"Mad Max" Papis returns to Daytona this year in a Ferrari, defending his 2002 Rolex 24 at Daytona victory. Italian Max Papis made his U.S. sports car racing debut in 1996 behind the wheel of the MOMO Ferrari 333 SP.
"I am really pleased to go back to Daytona as the defending champion in a Ferrari, the car that brought me my first recognition in the United States," said Papis, who now resides in Miami, Florida. "This will be my first year competing at Daytona in a GT car, not a sports car Prototype. Competition will be tough. With driving the Ferrari, I hope to fulfill the dreams of many fans out there, by continuing the legacy of Ferrari at the historic 24 Hours of Daytona."
"I am very honored that a great champion of Max Papis' caliber, who is also the winner of the 2002 edition of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, has chosen to race with our team this year at Daytona," said Ludovico Manfredi, co-owner of JMB Racing USA Team Ferrari. "Though our racing team is new in the U.S., we come with the experience and track record of JMB Racing in Europe, and we hope to make an impact in U.S. road racing in 2003. Max's knowledge of the Daytona race track will be immensely valuable to the JMB Racing USA Team Ferrari, and we feel we have put together a great drivers' lineup to compete in our Ferrari 360 Modena GT in the 24-hour race."
The beautiful Ferrari 360 Modena GT is powered by a V-8 Ferrari engine and uses a 6-speed F-1 semi-automatic gearbox.
Papis will pilot JMB Racing USA Team Ferrari's No. 20 with Brazilian Augusto Farfus and Andrea Garbagnati, of Monoco and a fourth driver yet to be named. The team will also campaign the No. 22 Ferrari in the GT class with Americans Ron Atapattu and Dr. Steve Earle joining Frenchman Phillip Shearer and Italian Ludovico Manfredi.
Papis came on the sports car racing scene at Daytona in 1996 from Formula One and made a name for himself by charging to the front and setting the fastest lap of the race in the last hour, missing the victory by only 65 seconds over eventual winner Wayne Taylor. He earned the nickname "Mad Max" that race, and has lived up to the moniker ever since.
In late 1996 he joined the elite Championship Auto Race Teams (CART) series. He has collected three CART victories, at Miami, Portland and Laguna Seca, in seven years, as well as numerous podium finishes and two pole positions. He also fulfilled a personal career dream by competed in the Indianapolis 500 last year.
Papis' Daytona history is well known by his worldwide fans. Having competed in all but one year since 1996, Papis was victorious in his sixth attempt last season with the Doran Lista Racing team. He captured the Prototype class victory in 2000 with Dyson Racing. He had a third place finish in 1999, co-driving with Jimmy Vasser, Stefan Johansson and Jim Matthews. He captured the pole and led 18 of the 24 hours in 1998 in a Ferrari 333 SP.
The names Papis, Ferrari and Daytona are a poetic blend for which success is achievable. History has proven them to be a winning combination.