Daytona 24: Baldwin-Tafel Racing Friday report

Baldwin-Tafel Racing Set to Make 24 Hour Debut from Top-Five DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., February 4, 2005 -- Baldwin-Tafel Racing is set to make its endurance racing debut in tomorrow's Rolex 24 At Daytona. The No. 73 Mesco Building Solutions/ Alchemy...

Baldwin-Tafel Racing Set to Make 24 Hour Debut from Top-Five

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., February 4, 2005 -- Baldwin-Tafel Racing is set to make its endurance racing debut in tomorrow's Rolex 24 At Daytona. The No. 73 Mesco Building Solutions/ Alchemy Training Solutions Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry qualified fifth on the Grand Touring (GT) class grid, 30th overall, for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening event. The Rolex 24 marks the first 24 hour race for the Cumming, Ga. based race team. However, owner/drivers Jack Baldwin (Marietta, Ga.) and Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.) have assembled a veteran team of crew and drivers to field a car capable of winning its class at North America's most famous sports car event. The red and blue Porsche will be a part of the one of the strongest fields ever gathered for the Rolex 24 ensuring that a successful weekend will be hard earned.

Among the team's impressive roster is motorsports legend Tony Dowe (Dacula, Ga.) who has spearheaded the preparation of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry and will be in charge of race strategy for the full 24 hours. The driving squad is also one of the best assembled in the Daytona paddock. Baldwin, the lead driver for the team, is the 1984 GTU class winner of the Rolex 24 as well as a four-time champion in various road racing series. The two-time IROC competitor will be joined by 2004 GT class Rolex 24 victor Robin Liddell (Northampton, England) and 2004 Grand-Am Cup champion Craig Stanton (Long Beach, Calif.). Andrew Davis (Bogart, Ga.) fills-out the remarkable five-driver lineup with three Rolex 24 starts and three road racing titles. While Tafel will be a rookie at the Rolex 24, he has a second-place finish in his only career 24 hour event to date.

Liddell was tabbed to qualify the Baldwin-Tafel Porsche in yesterday's first qualifying session. The top-five time (1 min., 57.298 secs. around the 3.56-mile road course) guaranteed the team a spot in the race without making a second qualifying attempt today. The success of qualifying was accompanied by today's announcement of a multi-race marketing agreement with Mesco Building Solutions that begins with this weekend's event. The 43rd Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, which sparks SpeedWeeks activities at the famous Daytona International Speedway (DIS), will get underway at 12:00 noon (EST) tomorrow.

Mesco Building Solutions, founded in 1955, is a wholly owned subsidiary of NCI Building Systems, Inc. NCI is the largest manufacturer of metal construction products for the North American building construction industry and is a publicly held company trading on the New York Stock Exchange under NCS. Mesco joins founding partners Alchemy Training Solutions and Davis Communications as part Baldwin-Tafel Racing.

For live timing and audio, please visit www.grandamerican.com for the full 24 hours of the event. Live television coverage can be found on the SPEED Channel. The first seven hours of the race can be seen starting at 12:00 pm noon (EST), Saturday, February 5. A second installment of the early nighttime hours will be shown from 8-11 pm. The conclusion of the Rolex 24 can be seen on February 6th from 8 am-12:30 pm.

Quotes:

Jack Baldwin, owner/ driver: "It has been an unbelievable journey not only for us as a team but also for me personally. The amount of work and effort we have put in here since November first is staggering. We not only built a car and got a team together but put together a shop and all the things that you need to get this done. Focusing on my job as a driver all of those years, I had no idea the amount of detail that went into the process. We have a great team of people here starting off with Tony Dowe. He has done a monumental job. I can't say enough about him as a person and as an engineer. Everyone has worked really hard to get us here. We have a good car. Is it good enough? We'll find out. Like any good racer you always want to be better. But, we are pretty happy with what we've got. The car is beautiful and we're certainly happy that Mesco is on board with us. This Rolex 24 will be an awesome event. This will go down in history as a showcase of Grand American; who they are and where they're going. We're really glad to be a part of that."

Craig Stanton, driver: "We have been working on a setup that will be there the whole distance. Everyone on this team knows the importance of having a good car from the start to the end of 24 hours. Tony Dowe is doing just an incredible job at giving us that. I have some great co-drivers on this team and I am really, really excited about tomorrow. We're all aiming at being there at the end. It should be a lot of fun. A lot of things can happen to even the best teams but Baldwin-Tafel has put together the pieces to get the job done. Will we get it done this weekend? We'll just have to see. But I am very excited about where we're at."

-btr/tm-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Robin Liddell , Jack Baldwin , Andrew Davis , Craig Stanton , Jim Tafel