Alton, Va. (Sept. 12) -- A new age in American sports car racing began in February when the Daytona Prototypes led the field to the green flag for the 41st running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The new lead class for the Rolex Sports Car Series runs...
Alton, Va. (Sept. 12) -- A new age in American sports car racing began in February when the Daytona Prototypes led the field to the green flag for the 41st running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The new lead class for the Rolex Sports Car Series runs for the 11th time over the weekend of Oct. 3-5, when the Daytona Prototypes headline the VIR 400 at VIRginia International Raceway.
Announced on the eve of the 2002 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Daytona Prototype concept has quickly taken root. Bob Snodgrass, president of Brumos Racing, unveiled an artist's conception of a Porsche-powered FABCAR at the original announcement of the Daytona Prototypes, carrying the No. 59 made famous by Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood and painted in the team's familiar livery, white with red and blue stripes. Haywood was announced as the co-driver of the new car, joining newcomer J.C. France to lead a two-car team.
Since then, major manufacturers, including Ford, Toyota and BMW, have embraced the innovative concept, along with major car builders, including FABCAR, Picchio, Multimatic, Doran Enterprises, Riley & Scott and Crawford.
Six Daytona Prototypes were on hand for the 2003 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Scott Maxwell, David Empringham and David Brabham scored the first victory for the new class in the Multimatic Ford Focus, placing fourth overall.
One month later, Haywood and France teamed to win the Nextel Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway to give the Daytona Prototypes the overall victory. They were driving the No. 59 Porsche painted in the historic Brumos paint scheme -- identical to the artist's conception unveiled at the announcement of the new class.
In only 13 months, the Daytona Prototype went from concept to a race-winning car.
At the VIR 400, eight months into the inaugural season, enthusiasts can expect to see a record number of Daytona Prototypes challenging the 3.27-mile VIR circuit. Expected entries include the two Brumos Racing Porsche/FABCARs, the G&W Motorsports BMW/Picchio (home-based at VIR's Raceplex industrial park), Chevrolet/Doran JE 4s from Doran Racing and Bell Motorsports, the Canadian-based SpeedSource Multimatic Ford and the new Virginia-based Chase Daytona Prototype.
In addition to the Daytona Prototypes, the VIR 400 will include three other classes. The SRP II class for open-cockpit, rear-engined prototypes; the GTS class for tube-framed, V8-powered coupes such as Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Corvettes; and the GT class for smaller, production-based coupes such as the Ferrari 360GT and Porsche 911 GT3-RS.The VIR 400 is scheduled for 400 kilometers (77 laps) or two hours and 45 minutes, whichever comes first.
Other series racing during the weekend will include the very popular Grand-Am Cup series for race-modified street compacts and performance cars, structured with four classes, which will have a three-hour race on Saturday. Joining the Rolex Series on Sunday's schedule will be the Tire Rack BMW Car Club of America Club Racing Series and the NASA American Iron series, which features race-prepared muscle cars.
It will be a particularly busy weekend for Haywood, who is embroiled in a tight championship battle for the inaugural Daytona Prototype title. America's most successful sports car racer, Haywood will be honored as the weekend's grand marshal. Co-driving with the late Peter Gregg, he scored his first professional race win in the inaugural IMSA GT race at VIR in 1971, and the duo repeated the feat in '72. Since then, he has claimed five wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, two wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring, two IMSA GT championships, an SCCA Trans-Am championship and an IMSA SuperCar championship. Brumos Porsche, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based dealership and racing team for whom Haywood has driven his entire career, will bring the historic VIR-winning cars (a Porsche 914-6 GT from '71 and a Porsche 911 from '72) to display throughout the event.
"We can't wait for the VIR 400 weekend," said VIR co-owner Connie Nyholm. "The Daytona Prototypes are going to be spectacular on what we think is America's most beautiful and challenging racetrack, and we're anticipating great wheel-to-wheel competition in all the various series that will be racing throughout the event. We also look forward to welcoming Hurley Haywood back to VIR as our grand marshal. He holds a special place in VIR's long history, and we're happy to have this opportunity to honor him for his accomplishments."
Advance three-day Super Tickets for the VIR 400 are priced at $40, with single-day Sunday tickets priced at $30. Advance tickets are only available through a select network of ticket outlets. Ticket outlets are listed on the VIR website at www.virclub.com/pages/eventInfo03/grandAm03.htm. At the gate, three-day Super Tickets are priced at $50, with single-day tickets priced at $10 (Friday), $20 (Saturday) and $40 (Sunday). VIR is a family-friendly facility, where children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Spectator camping is available.
VIRginia International Raceway is a multi-purpose road racing facility, located on the Dan River 12 miles east of Danville, Va., and just north of historic Milton, N.C. In addition to its 3.27-mile natural-terrain road racing circuit (which is designed to be operated as two autonomous, full-service courses), VIR is the cornerstone of VIR Club, America's first motorsports country club, the VIR Raceplex Industrial Park, and the VIR Euro Rally School and Corporate Motorsport Experience, which features four rally stages plus a kart track, ATV and SUV training grounds and a Tuff Terrain" course. Future plans include the VIR Gallery, a showroom for high-end collector and racing cars, and resort lodging.
VIR made history from 1957 to 1974 and is doing so again. The renovated original circuit has 17 challenging turns and 130 feet of elevation change. In addition to spectator events, the track is also available to rent for testing, driving schools and club days.
For more information, visit the track's website at www.virclub.com or contact VIR toll-free at 888-RACE099. For more information on the VIR Euro Rally School and Corporate Motorsport Experience, call toll-free 877-RALLY66 or visit their website at www.vireurorally.com.