DC - Just wondering

JUST WONDERING Though certainly less so than when the class debuted during the 2003 Rolex 24 At Daytona, why do some insist on singling out the Rolex Series' Daytona Prototype class as a "spec" class when the only thing specified is a set of...


JUST WONDERING

Though certainly less so than when the class debuted during the 2003 Rolex 24 At Daytona, why do some insist on singling out the Rolex Series' Daytona Prototype class as a "spec" class when the only thing specified is a set of rules under which the cars and teams must operate?

Consider the fact that no U.S.-based professional open-wheel series -- big-time or little -- has more than one engine supplier and that most of the teams in the two top U.S. open-wheel series favor a specific manufacturer's chassis.

It would seem those open-wheel cars are closer to being a so-called "spec" class than any other major U.S. series.

Oh, wait! Those open-wheel series also have open-ended rule books which do not constrain race cars in any manner whatsoever, don't they?

Then there's a numbers game afoot, too.

Terms like "fast-growing," "most diverse" and all that rot are cavalierly thrown about by another closed-wheel sanctioning body and yet remain mostly unchallenged.

At Watkins Glen, 25 DPs alone are on hand. Joining them are another 21 GT-class cars. That's an altogether typical race field of 46 cars in two classes - more than twice the number of cars at another recent, major-series closed-wheel event.

Some, left only with aesthetics, complain about the "look" of the Rolex Series' DP.

Officially ended in the middle-1990's was IMSA's (and it was a far different IMSA than today's) so-called "Golden Era," during which some incredibly fast cars took center stage, including All-American Racing's Toyota Mk II and Mk III; Nissan's GTP ZX-T and NPTI-90/91; Tom Walkinshaw's XJR-series Jaguars; Ford's front-engined Mustang and more -- much more.

But for all practical purposes, that grand golden age had melted down before 1990 when, prior to that, independent teams and, afterward, manufacturers like Jaguar, Nissan and Toyota could no longer fund teams who developed and fielded cars that helped bring that golden racing period to an end.

Indeed, some competitors from that age say the latter-stage cars were little more than re-bodied F-1 cars.

The class' last Daytona 24 appearance in 1993 -- won by P.J. Jones, Mark Dismore and Rocky Moran in an All-American Racing Eagle Toyota MKIII -- brought out a total of nine GTPs among the 60-cars gridded for the race.

The addition of nine GTP-Lights and three "invited" LM or "Le Mans" cars bolstered an anemic GTP field that alone once numbered 31 cars at the class' 1985 Daytona 24 high-water mark.

Also in 1993, the open-cockpit World Sports Car -- from which the current day, open-cockpit sportscars were derived -- started phasing into worldwide sportscar competition, though racing first at the season's second race in Miami.

Accentuating the end of the sportscar's closed-cockpit era (during which the win-dominant Porsche 962 was born), the WSC introduction brought with it an ensuing wailing and gnashing of teeth that all but had its listeners believe the world itself was at its end.

One of the most prevalently heard, single-word comments about the new car?

"Ugly."

That's the same description all-too-often used for the Daytona Prototype.

Frankly, I don't give a darn what a sportscar car looks like. After all, in time -- and yours truly was among those who wailed the loudest when the WSC car was rolled out -- it seems a lot of once-ugly cars somehow become beautiful.

What I most want to see is a driver become a part of that car, make it do things that are incredible to watch while matching wits with other drivers doing exactly the same thing.

It's what makes the race a race.

It's the race I want to see; whatever the series.

Footnote:

In 1994's Daytona 24 Hours a first-in-class WSC car -- a Spice AK93 Oldsmobile -- finished ninth overall and was fielded by Brix Racing.

One of its four drivers was Price Cobb, whose car-owner was Harry Brix.

Harrison Brix, Harry's son, co-drives the No. 77 Kodak Ford-Doran DP in Saturday's race with Terry Borcheller.

The winners of that year's race - Paul Gentilozzi, Butch Leitzinger, Steve Millen and Scott Pruett -- drove a Nissan 300ZX GTS-class entry.

Three other GTS cars and four GTU cars would finish in front of that class-winning WSC car.

-DC Williams, exclusively for Motorsport.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Mark Dismore , Scott Pruett , Paul Gentilozzi , Terry Borcheller , Price Cobb , Harrison Brix , Rocky Moran , Steve Millen , Tom Walkinshaw
Teams Williams