The Grand Am Series and the American Le Mans Series combined resources in 2013, but ran separately until the International Motor Sports Association could diligently meld the competing organizations into one. The IMSA recently launched the new series early in 2014 with the familiar Roar before The Rolex at Daytona International Speedway.
With DIS undergoing massive viewing grandstand renovations just outside the legendary 2.5 tri-oval track, the IMSA brought more than 100 cars to the beach resort area for testing.
With the new year only days old, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ran their new cars around the 3.56-mile road course.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona is an endurance race requiring many drivers from across the globe to take shifts around the clock.
Many of those drivers were testing at DIS during the three-day Roar including Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson, Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ryan Briscoe and TV star and sports car driver Patrick Dempsey.
NASCAR driver Jaime McMurray has raced go-karts, NASCAR Sprint Cup and IMSA Rolex cars at the revered Daytona track and shared his thoughts on racing when points don’t count for him.
“I come down here because it’s fun,” McMurray said. “I’ve got to win the biggest NASCAR race, the Daytona 500, and I’ve won the Brickyard 400, and to me this is the one race that I would like to win more than anything right now. This is a huge race.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar champion, returns to the SRT Motorsports team for the Rolex 24.
"The SRT Motorsports program has come such a long way in a short period of time," Hunter-Reay said. "This is truly one of the most competitive forms of GT class racing in the world and for the Viper GTS-R team to earn three poles and a win last season is outstanding. I have a long history with the Riley Technologies family and am looking forward to working with the same group in 2014 to again represent SRT on the track."
Another IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe discussed his role driving the No.3 Chevrolet C7.R during the endurance race.
“I want to do my part – be smooth, consistent and fast when I need to be,” Briscoe said. “Hopefully I can be the guy they need to be to win these long races.”
The popular “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey will compete in the GT Daytona (GTD) class Porsche 911for Dempsey Racing. Like many other IMSA drivers Dempsey’s thoughts proved he has winning on his mind as well.
“It’s been a long, challenging number of years,” Dempsey said. “I want to win. We have a great opportunity to win with the quality of drivers and cars. If we could get our first win here that would be the most satisfying and be a turning point for the team and myself as well.”
With the Roar before the Rolex 24 in the books for another year attention can now turn to preparing for the grueling around-the-clock race Jan 25-26.
Rolex will be keeping the proper time.
For details go to www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com
Six major NASCAR tracks are within a day's drive of Tampa. Great destinations justify journeys.
Here the NASCAR venue is considered local if tracks are within a 10 hour drive from Tampa—Daytona International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of motorsports topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained from firsthand interviews or official release materials provided by sanctions, teams or track representatives.