The 2004 Grand American Road Racing Championship (Grand Am) was the fifth season for the series. A business model which controlled costs, had stable rules and avoided being on dependent of automotive manufacturers attracted many private teams. Based on the failure, of its predecessor, the United States Road Racing Championship in 1999 critics suggested that the Grand Am would suffer a similar fate. This was proving not to be the case as entries were continuing to grow with each year.

In the first season of Grand Am competition there were five classes but by 2004 the series had reduced the number to three categories:

  • Daytona Prototype (DP): This class was introduced in 2003 and was established to replace the two existing Sports Racing Prototype groups. To control costs, the cars used a tube frame chassis rather than the expensive composites used to construct most prototype race cars. Also, expenses were contained by limiting modifications and implementing rules that would be in place for five years. Approved to produce the first generation of Daytona Prototypes - for a cost of approximately $400,000 were: Riley Technologies, Doran Designs, Crawford Race Cars, Fabcar Engineering, Chase Competition Engineering, Picchio and Multimatic. Costs were also controlled by restricting the engines to production based motors supplied by Pontiac, Lexus, BMW, Porsche, Ford and Infiniti. Engine displacement was used to determine the weight of a car and whether a five or six-speed transmission could be utilized.
  • Grand Touring (GT): In 2004, rules were established that allowed GT and GTS cars to compete in the same category. As a result, 28 different models from 19 manufacturers were eligible for this class. Examples include Porsche, BMW, Chevrolet, Mazda, Ferrari and Pontiac. As with the Daytona Prototypes, engine displacement was used to establish the weight of different makes and models.
  • Super Grand Sports (SGS): Cars competing in 2003s Grand Am Cup Series Grand Sport I category were moved to the Grand Am division. Included in this class are production-based cars such as the Porsche 911 GT3, Chevrolet Corvette and Ferrari 360.

As in the past, the season opened in February with the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway and ended at California Speedway. In between these two venues, there were events at Homestead-Miami, Mont-Tremblant, Watkins Glen, Barber Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Phoenix International Raceway and Virginia International Raceway. There was a total of twelve events with the series competing at Daytona, Watkins Glen and Homestead-Miami twice.

The 42nd Rolex 24 at Daytona took place on the weekend of January 31 and February 1. There was a total of 53-starters (17-Daytona Prototypes, 14-Super Grand Sports and 22-Grand Touring) which was up from previous year. Drivers would compete for 24-hours on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile track which utilized an infield road course and almost the entire tri-oval.

Weather impacted this year’s event. Heavy rain created treacherous conditions, resulting in a three-hour caution period. The situation grew worse and the race was red flagged – the first time since 1989 when the race was stopped for four hours as the result of heavy fog. With the rain subsiding late Sunday morning, the race was restarted at 10:30 am.

The start of the 42nd running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Seventeen Daytona Prototype entries receive the starters green flag and are followed by twenty-two Grand Touring cars and fourteen competitors in the Super Grand Sports category. At the end of 24-hours, a Daytona Prototype entry was first overall; unlike the previous year when a fourth place finish was the best result for a car in Grand Ams premier class.
The Bell Motorsports Doran was the first Daytona Prototype to retire at the 2003 Rolex 24 – just sixty-seven laps when the engine failed. That made this year’s victory that much sweeter. The winning drivers from left to right – Forest Barber, Terry Borcheller, Christian Fittipaldi and Andy Pilgrim - pose for a ‘photo op’ on the winning Doran JE4. This was a great start to the new season for the defending DP champions.
Scott Pruett put the Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MK XI on the pole but was passed before the end of the first lap. The car was in contention until the twelfth hour, when the Riley began leaking fluid. Many pit-stops were made to resolve the issue (replacement of the radiator) and caused the team to drop down the race order. Pruett and his teammates – Max Papis, Jimmy Morales and Scott Dixon finished tenth overall.
Starting from the thirty-second grid position, the No. 44 Porsche GT3RS entered by Orbit Racing finished second overall and first in the GT category. Sharing the driving responsibilities were Robin Liddell, Johnny Mowlem, Mike Fitzgerald, Jay and Joe Policastro. En route to their victory, the team completed 523 laps – just three short of the overall winner.
Winning the first Super Grand Sports class event and finishing ninth overall was the Canadian entry from Doncaster Racing. The Porsche GT3 Cup driven by Marc Lieb, Robert Julien, Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Greg Pootmans started from the forty-third grid position. On the way to their victory, they completed 504 laps - three more than their closest rivals.
An experienced trio drove the No. 27 Doran JE4 entered by Doran Lista Racing. The three drivers – DidierTheys, Fredy Lienhard and Jan Lammers – had a total of five Rolex 24-Hour victories. The Lexus-powered car started from the sixth grid position and encountered problems early but finished fourth overall and in the Daytona Prototype class – five laps behind the winner.
The Prototype Technology Group BMW M3s qualified well with the No. 21 shared by Bill Auberlen, Nic Jonsson and Joey Hand starting third among the GT cars. Unfortunately, it was not to be a good event for the Prototype Technology Group. The No. 21 car retired early in the race with electrical issues and the sister car was out mid-race with overheating problems.
Finishing second in the first event for the new Super Grand Sports class were Randy Pobst, Marc Bunting, Andy Lally, John Littlechild and Michael Levitas. Car owner, Levitas’ TPC Racing team, had a great deal of success campaigning Porsche GT3 Cups in the Grand Sport I class of the Grand Am Cup series. As demonstrated by their results, it was an easy transition for TPC to the Rolex series.
It was heartbreak for the No. 2 Crawford DP03 driven by Andy Wallace and NASCAR stars Dale Earnhardt and Tony Stewart. With a three lap lead and less than twenty minutes remaining in the event the right rear suspension on the Crawford collapsed. Stewart was behind the wheel when the car hit the concrete wall on the Daytona ‘Superstretch.’ The team was classified with a fifth place finish.
The Flying Lizard Motorsports team entered a Porsche GT3 Cup in the GT class. Sharing the car with Flying Lizard regulars Johannes van Overbeek, Seth Neiman and Lonnie Pechnik were Peter Cunningham and Mike Rockenfeller. Starting from sixteenth on the grid, the team finished third overall and second in the GT category - just 6.9-seconds behind the class winning Porsche from Orbit Racing.
The second Doncaster entry was driven by David Lacey, Greg Wilkins, Kenny Wilden, Mark Wilkins and Tom Nastasi. The team qualified forty-ninth overall and sixth in the Super Grand Sports class. During the race the No. 71 Porsche GT3 Cup was always in contention - running much of the event behind their teammates and the TPC Porsche. At the checkered flag, they were thirteenth overall and captured the final spot on the class podium.
Like many other teams, the No. 73 BE Racing Ferrari 360 Modena encountered setbacks during the race. However, many of theirs were not as serious as some of the quicker GT category cars. Through attrition, they moved from their thirty-sixth starting position to sixth at the end of twenty-four hours and took the last spot on the GT podium. The Ferrari was driven by Philipp Peter, Dieter Quester, Klaus Engelhorn and Andrea Montermini.
The Sun Trust Racing Riley MK XI led the event numerous times during the first twelve hours. Unfortunately, heavy rain caused electrical problems that required a number of pit-stops. Despite several issues, which included running out of fuel, lead driver Max Angelelli kept the car in contention. But Angelelli’s efforts came to an end when the driveshaft failed. He and his co-drivers – Wayne Taylor and Emmanuel Collard finished eighth overall.
The class winners. On the top row are the overall and Daytona Prototype class victors from Bell Motorsports –Andy Pilgrim, Christian Fittipaldi, Terry Borcheller and Forest Barber. The GT class winning Orbit team are on the lower left of the podium – Johnny Mowlem, Jay and Joe Policastro, Mike Fitzgerald and Robin Liddell. Rounding out the podium are the SGS winners – Robert Julien, Marc Lieb, Greg Pootmans and J-F Dumoulin.

1DPPilgrim / Borcheller / Fittipaldi / BarberDoran JE4 Pontiac526-
2GTFitzgerald / Liddell / Mowlem / Policastro / Policastro, Jr.Porsche GT3RS523-
3GTPechnik/Neiman/Van Overbeek/Cunningham/RockenfellerPorsche GT3 Cup523-
4DPTheys / Goossens / Lammers / LienhardDoran JE4 Lexus521-
5DPWallace / Earnhardt, Jr. / StewartCrawford DP03519Suspension
6GTPeter / Quester / Montermini / EngelhornFerrari 360 Modena511-
7DPCollins / Erdos / Wagner / NewtonDoran JE4 Lexus509-
8DPAngelelli / Taylor / CollardRiley Mk XI Pontiac508Driveline
9SGSDumoulin / Lieb / Julien / PootmansPorsche GT3 Cup504-
10DPPruett / Papis / Dixon / MoralesRiley Mk XI Lexus502-
11GTBurgess / Collin / van Merksteijn / Rosa / RosaPorsche GT3RS501-
12SGSPobst / Lally / Littlechild / Bunting / LevitasPorsche GT3 Cup501-
13SGSLacey / Wilkins / Nastasi / Wilkins / WildenPorsche GT3 Cup494-
14GTBuckler / Bernhard / Long / BergmeisterPorsche GT3RS494-
15SGSNonnamaker/Nonnamaker/Menard/Menard/NonnamakerPorsche GT3 Cup493-
16GTLewis / McGlynn / Matos / LluchPorsche GT3 Cup492-
17GTNearn / Ehret / Matthews / Nielsen / SauvagePorsche GT3RS492-
18GTWilson / Mountain / KonigPorsche GT3RS491-
19SGSDavis / Cawley / Espenlaub / FosterPorsche GT3 Cup491-
20SGSStanton / Murry / SugdenPorsche GT3 Cup487-
21GTJames / Gleason / Valentine / Kroczek / ZimrothPorsche GT3RS487-
22SGSPlumb / Lewis / Wolfkill / EscalettePorsche GT3 Cup482-
23SGSBaughman / Ward / Jaeger / Del VecchioPorsche GT3 Cup482-
24GTZitza / Riddell / Von Seelen / DeQuesada / FeinsteinPorsche GT3 Cup481-
25DPGuenette / Workman / Marshall / MarshallPicchio DP2 BMW466-
26GTLazzaro / Kelleners / BobbiMaserati Light GT462-
27SGSLynn / Henricks / Brillhart / HeathPorsche GT3 Cup461-
28DPLeitzinger / Forbes-Robinson / Johnson / BruleCrawford DP03456Overheating
29SGSDerment / Baron / Puddester / BernheimPorsche GT3 Cup454-
30SGSFriedman / Wilson / Patch / Merzon / SmithPorsche GT3 Cup449-
31SGSKrohn / Forristall / Van Wijk / Van Der Dys / TrentiniPorsche GT3 Cup443-
32GTCasadei / Labhardt / Jurasz / MichaelianFerrari 360GT439-
33GTVance / Masarati / Stevenson / ButtermorePorsche GT3RS428-
34GTBambard / Halsmer / Heinricy / NowickiChevrolet Corvette407-
35DPGoad / Gordon / Duno / GrégoireCrawford DP03401-
36GTDrudi / Monfardini / Meneghello / Colasacco / FonferkoFerrari 360GT388Differential
37GTde Simone / Earle / Assentato / LonghiMaserati Light GT384Accident
38SGSArgetsinger / Patterson / Pew / Victor / CiotiChevrolet Corvette369-
39SGSKunz / Clark / Becker / FlanaganPorsche GT3 Cup366-
40DPLewis / Robinson / Baldwin / Rice / SouthardFabcar FDSC/03 BMW359Engine
41DPFrance / Haywood / Sharp / RigginsFabcar FDSC/03343Chassis
42DPMaxwell / Pruskowski / Pruskowski / BentleyMultimatic MDP1 Ford335Electrical
43DPTremblay / Wellman / Hall / HuangMultimatic MDP1 Ford304Electrical
44DPBorkowski / Mears, Jr. / Luyendyk, Jr. / Ham / BellMultimatic MDP1 Ford289Electrical
45GTJönsson / Said / Hand / Marks / AuberlenBMW M3267Overheating
46GTOrcutt / Thiel / Dobson / JenkinsPorsche GT3RS261Electrical
47GTPuleo / Dubler / Kennedy / EvansChevrolet Corvette193-
48DPJeannette / Brockman / Newman / PettyFabcar FDSC/03185Engine
49GTAuberlen / Jönsson / Hand / Said / MarksBMW M3162Electrical
50DPDonohue / Law / Luhr / MaassenFabcar FDSC/03150Electrical
51DPGaylord / Kitch / Olsen / Hessert, III / Hessert JrMultimatic MDP1 Ford149Oil Leak
52GTAlexander / Alessi / Gay / Dana / MedianiChevrolet Doran98Accident
53GTCouceiro / Amaral / Gião / BarbotPorsche GT3RS65Fire

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