Tracy and Wilden lead Canadian contingent in Rolex 24 At Daytona (Daytona Beach, FL) 23 January 2006-The 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona is likely to be one of the most competitive ever, with a field of drivers from all over the globe ...
Tracy and Wilden lead Canadian contingent in Rolex 24 At Daytona
(Daytona Beach, FL) 23 January 2006-The 44th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona is likely to be one of the most competitive ever, with a field of drivers from all over the globe taking the green flag next Saturday in pursuit of one of road racing's toughest trophies - the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch that goes to the winning drivers of the twice-around-the-clock classic.
Last year's race saw the winner cover over 4000 kilometers before taking the checkered flag. The competition is likely to be even closer this year, as seventy-two cars are slated to start the race. The entry list reads as a 'who's who' of racing from across the globe, as drivers representing twenty-one nations will be taking to the famed Daytona International Speedway road course.
The international roster includes a healthy contingent of Canadian drivers, headed by Paul Tracy and Kenny Wilden, who are teaming with American drivers Paul Mears Jr. and Mike Borkowski for the grueling event. They will be racing for Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR and the team is sponsored by the Canadian based investment banking and securities firm Graydon Elliott Group, which specializes in a wide range of financial advisory services and products. The rapidly expanding company will be utilizing its connection with Fusion Racing with MSR to continue its expansion into the US.
When asked if Canadian pride came into his decision to race for the team, Tracy is unequivocal.
"Absolutely it had a lot to do with my decision," said Tracy. "I am Canadian and I love racing in Canada and racing in the 24 for a team with a Canadian sponsor was really appealing to me. This event is one of the crown jewels of racing, and I really want to add a win here it to my resume."
Tracy, who won the 2003 Champ Car World Series title and has thirty wins in the category, including five on Canadian soil, raced in the Rolex 24 in 2005. While mechanical gremlins kept that team from scoring a strong finish, the quality of the competition and the lure of the win brought the 'Thrill from West Hill' back for another try.
"I was amazed with the quality of drivers in last year's field, and there are going to be even more this year," said Tracy. "The list is very strong - a lot of drivers that are just the cream of the crop. I'm here to win. That's why I chose to run with these guys and with this team."
Team mate Kenny Wilden made his mark in the open-wheel Toyota Atlantic Series, taking runner-up in the 1999 championship before a break-out rookie season in Trans-Am that saw him win the third race he entered. Wilden lives in the Toronto area and will be racing in the Graydon Elliott entry for the full 2006 Rolex season.
"Any time a Canadian driver has a Canadian sponsor and they are able to do well on the international stage, it has a big impact," said Wilden. "I have been very fortunate throughout my career to work with Canadian companies and it has always added a bit of extra incentive for me to do well. This race is going to be amazingly competitive, but we feel like we have a car that's absolutely capable of winning so long as we are able to stay out of trouble."
"We are tremendously proud to have two Canadians racing on the team for the 24, although when you see them in the car it's clear that is not the only reason they are with us - they are also fast!" said Fusion Racing Managing Partner Dennis Bainbridge. "We are excited to have a driver of Paul's stature with us for the 24 and very pleased to have Kenny on-board with us for the full season."
For Graydon Elliott, having solid, high profile drivers from both sides of the border meshes with the group's business model, marketing plans and of course their goals for a successful 2006 race season.
"For us this is the biggest race of the year and it is great to have a true North/South partnership emulated through the drivers we have been so fortunate to retain for this race," said Graydon Elliott President and CEO Rodney Gelineau.
The two aren't the only Canadians entered in the top Daytona Prototype class, as Ron Fellows, Patrick Carpentier, Michael Valiente and David Empringham are all slated to race in the classic.
The 44th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona will get underway beginning at 12:00 ET on January 28, with Speed Channel providing more than thirteen hours of live coverage, commencing with the race start at noon.
Graydon Elliott Fusion Racing with MSR benefits from the support of team partners including Graydon Elliott Capital (www.graydonelliott.com), and the Mears Transportation Group (www.mearstransportation.com).
Graydon Elliott, a Canadian-based, Investment Banking and Wealth Management Group, specializes in a wide range of financial advisory services and products. The rapidly expanding company will be utilizing its connection with the Fusion Racing with MSR team to continue its expansion into the US. Visit www.graydonelliottt.com for more information.
Based in Orlando, Florida, Mears Transportation Group started in 1939 with three taxicabs, and with founder Paul Mears' dedication to outstanding service, has grown to comprise a fleet of 540 taxi cabs, 180 motor coaches, 100 shuttle vans, 12 limousines, and 185 luxury sedans, as well as including resort concierge services. Airport, attraction, cruise, charter, and taxi transportation are the core services that Mears strives to provide to the entire Florida market.