MotoIQ's Guide to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series
By Efrain Olivares
While no doubt some of you have heard of the 24 Hours of Daytona, I'm guessing far fewer have heard of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Which is too bad, because the cars are pretty damn cool and the racing is ultra competitive. Even in our world of attention spans that are stretched by five-lap RallyCross events, plenty of excitement can be found in sports car racing – which, at their shortest, are two hours and forty-five minutes.
There are two major sportscar racing series in North America – the American Le Mans Series, which we will cover in another story, and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sportscar Series. GRAND-AM is owned by NASCAR, and sanctions the Rolex Sports Car Series. You may be asking, why on earth would NASCAR – definitely the most-hated form of racing on this website – have any interest in owning an endurance sports car racing series?
|In addition to close racing in the Daytona Prototype class (above), the GT class features close racing as well with a variety of different types of machinery.
The answer lies in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Held every year at the end of January at Daytona International Speedway, sportcars utilize most of the NASCAR oval as well as an infield road course. The first major sports car race held at DIS was in 1963, was three hours long, and was won by Dan Gurney. Without getting into the long story and political nonsense which tends to ruin all good forms of road racing, GRAND-AM was launched in 1999 and, with obvious connections to NASCAR – which owns DIS – established a road racing championship with the 24 Hours of Daytona as its centerpiece. It is worth mentioning that in 2008, NASCAR bought out GRAND-AM.
All that aside, the Rolex Sports Car Series produces excellent, exciting road racing that is divided into two classes – Daytona Prototype, and Grand Touring. Mixed classes of racing are a hallmark of endurance racing, and add another challenge for both the drivers in the faster cars that have to navigate traffic, as well as the drivers in the slower cars that have to simultaneously worry about their own race and keep from being run over.
|Two classes of racing at the same time lead to challenges for drivers of the Daytona Prototypes, as well as the GT-class drivers.