T-MINUS 11 MONTHS: MAKING THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE
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. This month, we discuss the first of many special anniversary activities to be carried out for the 2012 edition of the race.
A Gathering of Fifty
In an effort to make the impossible possible, the people at Daytona International Speedway, Rolex and GRAND-AM are combining forces to gather all past Rolex 24 At Daytona race winners and their cars for a reunion celebrating the 50th Anniversary at the 2012 race. The mission was announced in January to mark the start of a yearlong process in contacting winning drivers and tracing the winning vehicles to commemorate 50 years of history and prestige of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Racing at Daytona is a legacy in the world of motorsport competition, and this significant anniversary allows for attention to be focused on the tradition of this classic American endurance race. "The Rolex 24 is a direct link to the early history and heritage of Daytona International Speedway," said Jim France, co-founder of GRAND-AM. "When my father built the speedway back in the late 1950s, he wanted the place to have a world-wide reputation in auto racing circles. The Rolex 24 has helped deliver that reputation. He would be so proud of the fact that we're closing in on a 50th anniversary of the event he started in 1962... I know I am."
A special edition of the Rolex 24 At Daytona race logo has been unveiled for the occasion in addition to the call for past winners. "We all think about competition on the track, but there's so much more that goes into it - the stories, the experiences, the sponsorships, the cars themselves," said Joie Chitwood, President of Daytona International Speedway. "We think there is really nothing more appropriate than trying to round up all those individuals and automobiles to celebrate 50 years with us."
While the Rolex 24 At Daytona is the ultimate endurance test of man and machine, the search for the 50 previous race winners and their cars could prove just as difficult: they are scattered around the world and some may be in parts or even destroyed. However, Chitwood and his team remain optimistic. "We know where some of them are, we've targeted them, now we offer an invitation and a viewing for once they are here," said Chitwood. "It helps that we're starting to focus on it already now. We have a year to attract them so I feel pretty confident. There are a number of individuals that are helping us and our friends at Rolex have some good leads as well.
Along with the challenge of locating all team members and vehicles of the past 50 years, there is also the cost and logistics to be taken into account. But despite these challenges facing the mission, the effort remains focused to honour the unique history of this world-renowned event.
"The Rolex 24 at Daytona is the crown jewel of the GRAND-AM Road Racing schedule - and the premier sports car event in North America," said Tom Bledsoe, President of GRAND-AM. "The 50th anniversary milestone will be monumental, for both our organization … and the sport of auto racing overall."
More details, official 2012 event dates and further anniversary activities will be announced throughout the year.
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.
-source: rolex racing