Daytona Rolex 24 Thursday Notes

Rolex 24 At Daytona Notes Hurley Haywood Returns To Rolex 24 At Daytona Another Reynard chassis will also make its debut in the Rolex 24, this one sporting a V-10 Judd engine, a...

Rolex 24 At Daytona Notes

Hurley Haywood Returns To Rolex 24 At Daytona

Another Reynard chassis will also make its debut in the Rolex 24, this one sporting a V-10 Judd engine, a derivative of former Honda Formula 1 engine. The car's owner and support driver is George Robinson of Houston, Tex., who runs the 74 Hunting Ranch, a 29,000 acre big game ranch south of San Antonio. Five-time Rolex 24 winner Hurley Haywood has signed on to drive the new SportsRacer, aided by Tampa native Jack Baldwin, now of Marietta, Ga., and Irv Hoerr, Peoria, Ill. Even racers who have won more than 50 professional events, the Rolex 24, the Sebring 12-Hour, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, still smile when they remember their first car. That would be Hurley Haywood. "It was my grandmother's," Haywood recalled, "a 1948 Cadillac with a three speed on the column. On their estate (in suburban Chicago) there was enough room for me to carve out a decent road course through the woods." One of the estate's workers even built blocks for the pedals and one for the seat so Hurley could reach everything. You see, he was 12 years old at the time. "I probably put 20,000 miles on that car by the time I was 16, broadsliding it between the trees, without ever leaving the property," he laughed. Did he ever damage the car? "Well, I built this little jump out of a dirt pile and, well, I learned some lessons in physics."

New Porsche To Run At Daytona In 25 years as a team owner and crew chief, Michael Colucci has been privileged to ply his trade on some of the finest road racing cars made. A listing would include every form of racing Porsche from the 911 through the 962 GTP car, and, in the 38th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, a pair of the latest offerings from Porsche, the 911 GT3R. "The GT3R is different from other Porsches because the engine is water-cooled, but other than that, it is very evolutionary, not revolutionary," says the Jupiter, Fla., resident. But does Colucci have a favorite car that causes his memory banks to smile, and does one lurk in his past that he'd rather he never crossed paths with? "I guess my favorite would be the Porsche 935, if for no other reason than we won the most races with it," he says. "The Porsche 962 GTP car was the best as a pure-bred race car, but for a car made from a production base, the 935 was quite good." And his least favorite? "One particular 935 we made in 1980 for Peter Gregg with our own suspension and bodywork just never worked quite right," he said, adding, "it was Peter's last car." The list of drivers who have driven Colucci-wrenched cars is even more impressive. To hit the highlights: A.J. Foyt, Hurley Haywood, Peter Gregg, Danny Ongais, Derek Bell, John Andretti, Chip Ganassi, David Hobbs, Parker Johnstone, Tom Kendall, Benny Parsons, Al Unser Sr., Tom Walkinshaw and Al Holbert. Colucci has been the winning Rolex 24 crew chief five times 1975-76-78-85-89.

GM Corvette Returns to Rolex 24 At Daytona

In the Feb. 5-6 running of the 38th Rolex 24 At Daytona Andy Pilgrim will share a GM Goodwrench Corvette C5-R with Kelly Collins and Franck Freon. Pilgrim's first race at Daytona International Speedway came in the 1991 Rolex 24. The Cooper City, Fla., resident was not only overwhelmed with the size of the facility, but also encountered some unanticipated problems as a driver. "I was racing a 575-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette for Morrison Motorsports," Pilgrim recalled, "and I quickly found out I was becoming disoriented on the 32-degree banking. If you're looking out the center of the windshield, like you do just about everywhere else, all you see is the blackness of the asphalt ahead of you looking like some immense wall. It also affects your ability to steer the car properly, and at 180 miles per hour, steering has to be quick and precise." Pilgrim's solution to the problem? "Look out the top left corner of the windshield when you're on the banking. That's the only way to know what ahead of you." That year, Pilgrim, Doc Bundy, R. K. Smith and Tampa's Joe Varde, finished fourth in the Corvette, one lap away from a GTS class win.

-D.I.S.-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers John Andretti , Andy Pilgrim , Kelly Collins , Al Unser Sr. , Jack Baldwin , Hurley Haywood , George Robinson , David Hobbs , Al Holbert , Tom Kendall , Derek Bell , Danny Ongais , Benny Parsons , Chip Ganassi , Joe Varde , Doc Bundy , Peter Gregg , A.J. Foyt , Tom Walkinshaw