Daytona Beach (December 21, 1999) - No other motorsports event can boast of a list of winners so distinguished as well as an outstanding cast of elite international representation. The Rolex 24 At Daytona was in its infancy in 1962 when Daytona International Speedway set out to make its first major statement in the world of sports car racing. Then known as the Daytona Continental, the Speedway established a forum for speed and precision matched by few other events in motorsports.
>From its beginnings, the roster of drivers for the 24 hour endurance race read like a world map with great European talent racing teaming with American racers. The international flair gives the race a universal appeal.
Americans Dan Gurney (1962), Phil Hill (1964), Mark Donohue (1969) and Lloyd Ruby (1965, 66) championed the American cause in the sixties. Mexican legend Pedro Rodriguez would win the first of four Rolex 24s in 1963.
Europeans Rolf Stommelen (1968, 78, 80, 82) of Germany, Jo Siffert (1968) of Switzerland, Italian superstar Lorenzo Bandini (1967) and Ken Miles (1965, 66) and Vic Elford (1968) of Great Britain took their turns on the podium in the 60s as well.
American drivers produced more victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona than any other nationality in the seventies. Future F1 World Champion Mario Andretti (1972), Peter Gregg (1973, 75, 76, 78) and all time Rolex 24 champ Hurley Haywood (1973, 75, 77, 79, 91) engraved their names in the now rich history of the still young event.
The partnership of Belgian Jacky Ickx and American Andretti proved successful in 1972. England's Brian Redman attacked the high banks with reckless abandon to capture the first of two victories in 1976.
In 1980 Rolf Stommelen, Volkert Merl and Reinhold Joest made a German statement as they drove Porsche to twice around the clock dominance. It was the first of nine Porsche victories in the eighties.
American contributions to victory lane in the 1980s were made by multiple Indy 500 winners A. J. Foyt (1983, 85), Al Unser (1985) and Al Unser Jr. (1986, 87), IMSA great Al Holbert (1986, 87) and CART and Winston Cup winner John Andretti (1989). France's Bob Wallek scored the first of four wins in 1983 and Britain's Andy Wallace scored the first of three wins leading a Jaguar assault in 1990.
The nineties produced great finishes and memorable performances in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Perhaps none more memorable than that of venerable Italian Gianpero Moretti in a Ferrari in 1998.
Ford led an American resurgence back to victory with Rob Dyson (1997, 99), two time winners John Paul Jr. (1997, 99), Elliot Forbes-Robinson (1997, 99) and three time winner Butch Leitzinger (1994, 97, 99). Dan Gurney's All American Racers Toyota featured drives by P. J. Jones, Mark Dismore and Rocky Moran (1993). Japan and Nissan prevailed in 1992 with Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino, and Toshio Suzuki. New Zealand and South Africa were represented respectively by Steve Millen (1994) and Wayne Taylor (1996). In the great history of this event, masters of many forms of auto racing from all parts of the globe have come to Daytona to compete against the best the world has to offer. Part of the Rolex 24's great appeal is the nationalistic pride that resonates from start to finish. Pride born of a tradition of international excellence.
Advance Rolex 24 tickets offer significant savings over daily gate admissions and are available by calling the Daytona International Speedway Ticket Office at (904) 253- 7223 or by visiting www.daytonaintlspeedway.com.