Historic 2003 Daytona 24 Win Recalled by TRG’s Buckler, Monster Cable’s Lee
In 2003, something extraordinary happened at the 24 Hours of Daytona. After 24 grueling hours, a GT class car not a prototype, won overall. It was an unheard of accomplishment in motor racing and one for which TRG owner Kevin Buckler and Monster Cable Founder and CEO Noel Lee share fond memories ... memories of a lifetime.
The No. 66 Monster Cable Porsche from the 2003 Daytona 24 will be one of the revered historic cars this week at Rennsport Reunion IV in Monterey, California at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The following is a Q&A with both Lee and Buckler about that historic time.
NOEL LEE, Founder & CEO, Monster Cable:
PR: How does it feel to be part of one of the most historic moments in the history of the 24 Hours of Daytona?
LEE: I am a huge racing fanatic, as is everyone here at Monster, so for us it was a terrific thrill to share in the historic moment. In fact, I keep multiple photos of Kevin and myself from that day, and I display them proudly in my home, and office.
PR: How did your partnership with TRG come about?
LEE: As a fan for many years, I have followed Kevin and TRG's success for years. I'm also a fanatical admirer of Porsche, and have a large collection of their vintage cars. So when the opportunity arose to work with Kevin and The Racer's Group I was very happy to get Monster on board.
PR: What is your fondest memory of that moment?
LEE: Just to see our logo so prominently displayed on the hood made everyone here at Monster feel victorious! We were absolutely thrilled to be a part of such a monumental occasion.
PR: What are you looking forward to most at Rennsport?
LEE: I can't wait to get to the race track and see so many wonderful vintage Porsche cars taking their "victory laps." I am also very much looking forward to seeing some of the new technologies the company has in store, including the hybrid automobiles. And of course, our team here at Monster is looking forward to seeing Kevin and the TRG team.
PR: How did the notoriety of that historic moment in sports history aid Monster Cable at the time?
LEE: The visibility was a great help to Monster in reaching out to new audiences that may not have heard of Monster at the time. Since then, we have continued to promote our association with TRG in a variety of ways, and it has been a very successful visibility initiative for us.
KEVIN BUCKLER, President & CEO, The Racers Group:
PR: Did you have any idea when you went to Daytona that year that you could pull off the unthinkable - an overall win from the GT class?
BUCKLER: Well yes and no. We knew we had gotten the "A" team back together after our class win the year before and we knew that we had a good shot at another class win. But as the weekend came together, we watched all our competitors closely, all 4 of us (drivers) got together and asked ourselves - do you guys want to go out & play it safe & work hard towards that GT class win again? ... or do you want to go out & try to "burn it down" hanging out qualifying laps for the first 6 or 8 hours and see what this field can endure? ... we all looked at each other and said F%$& it!!! Lets do it!!!
PR: Describe what having Monster Cable involved with you meant?
BUCKLER: It was huge - no monstrous!!! Monster was my first sponsor that had stepped up to help us at this epic event - The 24 Hours of Daytona. Noel is a friend of mine and a real car guy. When he asked me if I think we had a shot with his support, I said absolutely and I will be relentless to make sure we can have a chance to win. I did not want to disappoint him. It is a successful partnership and a friendship that has endured the test of time!!!
PR: What happened that race that put TRG in position for the overall win?
BUCKLER: After the first 8 hours of driving flat out and I mean FLAT out - we had somehow hung onto the lead lap with the Prototypes and distanced ourselves from the rest of the GT class. This was the plan. I remember looking up at the timing monitor and thinking - we are in a perfect, brand new Porsche GT race car, the weapon of choice, we have a great team, 4 awesome drivers, not a scratch on the car and we are still on the lead lap... this is not good... FOR THEM!!!!
PR: Did you do anything different to prepare and did you take anything away from that year that you still institute today?
BUCKLER: Always prepare for the inevitable. It is not always the fastest car that wins but the one that best deals with adversity. Similar strategy in much that we do.
PR: What are you looking forward to at Rennsport?
BUCKLER: So much - it is going to be a real honor to be there with all the racing legends and to be included in that group!!! I wish Michael, Timo & Jorg could be there too. Having the Monster 66 car be this big a part of permanent history is really really cool!!!!!