Rolex Roundup - December 17, 2004
News, Notes & Quotes from the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 17, 2004) -- The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series is well represented on the prestigious American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All-America Team, as 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champions Scott Pruett and Max Papis and GT champion Bill Auberlen have been selected to the First Team.
Pruett and Papis were selected to the First Team in the Road Racing category, becoming the first set of co-drivers to share a place on the team owing to a change that AARWBA instituted this year where endurance racing co-drivers would share the vote for All-America honors. The No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley teammates were selected by virtue of their four victories and record 11 pole positions en route to the Daytona Prototype title. As Papis earned his first auto racing championship in 2004, this was his first time as an All-America Team selection. It is Pruett's sixth time as a member of the First Team and his eighth time overall as a member of the All-America Team.
Auberlen was elected to the First Team in the At Large category on the heels of a record-setting 2004 season in the Rolex Series GT class driving the No. 21 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3. Auberlen earned a series high eight class victories and set a Rolex Series record for consecutive class victories with six-in-a-row from Round 2 in Miami through Round 7 at Mid-Ohio. While this is Auberlen's third selection to the All-America team, it is the first time that the Californian has been selected to the First Team.
The All-America Team features racing superstars from throughout North America, and Papis, Pruett and Auberlen join a First Team that also features NASCAR stars Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson, open-wheel standouts Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais, and drag racing legend John Force among others. The team will be honored at the annual AARWBA banquet on January 15, 2005 in Pomona, Calif., and the driver who received the most votes overall will be presented with the prestigious Jerry Titus Award.
GOLLIN, BOBBI SET TO DRIVE FOR DORAN RACING
Doran Racing announced this week that FIA GT World Champions Fabrizio Gollin and Matteo Bobbi have been signed to drive the team's No. 77 Lexus Doran for the 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series. Gollin earned the 2004 FIA GT title alongside co-driver Luca Cappellari, while Bobbi claimed the same title in 2003 and finished second in FIA GT this year.
"Both Gollin and Bobbi have solid resumes, and I'm sure they'll be great additions to the Grand American Rolex Series," said Doran Racing owner/car builder Kevin Doran. "We're looking forward to a competitive 2005 season, and especially the Rolex 24."
Bobbi and Gollin drove Ferrari 550 Maranello Prodrives for the BMS Scuderia Italia team, and both drivers will get their first Daytona Prototype seat time this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"I'm very excited to race in the United States," Gollin said. "It's a new challenge for me. I am very impressed with how the Daytona Prototype class has grown in the last two years. I'm sure that this will be a big step forward for my career."
"Some people will be very surprised to learn that I left Ferrari in order to compete in a Lexus Doran in Grand American's Daytona Prototype division," Bobbi added. "But racing in America has always been my dream since I was a kid. I know Kevin Doran's excellent reputation and his achievements with both the Ferrari 333 and the Dallara, and I'm looking forward to driving his Doran JE4."
GRAND AMERICAN DRIVERS HONORED BY THERACESITE.COM
Earlier this week, 2004 recipients of TheRaceSite.com awards were announced for participants in the Rolex Sports Car Series and the Grand-Am Cup Series. The awards were determined through votes from teams, series officials and media members, and awards were given to the "Rising Stars" in all Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup classes, Crew Chief of the Year awards for all classes, and Paint Scheme of the Year in the Rolex Series and Grand-Am Cup.
Sharing the Daytona Prototype Rising Star Award were No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley driver Max Angelelli and No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Doran pilot Oswaldo Negri Jr. For his part, Negri--who shared the No. 6 with Burt Frisselle in 2004--was thrilled to have been chosen as an award recipient by an esteemed group of voters.
"I am quite honored to have been named for this award," Negri said. "This season was one of my best ever. Even though it was the team's first year in the series going against some bigger teams, we always had a competitive chance and it was very rewarding. I have to thank the Frisselles and the whole Michael Shank Racing team for the faith they showed in me, and all the hard work that they do, because if they hadn't done such a good job all season, Burt and I would have never been able to show our speed."
Earning Rising Star honors in the GT category was No. 21 Prototype Technology Group driver Justin Marks. The Californian took the award thanks to his four GT victories as a co-driver to GT champion Bill Auberlen, and his third-place finish in the final GT point standings.
The Rising Star in both the Rolex Series Super Grand Sport (SGS) class and the Grand-Am Cup Series Grand Sport (GS) division was 2004 GS champion Craig Stanton. Stanton earned six victories and two poles on his way to the GS title driving for TheRaceSite.com Racing.
"This is quite an honor and a real surprise," Stanton said. "2004 has been an incredible year. The competition was really strong out there all season. To be picked for even one, let alone two, Rising Star awards is really satisfying. What makes it even more gratifying is that the vote came from the people that really saw you run all year; the teams, the Grand American officials and the media that were there every race. That tells you it was really about your performance on the track."
Taking the Grand-Am Cup Series Sport Touring (ST) Rising Star Award was Turner Motorsport owner/driver Will Turner, who finished second in the ST driver standings alongside No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW 330i co-driver Don Salama. The Daytona Prototype Crew Chief of the Year was No. 01 CompUSA Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley Crew Chief Kent Holden, while Orbit Racing's Pascal Bussy took the similar honors in GT and TPC Racing Crew Chief Tom Chan earned the award in SGS. The Grand-Am Cup GS Crew Chief of the Year was Mike Thomas of TheRaceSite.com Racing, while SpeedSource Race Engineering's Bobby Khavidi earned the award in ST.
The Rolex Series Best Paint Scheme went to the SGS class ORISON-Planet Earth Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup cars, and TheRaceSite.com Racing claimed the honors in Grand-Am Cup.
TAFEL TO BE FEATURED ON RADICAL SABBATICAL
The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will once again be featured on a national television network in a featured prime time special when the Fine Living Network's Radical Sabbatical showcases Baldwin-Tafel Racing and driver Jim Tafel in the premier episode of "Race Car Driver" this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.
This past season Tafel teamed with veteran road racing champion Jack Baldwin and fielded their No. 73 Porsche in the SGS class. Though the pair competed in only six of 12 races, they finished a respectable 16th in driver points and in the top 10 in the team championship.
The special will allow viewers to take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a race car driver, both off and on the track, in the fastest growing road racing series in North America. The segment features at-event footage as well as up close interviews and insight from Tafel, Baldwin and other members of the Rolex Series community.
The show will be rebroadcast Dec. 20 at 12 a.m., Dec. 21 at 10 a.m., Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. and 12 a.m., and Dec. 26 at 5:30 p.m. (All times are ET).
In addition to Radical Sabbatical, the Rolex Series and CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports driver Milka Duno are also featured in a currently running four-part special on The Discovery Channel Latin America. Additional programs featuring Duno and the series are also in the works.
HOWARD-BOSS DAYTONA PROTOTYPE SERVES AS CENTERPIECE AT "STOCKS FOR TOTS"
Howard-Boss Motorsports was well-represented at the annual "Stocks For Tots" event on Tuesday, as the No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford was on display at the 15th annual holiday charity event held in the Lakeside Business Park in Mooresville, N.C.
The blue and red Crawford was placed in the building that hosted silent and live auctions and served as a backdrop for several local television broadcasts. Fans took photos of the car that sports car star Andy Wallace co-drove with NASCAR superstars Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart in the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Earnhardt signed autographs during the event.
Also on the scene were No. 2 car owner Rick Howard and Andy Scriven, who designed the Crawford DP03 chassis. Howard and Scriven presented several toys donated by Howard-Boss Motorsports and Crawford Race Cars.
"Stocks For Tots is annually a huge event for racing fans during the holidays," Howard said. "The event has really grown over the years, and the toys and cash proceeds raised at this event has benefited many needy families. It was great to see the excitement surrounding our CITGO Pontiac Crawford on display this year. For many race fans, it was their first close up look at a Daytona Prototype car. From their reaction and the number of photos taken, I believe we gained some fans for the Rolex Sports Car Series.
As the 43rd Rolex 24 At Daytona draws ever closer, sports car news from Daytona International Speedway was plentiful this week. On Tuesday, the World Center of Racing announced that sports car racing legend Derek Bell has been named Grand Marshal for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
"It's an honor to have Derek Bell preside as Grand Marshal in the toughest and most demanding sports car endurance race in the world," said DIS President Robin Braig. "His success at Daytona International Speedway speaks for itself and we're looking forward to his starting command for the twice-around-the-clock challenge."
Bell made his first of 20 Rolex 24 At Daytona starts in 1971 and was an overall winner in 1986, 1987 and 1990. He owns 19 IMSA race victories, including the 1984 season finale at Daytona.
"It's a great honor and I hope to fulfill the role correctly," said the British driver. "Winning the race three times was a great honor. I've had my share of luck, obviously, but I've had my share of bad luck also."
Also on Tuesday, Braig joined with another sports car racing great, Hurley Haywood, to give a final update to the media on the progress of the extensive infield renovation project at the Speedway. The media event featured a tour of the new DIS garage area and the new tunnel in Turn 1.
"I'm really looking forward to the Rolex 24 At Daytona," Haywood said. "Being here for 36 years, you knew where all the bathrooms and the good parking spaces were. I had my own secret parking space with my secret identification to get me in here. Now it's all new and God knows what I'm going to do. The 24-hour race is going to be special because this is going to be the inaugural race for this facility. Even though the pavement is not new, it's a whole new look and it's going to be really exciting for the competitors and the fans."
The Rolex 24 At Daytona is scheduled for February 3-6, but the track will also be busy on January 7-9 when the Rolex Series holds its annual "Daytona Test Days" at the famed circuit. Tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.