Series Daytona 24H spotlight: Formula One drivers

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Grand-Am Road Racing press release

The World Comes To Daytona …
Formula One Stars Have Been In Rolex 24 From The Outset

Special guest: Phil Hill
Special guest: Phil Hill

Photo by: Brousseau Photo

(Note: This is the second installment of a three-part series this week detailing the multi-faceted flavor of the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona, in terms of various racing disciplines represented in the event. Today, Formula One drivers are spotlighted.)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 24, 2012) – Formula One flavor has been there from the outset in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

This weekend’s (Saturday and Sunday; SPEED & MRN) 50th anniversary running of the round-the-clock classic will maintain that F-1 influence.

But first, a look back: Reigning Formula One World Champion Phil Hill was joined by a strong Grand Prix contingent at Daytona International Speedway in 1962 in the inaugural event now known as the Rolex 24.

Dan Gurney, Stirling Moss, Jimmy Clark, Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez, Innes Ireland, Jo Bonnier and Olivier Gendebien gave Daytona’s first major sports car gathering a strong F-1 presence which immediately helped define the race.

Hill, the first American to win the world title, joined Ricardo Rodriguez in finishing second behind Gurney in the inaugural race. Pedro Rodriguez won the 1963 event and teamed with Hill in a Ferrari 250 GTO in a 1964 triumph.

Over the years, the Grand Prix contingent has continued its forays into the Rolex 24. Mario Andretti teamed with fellow Ferrari factory driver Jacky Ickx to win in 1972 and returned to capture the pole in 1984 – six years after he became the second American to become F-1 World Champion.

“The 24 hours, that event has become a classic now, so it gives it even that much more weight, to be able to have your name in the winning column,” Andretti said. “Every win is precious in its own way, and this one certainly carries its own weight.”

Other Rolex 24 winners who competed in Formula One include Vic Elford, Mark Donohue, Jo Siffert, Rolf Stommelen, Hans Herrmann, Brian Redman, Leo Kinnunen, Jackie Oliver, Bobby Rahal, Derek Bell, Jan Lammers, Raul Boesel, Martin Brundle, Henri Pescarolo and Karl Wendlinger.

This year’s race – which starts at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, includes international talent such as Giancarlo Fisichella co-driving the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am. Fisichella competed in Formula One from 1996-2009. He won three races, captured four poles and had 19 career podiums among his 229 starts.

Two of Fisichella’s teammates, Olivier Beretta of Monaco and Gianmaria Bruni of Italy, both spent one season competing in Grand Prix competition. Beretta, the 2000 Rolex 24 champion, drove in 10 races in 1984, while Bruni competed in 18 races in 2004.

Two-time Rolex 24 runner-up Allan McNish of Scotland – he’s in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsports Ford/Riley this weekend – raced Formula One in 2002, competing in 16 events after serving as test driver for the newly formed Toyota F1 team.

Also, two-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Juan Pablo Montoya, co-driving the No. 02 Chip Ganassi-owned BMW/Riley, spent six seasons in Formula One, winning seven races and 13 poles.

Among the other drivers with Formula One experience expected to compete in the Rolex 24 include:

· Christian Fittipaldi: 24 F-1 races in 1993-93.

· Jan Magnussen: 25 races in three seasons from 1995 through 1998.

· Max Papis: Seven races in 1995.

· Eliseo Salazar: 24 races in 1981-83.

· Ricardo Zonta: 36 races in five seasons from 1999 through 2005.

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Series GRANDAM
Tags clark, grand-am, gurney, hill, moss, rodiguez, rolex