Championship unites historical events

Veterans set for 'back to the future' experience.

Championship unites historical events

Sports car racing veterans will have a "back to the future" experience when the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship opens with the Rolex 24 At Daytona followed by the 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida.

The informal "36 Hours of Florida" was a staple of the original IMSA GT Series, dating back to 1975.

Gianpiero Moretti
Gianpiero Moretti

Photo by: MOMO

"It was a big deal to race at Daytona and Sebring, because both races were truly international events," said Bobby Rahal, winner at Daytona in 1981 and Sebring in 1987. "They were really the crown jewels of endurance racing in this country – and were both highly regarded internationally. Winning those races carried not quite the cachet of Le Mans, but they were pretty darn close. You really sought to win those two races, and if you were successful, it was something you point to on your CV – as I do.

"The Rolex 24 was my first big win from an international standpoint," Rahal continued. "Daytona was a real big deal. But winning at Sebring was even more emotional for me, because I had gone there with my father when he raced there, and it was the oldest endurance race in the country. The greatest drivers in the world had run in those two events, and to compete – and win – was a pretty big deal. It was a great deal to be on the same roadway where the greats like Dan Gurney, Brian Redman, Jo Siffert raced – the list goes on and on."

While both races have continued on an annual basis, the last time the two classics ran under unified sanction was in 1997.

In 1998, Professional Sports Car Racing sanctioned Sebring, while the USRRC held the Rolex 24. The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón debuted at Sebring in 1999, while the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car began with the 2000 Rolex 24.

Despite running in different series, in 1998 Doran Racing was the last team to win both races in the same year. Gianpiero Moretti, Didier Theys and Mauro Baldi doubled up in the MOMO Ferrari 333SP, joined by Arie Luyendyk at Daytona. That was only the fourth time that the same car won both races in the same year.

"Having Daytona and Sebring back together is pretty phenomenal," said team owner Kevin Doran. "I remember the Sebring race was just as – if not more – grueling than the Rolex 24. It was a pretty daunting task back in the day to have those classic races coming first and second on the schedule. Instead of the 36 Hours of Florida, it felt like the 48 hours of Florida."

Doran returns to both races in 2014, fielding a DP for Fifty Plus Racing.

"Having the two races back together is going to be exciting for the fans," Doran said. "Probably half of the team members have never done both Daytona and Sebring in the same year, and it's going to be very exciting for them. I'm pretty enthused to have both Daytona and Sebring – plus the Petit Le Mans – all on the same schedule."

IMSA

shares
comments
Inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship to feature 29 prototypes

Previous article

Inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship to feature 29 prototypes

Next article

Ram Racing to field a line up of Champions for 24H Dubai 2014

Ram Racing to field a line up of Champions for 24H Dubai 2014
Load comments
The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence Prime

The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence

Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy Prime

Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy

Can Mazda win this year’s IMSA Prototype championship? Undoubtedly. But it will be the culmination of an achingly hard struggle, after which the brand has decided to quit. David Malsher-Lopez tells the story of a bizarre blend of heartache and positivity.

IMSA
Apr 6, 2021
The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC Prime

The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s decision to scrap its GT Le Mans class for 2022 raises the question of whether the FIA World Endurance Championship should phase out GTE cars. But it's a much harder decision than it appears on the surface.

WEC
Feb 3, 2021
Nine things to watch at the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona Prime

Nine things to watch at the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona

After a 100-minute sprint race to whet the appetite, the 2021 IMSA SportsCar Championship gets underway properly this weekend. With plenty of significant changes during the winter, here are the key points you need to keep an eye on

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars Prime

Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars

Having gone over seven years without a race win through spells with McLaren, Renault and Haas, Kevin Magnussen's departure from Formula 1 for IMSA with big-hitters Chip Ganassi Racing could give him what he craves most - a chance of success

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Prime

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories.

Le Mans
Jan 28, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Prime

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it…

Le Mans
Jan 24, 2021
The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked Prime

The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked

The 2020 edition of the Florida sportscar classic is finally taking place this weekend, eight months after its traditional date in March. That meant there was plenty of time for Motorsport.com to pour over its previous 67 races and select the best.

IMSA
Nov 11, 2020