The 24-hour race at Le Mans is arguably the most well-known endurance race in motorsport. However, another prestigious, challenging 24-hour race takes place annually across the Atlantic: The Daytona 24.
The 24 hours at Daytona has been challenging drivers and captivating spectators for over 50 years, and this article will give you a rundown on everything you need to know about one of America’s most hotly-contested motorsports events.
The 24 hours at Daytona have always taken place on the final week of January or the first week of February. Since 1975, the IMSA has sanctioned the race, and it is the first race of the season in the IMSA SportsCar Championship.
Of course, the race takes place in Daytona, Florida, at the Daytona International Speedway. The circuit used for the 24-hour race makes use of a slightly modified version of the oval speedway, famously used by NASCAR, as well as a portion of the infield that features turns and a sharp chicane. The course is 3.56 miles long.
The race is quite a spectacle for the spectators as they can view it from the steep inclines around the circuit’s famous banking. Around 90% of the entire course is viewable from over 100,000 permanent seats inside the stadium.
Since 1998, the circuit has also been floodlit to allow a better spectator experience throughout the night. During the 24-hour race, the floodlights operate at a reduced capacity, so the racecars can still make use of their headlights.
To track the roots of the current Daytona 24, you can go back to the first race that was contested with similar vehicles back in 1962. The Daytona International Speedway was completed in 1959 and was designed for American stock-car racing.
However, organizers wanted to attract the style of sports car racing popular in Europe, so a 3-hour race took place in 1962 named the “Daytona Continental.” The new 3-hour race took place on a road course at Daytona that used parts of the NASCAR oval track.
The new race drew teams and drivers from across the globe, and a variety of cars types lined up on the grid. Ferrari and Lotus were among the teams that entered the race.
The race at Daytona kept its 3-hour format until 1964, when it was extended to 2000km, which made for a 12-hour race.
In 1966, the organizers then decided to extend it again to match the length of the famous race held in France at Le Mans. As a result, the Daytona 24 was born. The inaugural 24-hour version of the race was won in a Ford MkII by Ken Miles and Lloyd ruby.
Since 1966, the race has remained at 24 hours. The only exception was in 1972 where the energy crisis led to a shortening of the race to just 6 hours.
The Daytona 24 is a team race with up to 5 drivers in each team. The race winner is the team that can complete the highest number of laps in the 24-hour time limit.
The race is an intriguing mix of speed, reliability, and endurance. The record for most laps stands at 833, set in 2021 by the Wayne Taylor racing team in a Cadillac DPi.
There are limits placed on how long each driver can race for within the team. The minimum time a driver can run for is 4 hours and 30 minutes. A driver can also be driving for a maximum of 4 hours of a 6-hour period.
One of the unique elements of these types of endurance races is that multiple car classifications are all on the track simultaneously. In the Daytona 24, 5 car classes compete from 2021: Daytona Prototype international (DPi), Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3), GT Le Mans (GTLM), and GT Daytona (GTD).
There are winners announced for completing the most laps in each of the 5 classes.
The race features both professional and “amateur” drivers. The amateur drivers usually compete in the slower car classes and are individuals whose primary career is outside motorsports.
DPi stands for Daytona Prototype International, and the DPi class is the top class that takes part in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. The DPi class replaces the outgoing Daytona Prototype class.
While DPi cars all look fairly similar for the most part, they can vary a lot in terms of the engines they use. DPi cars from various manufacturers can use 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder engines, and they can be either naturally aspirated or turbocharged. However, all DPi cars are limited to producing about 600 horsepower, and all of them use the same 6-speed sequential gearbox.
In 2022, the DPi class will be replaced by the Le Mans Daytona h (LMDh) class, which will be permitted to race in both the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
LMP2 is short for Le Mans Prototype 2; as the name suggests, these cars also race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. LMP2 cars are pretty similar to DPi cars in terms of overall appearance but don't have quite the same level of performance. In addition, the LMP2 class doesn't have as much freedom in terms of what constructors can do.
Every car in the LMP2 class uses the same 4.2-liter V8 that makes about 560 horsepower, compared to the 600 horsepower in DPi cars. However, LMP2 cars are subject to the same restrictions on vehicle weight and tire compounds as DPi cars are.
LMP3 cars are basically the junior version of LMP2 cars. Once again, these cars look similar to DPi and LMP2 cars, and have the same restrictions on vehicle weight. However, LMP3 cars have even less powerful engines than LMP2 cars, and are also restricted to using commercially-available tire compounds.
While GTLM cars closely resemble road-going cars, they are still purpose-built racing machines. GTLM cars fit into the broader category of "Grand Touring" racers, and are the top class in this category.
GTLM cars use the same sequential transmissions as other classes, but come with a variety of engines, most of which are tuned versions of the original road-going engines. The cars in the GTLM category cars also have a much greater choice in terms of what tire compounds they're allowed to use.
The GTD class is the entry-level class. GTD cars also resemble road cars, but are actually real road cars that have been modified for racing.
Also like GTLM cars, GTD cars use many different engines, and they generally weigh about the same as GTLM cars too. It's easy to spot GTD cars at night since they're the only ones that use yellow-tinted headlights.
Driver with the most wins - Hurley Haywood and Scott Pruett are tied with 5 overall race wins each.
Manufacturer with the most wins - Porsche has the most wins as both a car and engine manufacturer with 18 and 22 respectively.
Racing team with the most wins - Ganassi currently has the record of 6 team wins.
Team with the most consecutive wins - With 3 straight wins, Ganassi held the record of most successive wins until they were tied in 2021 by Wayne Taylor Racing, who will be looking to take the record outright in 2022.
Most total laps in a race - 833 laps by the 2020 Wayne Taylor Racing team of Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Kamui Kobayashi, and Renger Van Der Zande.
|Edition of Daytona (Year)||Drivers||Car|
|2022||Tom BLOMQVIST (GBR) / Helio CASTRONEVES (BRA) / Oliver JARVIS (GBR) / Simon PAGENAUD (FRA)||Acura ARX-05|
|2021||Felipe ALBUQUERQUE (POR) / Helio CASTRONEVES (BRA) / Alexander ROSSI (USA) / Ricky TAYLOR (USA)||Acura ARX-05|
|2020||Ryan BRISCOE (AUS) / Scott DIXON (NZL) / Kamui KOBAYASHI (JPN) / Renger VAN DER ZANDE (NTL)||Cadillac DPi-V.R|
|2019||Fernando Alonso (ESP) / Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) / Jordan TAYLOR (USA) / Renger VAN DER ZANDE (NTL)||Cadillac DPi-V.R|
|2018||Felipe ALBUQUERQUE (POR) / Joao BARBOSA (POR) / Christian FITTIPALDI (BRA)||Cadillac DPi-V.R|
|2017||Max ANGELELLI (ITA) / Jeff GORDAN (USA) / Jordan TAYLOR (USA) / Ricky taylor (USA)||Cadillac DPi-V.R|
|2016||Ed BROWN (USA) / Pipo DERANI (BRA) / Scott SHARP (USA) / Johannes VAN OVERBEEK (USA)||Ligier JS P2-Honda|
|2015||Scott DIXON (NZL) / Tony KANAAN (BRA) / Kyle LARSON (USA) / Jamie MCMURRAY (USA)||Riley - Ford|
|2014||Joao BARBOSA (POR) / Sebastien BOURDAIS (FRA) / Juan Pablo MONTOYA (COL)||Coyote-Corvette DP|
|2013||Charlie KIMBALL (USA) / Juan Pablo MONTOYA (COL) / Scott PRUETT (USA) / Memo ROJAS (MEX)||Riley - BMW|
|2012||A.J. ALLMENDINGER (USA) / Oswaldo NEGRI Jr. (BRA) / John PEW (USA) / Justin WILSON (GBR)||Riley - Ford|
|2011||Joey HAND (USA) / Scott PRUETT (USA) / Graham RAHAL (USA) / Memo ROJAS (MEX)||Riley - BMW|
|2010||Joao BARBOSA (POR) / Terry BORCHELLER (USA) / Ryan DALZIEL (SCO) / Mike ROCKENFELLER (GER)||Riley - Porsche|
|2009||David DONOHUE (USA) / Antonio GARCIA (SPA) / Darren LAW (USA) / Buddy RICE (USA)||Riley - Porsche|
|2008||Dario FRANCHITTI (SCO) / Juan Pablo MONTOYA (COL) / Scott PRUETT (USA) / Memo ROJAS (MEX)||Riley - Lexus|
|2007||Salvador DURAN (MEX) / Juan Pablo MONTOYA (COL) / Scott PRUETT (USA)||Riley - Lexus|
|2006||Scott DIXON (NZL) / Casey MEARS (USA) / Dan WHELDON (GBR)||Riley - Lexus|
|2005||Max ANGELELLI (ITA) / Emmanuel COLLARD (FRA) / Wayne TAYLOR (SAF)||Riley - Pontiac|
|2004||Forest BARBER (USA) / Terry BORCHELLER (USA) / Christian FITTIPALDI (BRA) / Andy PILGRIM (GBR)||Doran JE4 - Pontiac|
|2003||Jorg BERGMEISTER (GER) / Timo BERNHARD (GER) / Kevin BUCKLER (USA) / Michael SCHROM (USA)||Porsche 911 GT3 RS|
|2002||Mauro BALDI (ITA) / Fredy LIENHARD (SWI) / Max PAPIS (ITA) / Didier THEYS (BEL)||Dallara SP1 - Judd|
|2001||Ron FELLOWS (CAN) / Franck FREON (FRA) / Chris KNEIFEL (USA) / Johnny O'CONNELL||Chevrolet Corvette C5-R|
|2000||Olivier BERETTA (MON) / Dominique DUPUIS (FRA) / Karl WENDLINGER (AUT)||Dodge Viper GTS-R|
|1999||Elliott FORBES-ROBINSON (USA) / Butch LEITZINGER (USA) / Andy WALLACE (GBR)||Riley ; Scott Mk III - Ford|
|1998||Mauro BALDI (ITA) / Arie LUYENDYK (HOL) / Gianpiero MORETTI (ITA) / Didier THEYS (BEL)||Ferrari 333 SP|
|1997||Rob DYSON (USA) / Elliott FORBES-ROBINSON (USA) / Butch LEITZINGER (USA) / John PAUL Jr. (USA) / John SCHNEIDER (USA) / Andy WALLACE (GBR) / James WEAVER (GBR)||Riley ; Scott Mk III - Ford|
|1996||Jim PACE (USA) / Scott SHARP (USA) / Wayne TAYLOR (SAF)||Riley ; Scott Mk III - Oldsmobile|
|1995||Christophe BOUCHUT (FRA) / Jurgen LASSIG (GER) / Giovanni LAVAGGI (ITA) / Marco WERNER (GER)||Kremer Porsche K8 Spyder|
|1994||Paul GENTILOZZI (USA) / Butch LEITZINGER (USA) / Steve MILLEN (NZL) / Scott PRUETT (USA)||Nissan 300ZX|
|1993||Mark DISMORE (USA) / P.J. JONES (USA) / Rocky MORAN (USA)||Toyota Eagle Mk III|
|1992||Masahiro HASEMI (JAP) / Kazuyoshi HOSHINO (JAP) / Toshio SUZUKI (JAP)||Nissan R91CP|
|1991||Hurley HAYWOOD (USA) / Frank JELINSKI (GER) / Henri PESCAROLO (FRA) / John WINTER (GER) / Bob WOLLEK (FRA)||Porsche 962C|
|1990||Davy JONES (USA) / Jan LAMMERS (HOL) / Andy WALLACE (GBR)||Jaguar XJR-12|
|1989||John ANDRETTI (USA) / Derek BELL (GBR) / Bob WOLLEK (FRA)||Porsche 962C|
|1988||Raul BOESEL (BRA) / Martin BRUNDLE (GBR) / Jan LAMMERS (HOL) / John NIELSEN (DEN)||Jaguar XJR-9|
|1987||Derek BELL (GBR) / Al HOLBERT (USA) / Chip ROBINSON (USA) / Al UNSER Jr. (USA)||Porsche 962C|
|1986||Derek BELL (GBR) / Al HOLBERT (USA) / Al UNSER Jr. (USA)||Porsche 962C|
|1985||Thierry BOUTSEN (BEL) / A.J. FOYT (USA) / Al UNSER Jr. (USA) / Bob WOLLEK (FRA)||Porsche 962C|
|1984||Graham DUXBURY (SAF) / Tony MARTIN (SAF) / Sarel Van Der MERWE (SAF)||March 83G - Porsche|
|1983||Claude BALLOT-LENA (FRA) / A.J. FOYT (USA) / Preston HENN (USA) / Bob WOLLEK (FRA)||Porsche 935|
|1982||John PAUL Jr. (USA) / John PAUL Sr. (USA) / Rolf STOMMELEN (GER)||Porsche 935|
|1981||Bob GARRETSON (USA) / Bobby RAHAL (USA) / Brian REDMAN (GBR)||Porsche 935-K3|
|1980||Reinhold JOEST (GER) / Volkert MERL (GER) / Rolf STOMMELEN (GER)||Joest Porsche 935|
|1979||Ted FIELD (USA) / Hurley HAYWOOD (USA) / Danny ONGAIS (USA)||Porsche 935/78|
|1978||Peter GREGG (USA) / Toine HEZEMANS (HOL) / Rolf STOMMELEN (GER)||Porsche 935/77|
|1977||John GRAVES (USA) / Hurley HAYWOOD (USA) / Dave HELMICK (USA)||Porsche 911 Carrera RSR|
|1976||John FITZPATRICK (GBR) / Peter GREGG (USA) / Brian REDMAN (GBR)||BMW 3.0 CSL|
|1975||Peter GREGG (USA) / Hurley HAYWOOD (USA)||Porsche 911 Carrera RSR|
|1974 (Race Cancelled due to the oil crisis)|
|1973||Peter GREGG (USA) / Hurley HAYWOOD (USA)||Porsche 911 Carrera RSR|
|1972 (6 hours - shortened due to the oil crisis)||Mario ANDRETTI (USA) / Jacky ICKX (BEL)||Ferrari 312 PB|
|1971||Jackie OLIVER (GBR) / Pedro RODRIGUEZ (MEX)||Porsche 917K|
|1970||Leo KINNUNEN (FIN) / Brian REDMAN (GBR) / Pedro RODRIGUEZ (MEX)||Porsche 917K|
|1969||Mark DONOHUE (USA) / Chuck PARSONS (USA)||Lola T70 Mk IIIB - Chevrolet|
|1968||Vic ELFORD (GBR) / Hans HERRMANN (GER) / Jochen NEERPASCH (GER) / Rolf STOMMELEN (GER)||Porsche 907|
|1967||Chris AMON (NZL) / Lorenzo BANDINI (ITA)||Ferrari 330 P4|
|1966 (first 24-hour race)||Ken MILES (GBR) / Lloyd RUBY (USA)||Ford GT40 Mk II|
|1965 (2000km)||Ken MILES (GBR) / Lloyd RUBY (USA)||Ford GT40 Mk II|
|1964 (2000km)||Phil HILL (USA) / Pedro RODRIGUEZ (MEX)||Ferrari 250 GTO|
|1963 (3 hours)||Pedro RODRIGUEZ (MEX)||Ferrari 250 GTO|
|1962 (3 hours)||Dan GURNEY (USA)||Lotus 19B - Coventry Climax|
(Top Photo: 2018 24 Hours of Daytona, United Autosports, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)