A look back at the Rolex 24 with Al Carter
Al Carter was among the 200+ drivers that made history last weekend at Daytona International Speedway. Carter and his TRG-Aston Martin Racing teammates raced in the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event, the Rolex 24 At Daytona. That was Al Carter's third participation in the greatest North American endurance race.
Carter not only made history racing in the first TUSCC event but he was also one of the first ever drivers to compete in an Aston Martin racecar at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The first Aston Martin to compete at Daytona was a DBR2 in 1959 in the inaugural six-hour sportscar event raced on the road course. Aston Martin chassis have competed at Daytona International Speedway in the original endurance races in 1962 and 1963 in the Daytona 3 hour and in 1964 in the Daytona Continental 2000 K. 50 years ago marked the last appearance before last weekend of an Aston Martin chassis in the historic endurance event. The two Aston DP214 DB4/GTs at that time were co-driven by Roy Salvadori and Mike Salmon and by Brian Hetreed and Chris Kerrison.
29 years ago was the last time we saw an Aston Martin presence in the endurance event. The car was a Nimrod NRA/C2 powered by an Aston Martin DP1229 Tickford engine but it never started the race. The Aston Martin-powered Nimrod prototypes raced in the 1983 and 1984 Daytona 24 Hours. The most memorable Aston Martin moment at the Rolex 24 At Daytona before last weekend was the presence of legendary A.J. Foyt and Darrell Waltrip joined by Guillermo Maldenado in the 1983 Daytona 24 Hours all behind the wheel of the Pepsi Challenger Nimrod chassis powered by an Aston engine.
The Daytona race week first racing event of the 2014 season started with a B+ Foundation event in Orlando. Al Carter and former teammate Hugh Plumb visited the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando and met children battling childhood cancer, in their hospital rooms. This event was the first of the 2014 B+ Fighting Childhood Cancer Tour that will take Carter and The B+ Foundation to children hospitals before key TUSCC races this year.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona event had a very busy opening day of practice on Thursday. Four practice sessions were planned for the same day including two free practices, one night free practice and a fifteen minute qualifying session in the afternoon. James Davison had the honor to qualify the 007 Aston Martin and he did an excellent job. The Aussie was making his racing debut at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and he did not bend under pressure! After an excellent session he put the 007 TRG-AMR in fourth position on the grid for the race proving right there that the car would be competitive for the rest of the event.
On Friday, Al Carter was also competing in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and raced in the first round of the 2014 championship with his teammate Brett Sandberg. Earlier this year, Carter became a partner of Rebel Rock Racing, the racing organization started by Grammy Award winner and music producer Jim Jonsin. The Rebel Rock Racing team came to Daytona with three Porsche racecars and high expectations. Sandberg qualified the No. 7 Rebel Rock Racing B+ Foundation/Eagle Tech/Sideskinz Porsche on Thursday in 9th place. A great position for the start of what was the most anticipated CTSCC race of the season. Sandberg had an incredible first stint and led the race for a while before handing the car to Carter who also did an excellent job and finished 6th, a great result knowing that it was the first time Al was racing with Sandberg and with Rebel Rock Racing.
The start of the 52nd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona was very exciting. A record number of fans crowded the infield during pre-race activities and watched the start of the first race of a new North American sportscar racing era. James Davison started the 007 and took the lead about eight hours into the race, fighting back after the team was three laps down early in the event. But he then received a technical penalty under caution. Davison returned to the track, two laps down in 13th place, after serving the penalty in the pits. He then immediately resumed the pace that brought the car to the front, showing the true competitiveness of the V12 Vantage GT3. But trouble struck again about two hours after the penalty when the No. 007 was forced to the garage to repair a radiator damaged by hitting debris in traffic. Strong work by the TRG-AMR crew got the car back on track, and the drivers began the work of clawing back lost ground as the sun started to rise over the 3.56-mile circuit.
Like his three teammates, Al Carter did a great job. Al ran multiple single and double stints during the race and was really competitive. The No. 007 was forced to the garage again later on Sunday morning, where continued diligent, disciplined pit work allowed the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 to return to the track with two hours remaining and run strongly to the checkered flag.
Of course Al wanted to have a better result for his first race in an Aston Martin, but finishing the Rolex 24 is already an accomplishment and a first step towards a greater result. Al is already looking forward to Sebring for the next championship round to be raced at Sebring International Raceway for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 15.