Let’s face it. Despite “The Weekend”, the Super Bowl is one day. Racing practically fills 4 weeks at Daytona from the Roar. the Rolex, the Clash, the Duels, the 500 and the Cup Road Course. Throw in the Dixie Vodka at Homestead and you have 5 weeks of racing in Florida.

One weekend in Tampa for the Super Bowl up against all that racing… And we still have barely heard a word from major news. No news anchors discussing their take on Corvettes winning over world wide competition or Acura and Wayne Taylor bringing home a 3rd trophy in a row… No attention on Chase Elliott or Jimmie Johnson competing at the Rolex… No predictions on what commercials will air during the Daytona 500… No talk for weeks about the competitors, the changes in the season or, for that matter, anything to do with racing.

They gave racing some lip service when NASCAR placed a ban on the confederate flag and the reports of the noose incident last year. You would think, even with that, there would at least be some interest on Bubba Wallace and his new team, 23XI Racing, with owners Denny Hamlin and NBA Hall of Famer, Michael Jordan. No mention of 7 time Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson not running NASCAR and focusing on Indy…

Nauseating minutia for weeks on the Super Bowl… Speed Weeks gets nothing…

OK… Fine… We’ll take award wiining country music artist, Luke Combs, and the Daytona 500, and all that goes with it, as something so special it’s above the realm of the average “talking head”. We’ve had the Roar and the Rolex and we’re ready for the green flag to fly on the Busch Clash at DAYTONA (Tuesday, 2-9). The week continues with the Bluegreen Vacations Duels at DAYTONA (Thursday, 2-11). Friday and Saturday, the 12th and 13th, we’ll have the ARCA Menards Series, The Camping World Truck Series and the XFinity Series.

Sunday the 14th… Valentine’s Day… We’ll take the Daytona 500 and roll on with our 10 month season of motor sport. We’ll take the laps… The average talking heads can stay on script while we go racing and stay fascinated by shiny things going fast.

Now… There are some changes to tuck in your head. We all know Jimmie Johnson retired from full time NASCAR Cup racing. We’re not going to completely rule out that he’ll take the seat from time to time. Alex Bowman will take over the #48. The #88 is out for 2021 but Hendrick brought back the #5 with Kyle Larson at the wheel and back in the NASCAR field following the virtual racing vocal lack of judgement in 2020.

As mentioned, Bubba Wallace is in the #23 for 23XI Racing with team owners Hamlin and Jordan. Petty Motorsports has placed Erik Jones in the iconic #43 as Christopher Bell takes over the #20 at JGR. The Stewart-Haas #14 will have Chase Briscoe in the seat as Clint Bowyer takes a spot in the studio broadcast. The #42, taken over last year by Matt Kenseth, will feature Ross Chastain for 2021.

If you had signature hats for these drivers or numbers, you’ll need new ones… Or be really good at embroidery…

It’s race week at Daytona. Time to put men in tights and football away and go for the checkered flag!

The ROLEX 24 at Daytona marks the beginning of the American racing season. Their are 49 official entries across 5 classes. The BMW Endurance Challenge, set for Friday (January 29) features 42 entries. With all of these cars, a world-wide list of manufacturers and a who’s who tag on world class drivers, it is often difficult to follow.

To help, Andy Blackmore Design offers a top notch showcase of the cars and the drivers. The ROLEX 24 / BMW Spotter Guide for IMSA is a must have to follow along. The art is detailed, colorful and informative. The Blackmore Spotter Guides have been a premiere display for quite a while and available online at spotterguides.com.

We can focus on details of Balance Of Performance or which body style favors aerodynamics or if Jimmie Johnson will drive a Cadillac faster than Chase Elliott or how fast AJ Allmendinger can run from the driver door to the broadcast booth… But why…? For many, none of that matters. Watching some good racing and having an idea of what is going on is much more important.

The Spotter Guide helps. All of us are not caught up with every spec and every driver’s family tree. Watching some sexy cars make turns and getting a little drama out of the personalities is just fine with us.

Visit Spotterguides.com to get your PDF copy for the ROLEX 24

Its a week away from the ROLEX 24 and what do we know…? If the qualifying run in the Motul Pole Award 100 was any indication we’re in for some good racing to officially open the IMSA season book for 2021.

We’ve seen Jimmie Johnson wrestle with the ALLY #48 Cadillac. With NASCAR in his rear view and some INDY action on the horizon Johnson is using the ROLEX to get some wheel time variety. He’ll have some experience sharing the driver seat with Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud, Mike Rockenfeller. All have 24 hour Daytona experience and multiple series history for road racing. The off track conversation should also be fun with Japan, France, Germany and USA mixing accents.

Action Express is backing the ALLY #48 but also have 2020 NASCAR Champion Chase Elliott in another Cadillac, the Whelen Engineering #31. He’ll be joined by Action team drivers bringing lots of experience to keep Chase on track. Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr and Mike Conway have years combined to push the competition.

Meyer Shank Racing will be putting commentator and driver A.J. Allmendinger on track with previous ROLEX 24 winner Juan Pablo Montoya. Beyond Montoya’s multiple series skill set, the Sirius XM / AutoNation #60 Acura will seat Dane Cameron and Olivier Pla.

What else…? INDYCAR is well represented for the ROLEX. There are very talented female drivers sharing the seat of the #88 GTD Team Hardpoint Porsche. Katherine Legge and Christina Nielsen share the car with Rob Ferriol and Earl Bamber. The GTD class is also the most crowded with 19 cars in the field.

The LMP3 class is being added to the main event for 2021 making five series running in the ROLEX 24. Previously, LMP3 had run with a Prototype Challenge event. All five classes ran practice in the Roar Before the 24 and the Motul Pole Award 100, which is also a new qualifying segment for 2021.

For the pole, Action Express #31 came across on top after starting at the rear of the DPi class. A weight penalty put them back. The advance to the front in the short order of the qualifying race shows the strength of the #31 team as a preview of the ROLEX 24.

DPi: #31 Action Express / Whelen Eng. (Felipe Nasr, Mike Conway, Pipo Derani, Chase Elliott)
LMP2: #52 ORECA of PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (Ben Keating, Mikkel Jensen)
LMP2: #52 ORECA of PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (Ben Keating, Mikkel Jensen)
GTLM: #4 Corvette C8.R (Nick Tandy, Alexander Sims)
GTD: #96 BMW M6 GT3 of Turner Motorsport (Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley)

The first race of the season… OK – In reality it was the second race but does the ROLEX 24 really count?

Sure, team points and such come into play but the ROLEX 24 is such a hooplah of drivers mixed in from other series and it throws a wrench into the works for the Grand-Am regulars who open their seats for these interlopers. After all, Juan Pablo Montoya was in the seat of the Ganassi 01 Telmex BMW when it crossed for the win. The rest of the season is on the shoulders of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas while Montoya chases the NASCAR circuit.

So – The Circuit of the Americas was the first race of 2013 that put all the season regulars on the track without distraction of visitors. It was also a big run for Grand-Am as the course in Texas is brand new with barely a scrape following the Formula 1 Grand Opening in 2012. (more…)

Montoya.

There is no doubt he can drive and go fast. The third checkered flag for Montoya and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is certainly a show of driving force. The 01 Telmex BMW-Riley Daytona Prototype held strong throughout the Grand-Am/ROLEX 24 to take the win.

rlx24_01bmw_inside1It wasn’t just the efforts of Juan Pablo Montoya, behind the wheel for the checkered flag, as the 01 regular drivers Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett along with IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball kept the car on or near the point. The team in the garage kept the car smooth in and out of the pits even as the other Ganassi team suffered through issues that eventually removed the 02 from the field.

There was a strong field to contend with. Dario Franchitti and Ryan Hunter-Reay were challenging from IndyCar. Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray were in the seats from NASCAR. Guest drivers from the hottest series were all their to sit in with Grand-Am regulars to get the American racing season started.

However, it was Ganassi and the 01 team with Montoya in for the final laps to take them to the win… again. (more…)

Half way through January and watching some beautiful, classic cars roll over the stage of the Barrett-Jackson auction on SPEED made us jump at another thought. The thought of the exotic and new cars taking Daytona by storm for the Grand-Am opening ROLEX 24.

They have already been out turning laps. Just as NASCAR rolls out and does some testing and adjustments in mid-January, Grand-Am does the same with the “Roar before the 24”. The ROLEX folks, however, are out that first weekend of January. The new year hangover is barely down to a throb and they are turning laps approaching 200 mph. They give NASCAR an extra week…

In the interim, SPEED has been airing the Barrett-Jackson auction showcasing people with loads of extra cash going after classic and collectable cars showcasing the best of the best days of Destroit. It is a fun diversion to watch. However, on the days leading up to the ROLEX 24 we had a discussion with ourselves… (more…)

Michael Shank Racing went from driver to owner to the podium at Daytona. The #60 Ford / Riley Daytona Prototype dominated the course to take the checkered with a comfortable margin over the next car to cross, also a Ford. The drivers kept cool heads and fast lap times while the entire team put in the effort to take the win. AJ Allmendinger, Ozz Negri, John Pew and Justin Wilson put in a great performance with Allmendinger (NASCAR) at the wheel at the finish. AJ maintained the lead for several hours leading to the end. Fords rolled over the line 1-2-3 with Michael Shank Racing taking the first and third spots with Starworks Motorsport in the second slot. (more…)