Longtime fans of IMSA style racing are very familiar with the fact that the SCCA provides the corner workers for all of the events of the sportscar racing series. What you might not know as well is that more than a few of the racers in the Rolex 24 this past weekend spend their spare time competing in the many racing classes sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America. The event marks the "official" start of Speedweeks in Daytona, and paves the way for all the rest of the races to come in 2014.
In total, more than 50 drivers that took to the track’s high banks competing in either the Ferrari Challenge, TUDOR United Sports Car Championship Rolex 24 or Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge BMW Performance 200 have strong ties to the SafeRacer SCCA Club Racing program or an SCCA Pro Racing-sanctioned race series. Household names like Randy Pobst and Graham Rahal already have gold medals at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs and, for Pobst, multiple Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships and SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge titles.
Of course, not every name slips off the tip of the tongue quite as easy as Rahal or Pobst. Starting at the top of the qualifying sheets, former west coast Club racer Jon Fogarty shared a car with overall polesitter Alex Gurney – the son of 2014 SCCA Hall of Fame Inductee, Dan Gurney – for the full-day race. Continental Tire Challenge ST class polesitter Jeff Mosing got his professional racing start as a full time driver in the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup, and paired with Spec Miata National Champion and Mazda MX-5 Cup champion Eric Foss in his efforts for a race win.
Scott Sharp, Boris Said and teammate Eric Curran, Anthony Lazzaro and Scott Pruett are past SCCA Champions who also had a shot at the overall crown and a new watch in this weekend’s showcase event, while Brandon Davis, Andy Lally and Patrick Long competed for fame and glory in the GT classes. Tomi Drissi, Kuno Wittmer, James Sofronas and Ken Wilden are all SCCA Pro Racing winners who were on the hunt for class wins.
The defending Touring 1 and GT-2 National Champion, Andrew Aquilante, drove toward the front of Continental Tire pack in his Ford Mustang. Also in the field were teenage sensations Trent Hindman and Dillon Machavern, both of whom are 2013 US Majors Tour Conference Champions.
Stevan McAleer, the 2012 SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion, took to the track with other SCCA Pro veterans like Bill Auberlen, who raced in Pirelli World Challenge, and Terry Borcheller, who raced in select World Challenge and Club events.
Curren and three-time World Challenge champion Lawson Aschenbach shared a car in the GS class of Friday’s race, as did current U.S. Majors Tour competitors Kurt Rezzetano and Preston Calvert. 2012 Sports 2000 National Champion and defending Touring 3 Champion Chad Gilsinger were also a few of the potential front-runners in ST.
Although these were not the only SCCA members competing this past weekend, it gives you an idea of the impact that SCCA has had on the development of motorsports talent. Those skills are not limited to driving, but include the support staff required to safely run an event such at the Rolex 24. The club will return to Daytona in the fall as the 2015 SCCA National Championship Runoffs will take place on the same 12-turn, 3.56-mile circuit that hosted this weekend’s event.
Stay tuned to this column for continuing coverage surrounding the Rolex 24 at Daytona weekend, as well as interviews and behind-the-scenes access to some of the sports greatest teams. Be sure to subscribe to the West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner, and keep track of your favorite racers. If you're a motorsports fan, and know of an event, team, or person you'd like to see profiled, please let me know. Also, be sure to follow me on twitter, and read my articles about local getaways, HOAs, elections, and restaurants.