New Millennium, Sir? Part Three

Running on Rails

The engine failure of the #12 Ferrari appeared to hand victory to the #16 Dyson Riley & Scott Ford. As daylight broke they had a 23 lap advantage over the #2 Corvette, OK there were seven hours to go, but this was Dyson we were considering. That should have been enough but there were worried expressions in the Dyson pit. It was reported that the leader had taken on water to counteract overheating at their first pit stop some 16 hours previously. During the night the problem went the other way as it emerged that the engine was running at 120 degrees C not the normal 200. Something was amiss and even a crew chief as experienced as Dyson’s Pat Smith was unable to figure out a quick fix. Could they hold on?

A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall

The other Dyson car, #20, lost two hours having the input shaft to the transmission replaced, so was well out of contention.

Up Front

Third overall was the GT Class leader, Jet Motorsports BMW M3. They were three laps up with five hours to go when the engine failed after an oil leak, another car gone.

Both Of The Crowd Were Entertained

The miserable conditions continued, making everyone rather grumpy, just wishing for this damn race to be finished. Even at Corvette things got a little tense. Well known, and sometimes respected writer, Andrew Cotton, popped his head into the Pratt & Miller pit to catch up with Andy Pilgrim and file some copy for the Daily Telegraph back home. There were a couple of off duty local cops acting “security” for Dale Senior and one decided that Andrew’s presence was superfluous and told him to get lost. Like any Brit abroad, Andrew ignored the cop and tried to help matters by declaring that he was not interested in Senior. He only wanted to speak to Pilgrim. The next step was that Andrew was threatened with arrest if he did not leave immediately, a plain dereliction of duty. The cop should have tasered and cuffed him there and then for ignoring an instruction from an Officer of the Law. It would not have happened in Sheriff Bill Gillespie’s time.

Of course when this incident reached the ears of GM PR, they had a collective heart attack, but all was eventually smoothed over, the Telegraph got their copy and Andrew, or his father I think, got a free breakfast.

The Cruel Sea

As the race trundled on the leading R&S extended the gap to #2 Corvette to over 28 laps. Then at around 9.30am, and with less than 4 hours to go, the call came. Butch Leitzinger parked the Riley & Scott at the East Horseshoe with an engine failure. I remember seeing the crew as they struggled to come to terms with this cruel fate, it was hard to witness, like there had been a death in the family. Rob Dyson could only say “I am not sure I want to come back to this place”. He did.

Double Dutch

The Rolex is about more than the struggle for the lead, each team has its own story to tell. Cor Euser brought a brace of Marcos from Holland, both got to the finish.


Embracing the original “Run what you Brung” philosophy was the Canadian Porsche 911 GT1 entry, it ended up third in class.

Rocket Ron

The clocked ticked on, eventually it was 1.00pm, the race was run and we all gave thanks. The #2 Corvette had scored an unlikely win, but fully deserved none the less. It was the early stages of what would turn out to be long series of wins and championships for the Pratt & Miller team. Anyone interested in reading more about this should consider THIS. The disappointment of seeing good guys like Weaver, Brabs and Nishy robbed of their races was offset by the celebrations of the Corvette guys, who could resist such passion?

Lightning Performance

The decimation of the prototypes promoted the White Lightning Racing Porsche 996 GT3 R,  driven by Christian Menzel, Lucus Luhr, Mike Fitzgerald, Randy Pobst, to second place overall.

GT Winners

They were also GT class winners.

Manfred’s Wagen

Third overall were Wolfgang Kaufmann, Cyril Chateau and Lance Stewart in the Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3 RS. Another great result.

The Final Podium

Next up was the crew of #3 who scored second place in GTS. Hard to imagine back then that this was Dale Earnhardt Snr.’s final podium. He would be fatally injured two weeks later on the final lap of the Daytona 500. His plans to leave NASCAR and come into endurance racing never came to fruition but had he lived the shape of Le Mans and the ALMS in the following years would have been very different.


This would have become a familiar sight.

Downing’s delight

In the end the SRP1 class went to the Kudzu Mazda, here advertising the HANS system that owner/driver Jim Downing was advocating to all. Had Earnhardt been wearing one of these devices in the 500 he might well of survived his accident. They are mandatory now.

Archangel Motorsport

SRP 2 was won by Archangel Motorsport.

Hamilton Safe Motorsports

The final class winner was Hamilton Safe Motorsports who came out on top in AGT.

Champions All.

24 Hour races at Daytona International Speedway are regarded as amongst the toughest around, any of the 310 drivers who competed at the 2001 edition would have agreed and so would their crews. So the celebrations go on into the night, it is a Daytona tradition.

John Brooks, January 2011

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