Some familiar faces were at Daytona International Speedway last week for a two-day test session staged in preparation for Historic Sportscar Racing’s Classic 24 Hours at Daytona race, scheduled for the November 8-12 weekend.
Official entries are to be announced this week, but the faces in the race cars during the test session indicate a very strong field for the round-the-clock race for vintage vehicles. And, it turns out, for racers of an earlier vintage as well.
“It’s always good to come back to Daytona after many years of good memories here,” Didier Theys, who did two days of testing in the 2000 Brian Doran/Lista Racing Dallara Judd Le Mans prototype that Theys and Fredy Lienhard will drive in the race, said in an HSR news release.
“The last time I drove here was in 2005, and the car we will race this year in the Classic 24 is a 2000 chassis LMP Dallara Judd that we raced in 2002. We won the Daytona 24 Hour that year, but this is the car that at mid-season at Watkins Glen we started to race with a bigger five-liter Judd. We finished the season that year with this car and won the championship.”
That 2002 Daytona winner currently resides in Lienhard’s museum in Switzerland, but the 2000 version that will race again “has actually been sitting in my shop since it last raced in mid-2003,” Doran said.
“We did a full restoration after that season, with the intention of running it, but Fredy was racing in Europe and doing different things, and we never got around to running it. Now it’s going to run in the Classic 24 Hour this year and we will see what we can do with it.”
Among other entries that took advantage of the test session were BMW racing star Dieter Quester and his BMW M1 “Procar,” which wears Red Bull colors.
Quester raced M1 BMWs in the prime of his career in Group 4 and Group 5 events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the original BMW M1 Procar Championship from 1979 through 1982.
Driving with Quester will be Le Mans veteran Luca Riccitelli, who also joined him in the 2000 Rolex 24 at Daytona when they were racing in the GTU class.
Seeking a third consecutive Classic 24 Hour victory will be the Rogers Motorsports team, which has a 2005 Audi R8 LMP for drivers Andy Wallace and Doug Smith, both of whom took part in the test session.
“It’s a brilliant event,” Smith said of the Classic competition. “It’s a celebration of the cars, first and foremost, and I think we are all pretty fortunate — I know Andy and I feel that way — to be able to be around this stuff and drive these great race cars.
“As far as the competition, everybody has definitely stepped their game up.”
Back at Daytona, and in a car that he drove to fourth place at Le Mans a decade ago, is Joao Barbosa, who will race a 2007 Pescarolo Judd for GMT Racing. Barbosa also was part of the winning teams in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2010 and 2014 and was on the pole for the 2017 running of that race.
“Yes, we will have our work cut out for us, but guess what, we have made some improvements too,” said Wallace, who was in the winning Rolex 24 cars in 1990, 1997 and 1999.
“It really is cool to be here,” he said. “The Audi is a car I raced in period, so it is a lot of fond memories from then, working with all of the guys. Every time you sit back in that car you realize why it was one of the greatest racing cars ever.
“Just standing here in the garage near us we have a GTP Jaguar and a couple of Audis, a Pescarolo and Lola LMP cars,” he said during the test session. “These are wonderful cars, and it is nice that they are not hidden away somewhere, they are actually being used. It’s a privilege to be here, it’s great that HSR puts this race on and that it has turned into such a great success.”
Wallace also tested a Roger Motorsports Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7 during the recent session.
2018 Mitty to celebrate Nissan racing
The HSR has announced that the 41st edition of the Mitty vintage races will be held April 26-29 at Road Atlanta and will feature Nissan as the honored marque.
“Nissan has had a great success in sports car racing with their Datsun 510s and 240Zs and then came their Nissan GTP ZX-T Prototype,” the sanctioning body said in its news release. “Many of the company’s classic race cars will be on display and on track at the Mitty.”
Race Retro 2018 celebrates 40th anniversary of F1 ground effects
Race Retro, an international historic motorsport show scheduled for February 23-25, 2018, in England, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the ground-effects era in Formula 1 racing.
“Although the use of aerodynamic influence can be traced back more than a century in motor racing – Gustave Eiffel of Parisian tower fame had a wind tunnel that Peugeot used to help shape its Grand Prix cars in the 1910s – it was Colin Chapman of Team Lotus who first capitalized fully on the notion of the racing car as an inverted wing, pressed to the track by the air that passed over its bodywork’s contours,” show organizers said in their news release.
Chapman’s Lotus 79 won its first race and carried Mario Andretti to the world driving championship in 1978.