Dayton's Highcroft Racing to Campaign Former Dyson Lola in ALMS in 2006
DANBURY, Conn., Dec. 7 - Duncan Dayton, who has a stellar reputation in formula car, vintage and endurance sports car racing, has always enjoyed driving famous race cars. He has countless victories in vintage racing with the 1978 John Player Special Lotus 79 that Mario Andretti drove enroute to the Formula 1 world championship in 1978. He has multiple all-out overall lap records in Jacques Villeneuve's Players Reynard 95i. He's a four-time winner of the Monaco Historic Grand Prix (1997, 2000, 2002 and 2004). He's also successfully driven endurance sports cars for various teams everywhere from Le Mans to Sebring to Watkins Glen to Daytona.
Now Dayton, of Danbury, Conn., has purchased another famous race car - Dyson Racing's Lola EX257 AER-powered No. 16 - and he plans to campaign it in the American Le Mans Series in 2006 in the top class, LMP1.
Dayton plans to compete in all 10 races on the ALMS calendar next year with the car, which will be entered by his team, Highcroft Racing. The car's new home base is Highcroft Racing's new, state-of-the-art, 48,000-square-foot shop in Danbury, Conn.
"Purchasing the Dyson car was an opportunity to jump-start the team with a proven package, and we're hoping to get a new P1 car for 2007," Dayton said of his plans going forward.
Dayton is actively looking for sponsorship for the season, and hopes to announce who his co-drivers will be soon. He did say that Rick Knoop will be one of his co-drivers at the ALMS season opener, the prestigious Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. March 15-18.
Like Dayton, Knoop, 52, of Laguna Beach, Calif., is a versatile driver who has been successful in many different types of race cars, and he's driven for several factory teams. He has consistently won and placed in some of the most challenging and prestigious races in the world. Among his career highlights are a Group 5 class victory at Le Mans in 1978; a class victory and third-place finish overall at the 24 Hour Pepsi Challenge (Rolex 24) at Daytona in 1983; and even NASCAR stock car experience.
"Duncan and I have been racing together in Historic Grand Prix events, which is how this relationship began," the second-generation racer said. "I just returned from visiting his new shop in Connecticut, and I'm excited about the program. This is a first-class operation from drivers to equipment and team. Combing our experience in sports car and endurance racing with the proven Dyson car should make us competitive throughout the season."
Dayton has been driving for Intersport Racing in the ALMS for the last few years. He and that team's owner, Jon Field, led the LMP675 point standings in the ALMS for most of the 2003 season but they ended up tied for second in the final class point standings. They were victorious in the LMP675 class at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in both 2002 and 2003. Dayton was also part of the class-winning team at the Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2002 driving with Field and Michael Durand, which was the first international victory for the Lola EX257 MG.
In addition to its numerous victories in vintage races in the last 15 years, his own team, Highcroft Racing, was a powerhouse in the U.S. Formula Ford 2000 series in the nineties. It often fielded up to four cars in one FF2000 race.
Dayton also recently purchased Dyson Racing's No. 20, but he has since resold that Lola to Autocon Motorsports. That San Diego-based team plans to complete in the ALMS' LMP1 class next year too, with Michael Lewis, Chris McMurry and Bryan Willman behind the wheel.
The Lola EX257 (factory type B0160) won three times in the ALMS in 2004 and 2005 in the LMP1 class. It became the first car in the LMP675 class to ever take an overall victory in ALMS history, which occurred in 2003.
Pre-season testing will be held at Sebring Jan. 23-25.