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Ferrari F1 car 2015

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Ferrari has unveiled the new SF15-T 2015 Formula 1 car that it hopes will get it back in the hunt for victories with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen this season.

After a disappointing 2014 campaign that has prompted a major management and staffing overhaul, the team is determined that the changes it has made will help move it back up the grid.

The James Allison-designed car features a long protruding nose and an aggressive sidepod concept. But key to Ferrari's hopes will be what is underneath the skin, with the Italian team's power unit having been one the weak points of its 2014 season.

The team has undertaken a comprehensive overhaul of its engine in the hope of closing the gap on the benchmark Mercedes. As well as new management, Ferrari has a change on the driver front too with Vettel lining up alongside Raikkonen this year.

Vettel is due to give the car its first official run at Jerez in Spain on Sunday, when F1's first pre-season test starts.

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Originally on Autosport.com

Sauber 2015 F1 car

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Sauber unveil its 2015 Formula 1 car, the C34, on Friday.

After a disappointing 2014 F1 campaign, where it failed to score a single world championship point, the Swiss-based outfit is hoping it can rediscover the form that had it fighting for podiums in previous seasons.

Sauber has opted for a bold new look for the season ahead, with its color scheme switching from white and gray to blue and yellow. The Ferrari-powered car also has a striking nose design featuring a more rounded front edge than seen on the other 2015 cars so far.

Sauber's design team has focused on three areas for improvement over last year's car: better performance in slow-speed corners, weight reduction and improved braking stability.

The car features slimmer sidepods compared to the C33, and the team has overhauled its radiator concept and now mounted them horizontally.

Packaging around the rear of the car is much tighter, and Sauber's quest to get under the weight limit to allow maximum ballast has been boosted by the raising of F1's minimum weight limit to 702kg.

The team also has an all-new driver lineup for 2015, as Marcus Ericsson joins F1 rookie Felipe Nasr in place of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez. Ericsson will be the first man to drive the car when he takes to the track at Jerez on Sunday.

Sauber plans to use an interim version of the car for the first test, which will include some parts still from the C33. These will be replaced with bespoke 2015 components ahead of the season.

Sauber 2015 F1 car

Originally on Autosport.com

yaris1

Toyota Yaris WRC

Toyota has officially confirmed it will return to the World Rally Championship in 2017 with a Yaris WRC.

Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda announced during a press conference in Tokyo on Friday that the world's biggest carmaker would end a WRC absence stretching back to the end of 1999.

The firm's motorsport arm – Cologne-based Toyota Motorsport GmbH – will develop the Yaris WRC for the next two seasons before its world championship debut. The Tokyo press conference was the first time the Yaris WRC had been shown in public.

"When I was in Finland last year, many fans asked me when Toyota would return to the WRC," Toyoda said. "People talked about Toyota's history in the WRC (BELOW). I was filled with surprise and gratitude that so many people still remembered.

Carlos Sainz, Toyota, WRC 1999

"I started to feel strongly that we must return while people still remember. We are doing this to make better cars, to make people smile."

He described Toyota's 2017 program as a new start rather than a comeback, given how long it had been away.

"We decided to return to the WRC and we plan to start competition again in 2017," said Toyoda. "Last time we competed was in 1999, that makes me think we are not announcing a return... but perhaps a start.

"We must begin again from scratch and carefully prepare both team and cars."

WRC Promoter's Oliver Ciesla welcomed Toyota back to the WRC, saying its arrival was a major endorsement for the series, which currently has three works teams in Volkswagen, Citroen and Hyundai alongside Fords run by ex-factory squad M-Sport.

"Toyota has a long and distinguished history in motorsport, particularly in world rallying, and we're delighted to welcome one of the automobile industry's giants back to WRC," said Ciesla. "Toyota's announcement brings a fifth manufacturer into WRC, including three of the world's five biggest-selling auto companies. The last season in which so many manufacturers were represented was 2006."

Toyota departed the WRC as champion team in 1999, having clinched a seventh world title in 10 years.

Toyota Yaris WRC

Originally on Autosport.com

B8cjUjYIEAANtxXABOVE: Only yesterday, this shot of construction work on the new Brazilian IndyCar circuit was posted on Twitter by IndyCar consultant Tony Cotman's NZRConsulting group. But now...

 

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RACER is continuing to gather facts, but according to Terracap, the government agency that owns the Autodromo International Nelson Piquet circuit that was scheduled to host the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener on March 8, the event has been canceled.

The decision to cancel the event was apparently made in response to ongoing local financial troubles.

"The track sold out all their hospitality, were delighted with ticket sales – sold 2/3rd of all seats with a month to go and there was really enthusiastic response from the fans," IndyCar boss Mark Miles told RACER. "It's a shame, it has nothing to do with the Verizon IndyCar Series, and we were all looking forward to a great start to the year in Brazil. There's an appetite for our series in Brazil."

The loss of the Brazilian round will not impact the financial support for the paddock, according to Miles. "Without going into details, it won't change the Leader Circle distribution for our stakeholders," he confirmed.

Provided the event remains canceled, it would significantly alter the off-season test plans for IndyCar teams. The series has introduced aero kits for 2015 – original bodywork created by engine manufacturers Chevy and Honda, and had scheduled their first appearance in competition for St. Petersburg, the round following Brazil.

Private testing has been conducted by many teams with their spec 2014 Dallara bodywork in preparation for its final use at Brazil, but with Brazil off the calendar, the shortened, 16-race season would kick off with aero kits in place. Aero kits delivery has been schedule for no later than March 1, yet with this twist, it could lead Chevy and Honda to accelerate the timeline for their distribution and use.

A pending announcement from the series should provide additional clarity on the situation.

Daly SPMConor Daly impressed A.J. Foyt in his initial IndyCar test at Sebring back in 2012 and he’s hoping to do the same thing with Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson next Tuesday in Florida.

“Sam and I have been in touch the last six months and he’s always supported what I’ve done and he called me to test his Indy car so I’m very flattered and excited,” said Daly, who captured the Indy Lights race at Long Beach for Schmidt in 2011. “I’m looking at it as a tryout and I need to reassure the team of what I can do.”

The 23-year-old son of Indy car and Formula 1 veteran Derek Daly spent much of the past four years in GP2 and GP3 where he won races and scored podiums while also making his one and only IndyCar start in the 2013 Indy 500 for the Foyts (BELOW).

Daly Foyts“I want to show what I’ve learned and how I’ve developed and this test is the first step,” continued Daly. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in an Indy car but I’m comfortable with this team and I’ve had some experience at Sebring.

“I think a lot of people thought I’d fallen off the map but this is what I want to do and where I want to be and I’ve been hoping for this kind of opportunity.”

James Hinchcliffe is the lead driver for Schmidt Peterson Motorsport and thought to be a strong proponent of the young American as his teammate. But Daly also got a nice surprise from Hinch's former teammate Marco Andretti.

“Marco sent me $3,000 to help with my test,” he said. “He was the first one to help me and I know he’s not looking for any publicity. But how cool is that?”
        

660x440 LEDE 1985 Henns Swap Shop Racing Porsche 962 GTP 8 Daytona Winner cWith the 2015 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in the books, let's look back and weave our way through the wild tale of the 1985 SunBank 24 Hours of Daytona. 30 years later, some of the details are still hard to believe.

The polesitter had to be bailed out of jail on a $125,000 bond before he could dominate time trials, the winning team relied on a feisty, flu-ridden Frenchman, a borrowed Belgian, a man known as "Super Tex," another simply known as "Senior," and just for kicks, a NASCAR star decided to pass 14 cars on the opening lap – before pitting moments later and handing everything back to Daytona Beach's sun-tanned racing gods.

And it didn't stop there.

Buried within the 76-car field, a young punk from Northern California was busy opening his endurance racing account at the 24 Hour. One of his fiercest rivals in the years to come would also make his Daytona debut, lasting all of 12 laps before retiring – the first car out of the race. Fathers raced against sons, legends of Indy car and stock car battled in a diverse array of untamed IMSA GTP machinery, and we even had the birth of a new class that survives in modified form today.

State-of-the-art IMSA cars weren't dressed or constructed from carbon fiber in 1985, nor were they connected from end to end by electronics. Data acquisition was in its infancy, telemetry sounded like an obscure form of math, and no one had heard of the Internet or cell phones. It was an analog time in America, and our longest endurance race fit perfectly within those pre-digital days.

It was tubeframe GTUs carrying small-displacement engines that were lovingly low-tech and highly reliable. Their big brothers, the tubeframe GTOs, were hulking creations that belched flame from unrepentant V8s, V12s, and tightly-wound turbos.

IMSA's biggest draw, the Grand Touring Prototypes, was peaking in terms of car counts and interest, and thanks to Porsche's decision to build the 962, the turnkey chassis was the closest thing to a surefire win at Daytona. The rest of the GTP class was filled with offerings from Jaguar, March, Lola, Royale, Alba, and engines from Buick, Chevy, along with a few holdover silhouettes like the Porsche 934 and 935. Half were ticking time bombs, and the other half couldn't be killed. Reliability, for many GTP teams, was an abstract term measured in hours, and they rarely added up to the number 24.

Marshall Pruett Archives 182 Lights Winner 1985 Daytona cAnd then you had GTP Lights – better known today as Camel Lights, in deference to IMSA's longtime tobacco sponsor – which came to life with minimal fanfare. The 700-kilo prototypes (RIGHT) used the same trusty 1.3-liter twin-rotor Mazda engine that powered most of the GTU cars, and with the fastest Lights entry lapping a full 20.2 seconds shy of the GTP pole, the little cars prepared for two days of potential trampling.

 


 1985 Conte Racing March Buick 45 Daytona Pole Winner Pruett Archives cBy the numbers, 29 GTPs, 3 GTP Lights, 27 GTOs and 17 GTUs took the start at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, but the fun started well before the green flag waved.

To get a feel for the raw power and speed demonstrated by the GTP and GTO cars, Lew Price's brand-new Lee Racing V8-powered Lola Corvette was merely the 14th-fastest GTP car in its class, yet still managed to crack 205mph entering Turn 1. We know this precious fact because that's the speed that Price achieved when the rear wing tore off the car and sent the Englishman for the scariest ride of his life during pre-race testing.

Once it came to a stop – minus most of its fiberglass bodywork, Price looked like he was strapped into a shaved aluminum cat. The turbocharged Porsches and Buicks were capable of greater top speeds, and as we'll learn a bit later, the best GTO cars were even faster on the banking.

What an absolutely terrifying race to attempt in the slower classes.

The GTP pole went to General Motors and its rabid, when-will-it-blow Buick turbo. Strapped into the back of Conte Racing's March chassis (ABOVE), the new production-based 3.5-liter V6 was always a candidate for self-ventilation, but while it lasted during time trials, the semi-nuclear mill could move mountains. And on the odd occasion when the engines remained in one piece, their transmission-shattering torque left numerous Buick drivers idling into the race results as a DNF.

While IMSA's Daytona Prototypes and P2s squabbled over pole position last week – fighting for fractions of a second until Ozz Negri claimed the top spot by 0.108 seconds, let's take a moment to celebrate the pole-winning lap set by John Paul Jr. in 1985 where he put a full 1.7 seconds between himself and second place. Fifth was 3.9 seconds arrears.

The fact that Paul Jr. was free to sit in the car, much less earn the pole, was newsworthy at the time. Jailed after being indicted for a number of crimes associated with his drug-trafficking father John Paul Sr., it took $125,000 handed over to the great state of Florida by Phil Conte to pry Paul Jr. from his holding cell.

The embarrassed 24-year-old rewarded Conte's faith with a stellar performance in qualifying, and a reported audience of 33,000 watched as Paul Jr. led the field into Turn 1 and held the point for the first hour of the race. Deep in the GTP pack, NASCAR legend Bobby Allison – a surprise name on the entry list – spooled up Buick's fearsome hand-grenade – and rocketed from 19th to fifth by the end of the 3.5-mile lap. Two laps later, the eldest member of the Alabama Gang brought the Pegasus Racing March to pit lane in search of remedies for its electrical woes.

Out front, Paul Jr. was on a mission, but later, a blown tire with co-driver Bill Adam at the controls would cause enough bodywork damage to rob Conte's team of a meaningful result.

The lead changed hands and it wasn't long before the central theme for the 1985 race began to emerge. The armada of bullet-proof Porsche 962s might have lacked almighty pace over a single lap, but their pounding, machine-like march in the race was beyond anything the rest of the GTP runners could match. Not for hours on end.

1985 Holbert Racing Porsche 962 GTP 14 Daytona cHolbert Racing's Lowenbrau-liveried 962 was the closest thing Porsche had to a full works program, and once Conte's March-Buick blinked, the trio of Al Holbert, Derek Bell, and Al Unser Jr. locked onto the lead and dared their rivals to set off in pursuit.

Few, if any, were truly up for the task, but that didn't stop a fellow 962 team from giving it a shot. If the Lowenbrau Porsche was driven by three hunter/killers, Preston Henn's Swap Shop 962 was staffed by, well, an eclectic mix of aging open-wheel legends in A.J. Foyt and Al Unser (who was making his 24-hour debut), and the supremely talented sports car ace Bob Wollek.


Marshall Pruett Archives Bob Wollek c

Pitting Wollek (ABOVE) against any of the Lowenbrau drivers was like sharpening steel on steel. Pulling the Frenchman out of Henn's 962 meant softer grades of metal was subjected to Holbert's scything driver rotation.

With no disrespect to Foyt, the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans victor and 4-time Indy 500 winner, or his friend Unser, then a 3-time Indy 500 winner and a complete newcomer to endurance racing, the team needed a bit more speed to keep the Lowenbrau 962 from disappearing into the night.

And here, friends, is where the real amusement begins.

Backtracking to how the Lowenbrau and Swap Shop lineups were formed, New Mexico's first family of open-wheel racing could have ended up in different 962s.

"Al Holbert called me up and asked me to be his third driver," Unser Jr. said earlier this week. "Of course, I accepted because of his performance in the past and I knew the team was really good and I knew they had a real shot at winning. And then a couple of weeks went by and A.J. called..."

Being asked to drive with Holbert was an honor, but a request from a certified, deified Brickyard hero like Foyt left the young Indy car star caught in a bind. Was reversing course with Holbert an option?

"I told him that I had already committed to Al Holbert and couldn't go back on my word, and that took every ounce of strength I had, but I said what about my father?" said Jr. "A.J. goes, 'Really? Do you think he would do it?' I said, 'I don't know, but I could call him and ask him.'

"So I called my dad and he goes, '24 hours? I can't stand it and it's a long race. Chances of winning are slim to none....'

"Dad just went on and on. I said, 'Dad, I'm going down there with Al Holbert. Foyt just called me. Come on down. Drive for Foyt, I'll be in another car, and we'll do it together. He finally gave in."

foyt pruettFoyt (LEFT), who'd won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1983 with Wollek in one of Henn's Porsche 935s, says he was pleased with his matchmaking abilities for the 1985 race.

"Bob Wollek was known to be one of the best Porsche drivers around the world, and we'd driven together already," he said days after his 80th birthday. "And Al and I go way back. I had no doubts that he could do the job and do it quite well and probably better than 99 percent of the other guys that I knew. If he was still racing, that is definitely who I would want right beside me. It was great to be partners with both of them. Wollek was known to be far better than me or Unser or anybody in those cars, so we knew he would be the fast one on our team."

With Foyt and the elder Unser in the Swap Shop 962, Henn and crew chief Mike Colucci had two of the most famous names in motor racing at their disposal, but history and a combined 7 Indy 500 wins meant little to the Lowenbrau drivers who were lapping 2-3 seconds faster than the open-wheel legends.

Already a few laps down because of the speed disparity, and with Holbert's team threatening to run away with the race before darkness fell over the field Saturday night, a Hail Mary was needed. Enter the borrowed Belgian.

Marshall Pruett Archives 177 Thierry Boutsen Arrows F1 1985 cArrows Formula 1 driver Thierry Boutsen (LEFT) was hired to drive for Bruce Leven's Bayside Racing Porsche 962 team in 1985, and while he and his teammates factored in the early stages of the race, a blown engine after 100 laps left the wiry, determined man from Brussels with nothing to do as nightfall approached. Enter Wollek.

"The thing was the first car broke down from Bayside very quickly, and we were done," Boutsen said from the office of his Monaco-based aviation business. "I had already packed and put my stuff in the rental car. I was leaving the paddock to go to the airport when Bob Wollek stopped me!"


1985 Henns Swap Shop Racing Porsche 962 GTP 8 Daytona Winner 2 c

As time has gone on, the popular version of how Boutsen came to drive for two different 962 teams paints Iron Man Wollek as increasingly weak, and Boutsen as the perfect support system to carry the load – to ease the strain on his ailing friend.

While there's no doubt that Wollek's flu became the entry point for Boutsen to join the Swap Shop team, the affable Belgian admits there was a secondary motive at play.

"Bob said, 'I'm driving with two drivers that are going very slow and I would need some help,'" the 3-time F1 race winner admitted. "Before Daytona, I drove as a replacement driver in a Porsche 956 with Bob in the 1000km of Monza. We won that race, so that is where the relationship got started. When he told me he said the car is good enough to win the race, but I need your support, I said, 'Great, let's go.' I went back to the parking lot, got all of my gear, changed and went from one car to the other."

A steady rain started to fall around 6 p.m., and persisted throughout the night. For the two European road racing aces on the team, rain was seen as an opportunity to claw back time to the Lowenbrau Porsche. Their American counterparts held differing views on the topic.

"The interesting thing I remember very well was that I did a double stint, came out of the car and Foyt went in, and then it started to rain," Boutsen recalled. "He came right away into the pit, and said, 'Well, I'm not driving when it's wet. I happened to be there so I put my helmet back on and went for another double stint, I believe. It was quite an adventurous race."

The Boutsen-Wollek combo was frighteningly effective, paying immediate dividends, and with the two sports car specialists on a hunt for the Holbert 962, Henn's driver rotation started to veer in an obvious direction.

1985 Bayside Porsche 962 GTP 86 Daytona Thierry Boutsen cWollek's flu was a genuine issue – a limiting factor that diminished his endurance, but not his speed, and with his energy depleting, Boutsen (shown left in his Bayside car) became Swap Shop's workhorse. Brilliant Bob and Terrific Thierry drove 15 of the final 18 stints in the 1985 race, with nine of those 15 belonging to Boutsen.

His relentless efforts were even more impressive considering he'd driven the car for the first time – and gotten a feel for its handling characteristics – during the race.

"I was ready physically and I knew the Porsche very, very well, even though I had not driven this car before," said Boutsen. "I needed five seconds to understand that car and the setup, and I just went for it. I was doing double stints all the way after that."

Boutsen's lap times were borderline ridiculous, but with the team's compromised pace before his arrival, and a lengthy pit stop for mechanical repairs, the Swap Shop car was more than a dozen laps behind by Saturday night. Up front, the Lowenbrau Porsche continued extending its lead, and was sitting pretty in the early Sunday morning.

"It was somewhere around 3 or 4 a.m., and we must have had a 25-minute lead over Dad's car just past the halfway point in the race," said Unser Jr. "We had it covered so bad that we were just gone. We had checked out. We weren't even driving that hard by then because we were so far ahead. I mean, Al had the car prepared so well, and with Derek Bell, it was just a great team to be driving for. The car was just super fast, and we were commanding the race easily."

Boutsen was Swap Shop's Hail Mary, and he more than matched the lap times set by the leading car, but there was no way he and Wollek would bridge the enormous gap to the leader in the 12 hours left on the clock. What happened next must have felt like divine intervention.

"A little while before sunrise, we started having problems," Unser Jr. noted. "Then we slowly watched our lead disappear."

The Lowenbrau 962's motor was off-song, lap times began to suffer, and by 9 a.m., the team's 13-lap lead over Boutsen and Company was in jeopardy. Clogged fuel filters were targeted as the cause of the problems, and even with a quick exchange from old to new filters, four laps were surrendered. The problem reappeared around noon, and another round of filter changing was required. The lead was down to six laps when Holbert pulled out of the pits.

Henn's team has finished second at Daytona in 1984, and found no valor in racing for another runner-up result. With Boutsen and Wollek in full attack mode, and their main rival having blinked Sunday morning, Colucci turned up the boost on the Swap Shop 962 and gambled on the outcome. With 3.5 hours left to run, Boutsen and Wollek turning 1:50s with ease, and the Holbert Porsche struggling to maintain its pace as fuel delivery problems continued, the extra engine power was making a difference.

Marshall Pruett Archives Derek Bell cBy 2 p.m., the Lowenbrau juggernaut was now limping its way around the circuit. A pit stop to adjust fuel pressure actually made the problem worse. With Bell (LEFT) in the car, the Englishman ventured out and could do no better than a 2:09 – nearly 20 seconds adrift from Boutsen on the same lap.

Within the Holbert Porsche camp, throwing more replacement parts at the fuel system seemed futile. The problem, it seemed, was more electrical than anything else. With insufficient voltage making it to the fuel system, Porsche's Alwin Springer called for the voltage box to be replaced. The new unit acted as a cure-all; Bell ripped off a 1:49, demonstrated the 962's regained speed, but their lead was down to two laps with one hour left to run. Could the Holbert team hold onto their hard-fought, hardly-there advantage to win their first SunBank 24?

"I was coming out of the chicane, I believe, and it just shut off with absolutely no warning," said Bell. "I coasted to a stop – out in the middle there somewhere on the grass."

He lost a lap when the 962 fell silent, coaxed it back to life, but it coughed one more time and everyone knew the voltage box was to blame. A swift replacement by Bell could save the day.

"I was trying to change the electrical box to get it going again, and I'd got my helmet on because you have to your helmet to listen to what they're saying over the radio," he continued. "Sweat is pouring down your face. I wasn't at my best after 23 hours or whatever it was.

"I've got Alwin yelling in my ear, 'You've got to stick the yellow lead and the red lead and the blue lead and the green lead and the pink lead in this spot and that spot. But I said, 'The trouble is, Alwin, there are eight holes to stick them and I've only got five bloody leads! Where do I put them?"

It takes 1440 minutes to complete a 24-hour race. Bell, Holbert and Unser Jr. moved into the lead after approximately 120 minutes, Lorded over the event until the 1390-minute mark, and were powerless to halt Henn's Swap Shop 962 from sweeping into the lead just 50 minutes shy of the finish.

It was, as Unser Jr. explains, hard for the Lowenbrau team to accept.

"When A.J. and Dad passed us for the lead, it was just heartbreaking," he said. "I remember when the race was over and I was leaving the racetrack, and we were all so tired. I was just so tired. We were stuck in traffic trying to leave, and the emotions just came over me. We were so close to winning that thing. I was so overcome, we just got out of the car and walked to our hotel. I just couldn't be there any longer."

After the race, Holbert – the perfectionist's perfectionist – pointed to "finger trouble" for the voltage box's failure. "We replaced our voltage box, but we didn't replace it thoroughly," he said in a masterful construction of understatement. They had the speed, the had the right car, but good fortune was in short supply.

By 1985, Foyt and Wollek had found a happy medium that worked for both men, but during their first encounters, the strong-willed racers were borderline enemies. In his weakened state, and with the last stint left to run, Boutsen handed the Swap Shop 962 over to his friend for the final hour. It was a small gesture at the time, but 30 years later, it still resonates: Foyt, done with his duties behind the wheel, could have followed Unser Sr.'s lead and headed back to the transporter to pack his gear, but he chose to stay in the pits, held Wollek's helmet as he donned his suit to take the Porsche to the finish line, and then held his gloves as the French ace finished dressing.

Foyt's known for his toughness, but on this day, in that moment, kindness was the only aspect of A.J.'s character on display.

"It took a while, but Bob Wollek and I turned out to be good friends, and he was a hell of a race driver," Foyt declared. "It was a great honor to race with him."

The 1985 Daytona race was Foyt's final 24-hour win. His reluctant friend Unser came away from the race with a perfect winning record in 24-hour races.

"Yes, that was my first 24-hour race, and we won it, which doesn't happen often, I'm sure," he said with a laugh.

After putting up such a fight to try and skip the race, you might say Foyt padded the truth a little bit in order to get his pal Unser in the car.

"Well, Foyt told me, 'We'll go out and win it and it'll be the greatest victory that you'll ever realize,'" Unser continued. "I say, 'Really? Better than Indianapolis?' He said, well, yeah, it will. I said, 'OK.' We won and it wasn't any better than Indianapolis... Indianapolis is still superior to me. I'm not sure where A.J. got that idea, or if he even believed it himself, but that's what he told me to get me to go..."

Combined with his Daytona win in 1983, Foyt's endurance racing record in Florida continued to expand.

"It was a great day that we had out there, and we were fortunate enough to win it twice. I miss not being there," he said.

The 1985 SunBank 24 was Foyt's final win at Daytona, but is wasn't his last endurance racing triumph: He closed that chapter of his career in March of '85 with Wollek at the Sebring 12 Hours, handing IMSA's two biggest prizes to Preston Henn in a span of six weeks.


1985 Roush Mustang 65 Daytona Winner Pruett Archives c

Behind the first seven GTP cars, Jack Roush and Charlie Selix watched as Wally Dallenbach Jr., Doc Bundy, and John Jones claimed GTO honors in the No. 65 Roush Protofab Mustang (ABOVE).

It's challenging to adequately describe the difference between the top GT cars at Daytona in 1985 and the emasculated creations that run in GTLM today. Take your production-based GTLM Corvettes and Ferraris where manufacturers are forced to turn performance levels down to comply with the regulations, and compare them to the tubeframe, silhouette GTO Mustangs where every facet of the car was turned up.

Horsepower limits were governed by reliability, rather than air restrictors, and with a lightweight chassis and giant, gumball tires to handle extreme acceleration and cornering speeds, their sheer ferocity made some of the GTP cars look tame.

"In '85, that was really my first year with Roush Racing and Protofab," said Dallenbach Jr. "One thing that stands out was the horsepower that we had. Jack was making some huge numbers in those cars. We were well over 200 miles an hour in the GTO cars. I remember passing the 962s on the back stretch... Al Holbert came to our pits one time, grabbed Charlie and said, 'What the hell is in that thing?'

"We were over 200 on the banking and that was the time where you had great tires, all that horsepower, and there was nothing more fun to drive because you could 'cowboy' them. If you stepped on the gas pedal, you'd better have a handful of steering wheel because that thing was going sideways. That was the hardest thing, probably, with those GTO cars back then, was to keep telling yourself to drive straight off the corners. You really had to take care of the tires because you could burn the tires off those things really fast if you wanted to."

Rocketing through such a large field with so much power came with inherent risks. Whether it was unexpected contact with another car, or a mechanical problem that appeared, Roush had a plan on how to start the recovery process.

"The traffic was pretty difficult, and you really had to stay on your toes the entire time," Dallenbach Jr. explained. "I remember right before the race Jack got together with all the drivers and gave each of us a $100 bill to put in our uniform. We were all looking at each other like, what the heck is this? He said, 'Listen, if anything happens during the race and you guys pull off or whatever, this hundred dollar bill is to pay whoever can get you back to the garage area. If you have to bribe a tow truck guy or you need fans to push you back, just do it...spend the money...'

"I thought that was a great idea. That is pretty good thinking because a lot of times back then if you broke and they could push you off into an opening, that was it. You were stuck there until your team got you, which could eat up a lot of valuable time. I had to use that $100 bill more than once racing for Jack and it saved our bacon."

The No. 65 Mustang won GTO by a full 38 laps, and for the son of former Indy car racer Wally Dallenbach, the victory set his career in motion.

"That whole deal really put me on the map, winning the 24-hour like that," he affirmed. "What those racecars go through...it amazes me that anybody finishes that race. I think that was our strong point back in 1985 – it was the preparation of our cars for those endurance races. We were pretty much unbeatable that year in the endurance races in IMSA, and everything took off for me afterwards."

The 1985 race launched Dallenbach Jr., and in the bottom-tier GTU class, another future star was making his endurance racing debut – and a case to join the Roush team in 1986.

Marshall Pruett Archives 174 Mazda RX 7 Pruett Example d"I was there making my first start in a little Mazda RX-7," said Scott Pruett, who just celebrated 30 years at Daytona. "It's so much different from then to now. It's how you approach the race and what you do. When I was 24 years old and going there for the first time, it was more of a gentlemanly race. We slept in the back of a van at the track in a parking lot. You ate whatever you could find. No joke.

"It wasn't this regime of what you do now with motorhomes and dozens of people supporting you. It was a group of guys on zero budget kind of winging it and having fun while doing our best. Drivers today would be shocked to try and do it like we did in '85."

Pruett, Paul Lewis, and Joe Varde placed second in the No. 42 Mike Meyer RX-7 (similar to the No. 71 at left), and as he tells it, the young karting ace wasn't sure whether his breakout performance would lead to bigger things.

"We came very close to winning that race, which was incredibly exciting, but as a new guy, you have no idea what was ahead of you, all those opportunities that would come, or the wins that would follow. No clue. That race was the start for me, really, a huge start to my professional career," he said.

Pruett would go on to earn championships and wins for decades, and continues to race today for Chip Ganassi in the IMSA-sanctioned TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Of the other memories that emerged from the 1985 race, Pruett credits the SunBank 24 for learning to survive in traffic...and some twin-rotor hearing loss.

"You had to drive all the time with one eye in your rearview mirror and one eye looking forward because you didn't want to get run over by somebody else who was going a lot faster than you were in the other classes," he said. "And, two, the other part that was incredibly horrible about that car was how loud the Mazda was.

"That rotary engine just killed you, on the best day, with the noise it made. I probably lost the majority of the hearing loss that I have right now in that race because the muffler fell off about halfway through. I couldn't wish that on anybody. It was almost too painful to drive."

 


 

 Marshall Pruett Archives 175 Al Unser Jr and Sr 1985 c

In hindsight, the 1985 SunBank 24 at Daytona served as the final trial for Holbert and the Lowenbrau 962 team. They'd return in 1986 with the same lineup and beat Foyt and the Swap Shop team by less than two minutes. With Chip Robinson added to the team, Holbert scored back-to-back wins in 1987, leading Walter Brun's 962 to the finish with a comfy eight-lap margin.

Even with a pair of Rolex 24 wins to his credit, Unser Jr. (with his dad, ABOVE) still laments the 1985 loss and the missed opportunity to score a Daytona hat trick.

"I had the car, I had the team...I mean...we had led the whole thing," he said. "No one was going to touch us unless we broke. And that is what ended up happening. I still want that win... But if I broke, then the next person I would want to win would be my father, because he had never won there. He did, it was great, I was really happy for him. I was just distraught for Al Holbert and the Lowenbrau team. That's the way it goes. We came back in '86 and '87 and got it done, though."

For Boutsen, a miserable and early end to the race turned into the most improbable outcome thanks to Wollek. The lowest of lows followed by the highest of highs. Of all the experiences that came from jumping teams in 1985, he says one of the most valuable and enduring gifts he received is part of his life today.

"The most amazing thing has nothing to do with racing; it's my relationship with Preston Henn," he revealed. "I'm now in the aviation business, I sold one of his airplanes a couple of years ago and we have had very good contact through my business. I used him to win the Daytona 24 and he used me to sell his airplanes! The continuation of the relationship is really great. He's a really great man. I admire everything he has done.

"And he gave me a chance in 1985. 1984 was a bad year for me, and winning Daytona really changed many things for me. That is what life is all about. You're not a part or a machine; you are a human being and when you can get something out of racing with a long relationship and friendship, it's much better than anything else."

  • A special thanks goes to Jonathan Ingram and the incredible 17-page race report he wrote for On Track magazine that serves as an invaluable historical account of the 1985 event.

MX5Lead2The Skip Barber Mazdaspeed Pro Challenge has become a proving ground for aspiring professional racers.

Running as a support series alongside the SCCA Pro Racing Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires since the 2012 season, the Skip Barber Mazdaspeed Pro Challenge has already turned out some very talent drivers. Perhaps the most notable grad of the Pro Challenge is 2014 MX-5 Cup Champion Kenton Koch, who is on his way to IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda. Koch won the Pro Challenge 2013 championship.

In 2014, Drake Kemper went after the Pro Challenge championship, and the highly coveted prize that accompanies it. "It was the Mazda Ladder system," says Kemper (center, BELOW)of the carrot that drew him to the series. "That is absolutely the best deal in professional racing. You can start just above the grassroots level, and go all the way up racing a prototype if you keep winning."

MX5KemperCenter2The Pro Challenge is essentiality an extension of the Skip Barber Racing School, and utilizes the same Mazda MX-5 that is found in the MX-5 Cup series, with a few minor differences. As part of the program, drivers receive guidance to help them get to the front of the field. "Phenomenal value," says Drake. "The Mazdaspeed Pro Challenge is a really good learning curve into pro racing; you get free data analysis and coaching; you learn how to set up your car."

Having successfully reached his goal in 2014, Kemper now graduates to the MX-5 Cup series for 2015. "I will be using my Mazda scholarship to race in the MX-5 Cup," says Kemper. And while he has a team lined up for his 2015 season, "It has not been announced yet," he says.

During the 2015 season, the Pro Challenge will share dates and venues with the Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, allowing its drivers to get a close up look at the MX-5 Cup series, and the prize they are chasing.

To catch the latest in racing action from the 2015 MX-5 Cup series, or news on upcoming Global MX-5 Cup series, visit www.mazdamotorsports.com.

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Mercedes has completed the first shakedown of its 2015 Formula 1 car, the W06, and released the first proper images of the car with which it will defend its titles.

Both Nico Rosberg and world champion Lewis Hamilton tried the F1 W06 Hybrid during 18 laps of running at an icy Silverstone. The session, which was classified as a promotional event under F1 testing restrictions, was brought to an early end when a blizzard set in.

Mercedes had earlier released teaser videos showing the car in action on its Twitter feed. The car will be formally unveiled in the Jerez pitlane on Sunday morning, ahead of the start of the first 2015 F1 tests.

Mercedes dominated the 2014 season with the W06's predecessor, winning 16 races and the constructors' title, and finishing one-two in the drivers' points with Hamilton and Rosberg.

Mercedes F1 W06 shakedown

Originally on Autosport.com

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14HMST1nk05336Hendrick Motorsports has announced that Chase Elliott, who became the youngest national series champion in NASCAR history last season (LEFT), will join the team as a full-time Sprint Cup driver beginning in 2016, replacing Jeff Gordon, who announced last week that he would be retiring as a full-time competitor. Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet SS team will be led by crew chief Alan Gustafson, who has earned 19 wins, 18 pole positions, 98 top-five finishes and 165 top-10s at the elite Cup level.

Following his original announcement, Gordon admitted that it was likely that he would not compete in NASCAR's top series again after the 2015 season.

"Chase brings the kind of intangibles that make him the total package as a driver," said team owner Rick Hendrick, who announced the news this morning during the team's season kickoff employee event. "Not only is he a special talent inside the racecar, but there's a natural combination of competitiveness, work ethic and smarts that you rarely see. Chase's personality and demeanor make him popular with fans, teammates and sponsors. He's a great fit for our organization on many levels, and we feel he and Alan will be a successful combination. There's a lot to be excited about."

In preparation for 2016, Elliott, 19, will make his Sprint Cup debut later this year as part of a five-race schedule with primary sponsorship from NAPA Auto Parts. The Dawsonville, Ga.,, native will be paired with veteran crew chief Kenny Francis during the limited campaign.

Driving the No. 25 NAPA Chevrolet SS fielded by Hendrick, Elliott will be entered in 2015 Cup events March 29 at Martinsville, April 25 at Richmond, May 24 at Charlotte, July 26 at Indianapolis and Sept. 6 at Darlington.

"Chase has been a fantastic ambassador for NAPA," said Gaylord Spencer, senior vice president of marketing for NAPA, which also is primary sponsor of Elliott's JR Motorsports team in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. "As he embarks on this important next step in his career, we're proud to support him across both series in 2015 and look forward to an exciting year on and off the track. The NAPA Family is behind Chase 100 percent."

At the age of 18 years, 11 months and 18 days, Elliott became the youngest champion in any NASCAR national touring series when he won the 2014 Nationwide Series title. The first racer in NASCAR history to win a championship and rookie of the year honors in the same season, he also was voted by fans as the series' most popular driver.

Elliott's 2014 season included three wins, two pole positions and 26 top-10 finishes in 33 races. His first victory (Texas Motor Speedway) came in his sixth career series start and made him the second-youngest winner in series history behind Joey Logano. He completed 99.6 percent of the 6,063 total laps run and became the first driver since 2010 to clinch the championship before the season finale.

Elliott and father Bill are only the fifth father-son duo to win NASCAR national series championships. They are members of an elite group that includes Lee and Richard Petty, Ned and Dale Jarrett, David and Larry Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bill Elliott, the 1988 Sprint Cup Series champion, will be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame tomorrow evening.

"So many people have been behind me, and the first thing I want to do is thank them," said Chase Elliott, who will run the full 2015 Xfinity (formerly Nationwide) Series schedule as the defending champion. "My parents especially have believed in me every step of the way, and I know this wouldn't be possible without all the sacrifices they've made to focus on my racing career. This is such a big week for our family.

"I'm also extremely grateful to Mr. Hendrick and my teammates at both Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports for believing in me. NAPA has been a huge supporter, and I'm honored to represent them on and off the track. Of course the fans have been amazing to me, and I'm so appreciative of that. I know how rare this opportunity is and will work as hard as I can to make everyone proud."

Hendrick Motorsports will announce sponsorship for Elliott's 2016 Sprint Cup season at a later date.

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FROM THE RACER CHANNEL ON YOUTUBE

 

Robin Miller's IndyCar "fireside chats"

 

TUDOR United SportsCar Championship: Interviews and insights from Marshall Pruett.

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