T-MINUS 2 MONTHS: NEW CARS IN CHAMPIONS DISPLAY, SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY ACTIVITIES TAKE FORM
Eagerly anticipated by drivers, auto manufacturers and race fans everywhere, the Rolex 24 At Daytona is the first major race of the international motor sport season. Every January, the Daytona International Speedway (Daytona Beach, Florida, USA) comes to life in celebration of this incredible endurance race, recognized by leading drivers as one of the most difficult in the world to win.
Building anticipation for the 50th Anniversary 2012
2012 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Leading up to this unique milestone, we present a once-a-month look back through the history, people and events that have made this famous race what it is today. This month, we look at the latest additions to the 50th Anniversary Overall Champions display, along with some additional special activities taking place during the 50th Anniversary race weekend.
Updates: A Gathering of 50
In an effort to make the impossible possible, the people at Daytona International Speedway, Rolex and GRAND-AM are combining forces to gather all Rolex 24 At Daytona race winners, and their cars, for a reunion celebrating the race’s 50th anniversary. Two new additions to the display have been announced: the 1966 Rolex 24 Overall Champion Ford Mark II and the 1970 Rolex 24 Overall Champion No. 2 Gulf Porsche 917.
The No. 98 Ford GT Mark II captured the 1966 victory, a year that marked the first time the race was run for 24-hours. The Rolex 24 At Daytona, then known as the Daytona Continental, was a three-hour race in 1962 and 1963 before being expanded to 2,000 kilometers in 1964 and 1965, and then to 24-hours in 1966. In that first year of round-the-clock racing, Americans Lloyd Rudy and Ken Miles kept to a schedule of double shifts (three hours) and no sleep, leading nearly every lap and winning by a margin of eight laps. The duo averaged 108.02 mph (173.84 km/h) and completed 679 laps as part of a 1-2-3 All-American Ford Mark II finish, with Dan Gurney/Jerry Grant in second place and Walt Hansgen/Mark Donohue in third.
The 1970 Rolex 24 At Daytona Champion joining the display is the No. 2 light blue and orange Gulf Porsche 917, fielded by Englishman John Wyer and driven by Pedro Rodriguez of Mexico, Leo Kinnunen of Finland and Englishman Brian Redman. The No. 2 Gulf Porsche 917 dominated the 1970 race and won by 45 laps over its sister car, the No. 1 Gulf Porsche 917. Rodriguez, who scored his third of four Rolex 24 victories in 1970, was behind the wheel when the No. 2 Gulf Porsche 917 took the lead two hours and 35 minutes into the race. Redman holds the unusual distinction of having driven on both the first and second place cars. Redman and Jo Siffert (SUI) had teamed up to drive the No. 1 car, but the No. 2 Gulf Porsche crew had difficulty communicating with Kinnunen and Redman ended up filling in for a shift.
The 1970 No. 2 Gulf Porsche 917 and the 1966 No. 98 Ford GT Mark II join the growing field of prestigious championship cars in the display. For the latest, visual list of confirmed champion cars, please click here.
Special Activities for 2012 50th Anniversary
There will be many special activities taking place in honour of the 2012 Rolex 24 50th Anniversary. One such series of activities is highlighted in the partnership between Daytona International Speedway (DIS) and Colombian-American artist Alberto Gomez. Born in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1956, Gomez is recognized worldwide for his large, powerful murals that depict both ancient and present civilizations.
For the Rolex 24 At Daytona 50th anniversary, Gomez will complete a commemorative painting, highlighting one car and team from each of the race’s five decades. Sports car fans were asked to select a car and team combo to represent each decade through an online poll, which closed on October 31, 2011. In addition, Gomez will create a 12’ x 8’ mural (approximately 3m x 2.5m) depicting a child’s vision of sports car racing at Daytona. “Artists” under the age of 12 are invited to submit their drawings for consideration in this one-of-a-kind piece, which will be based on 15 selected contributions. Children whose drawings are selected will be invited to the Rolex 24 50th Anniversary to assist Gomez in painting the final mural in the Sprint FANZONE.
Winners of the 2012 Rolex 24 will also be receiving some very special trophies. Along with their highly coveted Rolex Cosmograph Daytonas, the overall winning team will also be presented with a specially designed 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona PRS Private Stock guitar, featuring a rosewood fingerboard, mahogany back and sides and a figured maple top with matching headstock veneer. May the victory tunes continue long after the wave of the 2012 Rolex 24 chequered flag!
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona: Tribute to the birthplace of speed
The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is a world-class race, rewarding all its deserving winners with a place in motor sports history and a steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, named “the world’s rarest watch” by WatchTime magazine.
It was in 1959 that Rolex first began its long association with the Daytona International Speedway. In 1963, Rolex launched their new “Cosmograph” line, but it was not until 1965 that the name “Daytona” would be added to the dial as a tribute to the great Florida race. Designed for lovers of speed, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona allows its wearer to clock elapsed times and calculate average speeds.
In 1992 Rolex became the Title Sponsor of the 24-hour race at Daytona, which had since become one of the world’s most prestigious endurance competitions along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
bout the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona
The Rolex 24 At Daytona, America’s most prestigious sports car race, is one of two 24-hour sports car events. 2012 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The famous twice-around-the-clock challenge annually kicks off the international motorsports calendar, as well as the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, and features a star-studded line-up of drivers from around the world battling on Daytona’s demanding 3.56-mile high-banked road course.