IMSA Classic 24 Coming November 8 – 12 at Daytona

AutoInformed.com on IMSA Classic

John Surtees 1967 Lola T70 Mk3B Lightweight Spyder.

The entry list for the third running of the Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) Classic 24 Hour at Daytona was announced today by HSR officials. The race has nearly race cars and more than 250 drivers from around the world. In total, drivers and teams from 18 different countries, including past and current champion drivers, sports car racing stars are heading to the shamelessly boastfully named “World Center of Racing” next month. (Ever hear of Indy or LeMans?)

The race cars cover a six-decade timespan, back to the iconic prototypes and GT cars of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s to the more “modern” but not necessarily more exciting machines of this century that have been retired from competition.

AutoInformed.com on IMSA Classic 24 at DaytonaThe HSR Classic started in 2014 as a tribute race to the Rolex 24 At Daytona, which has been run on the 3.56-mile road course for more than 50 years. The inaugural event – it made money – prompted a second running in 2015 and, after a year off, comes the third running of the race.

The list of current and retired drivers and motorsports somebodies includes Adrian Newey, Ray Evernham, Patrick Long, Andy Wallace, Joao Barbosa, Butch Leitzinger, Lyn St. James, Eric Curran, Jules Gounon, Jim Pace, Terry Borcheller, Bill Warner, Aaron Scott, Dieter Quester, Kees Nierop, Bruno Junqueira, Eric Van de Poele, Didier Theys, Gunnar Jeannette, John Fergus, Carlos de Quesada.

The Classic 24 features six historically accurate run groups rotating through 24 hours. The groups have various classes of similar-era race cars, each take to the track four times throughout the 24 hours. The competitors in each group covering the most total distance in the shortest amount of time in their group’s four sessions will be crowned Classic 24 at Daytona champions.

Group A – 1960 – 1972: The oldest and perhaps most memory-stirring division for those of a certain age (my youth), has a Lola T70, McLaren M1B and both Chevron B8 and B16 models. Production-based GT machines are also a competitive part of the mix with several 1960s-era Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs, including a Shelby GT350, set to battle with a strong field of early Porsche 911s. Former Group Winner Marc Devis will be looking for another Classic 24-Hour crown this year at the wheel of an ex-John Surtees 1967 Lola T70 Mk3B Lightweight Spyder (pictured), prepared by Olthoff Racing. “Winning the Classic 24 Hour is nice because it is so iconic, and because it is about winning the combination of several individual races,” Devis said. “It really is a team win!”

Group B – 1973 – 1982: Evoking the same emotion and memories of Group A with a little more turbocharged power and wide-body aerodynamics, Group B has attracted several Porsche 935s and one 934, a pair of BMW CSLs, a BMW M1 “Pro Car” and several Porsche 911 RSR and ST models. A Camaro and Corvette L88 will represent the big-bore Detroit ranks while Group B is also has several quick Chevron B36 and Lola T492 open-cockpit sports prototype race cars. An entry likely to be a fan favorite is the returning Esprit Calgary 1974 Greenwood Corvette (pictured) that will be driven by endurance-racing standout Jules Gounon, who started from the overall Classic 24 Hour pole in the Corvette in the 2015 race. “Last time we won in GT but we finished second overall in our Group,” said Eric Roturier, who is co-owner of Esprit Calgary with Patrick Caldentey. “We need to be first overall. Just finishing the Classic 24-Hour race is a great feeling of achievement, but a win brings big pride and recognition from other competitors, owners, technicians and fans.”

Group C – 1980 – 1990: The prime of the GTP and Group C era is at the heart of this division, which is the featured Run Group of the 2017 Classic 24 Hour. A strong lineup of four Porsche 962s will be joined by two Jaguar XJR-5s, a Jaguar XJR-7 and a Porsche Fabcar Camel Lights machine. Competitive production-based race cars are also in Group C, including several Porsche 964s, a Camaro and a Lotus X180R. A highlight entry in the group is the Executone March 83G that will be co-driven by Greg Thornton and top motorsports designer and engineer Adrian Newey. The March was one of Newey’s earliest projects before reaching prominence as a designer in the high-tech world of Formula 1. He has since added driving to his impressive resume, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007. “My passion was always the design of the cars, right from when I was a kid building Tamiya 1:12 scale models and then cannibalizing them and making my own ideas,” Newey said. “When I was about 14, I managed to persuade my dad to take me karting. I did a bit of karting, nothing very serious, as it was the engineering of the car, fiddling and tinkering with it and trying to make it go quicker, that was probably the interest for me more than the driving.”

Group D – 1994 – 2002: Historic but well known, the racecars in Group D include a Ferrari 333 SP, Chrysler Dallara LMP900, a Riley & Scott Mk III, a pair of Lola B2Ks and several Riley and Doran Daytona Prototypes. The group also has a Saleen S7R GT1 and a Saleen Mustang, which will take on several Porsche GT3/GT2 race cars, a Ferrari 360 Challenge car and – remember this? – an Oldsmobile Aurora. This will be the endurance racing return of the Doran JE4 of Forest Barber and Terry Borcheller, who joined Christian Fittipaldi and Andy Pilgrim in winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the same Daytona Prototype in 2004. Bell Motorsports fielded that winning entry and Doran Racing is preparing the car for the Classic 24 Hour. “It really does seem like it was only yesterday, but it has been 13 years, which is hard to believe,” Barber said. “I have owned this car since day one, it lives up at the Doran Racing shop, and I couldn’t bear to part with it.”

Group E – 2003 – 2015: This group lets ALMS and Le Mans prototypes not eligible to race at Daytona in their prime a chance on the high-banked road course. Two Audi R8s, a Pescarolo Judd LMP, Courage Oreca LC70E and a Lola B07/18 LMP1 are expected to be the pacesetters. Group E also includes several later-generation Daytona Prototypes, Oreca FLM09 Prototype Challenge (PC) cars and a competitive lineup of GT machines, such as a Viper GT3-R, Corvette C7R, Aston Martin Vantage, Lotus Exige, several Ferraris and a typically strong turnout of Porsches. One Porsche, a Cayman GT4, will be co-driven by NASCAR Crew Chief and Team Owner Ray Evernham. Another entry capable of contending for the overall Group E win is the recently announced 2000 Doran/Lista Racing Dallara Judd LMP that will be shared by original co-drivers Fredy Lienhard and Didier Theys. “To look at these cars from the day, they are quite good looking and come from sort of a free-form, open-competition era,” said Doran Racing team owner Kevin Doran. “The cars were all different, this one was fun to race, we ran them for two years, and they were just really good cars for us. We took the Daytona 24 Hour win and several more victories.”

Group F – HSR Cars: This group produced some of the closest racing in each of the first two Classic 24 at Daytona races. Home to HSR classes, some not represented in the other five other groups, Group F also lets competitors with race cars that were never eligible to compete at Daytona a chance to build a little history of their own on the legendary track in the Classic 24. Offering machinery from six different decades, this group includes many of the same competitors and race cars that compete in HSR’s showcase Classic RS Cup and Global GT series.

The entry list for the 2017 Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) Classic 24 Hour at Daytona presented by IMSA is available by clicking here. Overall Run Group winners will be presented with custom-made HSR Classic 24 Hour B.R.M. Chronograph watches.

AutoInformed.com, Ken Zino, HSR Classic 24 Hour at Daytona, IMSA, ex-John Surtees 1967 Lola T70 Mk3B Lightweight Spyder, Saleen Mustang, Jaguar XJR-5s, Porsche 962, Chevron B36, Porsche 911 RSR, Didier Theys, Lyn St. James, Bill Warner,

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

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