T-Minus 9 Months: A.J. Foyt As Grand Marshal For 50Th Anniversary
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 anniversary, we present a once-a-month look back through the history, people and events that have made this famous race what it is today.
To celebrate the historic 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, it has been announced that racing legend A.J. Foyt will serve as Grand Marshal for this iconic endurance race in 2012. As Grand Marshal, Foyt will deliver the "Drivers, start your engines" command, kicking-off a tribute to 50 years of endurance history and the season-opener of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. The Rolex 24 At Daytona represents the start of the international motorsports calendar, with the famous 24-hour race scheduled for 28-29 January 2012.
"The 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona is a significant milestone in the history of Daytona International Speedway and motorsports across the globe," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. "We're honored to have one of the greatest drivers in the history of auto racing – A.J. Foyt – serve as Grand Marshal as we commemorate 50 years of endurance racing at the 'World Center of Racing'."
Foyt is a two-time overall champion of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, having won this twice-around-the-clock challenge in both 1983 and 1985. He holds the distinction of having led the first lap of the inaugural race in 1962 – then known as the Daytona Continental – in a Nichels-prepared Pontiac Tempest. As the only race car driver in history to have won the Daytona 500 (1972), Rolex 24 At Daytona, Indianapolis 500 (four times) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1967), Foyt was named Co-Driver of the Century by the Associated Press in 1999 (tied with Mario Andretti) and one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
I wish I wasn't so old because I’d like to race in it again!
"I wish I wasn't so old because I’d like to race in it again!" said the 76 year-old Foyt, adding that he was especially honored to be Grand Marshal for the 50th running of the event. "I’m glad to be coming back even if it is just to watch it this time."
A special-edition gold logo has been created to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, along with the launch of a campaign by Speedway officials to reunite all Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winning cars for a show-stopping heritage display during the 2012 race.
Growing the sport across borders
GRAND-AM Road Racing has announced a change in its Competition Department structure in order to increase concentration on future international projects considered vital to the sport’s long-term growth.
Vice President of Competition Dave Spitzer is shifting his focus to such projects, beginning with the development of new regulations for Daytona Prototypes that will set the stage for renewed growth in GRAND-AM’s premier class. Other initial projects include the phasing in of an American series based on the successful DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) series in Europe. “I am excited by these new challenges,” Spitzer said. “Successful enterprises must identify the need for change and embrace the future, and GRAND-AM has generated very exciting opportunities for growth.”
These new initiatives reflect GRAND-AM’s steadfast commitment to interfacing with various automobile manufacturers both in the United States and abroad, with the ultimate aim to increase the relevance of sports car racing throughout North America, while also contributing to the growth the sport overall.
GRAND-AM has generated very exciting opportunities for growth.
Top prize in European motorsport: free spot in Daytona Prototype for 2012
The Sunoco Daytona Challenge is a season-long competition which pits racers from selected Sunoco-fuelled championships in Europe against one another for one spectacular prize: a race seat in a 500 bhp, 190 mph (306 km/h) Daytona Prototype at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Now in its third year, the Sunoco Daytona Challenge has established itself as one of the biggest prizes on offer in British motorsport. With the excitement of the recent Rolex 24 At Daytona still fresh, the battle has already begun to determine the 2012 Sunoco Daytona Challenge champion. The 2011 winner, Ross Kaiser, drove for Doran Racing in the #77 Office Depot Ford Dallara in this year’s race. While the team put in an impressive performance, they unfortunately did not finish and were forced to retire after two race incidents.
The qualifying series for the 2012 Challenge are the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, the Cooper Tires British F3 International Championship and the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship. The point system includes 100 points for a victory, 75 for a 2nd down through to 5 for 10th place. In addition, 20 points are awarded to both the driver who wins pole and the one who sets the fastest race lap.
For current standings and more details, please visit www.sunocodaytonachallenge.com.
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.