Monday, January 23, 2012

ROLEX 24: 2012 Daytona Classic celebrates 50th Anniversary with host of Big Names...

This coming weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway; January 28-29 will once again feature a bevy ‘O B-I-G name drivers, with several Open Wheel Racing Starz in the mix, not to mention luminaries from the Sports Car world along with ex-Formula 1 drivers ...

And this year’s 50th running of the 24 hours of Daytona has a twist to it too with the announcement of new rules for the Daytona Prototype (DP) Big Boyz, as essentially the “Greenhouse” cockpit area has been redesigned along with subtle Bodywork allowances in order to more closely mimic production vehicles, i.e.; Corvette, and hence there will be five brand new shiny 2012-spec Corvette DP’s taking part...

IndyCar Participants
Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe will once again compete with Wayne Taylor’s No. 10 SunTrust Corvette-DP alongside Max “Thee Ax” Angelelli & Ricky Taylor.

Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti will once again be part of the two car Target Armada, paired with Juan Pablo ‘MAC Montoya & Jamie McMurry aboard the No. 02 Riley-BMW DP; while Graham Rahal will return with Scott ‘Scooter Pruett, Memo Rojas & Factory BMW DTM driver Joey Hand in the No. 01.

Justin ‘BIG UNIT Wilson will begin his seat time re-acclimatization with ex-Champ Car driver A.J. Allmendinger - now a Penske ‘RASSCAR Boy, plus Ozz Negri and John Pew Chauffeuring the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Riley-Ford DP.

And TK “Follow-your-Schnoz” Kanaan and EJ “What Me, Worry?” Viso will be partnered with Bully Boy Ryan Hunter-reay, Maurizio Scala and Miguel Potolicchio driving the No. 2 Starworks Riley-Ford DP...

In the No. 6 Ford-Riley MSR Daytona Prototype will be a pair ‘O Indy Lights Boyz, with Jorge Goncalvez and thee ‘Yak, a.k.a. Gustavo Yacaman behind the wheel... With NO word on whether or not co-driver Michael McDowell will wish to give some bodies (No. 56 Ferrari the Chrome Horn treatment!

James Hinchcliffe will make his Daytona 24hrs debut behind the wheel of a GT Mazda, co-driving the No. 70 RX-8 with Marino Franchitti and Jonathan Bomarito; whilst ex-IndyCar driver ‘Rafa Matos will join “FishyFella,” aka Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni aboard the brutally quick No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 GT.

And I’ve just discovered Thee Thrill from the West Hill, aka ‘PT or better known as Paul Tracy’s name as part of the Doran Racing’s No. 77 Dallara-Ford DP effort, with fellow ex-CART competitors Massimiliano “MAD MAX” Papis in the Number Nine, number-9, number Nein! (No. 9) Action Express Racing Corvette-DP... While Christian Fittipaldi who just celebrated his 41st birthday will chauffer the No. 5 Action Express Racing ‘Seester Corvette-DP, and Memo Gidley will co-drive the No. 99 Bob Stallings Racing Corvette-DP...


Other BIG Names
And I’m a HUGE Fan ‘O Ryan Dalziel’s - as this ‘Scot never got his fair shot in Indy Cars, having been forced out at Pacific Coast Motorsports - remember them? Who’ll be looking for his second winner’s Rolex chronograph watch alongside Alan “The Terrier” McNish, a ‘Mega Sports Car ace! Plus ex-Penske Sports Car and Porsche Factory Gun Lucas Luhr in the Starworks ‘Seester car...

Not to mention David Donohue, Terry Borcheller, Joao Barbosa, etc. Who’ve all stood on the podiums top step. While I see GM’s loaned out factory boy ‘MAGS, nee Jan Magnessen to the Spirit of Daytona Corvette-DP.

Meanwhile there’s a number of “Sleepers” in the GT field - like the No. 45 with such notables as Patrick Long, Mike “Rocky” Rockenfeller and Jorg Bergmeister piloting the venerable Flying Lizards Porsche 911 GT3, not to mention another stout lineup piloting a brace ‘O Porsche Panzerwagons for TRG!

And then there’s the interesting entry named Yellow Dragon Motorsports with “Gentleman” John & son Jarett Andretti spearheading the driving line-up with co-drivers Taylor Hacquard and Anders “the Viking” Krohn, who’s another Indy Lights driver. As it’ll be the first time the Andretti’s have driven together and I believe it’ll be John’s first time in a Mazda RX8?

While another lost in the wilderness OWR talent by the name of John Edwards, not the politician, but the former Star Mazda and Toyota Atlantics champion who’s been driving for Mazda will once again see duty behind the keyboard, albeit this time in a rival Camaro, the No. 57 - sharing seat time with an ex-Dale Coyne (DCR) Sonny’s Barbeque Boy...

And several of la Scuderia’s latest examples will also be on hand - where I spotted lurking off the radar somewhat, Travis Pastrana’s name alongside his ‘RASSCAR-LITE team owner Mikey “Aw Shucks” Waltrip running the No. 56 AF-Waltrip Ferrari 458 GT. Not to mention some Dude named Scotty Sharp who’ll be running in his No. 03 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari...

Another B-I-G name I recently had the privilege of interviewing here at No Fenders; current SPEED TV “Funnyman” & Reporter Justin Bell, apparently has gotten the racing bug once again after his return in last year’s Petit LeMans - and will be part of the No. 4’s Porsche GT3 driver lineup...


Locals
This is just a small smattering ‘O local talent, as I know, what about all of the ‘KuhNucks from next door Vancouver, BC, eh? Hey! You try typing down everybody’s name; Otay?

Thus I just kept to my home state, albeit was unawares of some ‘Ol Crooner from Oregon; Hya!

No. 22: Bullet Racing - Porsche GT3; Randy Blaylock, Bothell, Washington and Joe White, Spokane, WA. (Actually, this 5-driver team features two ‘Hosers, i.e. Vancouver, BC Boys, one Californian and two ‘Warshingtonians...)

No. 41: Dempsey Motorsports/Team Seattle - Mazda RX8; Don Kitch Jr., Bellevue, WA.

No. 99: Bob Stalling Racing - Corvette-DP; John “CCR” Fogarty; Bend, Oregon. (Transplanted Californian - Two-time Toyota Atlantics champion...)

Ex-Champ Car Boyz
No. 57:Stevenson Motorsports - Camaro; Ronnie Bremer,
No. 87: Racers Edge Motorsports - Dodge Viper; Jan “Van Hagar” Heylen

And currently there’s 14 DP’s and 46 GT’s entered for the race, which you can peruse in the entry list below.

As once again I’m torn between Justin & AJ vs. Dalziel’ & McNish, although I’d prefer seeing the No. 60 win overall, while I’ll definitely be rootin’ for the No. 41 Team Seattle car in the GT category, with my second choice being the No. 22 followed by the No. 62...

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