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GRAND-AM 101: History Of The Series

HISTORY:

GRAND-AM Road Racing was established in 1999 to return stability to major league sports car road racing in North America, and began competition with the 2000 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. As the organization begins its 13th season of competition in 2012, GRAND-AM is universally regarded as one of the world’s most competitive road racing organizations.

GRAND-AM is located in Daytona Beach, Fla., on the same corporate campus that is also home to NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and Daytona International Speedway. GRAND-AM was acquired by NASCAR Holdings in late 2008 and operates now as one organization, with resources such as marketing, research and communications fully integrated into the NASCAR framework. GRAND-AM offers a product that features extremely competitive sports car racing on historic road and street circuits and in major market speedways throughout North America.

At its founding, GRAND-AM addressed the issues of uncontrolled technology and its
related costs that led to uncertain times for North American sports car racing in the 1990s. GRAND-AM addressed these issues with sensible and affordable rules that are competition-driven but grounded in common sense and stability, with a firm commitment to a level playing field.

GRAND-AM’s top-tier Rolex Sports Car Series has established itself as the most competitive professional road racing championship in North America. The Rolex Series’ two-class format allows viewers to follow the action with two easyto- distinguish classes of race cars – Daytona Prototypes and GT.

The Daytona Prototype category that was launched as the series’ flagship class in 2003 has attracted the attention of superstar drivers and universally recognized teams through its extremely raceable and relatively affordable format. The DP class moves into a new phase in 2012 with the introduction of the new generation prototype chassis.

Like the DP class that has redefined prototype sports car racing, the GT class has done the same for high-performance, production-based sports car racing. With an eye toward the cost-containment and close competition, the GT category provides a stable battleground for the world’s top automobile manufacturers.

The GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, featuring straight-from-the-showroom American muscle cars and the hottest imports, is also back in 2012 for its 12th season of competition under the GRAND-AM umbrella. The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge routinely features some of the largest fields anywhere in the world.

GRAND-AM races at many of North America’s most storied venues such as Daytona International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Road America among many others. In addition to many “standalone” events, some GRAND-AM races run alongside marquee events from NASCAR and the IZOD IndyCar Series.

The Rolex Series is also home to some of the most recognized names in motorsports: Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor, Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, David Donohue, Antonio Garcia, Boris Said, Patrick Dempsey and more. The Rolex 24 At Daytona is also a road racing showcase for NASCAR notables such as Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and AJ Allmendinger, joined by major open-wheel stars like Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Graham
Rahal.

TIMELINE:

  • February 5, 2000 – GRAND-AM Road Racing debuts with four distinct classes in the 38th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona. Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupey prevail over the 79-car field in a Dodge Viper.
     
  • August 27, 2000 – James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace win the revival of the Six Hours of Watkins Glen for Dyson Racing, giving Weaver the inaugural SR championship.
     
  • February 2, 2001 – The first Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (then GRAND-AM Cup) race is held at Daytona International Speedway. GRAND-AM filled the void left by the demise of the Motorola Cup only weeks before the start of the 2001 campaign.
     
  • April 21, 2001 – Kim Hiskey becomes the first female driver to win in the Rolex Series, as she and Randy Pobst win a GT race in a Porsche GT3RS at Phoenix International Raceway.
     
  • February 2002 – The Daytona Prototype (DP) concept is announced on the eve of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
     
  • February 1-2, 2003 – The first DPs compete in the Rolex Series (Rolex 24 At Daytona; Multimatic Motorsports wins with drivers Scott Maxwell, David Empringham and David Brabham).
     
  • November 1, 2003 – Terry Borcheller wins at Daytona and is crowned the first DP champion.
     
  • February 28, 2004 – Milka Duno becomes the first woman to win in a DP, when she and Andy Wallace win at Homestead-Miami Speedway – her first of three DP victories.
     
  • May 23, 2004 – Scott Pruett and Max Papis win at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant. It marks the first of a record 36 DP victories (going into 2012) for Pruett.
     
  • March 13, 2005 – The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge races in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the only time any GRAND-AM sanctioned series has competed on a Caribbean island. Bill Auberlen and Justin Marks win the race.
     
  • November 5, 2005 – The first GRAND-AM race of any kind in Mexico occurs at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. The winners are Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley.
     
  • June 29, 2006 – Colin Braun becomes the youngest driver in Rolex Series history to win a race at 17 years, nine months and seven days, when he and Jorg Bergmeister take their DP to victory at Daytona International Speedway.
     
  • August 24-25, 2007 – Jon Fogarty wins a DP record 10th pole position of the season at Infineon Raceway.
     
  • September 15, 2007 – Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney win the DP title over Scott Pruett by two points (408-406), the smallest margin of victory in a DP championship.
     
  • August 1, 2008 – Mark Wilkins beats Antonio Garcia by 0.064 seconds at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, in the closest finish in DP and Rolex Series history.
     
  • September 20, 2008 – Scott Pruett wins his second DP championship, sharing the title with Memo Rojas, who becomes the first GRAND-AM champion from Mexico.
     
  • September 3, 2009 – The Rolex Series holds its first testing session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
     
  • April 30, 2010 – Tom Bledsoe is announced as the second president of GRAND-AM Road Racing.
     
  • July 3, 2010 – The 100th DP race is held at Daytona, won by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
     
  • September 11, 2010 – Pruett and Rojas win a record ninth race of the season in the finale at Miller Motorsports Park en route to Pruett’s third DP title.
     
  • May 14, 2011 – Bill Lester becomes the first African-American driver to win in GRAND-AM competition when he codrives to the GT-class victory at Virginia International Raceway.
     
  • July 7, 2011 – GRAND-AM announces the Rolex Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in 2012 alongside the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The Super Weekend at The Brickyard is scheduled for July 26-29, 2012.
     
  • November 15, 2011 – The Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype is unveiled at Daytona International Speedway, ushering in the third generation of the Daytona Prototype.
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GRAND-AM 101: History Of The Series
GRAND-AM Road Racing was established in 1999 to return stability to major league sports car road racing in North America, and began competition with the 2000 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. As the organization begins its 13th season of competition in 2012, GRAND-AM is universally regarded as one of the world’s most competitive road racing organizations.
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