The worlds of NASCAR, IndyCar, USAC and the Rolex Series will come together next week as part of the No. 36 Yellow Dragon Motorsports Mazda RX-8 driver lineup for the 50th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The father and son team of John and Jarett Andretti highlight the entry and will race together for the first time. Joining them will be Mazda sports car racing veteran Taylor Hacquard, and promising Mazda open-wheel driver Anders Krohn.
"The outstanding driver team assembled for the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona came together quickly in a coordinated effort,” said Yellow Dragon owner Jack Smith. “We are very excited to return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona on its 50th anniversary with a driver group that has the level of accomplishment of John Andretti, Jarett Andretti, Taylor Hacquard, and Anders Krohn. We believe our team is truly an extraordinary program for the 2012 Rolex 24.”
Yellow Dragon will also contest the Rolex 24 as one of three privately owned Mazda programs that receive support from the factory Mazda SpeedSource team.
“All of us at Mazda are pleased to see Yellow Dragon back on the Rolex 24 grid,” said Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan. “Their 2011 race was cut short and they are back in 2012 to finish the job. Jack Smith has been very dedicated to our Mazda RX-8 program and he has tremendous passion for top level sports car racing. From the outset of this GT program, it is teams like Yellow Dragon, Team Sahlens and Dempsey Racing that we had in mind – teams who are members of the Mazda family and who share the same passion for winning with reliable equipment that Mazda has stood for over the last four decades.”
With 12 Indy 500 and 14 Daytona 500 starts to his credit, John Andretti is also the overall winner of the 1989 Rolex 24, returning to race at the storied endurance event with his son Jarett – and with the support of Window World – was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
“This will be my fourth Rolex 24, and the opportunity to race with Jarett was the deciding factor,” he said. “The 50th anniversary of the race is also a major motivation, and I'm looking forward to working with Window World, the team and other drivers in this historic event with a winning manufacturer like Mazda.”
After earning a USAC championship in 2011, Jarett Andretti (RIGHT) is poised to show the kind of versatility that has become synonymous with his last name. Trading midget racing for the wail of a triple-rotor Mazda RX-8, the teenager will draw from the experience of his father and teammates during his professional road racing debut.
"Adapting to a new car is always a challenge, but I have a great team in Yellow Dragon Motorsports to learn from as well as talented and experienced co-drivers who will help me get up to speed quickly," he said.
Taylor Hacquard (BELOW) is no stranger to the legions of Mazda fans and racers throughout North America and as the one returning driver to Yellow Dragon's Rolex 24 lineup, the young Canadian star will be an invaluable source of information to his new teammates.
“I'm very excited to be returning to the Rolex 24 for another shot at the Rolex GT win with Mazda,” he said. “Last year our run was over after five hours, so we certainly have some unfinished business. It is great to be reunited with Yellow Dragon, and they are an excellent group of people that put out a strong car that is capable to contend for the win. I'm very grateful to be affiliated with the Mazda family; Mazda's commitment to racing is like no other and as a driver in this day and age in motorsports we need manufacturers like them to keep racing alive. I'm very confident in the group of drivers we have that if everything goes to plan, we will be there in the end.”
The final member of the team is Norway's Krohn, who, like Hacquard, has spent considerable time racing Mazda-powered machinery. Krohn (BELOW), is using the Rolex 24 to change his career path from Mazda's Road to Indy program to sports car racing.
“Ever since I came to the U.S. in 2008, I've wanted to part take in the Rolex 24,” he said. “I didn't really have any thoughts on when this would happen, but having been involved with Mazda for the past three years, I knew it had to be with them. What they've done in the North American open-wheel scene is beyond what any other auto manufacturer has done, and I can't wait to keep representing the Zoom Zoom brand in sports cars with Yellow Dragon Motorsports. Everything will be new to me, so it's great to have so many experienced people supporting the program. As for the future, my main focus is now on sports cars.”