The 2006 Grand American Road Racing Championship (Grand Am) was the seventh season of 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 in 2005 the series had reduced the number to two 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, there were two production-based classes: Grand Touring and Super Grand Sport which initially competed in the Grand Am Cup division. These two categories were combined into a single class in 2005. Participating in this group are manufacturers such as 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.

As in the past, the season opened in January with the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway and ended in Utah at Miller Motorsports Park. In between these two venues, there were events at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Long Beach, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Lime Rock Park, Watkins Glen, Barber Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio, Virginia International Raceway, Phoenix International Raceway and Infineon Raceway. There was a total of fifteen events with the series competing at Daytona and Watkins Glen twice.

The 44th Rolex 24 at Daytona took place on the weekend of January 28 and 29. There was a total of 66-starters (30-Daytona Prototypes and 36-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.

The highlight for fans was the number of champions from other North American series participating in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. The list included NASCAR champions – Tony Stewart and Randy Wallace, from IndyCar – Dan Weldon and Scott Dixon and Champ Car series champions Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais.

The start of the 44th running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Thirty Daytona Prototype entries receive the Starters green flag. On the pole is the Alex Job Racing Crawford DP03. On the outside of the front row is the Lexus-powered Riley MK XI entered by Chip Ganassi Racing. The SunTrust Riley recorded the second fastest time in qualifying but was disqualified when tech discovered the front splitter was 3/16 of an inch too wide.
Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Casey Mears drove the No. 02 Riley MK IX for Chip Ganassi Racing. The team started from the outside of the front row. Early in the event, they suffered two setbacks– brake pad and alternator belt issues- but fought back. At the end of twenty-four hours of racing, they were the first to receive the checkered flag. This was team owner Chip Ganassi’s first Rolex 24 victory.
The Chip Ganassi team completed 734 laps - twenty-four more than last year’s overall winners. Their margin of victory was one lap over the Michael Shank Racing Riley. From left to right are IndyCar drivers Dan Weldon and Scott Dixon along with NASCAR competitor Casey Mears.
By the halfway mark of the race, the Grand Touring lead was a battle between the No. 36 from TPC Racing and The Racer’s Group No. 65 Pontiac GTO. Driving the TPC Porsche GT3 Cup was Randy Pobst, Ian Baas, Spencer Pumpelly and team principal, Michael Levitas. The Porsche got the upper hand and slowly pulled away from the Pontiac. Levitas and his co-drivers won the GT category by a three lap margin.
Michael Shank’s driver line-up included Mark Patterson, Oswaldo Negri, AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson. The team’s No. 60 Lexus-powered Riley MK IX started from the sixth grid position thanks to Negri. The team was in the top-ten for most of the race and when the quicker Brumos and Alex Job entries experienced problems the Shank team was there to capitalize and take second overall.
Thirty-six Grand Touring cars receive the Starter’s flag at noon on Saturday, January 28. The front row was occupied by two Porsche GT3 Cups entered by Tafel Racing. They would be unable to maintain the pace of many of the top competitors and finished sixteenth and twenty-fifth overall.
For the second year in a row, Wolf Henzler was the fastest qualifier in the GT category. This year Henzler was driving for Tafel Racing. He shared the car with Robin Liddell, Johannes Van Overbeek and Graham Rahal. Initially, their progress was impeded during pit-stops which were hampered by a problem with the wheel studs. Continuing to experience issues, the team fell out of contention and finished sixth in class.
Qualifying the second Tafel Racing entry was Andrew Davis, who put the car on the outside of the front row – just 0.125-seconds slower than his teammate, Wolf Henzler. Davis’ co-drivers were Charles Espenlaub, Eric Lux, Michael Cawley and team owner, Jim Tafel. Unfortunately, the entry did not live up to its qualifying performance and the team finished twenty-fifth overall and twelfth in the Grand Touring category.
Three very quick Porsche regulars were in the Alex Job Racing Crawford DP03 – the car happened to be powered by a Porsche engine. Lucas Luhr qualified the Crawford and recorded the fastest lap – giving the team the pole. Sharing the car with Luhr were Patrick Long and Mike Rockenfeller. During the race, they fell down the order when two half-shafts were replaced but inherited the final spot on the podium when the third place Brumos Fabcar had a flat tire.
The Racer’s Group entered two Pontiac GTOs. The No. 64 car was in the lead until the suspension failed at which time the sister car, driven by Andy Lally, Marc Bunting, R.J. Valentine and Johnny O’Connell, ‘carried the torch’. Lally qualified the Pontiac thirty-fifth overall and fifth in the GT category. By the end of the race, the team was tenth overall and second in class.
Alex Gurney crashed the Gainsco Riley MK IX in practice but the team was able to make repairs. They must have been successful as Gurney qualified third. Gurney and his co-drivers Bob Stallings, Jim Vasser, and Rocky Moran, Jr. were having a good race until the fourth hour when they made contact with the No. 77 Doran. Repairs were made and then the team encountered half-shaft issues. They finished twenty-fourth overall.
The No. 66 The Racer’s Group entry interrupted qualifying when it had an incident in turn three. This was followed by another crash during the night practice. The Porsche GT3 Cup started forty-ninth overall and despite a number of incidents during the event, the team finished a respectable thirteenth overall and fourth in the GT class. Sharing the car were Stephane Ortelli, Robert Nearn, Cyrille Sauvage and Steve Johnson.
Third time was a charm for Michael Levitas’ TPC Racing. After second place finishes in 2004 and 2005, Levitas and his co-drivers Randy Pobst, Spencer Pumpelly and Ian Baas found themselves on the top step of the Grand Touring podium.

1DPDixon / Wheldon / MearsRiley Mk XI Lexus734-
2DPNegri / Patterson / Allmendinger / WilsonRiley Mk XI Lexus733-
3DPLong / Rockenfeller / LuhrCrawford DP03 Porsche731-
4DPDonohue / Law / MaassenFabcar FDSC/03 Porsche730-
5DPKrohn / Jönsson / Bergmeister / BraunRiley Mk XI Pontiac717-
6DPGidley / McDowell / BarronCrawford DP03 Ford716-
7DPBarber / Borcheller / Jourdain / BrixDoran JE4 Ford703-
8DPFranchitti / Duno / Franchitti / McGarrityRiley Mk XI Pontiac695-
9GTPobst / Pumpelly / Levitas / BaasPorsche GT3 Cup691-
10GTLally / Bunting / Valentine / O'ConnellPontiac GTO.R688-
11DPValiante / Finlay / Herta / RiceCrawford DP03 Ford684-
12GTWerner / Quester / Peter / RiccitelliPorsche GT3 Cup683-
13GTOrtelli / Nearn / Sauvage / JohnsonPorsche GT3 Cup678-
14DPDyson / Dyson / Gavin / SmithCrawford DP03 Pontiac675-
15GTFarnbacher / Fitzgerald / Ehret / BassengPorsche GT3 Cup671-
16GTHenzler / Liddell / Van Overbeek / RahalPorsche GT3 Cup670-
17DPFittipaldi / Cheever, Jr. / CarpentierCrawford DP03 Lexus669Engine
18GTMowlem / Arnold / Sellers / Shep / SeyffarthPorsche GT3 Cup663-
19GTZitza / Thompson / Lewis, Jr. / WheelerPorsche GT3 Cup655-
20GTNonnamaker / Nonnamaker / Nonnamaker / GonzalezPorsche GT3 Cup653-
21GTDumoulin / Longhi / Assentato / Pechnik / ThorntonPorsche GT3 Cup651-
22GTJohansson / Hughes / ErdosCrawford DP03 Lexus645-
23GTAve / Stewart / Stewart / Gilbert / StewartPorsche GT3 Cup635-
24DPGurney / Stallings / Vasser / Moran, Jr.Riley Mk XI Pontiac635-
25GTDavis / Espenlaub / Lux / Tafel / CawleyPorsche GT3 Cup634-
26GTEdwards / Collins / Pilgrim / MagnussenPontiac GTO.R633-
27GTFlanagan / Kroczek / Keith / BullockPorsche GT3 Cup625Driveline
28GTMason / Baughman / Connolly / Del Vecchio / CollyerChevrolet Corvette623-
29DPFellows / Ruhlman / Bingham / BellRiley Mk XI Pontiac620-
30DPWallace / Leitzinger / StewartCrawford DP03 Pontiac593-
31GTAuberlen / Alhadeff / Milner / Marks / SigalBMW M3592-
32GTPew / Marshall / Prewitt / Marshall / McCrackinPorsche GT3 Cup589-
33GTArcher / Reese / Oasis / CrescentiniChevrolet Corvette589-
34DPDayton / Knoop / DeVries / Matthews / GueCrawford DP03 Ford585Accident
35DPGoad / Primat / Labonte / ObertoCrawford DP03 Pontiac572Engine
36DPFrance / Barbosa / Christopher / HaywoodFabcar FDSC/03 Porsche559Accident
37GTPace / Greist / LowePorsche GT3 Cup555-
38DPLewis / Szekeres / LaJoie / BurgessRiley Mk XI BMW548-
39DPPruett / Diaz / PapisRiley Mk XI Lexus510Oil Pump
40GTGaylord / Hill / Hill / DiefenbachPorsche GT3 Cup503-
41GTAllen / Hennessy / Michaelian / Matos / NonnamakerPorsche GT3 Cup435-
42DPTuttle / Petty / SaidRiley Mk XI BMW415Oil Pressure
43DPDallenbach, Jr. / Robinson / Dallenbach / BrassfieldRiley Mk XI Pontiac413Accident
44DPDalziel / Fogarty / Figge / EmpringhamRiley Mk XI Pontiac301Overheating
45GTMurry / Keen / Stanton / PompidouPorsche GT3 Cup299-
46GTVargo / Vargo / Herrington / RefenningPorsche GT3 Cup287Accident
47GTTremblay / Haskell / Altenburg / HamMazda RX-8284Radiator
48GTLacey / Martini / Wilkins / Wilkins / MowlemPorsche GT3 Cup278Wheel Stud
49GTRice / Riggins / Stevenson / Trenery / Cicero IIChevrolet Corvette278Engine
50DPLammers / Patrick / McNish / WallaceCrawford DP03 Pontiac273Overheating
51DPFrisselle / Frisselle / Field / HuismanDoran JE4 Porsche206Engine
52DPFernandez / Haberfeld / SharpRiley Mk XI Pontiac187Engine
53GTSeiler / Dubler / Hauser / DeFontes / ThielChevrolet Corvette174Engine
54DPTracy / Mears, Jr. / Borkowski / WildenRiley Mk XI Lexus168Overheating
55GTVanUitert/Connolly/DeQuesada/Sutherland/SutherlandBMW M3159Accident
56DPZacharias / Bourdais / BoeselDoran JE4 Ford156Electrical
57DPTaylor / Collard / Angelelli / BriscoeRiley Mk XI Pontiac123Accident
58GTBertuzzi / Monzón / McCormick / BaronFerrari 360 GT118Accident
59GTFriedman / Small / McGehee / Martin / HerringPorsche GT3 Cup104FlyWheel
60GTArnold / Miller / Koselke / Poscente / MontgomeryChevrolet Corvette103Engine
61GTO'Shaughnessy / Cotter / Malloy / Shalit / JohnsonBMW M3101Accident
62GTSpencer / Spencer / Mandeville / Grupp / DrummondMazda RX-8101Suspension
63GTGoldin / Goldin / Finlay / Richards / ThielMazda RX-848Differential
64GTSigal / MacLeod / Konôpka / RosserBMW M334Engine
65GTKitch / Pennington / Gagne / PallisPorsche GT3 Cup17Overheating
66DPZogaib / James / Nastasi / GleasonCrawford DP03 Ford5Engine

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