The 24 Hours of Daytona race celebrates its 60th anniversary January 29-30, when a 61-car field starts the round-the-clock competition at Daytona International Speedway, Rolex reports in a news release that also celebrates the timepiece maker’s 30th anniversary as the race title sponsor.
The race began in 1962 as a 3-hour competition won by Dan Gurney driving Frank Arciero’s Lotus Climax 19B and finishing ahead of a NART Ferrari Dino with Phil Hill and Ricardo Rodriguez, Jim Hall’s Chaparral-Chevrolet and Stirling Moss in a NART-entered Ferrari 250 GT.
The race expanded to 2,000 kilometers in 1964 and in 1966 to 24 hours, with the Ford GT40 Mk. II sweeping first (Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby), second (Dan Gurney and Jerry Grant), and third (Walt Hansgen and Mark Donohue) all ahead of a Ferrari 365P2 driven by Mario Andretti and Pedro Rodriguez.
“As part of the forthcoming 60th anniversary celebrations, the speedway will honor previous champions, including Mario Andretti, Hurley Haywood and Scott Pruett, as well as the machines which carried them to victory,” Rolex added.
“The testament of time is present in various aspects of the Rolex 24,” the news release quotes Pruett, a 5-time winner. “For me personally, having raced there on 24 occasions, and having won it many times, the excitement never grows old. Now celebrating the 60th anniversary, reliving the legacies that looped this track, I keep coming back to the Champion’s Creed: ‘It’s all about the watch’. Rolex and the 24 hours at Daytona are synonymous, as they continuously stand the test of time, showcase perseverance and hold fast to tradition.”
The 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona opens the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship racing season
“An exciting combination of rookies and decorated champions from across motor sport will contest this year’s race,” Rolex reports. “At the front of the five-class field, the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class will increase to seven entries for its final season, before it makes way for the Le Mans Daytona h (LMDh) category.
“Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson returns to the all-star No. 48 Ally Cadillac Dpi- V.R., alongside reigning FIA World Endurance Champion Kamui Kobayashi and 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Rockenfeller.”
Chip Ganassi Racing has confirmed their pair of Cadillac-powered entries with the No. 01 car featuring multiple race winners Renger van der Zande, Sébastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon, with IndyCar champion Alex Palou completing the line-up.
In the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class, IndyCar racers Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta join Devlin DeFrancesco and Eric Lux aboard the No. 81 DragonSpeed Oreca 07-Gibson.
“Both GT classes will run identical specifications, with the new Fédération de l’Automobile GT3-based GT Daytona PRO (GTD PRO) class replacing the GT Le Mans (GTLM) category for this year’s championship,” Rolex adds.
“TR3 Racing and Lamborghini are teaming up with entries in the GTD PRO class and the GT Daytona (GTD) class, with both cars featuring previous Rolex 24 winners.”
Drivers of winning cars receive Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watches.
“In design and presence, the watch is more than just a name,” noted 9-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and Rolex ambassador Tom Kristensen, “It’s an identity that reflects a successful race and a successful time in a driver’s life.”