Previous names Daytona 3 Hour Continental (1962–1963)
Daytona 2000 (1964–1965)
24 Hours of Daytona (1966–1971)
6 Hours of Daytona (1972)
24 Hours of Daytona (1973, 1975–1977)
24 Hour Pepsi Challenge (1978–1983)
SunBank 24 at Daytona (1984–1991)
The 24 Hours of Daytona, currently known as the Rolex 24 at Daytona for sponsorship reasons, is a 24-hour sports car endurance race held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is run on a 3.56-mile (5.73 km) combined road course, utilizing portions of the NASCAR tri-oval and an infield road course. Since its inception, it has been held the last weekend of January or first weekend of February, part of Speedweeks, and it is the first major automobile race of the year in the United States.
The race has had several names over the years. Since 1991, the Rolex Watch Co. is the title sponsor of the race under a naming rights arrangement, replacing Sunbank (now SunTrust) which in turn replaced Pepsi in 1984. Winning drivers of all classes receive a steel Rolex Daytona watch.
In 2006, the race moved one week earlier into January to prevent a clash with the Super Bowl, which had in turn moved one week later into February a few years earlier.
The race has been known historically as a leg of the informal Triple Crown of endurance racing, although increasing isolation from international Sports Car racing regulations has seen a gradual shift of importance to Petit Le Mans.
In 1962, a few years after the track was built, a 3-hour sports car race was introduced. Known as the Daytona Continental, it counted towards the FIA's new International Championship for GT Manufacturers. The first Continental was won by Dan Gurney, driving a 2.7L Coventry Climax-powered Lotus 19. Gurney was a factory Porsche driver at the time, but the 1600-cc Porsche 718 was considered too small and slow for what amounted to a sprint race on a very fast course.
In 1964, the event was expanded to 2,000 km (1,240 mi), doubling the classic 1000 km distance of races at Nürburgring, Spa and Monza. The distance amounted to roughly half of the distance the 24 Hours of Le Mans winners covered at the time, and was similar in length to the 12 Hours of Sebring, which was also held in Florida in March. Starting in 1966, the Daytona race was extended to the same 24-hour length as Le Mans.
Unlike the Le Mans event, the Daytona race is conducted entirely over a closed course within the speedway arena without the use of any public streets. Most parts of the steep banking are included, interrupted with a chicane on the back straight and a sweeping, fast infield section which includes two hairpins. As unlike Le Mans, the race is held in wintertime, when nights are at their longest. There are lights installed around the circuit for night racing, although the infield section is still not as well-lit as the main oval. However, the stadium lights are turned on only to a level of 20%, similar to the stadium lighting setup at Le Mans, with brighter lights around the pit straight, and decent lighting similar to street lights around the circuit.
In the past, a car had to cross the finish line after 24 hours to be classified, which led to dramatic scenes where damaged cars waited in the pits or on the edge of the track close to the finish line for hours, then restarted their engines and crawled across the finish line one last time in order to finish after the 24 hours and be listed with a finishing distance, rather than dismissed with DNF (Did Not Finish). This was the case in the initial 1962 Daytona Continental (then 3 hours), in which Dan Gurney's Lotus had established a lengthy lead when the engine failed with just minutes remaining. Gurney stopped the car at the top of the banking, just short of the finish line. When the three hours had elapsed, Gurney simply cranked the steering wheel to the left (toward the bottom of the banking) and let gravity pull the car across the line, to not only salvage a finishing position, but actually win the race. This led to the international rule requiring a car to cross the line under its own power in order to be classified.
The first 24 Hour event in 1966 was won by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby driving a Ford Mk. II. Motor Sport reported: "For their first 24-hour race the basic organisation was good, but the various officials in many cases were out of touch, childish and lacked the professional touch which one now finds at Watkins Glen." After having lost in 1966 both at Daytona and at Le Mans to the Fords, the Ferrari P series prototypes staged a 1–2–3 side-by-side parade finish at the banked finish line in 1967. The Ferrari 365 GTB/4 road car was given the unofficial name Ferrari Daytona in celebration of this victory.
Porsche repeated this show in their 1–2–3 win in the 1968 24 Hours. After the car of Gerhard Mitter had a big crash caused by tyre failure in the banking, his teammate Rolf Stommelen supported the car of Vic Elford and Jochen Neerpasch.[clarification needed] When the car of the longtime leaders Jo Siffert and Hans Herrmann dropped to second due to a technical problem, these two also joined the new leaders while continuing with their car. So Porsche managed to put 5 of 8 drivers on the center of the podium, plus Jo Schlesser and Joe Buzzetta finishing in 3rd place, with only Mitter being left out.
Lola finished 1-2 in the 1969 24 Hours of Daytona. The winning car was the Penske Lola T70-Chevrolet of Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons. Few spectators witnessed the achievement as Motor Sport reported: "The Daytona 24-Hour race draws a very small crowd, as can be seen from the empty stands in the background."
In 1972, due to the energy crisis, the race was shortened to 6 hours, while for 1974 the race was cancelled altogether.
In 1982, following near-continuous inclusion on the World Sportscar Championship, the race was dropped as the series attempted to cut costs by both keeping teams in Europe and running shorter races. The race continued on as part of the IMSA GT Championship.
The regular teams were expanded to 3 drivers in the 1970s. Nowadays, often four or five drivers compete. The winning entry in 1997 featured as many as seven drivers taking a turn in the cockpit.
Grand American & Daytona Prototypes
After ownership problems with IMSA in the 1990s, the Daytona event aligned with the Grand-Am series, a competitor of the American Le Mans Series, which, as its name implies, uses the same regulations as the Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Grand Am series, though, is instead closely linked to NASCAR and its focus is on controlled costs and close competition.
In order to make sports car racing less expensive than elsewhere, new rules were introduced in 2002. The dedicated Daytona Prototypes use less expensive materials and technologies and the car's simple aerodynamics reduce the development and testing costs.
Specialist chassis makers like Riley, Dallara, and Lola provide the DP cars for the teams and the engines are branded under the names of major car companies like Pontiac, Lexus, Ford, BMW, and Porsche.
The Gran Turismo class cars at Daytona are closer to the road versions, similar to the GT3 class elsewhere. For example, the more standard Cup version of the Porsche 996 is used, instead of the usual RS/RSR racing versions. Recent Daytona entries also include BMW M3s and M6s, Porsche 911s, Chevy Camaros and Corvettes, Mazda RX-8s, Pontiac GTO.Rs, and Ferrari F430 Challenges
In an effort for teams to save money, GT rules have now changed to permit spaceframe cars clad in lookalike body panels to compete in GT (the new BMW M6, Chevrolet Camaro, and Mazda RX-8). These rules are similar to the old GTO specification, but with more restrictions.
The intent of spaceframe cars is to allow teams to save money, especially after crashes, where teams can rebuild the cars for the next race at a much lower cost, or even redevelop cars, instead of having to write off an entire car after a crash or at the end of a year.
Star drivers appearances
Since the Rolex 24 has a winter date during the off-season for other racing series, many top class drivers are available to take part in the event if sponsorship commitments allow. The track's marketing has sold the roll call of champions, considering the race a sort of "all-star" event of motorsports figures. Since each entry requires 3–5 drivers to trade shifts throughout the 24 hours, dozens of one-off drivers are necessary, and top-level participants from other forms of racing are highly sought after.
NASCAR stars such as Rusty Wallace, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Kyle Petty, Mark Martin, and Robby Gordon have all participated, with Martin and Gordon notably winning several class victories for Roush Racing in the GTO class in the 1980s–90s. In 2001, Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. teamed together in a Corvette, just weeks before Earnhardt's fatal crash at the same track in the 2001 Daytona 500.
Indianapolis 500 winners Buddy Rice, Dan Wheldon, Hélio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sam Hornish, Jr., and Dario Franchitti are all recent participants. Other recent IndyCar drivers such as Paul Tracy, Sébastien Bourdais, Danica Patrick, Jimmy Vasser, John Andretti, and Graham Rahal.
Porsche has the most overall victories of any manufacturer with 22, scored by various models, including the road based 911, 935 and 996. Porsche also won a record 11 consecutive races from 1977–1987 and won 18 out of 23 races from 1968–1991.
Rank Constructor Wins Years 1 Porsche 18 1968, 1970–71, 1973, 1975, 1977–83, 1985-87, 1989, 1991, 2003 2 Riley 7 2005–11 3 Ferrari 5 1963–64, 1967, 1972, 1998 4 Riley & Scott 3 1996-97, 1999 5 Ford 2 1965–66 Jaguar 1988, 1990 Nissan 1992, 1994 8 Lotus 1 1962 Lola 1969 BMW 1975 March 1984 Toyota 1993 Kremer 1995 Dodge 2000 Chevrolet 2001 Dallara 2002 Doran 2004
Drivers with the most overall wins
Rank Driver Wins Years 1 Hurley Haywood 5 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1991 2 Pedro Rodríguez 4 1963, 1964, 1970, 1971 Bob Wollek 1983, 1985, 1989, 1991 Peter Gregg 1973, 1975, 1976, 1978 Rolf Stommelen 1968, 1978, 1980, 1982 Scott Pruett 1994, 2007, 2008, 2011 7 Brian Redman 3 1970, 1976, 1981 Andy Wallace 1990, 1997, 1999 Butch Leitzinger 1994, 1997, 1999 Derek Bell 1986, 1987, 1989
Year Date Drivers Team Car Car # Distance Championship Daytona 3 Hour Continental 1962 February 11 Dan Gurney Frank Arciero Lotus 19B-Coventry Climax 96 502.791 km International Championship for GT Manufacturers 1963 February 17 Pedro Rodríguez North American Racing Team Ferrari 250 GTO 18 494.551 km International Championship for GT Manufacturers Daytona 2000 1964 February 16 Pedro Rodríguez
North American Racing Team Ferrari 250 GTO 30 – International Championship for GT Manufacturers 1965 February 28 Ken Miles
Shelby-American Inc. Ford GT40 73 – International Championship for GT Manufacturers 24 Hours of Daytona 1966 February 5
Shelby-American Inc. Ford GT40 Mk. II 98 4157.222 km International Championship for Sports-Prototypes
International Championship for Sports Cars
1967 February 4
SpA Ferrari SEFAC Ferrari 330 P4 23 4083.646 km International Championship for Sports-Prototypes
International Championship for Sports Cars
1968 February 3
Porsche System Engineering Porsche 907LH 54 4126.567 km International Championship for Makes 1969 February 1
Roger Penske Sunoco Racing Lola T70 Mk.3B-Chevrolet 6 3838.382 km International Championship for Makes 1970 January 31
J.W. Engineering Porsche 917K 2 4439.279 km International Championship for Makes 1971 January 30
J.W. Automotive Engineering Porsche 917K 2 4218.542 km International Championship for Makes 6 Hours of Daytona 1972 February 6 Mario Andretti
SpA Ferrari SEFAC Ferrari 312PB 2 1189.531 km World Championship for Makes 24 Hours of Daytona 1973 February 3
Brumos Porsche Porsche Carrera RSR 59 4108.172 km World Championship for Makes 1974 No race due to an energy crisis 24 Hours of Daytona 1975 February 1
Brumos Porsche Porsche Carrera RSR 59 4194.015 km World Championship for Makes
IMSA GT Championship
1976 January 31
BMW of North America BMW 3.0 CSL 59 3368.035 km IMSA GT Championship 1977 February 5
Ecurie Escargot Porsche Carrera RSR 43 4208.499 km World Championship for Makes
IMSA GT Championship
24 Hour Pepsi Challenge 1978 February 4
Brumos Porsche Porsche 935/77 99 4202.319 km World Championship of Makes
IMSA GT Championship
1979 February 3
Interscope Racing Porsche 935/79 0 4227.039 km World Championship of Makes
IMSA GT Championship
1980 February 2
L&M Joest Racing Porsche 935J 2 4418.615 km World Championship of Makes
IMSA GT Championship
1981 January 31
Garretson Racing/Style Auto Porsche 935 K3 9 4375.355 km World Endurance Championship
IMSA GT Championship
1982 January 30
John Paul, Sr.
John Paul, Jr.
JLP Racing Porsche 935 JLP-3 18 4443.334 kmB IMSA GT Championship 1983 February 5
A. J. Foyt
Henn's Swap Shop Racing Porsche 935L 6 3819.167 km IMSA GT Championship SunBank 24 at Daytona 1984 February 4
Sarel van der Merwe
Kreepy Krauly Racing March 83G-Porsche 00 3986.023 km IMSA GT Championship 1985 February 2
A. J. Foyt
Henn's Swap Shop Racing Porsche 962 8 4027.673 km IMSA GT Championship 1986 February 1
Al Unser, Jr.
Löwenbräu Holbert Racing Porsche 962 14 4079.236 km IMSA GT Championship 1987 January 31
Al Unser, Jr.
Löwenbräu Holbert Racing Porsche 962 14 4314.136 km IMSA GT Championship 1988 January 30
Castrol Jaguar Racing (TWR) Jaguar XJR-9 60 4170.905 km IMSA GT Championship 1989 February 4
Miller/BFGoodrich Busby Racing Porsche 962 67 3557.873 kmA IMSA GT Championship 1990 February 3
Castrol Jaguar Racing (TWR) Jaguar XJR-12D 61 4359.970 km IMSA GT Championship 1991 February 2
Joest Racing Porsche 962C 7 4119.341 km IMSA GT Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona 1992 February 1
Nissan Motorsports Intl. Nissan R91CP 23 4365.700 km IMSA GT Championship 1993 January 30
P. J. Jones
All American Racers Toyota Eagle MkIII 99 3999.027 km IMSA GT Championship 1994 February 5
Cunningham Racing Nissan 300ZX 76 4050.090 km IMSA GT Championship 1995 February 4
Kremer Racing Kremer K8 Spyder-Porsche 10 3953.192 km IMSA GT Championship 1996 February 3
Doyle Racing Riley & Scott Mk III-Oldsmobile 4 3993.298 km IMSA GT Championship 1997 February 1
John Paul Jr.
Dyson Racing Riley & Scott Mk III-Ford 16 3953.192 km IMSA GT Championship 1998 January 31
Doran-Moretti Racing Ferrari 333 SP 30 4073.507 km U.S. Road Racing Championship 1999 January 30
Dyson Racing Team Inc. Riley & Scott Mk III-Ford 20 4056.319 km U.S. Road Racing Championship 2000 February 5
Viper Team Oreca Dodge Viper GTS-R 91 4142.258 km Rolex Sports Car Series 2001 February 3
Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R 2 3758.398 km Rolex Sports Car Series 2002 February 2
Doran Lista Racing Dallara SP1-Judd 27 4102.153 km Rolex Sports Car Series 2003 February 1
The Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3-RS 66 3981.839 km Rolex Sports Car Series 2004 January 31
Bell Motorsports Doran JE4-Pontiac 54 3013.98 kmA Rolex Sports Car Series 2005 February 5
SunTrust Racing Riley MkXI-Pontiac 10 4068.300 kmA Rolex Sports Car Series 2006 January 28
Target Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI-Lexus 02 4205.82 km Rolex Sports Car Series 2007 January 27
Juan Pablo Montoya
Telmex Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI-Lexus 01 3826.972 km Rolex Sports Car Series 2008 January 26
Juan Pablo Montoya
Telmex Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI-Lexus 01 3981.839 km Rolex Sports Car Series 2009 January 24
Brumos Racing Riley MkXI-Porsche 58 4211.009 km Rolex Sports Car Series 2010 January 30
Action Express Racing Riley MkXI-Porsche 9 4326.15 km Rolex Sports Car Series 2011 January 29
Telmex Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MkXI-BMW 01 4125.60 km Rolex Sports Car Series 
- ^A Races were red flagged during the event due to weather or fog. The official timing of 24 hours did not stop during these periods.
- ^B Race record for most distance covered
- ^ Motor Sport, March 1966, Pages 196-197. See also cover photograph and centre spread.
- ^ Motor Sport, March 1967, Pages 180-181. See also cover photograph and centre spread.
- ^ "Focus on 365 GTB4". Official Ferrari website. Ferrari. http://www.ferrari.com/English/GT_Sport%20Cars/Classiche/All_Models/Pages/Article_365_GTB4.aspx. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- ^ Motor Sport, March 1968, Pages 171-172. See also cover photograph and centre spread.
- ^ Motor Sport, March 1969, Pages 236, 244.
- ^ Motor Sport, March 1969, Page 201. See also cover photograph.
- ^ "Daytona - List of Races". Racing Sports Cars. http://www.racingsportscars.com/track/archive/Daytona.html. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
Automobile endurance races 24 hours 12 hours 6 hours 1000 miles 1000 km Other Defunct races are indicated in italics
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