Lists: FIVE 24 Hours Of Daytona Facts You Might Not Know

FIVE 24 Hours Of Daytona Facts You Might Not Know

James Gent By James Gent
January 25, 2020
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In April 1959, a stand-alone, 1000km USAC-organised sports car race was commissioned to celebrate the opening of the Daytona International Speedway. Only in 1962 though was Florida’s most famous oval circuit included as a round of the International Championship for GT Manufacturers, and thus, the three-hour Daytona Continental became a reality. Three years later, after two 2000km distance races, the 24 Hours of Daytona was born.

Since then, the 24 Hours / Rolex 24 has become the endurance sports car race to win in North America, and features sports car legends Derek Bell, Brian Redman, Vic Elford, Jacky Ickx and Andy Wallace; former Formula 1 World Champions Mario Andretti, Fernando Alonso and Phil Hill; and former IndyCar champions Bobby Rahal, A. J. Foyt and Al Unser Jr. as its race-winning alumni. That Hurley Haywood and Scott Pruett are the event’s most successful drivers is well-known by now, as is Chip Ganassi Racing’s benchmark six wins for teams. But what of the facts and figures you may not be familiar with? Well…

Honourable mention. Ferrari is the only marque to have won the 3-hr, 6-hr, 24-hr and 2000km variants of Daytona’s endurance race.

We know, we know, honourable mentions are a cop out. But we couldn’t bring ourselves to drop this one entirely: since 1962, Ferrari remains the only team/brand/engine supplier to have won every iteration of the Rolex ‘24’ at Daytona at least once.

In 1963, one year after Gurney’s infamous victory, North American Racing Team’s Pedro Rodríguez led home a Ferrari 250 GTO 1-2 ahead of American racing giant, Roger Penske, and three laps clear of the 3rd-placed Corvette Stingray. The following year, Rodríguez, this time alongside ’61 Formula 1 World Champion and three-time Le Mans winner Phil Hill, took the North American Racing Team-entered 250 GTO back to victory lane at the inaugural Daytona 2000, the prancing horse this time locking out the podium.

In 1967, at the second ever 24 Hours of Daytona, Lorenzo Bandini and Chris Amon took victory in a works-entered 330 P4. Finally, five years later, then-three-time IndyCar Champion and future Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti shared the wheel of a factory 312PB with future six-time Le Mans winner, Jacky Ickx, to win the only 6 Hours of Daytona in 1972.

It would be a long wait though before Maranello celebrated its sixth, and to-date, last overall win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mauro Baldi, Arie Luyendyk, Giampiero Moretti, and Didier Theys collecting the chequered flag in a Doran-Moretti Racing-entered 333 SP in 1998.

*Images courtesy of Ferrari

1) If you’re an American team, you’re probably winning.

Since 1966, a staggering 80 per cent of the overall winning teams at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and its numerous three and six-hour incarnations, have been American. To put that into further perspective, of the 56 races to-date at the Daytona International Speedway, only 11 of them have been won by a non-American team.

Of those 11, the first four were split equally between Italy’s own Scuderia Ferrari (1967 and 1972) and Germany’s Porsche System Engineering / L&M Joest Racing (1968 and 1980), while the fantastically-named Kreepy Krauly Racing collected the only win for South Africa in 1984.

Interestingly, the four-year period between 1988 and 1992 proved the most lucrative for non-American teams, with Britain’s Castrol Jaguar Racing winning twice in ’88 and ’90, with Joest Racing collecting its second in ’91 and Nissan Motorsports becoming the first Japanese team to take the win in ’92. Throw in Germany’s ‘Kremer Racing’ (’95) and France’s Viper Team Oreca (’00) to complete the set. And yes, that does mean that a non-American team hasn’t won America’s biggest sports car race since the turn of the century.

*Images courtesy of Jaguar, Nissan Motorsports, Porsche Motorsport and FCA Group

2) There’s exactly 30 years between the largest winning margin at Daytona and the shortest.

In 1979, Danny Ongais, American film producer Ted Field, and event record holder Hurley Haywood took the third consecutive win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona (then the ’24 Hour Pepsi Challenge’), doing so with the largest winning margin the event had since before or since. Indeed, an incredible 49 laps further back (635 to 684), John Morton and Tony Adamowicz collected 2nd place overall, the Modena Sports Cars-entered Ferrari 365 GTB4 Daytona unable to keep pace with the Interscope Racing Porsche 935/79. Not that it was plain sailing for the American team, turbo issues in the final hour threatening the Porsche’s race altogether.

Three decades later, David Donohue, Antonio García, Darren Law, and Buddy Rice, Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Juan Pablo Montoya made history when the Brumos Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing Rileys finished just 0.167s apart in 1st and 2nd. This marked not only the first time that more than two cars were on the lead lap at Daytona in the history of the event but was also a fitting way for Brumos Racing to celebrate its first Rolex win since 1978, 31 years earlier.

*Images courtesy of Porsche Motorsports

3) Of the 30 drivers with the most overall wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, only THREE can add to their tally in 2020.

Five-time winners Hurley Haywood and Scott Pruett can breathe weighty sighs of relief that their shared record at the Rolex 24 at Daytona is safe for two more years at the absolute least, with only three former multi-time winners able to add to their overall tally this weekend.

Three-time winners Juan-Pablo Montoya and João Barbosa will be gunning for victory number four in the #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 and the #5 JDC-Miller MotorSports-entered Cadillac Dpi-V.R. Of the two, the Portuguese, two-time former United SportsCar Champion took his most recent win in 2018 with Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi following his first two in 2010 (Terry Borcheller / Ryan Dalziel / Mike Rockenfeller) and 2014 (Fittipaldi again / Sébastien Bourdais). The Colombian former Grand Prix winner and Indy 500 champion meanwhile broke his Daytona duck in 2007 with Salvador Durán and Scott Pruett, fittingly, following that up with win number two the next year (Dario Franchitti / Memo Rojas / Pruett again) before sealing his third in 2013 (Charlie Kimball / Rojas again / Pruett again, again).

That then just leaves five-time IndyCar champion, 2008 Indy 500 winner, and 2006 and 2015 Daytona winner Scott Dixon, who will be looking to take his third this year with Wayne Taylor Racing alongside Ryan Briscoe, Renger van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi.

Don’t be mistaken though: Montoya, Barbosa and Dixon are not the only former multiple winners taking the green flag in 2020. Last year, Jordan Taylor collected his second win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but this weekend takes over Jan Magnussen’s berth at Corvette Racing in the GT division.

Fun fact, with Ricky Taylor signed up with Acura Team Penske, this marks the first time that neither Taylor brother will drive father, and former two-time winner, Wayne’s eponymous prototype since 2009.

*Images courtesy of Cadillac

4) Porsche has almost double the number of overall wins as the next most successful Constructor, and more than three times that of the next most successful Engine supplier.

Holy Christ, Porsche really knows how to win endurance races! Alongside its record 19 wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the German marque also boasts 18 wins at Sebring, 12 victories at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, and seven outright top steps at the Spa 24 Hours among others. There are even two wins on the Dakar Rally notched up.

Unsurprisingly therefore, and despite prototypes leading the way at Daytona since 2003, Porsche is also the benchmark at the Rolex 24 in terms of wins as both a Constructor (18) and an engine supplier (22).

As a Constructor, that tally puts Porsche eight wins ahead of Riley, the American brand having a formidably dominant run from 2005 to 2015 before making a full time switch to the lower tier LMP2 division for 2017: in that decade, only the Action Express Racing Coyote-Corvette bested a Riley prototype, in 2014.

By the way, yes, that unbroken nine-year winning streak is an event record for Constructors, six of which were taken by the Riley MkXI prototype. It’s a win-rate only equalled by the Porsche 935 (1978 to 1983).

As for wins as an engine supplier, Ford currently lies second overall with six, just one more than Ferrari (also the third most successful Constructor). Of the current brood, Cadillac is the most likely to move up the board, though admittedly the American brand has a bit of catching up to do with three wins from 2017, 2018 and 2019.

*Images courtesy of Porsche Motorsports

5) #2 is the most successful race number at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Rick Ware Racing could get its IMSA season off to a good start at Daytona this weekend, as the LMP2-entered Riley Mk. 30-Gibson will compete with the #2 on its nosecone. Statistically, that is the most successful race number when it comes to overall race wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Yes, we’re deep into nerd territory here but bear with us…

Since the very first 24-hour race at Daytona in 1966 – won incidentally be Ken Miles and Lloyd Rugby in a Shelby-entered Mk.II Ford GT40 – the car bearing #2 / #02 has taken the overall win eight times, more than any other race number. The first came in 1970, when the all-conquering Porsche 917K claimed victory for JW Engineering, doing so again one year later. If you also count the six-hour race that briefly replaced the 24-hour event in 1972, then the car bearing #2 won three races in succession, something that only one other race number has managed. Which we’ll come back to in a second…

The next most successful number are, perhaps unsurprisingly, #1, which has managed the feat four times since Daytona’s inaugural endurance race in 1962, and #10. We’ll also going to give a rather peculiar shout out to #59, which won three times in succession from 1973 to 1976 (discounting the cancelled race in 1974).

*Images courtesy of General Motors, Acura, IMSA, and Michelin USA

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