Daytona 24 Classic

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The inaugural Daytona 24 Classic not only proved to be a huge success, but was also very much a father and son affair. Conceived along the lines of the Le Mans Classic by Brian Redman and son James, three of the event’s six categories were won by American ‘dad and lad’ combinations while German and British father/son teams also graced the famous Florida victory circle.

With its somewhat loose rules and generous track time, the meeting attracted a host of former Daytona winners and an eclectic mix of cars, many with extensive Daytona histories, even if the timeline was pretty short on some of them. Competitors included AC/DC front man Brian Johnson, who raced Pilbeam and Lotus, and Genii Capital boss Gérard Lopez with his rare 7-litre Ford GT40 Mk2.

Organisation was in the hands of the Florida-based Historic Sportscar Racing Ltd, run by James Redman and expatriate Brit Dave Hinton. Despite their laid-back approach, the race schedule ran like clockwork.

The entry was split into six categories, five of them based on the age of the car while the sixth was a catch-all for cars without ‘papers’.

The day-night timetable called for each of the six groups to take part in four 45-minute races, so they raced at five-hourly intervals and had two races in daylight and two in the dark. The combined times of all four races produced the results.

Total flexibility was allowed as far as drivers were concerned. A few drove solo, some stopped halfway through each race and switched drivers, others took it in turns to drive, while one German team split the event up so that the two father-and-son combinations did two races apiece.

The opening 1960-1972 group was won by the ex-Mecom Racing Zerex Special Lola T70 driven by Mark Devis and Christian Träber. British duo Graham and Oliver Bryant beat several GT40s (including that of Lopez) to take second in their 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, although Philip Walker and Mike Jordan were unlucky to miss out on a podium in Phil’s GT40.

The 1973-1982 race produced a Chevron B36 one-two, American dad and lad Robert and Josh Boller beating Masters Racing boss Ron Maydon and US car owner Rick Carlino. Several Porsche 935s and the thundering Greenwood Corvette of Didier André hit trouble.

For many the headlining race was for Group C cars from 1983 to 1993 and it attracted six Porsche 956/962s. No one got near the ex-Kremer 962 superbly driven by British GT regular Aaron Scott, ably backed up by Irish-born owner Tommy Dreelan.

Second place proved to be a fairytale story. Check the results of the 1993 Daytona 24 Hours and you will find that Germany’s Heico Motorsport finished third overall with a Porsche 964 Cup car driven by Dirk Ebling, Karl Wlazik and Ulli Richter. With the car still in the original yellow livery, Ebling and Wlazik returned to the high banking of Daytona with their sons Leon and Philip to push the Park/Kempnich ex-Schuppan 962 back to third.

The Group E race for cars from 2002 to 2010 (or actually 2013!) yielded an emotional victory for Andy Wallace and Doug Smith in a Champion-liveried Audi R8. Andy raced for Champion in period. They didn’t have the speed of the ex-Rollcentre 2007 Pescarolo-Judd of expatriate Scot David Porter, but an incident put him out of the running.

Groups D and F were won by John and Paul Reisman in a Lola B2K and Porsche 911 respectfully.

On this evidence, the Daytona 24 Classic will surely become one of America’s most successful historic race meetings. Andrew Marriott