2008 marked the ninth year for the Grand American Road Racing Championship (Grand Am). The fifteen-race season opened in Daytona with the Rolex 24. With the exception of New Jersey Motorsports Park teams competed at the same venues as the previous year. Most races were 250-miles in length with a 2-hour and 45-minute time limit. The exceptions were the 24-hour event at Daytona, Sahlen’s Six Hours at Watkins Glen and the season finale at Miller Motorsports Park which was 1,000-km.

Teams and drivers competed in the Daytona Prototype or Grand Touring category for class honours:

  • Daytona Prototype (DP) – These sports racing cars were designed to compete in the Grand Am series. The concept of an affordable prototype for privateer teams was introduced in 2003. Rules were created so that the cars could be produced for less than $400,000. Additionally, the prototypes had to be approved by the series and new cars could not be introduced for 5-years. The flat-bottomed, closed cockpit prototype was constructed with a complete frame and a mid-engine location. The cars were powered by motors from production cars. Manufacturers providing engines included: Lexus, Pontiac, Chevrolet, Ford, BMW and Porsche. The 2008 season saw the introduction of the Generation 2 Daytona Prototypes.
  • Grand Touring (GT) – After a number of seasons with multiple GT classes a single category was introduced in 2005. The GT division was for production-based vehicles. Cars racing in this group included the: Pontiac GXP.R, Porsche GT3 Cup, Chevrolet Corvette, BMW 6 and Mazda RX-8. To equalize performance among the different brands, rules were implemented that included adjusting the vehicle’s weight and limiting tire size and engine RPMs.

The 46th Rolex 24 at Daytona took place on the weekend of January 26 and 27. Entries were slightly down over the previous year – 70-cars in 2007 versus 66-cars (25-Daytona Prototypes and 41-Grand Touring). 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.

By the end of this race, a number of new records were established for the Rolex 24. There were sixty lead changes among fifteen cars and twenty-five drivers.

A strong field of forty-one Grand Touring cars receives the Starter’s green flag for the 46th Rolex 24 at Daytona. On the pole is the Mazda RX-8 from the SpeedSource team with team principal, Sylvain Tremblay behind the wheel. On the outside of the front row, to the surprise of many GT competitors, is the Mastercar Ferrari F430 driven by Christian Montanari.
Chip Ganassi Racing entered two Lexus-powered Rileys. Joining last year’s winners, Scott Pruett and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 01 Riley were Dario Franchitti and Memo Rojas. Pruett performed the qualifying honours and was the sixth quickest. The team had a relatively clean race – they never fell out of the top five after the fifth hour of the race and led the final 101 laps to earn Chip Ganassi Racing their third consecutive victory.
After qualifying, it appeared that the most potent combination was a Riley chassis powered by a Roush Yates Ford engine – both entries were on the front row. The No. 60 car was qualified by Oswaldo Negri who set a new lap record. Sharing the car with Negri were Mark Patterson, Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal. During the race, the car suffered a myriad of problems but a mistake by Wilson resulted in a lengthy stop for repairs. With the car fixed the team finished sixth.
The No. 70 SpeedSource team had a remarkable event. It began when the lead driver, Sylvain Tremblay was the fastest qualifier. Starting from the pole, Tremblay and his teammates – David Haskell, Nick Ham and Raphael Matos dominated the contest. They had many spins during the wet conditions but their biggest setback was to fix a broken taillight. They won the Grand Touring category by a margin of five laps.
Scoring a decisive Grand Touring category victory was the SpeedSource team. From left to right are David Haskell, Raphael Matos, team owner Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham. The team led a total 323 of the overall 664 GT laps completed. This was Mazda's first class victory since 2001 when a Mazda-powered Sportsracing Prototype won its class.
Sharing the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Riley was John Pew, Ian James, A.J. Allmendinger and Burt Frisselle. For most of the event, the team was able to avoid the challenges encountered by the second Shank entry. Sunday morning, they were trading first place with the eventual winners but a problem with the bell housing ended a great run. They were classified fourteenth overall and ninth in the DP class.
The No. 66 The Racer’s Group Porsche GT3 Cup was co-driven by Bryce Miller, Ted Ballou, Andy Lally and Porsche factory driver, Richard Westbrook. Miller qualified the Porsche thirty-sixth overall and eleventh in the GT category. The car led several times throughout the race and was a contender but a faulty radiator forced the team to run a conservative pace in the final hours. When the checkered flag flew, they were tenth overall and second in class.
Surprising the Grand Am regulars, in qualifying, was the speed of the No. 56 Mastercar Ferrari F430. Mastercar entered their first Rolex 24 in 2001 and had their best finish, a twenty-fourth, in 2005. By the end of qualifying, Christian Montanari was second quickest. The Ferrari was also driven by Matthew Marsh, Thomas Biagi, Luis Monzon and Fabio Venier. Unfortunately, they retired after 55 laps.
It is Saturday afternoon and twenty-five Daytona Prototypes are the first group to receive the green flag for the start of the 46th Rolex 24 at Daytona. The fastest qualifier is Oswaldo Negri in the Michael Shank Racing Riley. Next to Negri is his Shank Racing teammate A.J. Allmendinger also driving a Ford-powered Riley. Of the twenty-five Daytona Prototype starters, eleven entries would be running at the finish.
After qualifying the quickest of The Racer’s Group entries was the No. 67 Porsche GT3 Cup which started twenty-eighth overall and third in the GT category. Spencer Pumpelly qualified the Porsche which he shared with Tim George, Jr., Bryan Sellers, Emmanuel Collard and Romain Dumas. This car took turns leading the class but rising water and oil temperatures forced the team to slow down. They finished eleventh overall and third in the GT class.
After two years of bad luck, the fortunes of the Bob Stallings team turned around. Co-driving with series regulars Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty were Jimmy Vasser and Jimmie Johnson. Gurney qualified the No. 99 Riley eleventh overall. The race was going well until early Sunday morning when the transmission developed problems. The crew made repairs and the team was back on track in ten minutes. The drivers fought their way back to a second place finish.
The No. 9 Riley MK XI was entered by Penske-Taylor Racing. Piloting this car for twenty-four hours would be Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and Kurt Busch. Castroneves’ time in qualifying put the Riley thirteenth on the grid. In the race, Castroneves lost a lap in the first hour when he suffered a flat tire and body damage. Some clever race strategy moved the car back among the leaders. At the end of the contest, they were third overall.
Marc Goossens recorded a time in qualifying that placed the Riley-Matthews Motorsports Riley MK XX third on the starting grid. Joining Goossens for the race would be Ryan Hunter-Reay, Johnny O’Connell and team owner, Jim Matthews. The car ran in the top five until the fifteenth hour when the Riley experienced engine and transmission problems. The team soldiered on and finished eighth.
From left to right are Scott Pruett, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti and Memo Rojas. This was Franchitti and Rojas’ first Rolex 24 victory but the second consecutive overall and Daytona Prototype class win for Pruett and Montoya. The last back to back wins were logged by Derek Bell, Al Holbert and Al Unser, Jr. in 1986 and 1987. Montoya also became the first driver to be triumphant in his first two Rolex 24 starts.

1DPPruett / Rojas / Montoya / FranchittiRiley Mk XI Lexus695-
2DPGurney / Fogarty / Vasser / JohnsonRiley Mk XI Pontiac693-
3DPBriscoe / Castroneves / BuschRiley Mk XI Pontiac689-
4DPJönsson / Zonta / TurnerRiley Mk XI Pontiac688-
5DPTaylor / Angelelli / Valiante / TaylorRiley Mk XI Pontiac687-
6DPPatterson / Negri / Wilson / RahalRiley Mk XX Ford680-
7DPKrohn / van de Poele / GavinRiley Mk XI Pontiac678-
8DPMatthews / Goossens / O'Connell / Hunter-ReayRiley Mk XX Pontiac676-
9GTHaskell / Tremblay / Ham / MatosMazda RX-8664-
10GTMiller / Ballou / Lally / WestbrookPorsche GT3 Cup657-
11GTPumpelly / Collard / Sellers / Dumas / George, Jr.Porsche GT3 Cup657-
12GTLowe / Pace / Van Overbeek / Sugden / ValentinePorsche GT3 Cup656-
13GTAssentato / Segal / Longhi / PechnikMazda RX-8653-
14DPPew / James / Allmendinger / FrisselleRiley Mk XX Ford652-
15DPCosmo / Camirand / McDowellFabcar FDSC/03 Porsche652-
16GTGreenberg / Faulkner / Heylen / ArnoldPorsche GT3 Cup651-
17GTEdwards / Collins / MagnussenPontiac GXP.R647-
18GTFarnbacher / Ehret / Bernhard / WernerPorsche GT3 Cup646-
19GTLiddell / Davis / Pobst / JeannettePontiac GXP.R644-
20GTDobson / Thorne / Staveley / StoneMazda RX-8642-
21GTSkea / Patch / Hamblin / Safina / MurryPorsche GT3 Cup638-
22GTLacey / Wilkins / Kaffer / Stippler / CurranPorsche GT3 Cup637-
23DPFrance / Barbosa / Borcheller / HaywoodRiley Mk XI Porsche622-
24GTBingham / Pickering / Cotter / PenningtonPorsche GT3 Cup619Did Not Finish
25DPCarpenter / Foyt / Meira / AndrettiCrawford DP03 Porsche615Did Not Finish
26GTPaquette / Nixon / Arnold / Van Zanten, Jr.Porsche GT3 Cup615-
27DPLaw / Donohue / RiceRiley Mk XI Porsche611-
28DPPlumb / Wahl / Grégoire / Cullen / ShovlinRiley Mk XI BMW601-
29GTZitza / Jensen / Jensen / TaylorPorsche GT3 Cup599-
30GTAschenbach / Lewis, Jr. / Stanton / PapisPontiac GXP.R590-
31GTWillsley / Papadopoulos / Fitzgerald / MowlemPorsche GT3 Cup589-
32GTOasis / Atherton / Stout / Daskalos / ArcherPorsche GT3 Cup585-
33GTHenzler / Lux / Keen / Maassen / BergmeisterPorsche GT3 Cup580-
34GTRagazzi / Min Effiniz / Bertuzzi / Castellano / MachadoFerrari F430578-
35GTKitch / Bentley / Miller / PallisPorsche GT3 Cup572-
36DPAuberlen / Hand / Long / WallaceCrawford DP03 Porsche569Engine
37GTReese / Nearn / Pilgrim / BuntingPontiac GXP.R564-
38GTJohnson / Doornbos / Lietz / HuismanPorsche GT3 Cup558-
39GTFoster / Espenlaub / Dempsey / Kapudija / MaxwellMazda RX-8552-
40GTGomez / Auriemma / Mayes / Schroeder / MilnerPorsche GT3 Cup550-
41DPGidley / Jaeger / Gollin / GardelDoran JE4 Ford546-
42DPLewis / Lester / Christopher / BarronRiley Mk XI Lexus527Accident
43GTFriedman / McGehee / Lazzaro / KellenersPorsche GT3 Cup524Did Not Finish
44DPDixon / Wheldon / Duran / LloydRiley Mk XI Lexus515Did Not Finish
45GTReindler / Alessi / Prewitt / Trenery / RicePontiac GTO.R513-
46GTRagginger / Burtin / Baldwin / Tucker / ZabinskiPorsche GT3 Cup511Did Not Finish
47GTO'Connell / Roush / Plumb / WilsonPorsche GT3 Cup473Accident
48DPFrisselle / Wilkins / Ranger / BraunRiley Mk XX Ford448Did Not Finish
49GTRosenzweig / Woodman / Gabel / DumoulinPorsche GT3 Cup418Did Not Finish
50GTSahlen / Nonnamaker / Nonnamaker / NonnamakerChevrolet Corvette401Suspension
51GTCrews / Walker / Ludwig / McCrackin / BergmeisterPorsche GT3 Cup397Did Not Finish
52GTJacalone / Jacalone / Michaelian / MichaelianPorsche GT3 Cup364Transmission
53GTDrudi / Giammaria / Rosa / Hardt / PetrobelliPorsche GT3 Cup284Did Not Finish
54GTFarano / Jensen / Cloud / Said / BradleyFord Mustang255Transaxle
55DPRockenfeller / McNish / LuhrRiley Mk XI Pontiac233Engine
56DPIngham / Schultis / Contini / Frost / KonopkaChase CCE-001 Pontiac231Accident
57GTNastasi / Empringham / Dumoulin / SaidFord Mustang177Engine
58DPGarcia / Bobbi / Babini / OrtelliCoyote CC/08 Pontiac170Did Not Finish
59GTThornton / Long / Varde / RussellBMW M6163Did Not Finish
60GTDeQuesada / Basseng / Swartzbaugh / PiletPorsche GT3 Cup149Transmission
61DPDalziel / Enge / Primat / DunoRiley Mk XI Pontiac97Did Not Finish
62GTGoldin / Goldin / Meassick / KennedyMazda RX-883Driveshaft
63DPBell / Kasemets / Bell / Dallenbach / SchrammRiley Mk XI Pontiac65Suspension
64GTMarsh / Montanari / Biagi / Monzon / VenierFerrari F43055Accident
65DPNewton / Erdos / Kimber-Smith / Mayer / ShermanCoyote CC/08 Pontiac45Fire
66GTEnde / Maher / Bourque / Yarab, Jr.Porsche GT3 Cup31Transmission

Copyright Notice:
All content (photographs and text) appearing on this website are the exclusive property of © www.zoompics.com and are protected under International copyright laws. The subject matter on this website may not be reproduced, copied, stored or manipulated.

© Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016

Return to home page.