DUBLIN, Ohio (February 1, 2001) - When the field of 86 cars take to famed Daytona International Speedway for the start of the 39th Rolex 24 at Daytona on Feb. 3, it will be The Mid-Ohio School looking to teach fellow drivers a few lessons.
The Mid-Ohio School, the official driving school of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, will be well represented at the prestigious 24-hour endurance race. Drivers Chris Kneifel, Tommy Byrne and Tony Kester, and Speedvision reporter Calvin Fish, a former 24 Hours of Daytona champ, will all be at the event. All four men are instructors at The Mid-Ohio School.
The drivers will have their hands full when they take on a field that includes Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Buddy Lazier, Max Papis and Boris Said.
Chris Kneifel, hot off last year's 2nd place overall finish, will join teammates Ron Fellows, Franck Freon and Johnny O'Connell to pilot the #2 GM Goodwrench Corvette C5R factory team. Only 30.8 seconds separated Chris and his teammates from last year's top podium spot in the closest race in the history of the 24-hour event.
"Winning our class is what we're here to do, but to finish first overall would be icing on the cake," said Kneifel, who has two Indianapolis 500 starts and stops in the CART FedEx Championship Series and BF Goodrich Trans-Am Series on his racing resume. "We want to run as hard as we can every single lap and let the chips fall where they may."
Tommy Byrne, a former Formula 1 driver, and Tony Kester, a former national champ in SCCA Formula Ford and the Oldsmobile Pro Series, will drive the #42 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3RS with teammates Michael Collucci and Richard Millman.
Byrne, who will also compete in the Grand American Road Racing Series behind the wheel of the #42 Porsche this season, is happy to attack the Daytona road course.
"This is my first Rolex 24 since 1985," Byrne said. "It's also our first time running the Porsche this hard. But, Tony and I have a good team that could win our class and that's certainly what we want to do."
Calvin Fish, Chief Instructor of The Mid-Ohio School, will see the action from a different angle. He is part of the Speedvision broadcast team that will cover the event live in its entirety, beginning Saturday, Feb. 3, at 12:30 p.m. EST and concluding Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The former IMSA GTO class winner at the 1990 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring will be relying on his experience to bring fans the ins-and-outs of such a demanding race.
"Being in the seat in recent years allows you to know what the guys are going through," Fish said. "It's a brutal event, probably one of the top five races in the world. It's the kind of outing Chris, Tommy and Tony and myself will enjoy."
The Mid-Ohio School was founded in 1993 at the 2.4-mile, 15-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Instructors such as Fish, Byrne, Kester and Kneifel use their race-tested car control expertise to teach proper driving techniques and principles to everyone from teenagers to licensed racing professionals.
- Donnie Clark