2009 marked the tenth year for the Grand American Road Racing Championship. The twelve-race season opened in Daytona with the Rolex 24. There were a number of changes to the schedule – in addition to adjustments made to venue dates the series did not return to Infineon, Lime Rock or Mexico City. Most races were 250-miles in length with a 2-hour and 45-minute time limit. The major exceptions were the 24-hour event at Daytona, the Sahlen’s Six Hours at Watkins Glen and a shorter 2-hour race at Montreal and the second Watkins Glen event.

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, Ford Mustang, 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 47th Rolex 24 at Daytona took place on the weekend of January 24 and 25. Entries were down over last year – 66-cars in 2008 versus 49-cars (19-Daytona Prototypes and 30-Grand Touring). The decrease in car count could be attributed to a slowdown in the American economy. Drivers and teams 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.

A couple of Rolex 24 records were set at this event. There was an event high twenty-five caution periods which may have contributed to another stat – four teams were on the lead lap at the conclusion of the race. Only 10.5-seconds separated the top four finishers.

The 47th Rolex 24 at Daytona started at 3:30 pm on Saturday, January 24. Nineteen Daytona Prototypes are the first to receive the Starter’s green flag. On the front row is the fastest qualifier David Donohue driving the Porsche-powered Riley for Brumos Racing. On the outside of Donohue is the Roger Penske entry driven by Timo Bernhard.
It was a good start to the weekend for Brumos Racing when David Donohue put the No. 58 Riley on the pole. Co-driving the car with Donohue were Antonio Garcia, Darren Law and Buddy Rice. At one point during the race, the team lost three laps for repairs after Garcia hit a tire wall. With the car mended, the team climbed back up the lap chart and were the first to receive the checkered flag.
The Brumos group celebrates the overall and Daytona Prototype class victory in the 2009 edition of the Rolex 24. From left to right are the winning drivers – Antonio Garcia, David Donohue, Buddy Rice and Darren Law. This was the team’s first overall win in over thirty years. And, for Donohue, it marked the anniversary of his father’s (Mark Donohue) victory in 1969.
It had been three years since one of The Racer’s Group (TRG) Porsches claimed the Grand Touring class victory in the Rolex 24. The GT race began as a battle between the Porsches from TRG and Farnbacher Loles and the Banner Racing Pontiacs. By morning, the TRG cars were first and second with the No. 67, driven by RJ Valentine, Andy Lally, Justin Marks, Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister, leading the way to the checkered flag.
Thanks to team principal Sylvain Tremblay, the defending GT category race winners started on the class pole. Unfortunately, any chances for back to back victories ended on lap-11. Tremblay was at the wheel when he had an incident resulting in extensive damage. Repairs were made to the car but the team lost forty-seven laps. Tremblay and his teammates, David Haskell, Nick Ham and Jonathan Bomarito finished seventeenth in class.
The second Brumos entry was driven by J.C. France, Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller and Hurley Haywood. The No. 59 Riley MK XI was qualified by Barbosa and started from the seventh grid position. The team was competitive throughout the race and was one of four cars on the lead lap during the final hour. At the end of twenty-four hours, this group was third which gave Brumos Racing two cars on the podium.
Tracy Krohn entered two Lola B08/70s. The quicker of the two was the No. 76 driven by Nic Jonsson, Ricardo Zonta and Darren Turner. Despite hitting the wall during practice, Zonta qualified the car third. Unfortunately, the Lola lasted less than six hours before the Roush-Yates Ford engine lost oil pressure. After twelve hours of racing, the sister car also encountered motor troubles and retired.
The Racer’s Group (TRG) captured the top two spots on the podium. The No. 66 Porsche GT3 Cup was co-driven by Ted Ballou, Emmanuel Collard, Tim George, Jr., Richard Lietz and Spencer Pumpelly. The car started seventh and battled with the lead group. By Sunday morning, the two quickest TRG Porsches were the class of the field. At the checkered flag, the No. 66 was second - one lap behind their teammates.
The second group, consisting of forty-nine Grand Touring cars, receives the Starter’s flag. As qualifying wound down, Andy Lally driving a TRG Porsche was quickest but in the final minutes, Sylvain Tremblay driving the SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 won the pole. For a second year in a row, Tremblay would lead the GT field to the green.
The Chip Ganassi Racing team were looking for a fourth consecutive victory in the Rolex 24. The No. 01 Riley MK XX was shared by Scott Pruett, Juan Pablo Montoya and Memo Rojas. In the final hour, four cars were on the lead lap. Montoya was running second during the last stint and although he was quicker than race leader Donohue in the infield he could not pass him on the banking. At the checkered flag, the Ganassi team was second – 0.167-seconds behind the winner.
The Wright Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup started twelfth and was driven by Phillip Martien, B. J. Zacharias, Sascha Maassen and Patrick Pilet. Despite some minor setbacks, the team ran a steady race and was able to capitalize on the misfortunes of quicker cars. At the end of twenty-four hours, they were tenth overall and third in Grand Touring – four laps behind the class winning TRG Porsche.
Qualifying second, just 0.001-seconds behind the pole-winner David Donohue was Timo Bernhard in the Penske Racing Riley MK XX. Bernhard shared the Riley with Ryan Briscoe and Romain Dumas. The trio dominated the race until the eighteenth hour when the right rear half-shaft failed and they encountered a second issue in the twenty-first hour which required a lengthy stop. The team finished sixth in overall.
Gotham Competition entered the No. 26 Porsche GT3 Cup for Jerome Jacalone, Randy Pobst, Gerardo Bonilla, Shane Lewis and Jay Jacalone. The car started from the eighth grid position in the Grand Touring category. At the conclusion of the race, the team was eighteenth overall and tenth in the Grand Touring class.
The Racer’s Group was back on the top the Grand Touring podium. From left to right are drivers – R.J. Valentine, Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, Justin Marks and Andy Lally. This was The Racer’s Groups third class victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

1DPLaw / Donohue / Rice / GarciaRiley Mk XI Porsche735-
2DPPruett / Rojas / MontoyaRiley Mk XX Lexus735-
3DPFrance / Barbosa / Borcheller / HaywoodRiley Mk XI Porsche735-
4DPTaylor / Lamy / Angelelli / FrisselleDallara DP01 Ford735-
5DPDixon / Franchitti / LloydRiley Mk XI Lexus731-
6DPDumas / Bernhard / BriscoeRiley Mk XX Porsche717-
7DPGurney / Fogarty / Vasser / JohnsonRiley Mk XX Pontiac714-
8DPWallace / Finlay / Patrick / MearsCrawford DP08 Pontiac702-
9GTMarks / Lally / Valentine / Long / BergmeisterPorsche GT3 Cup695-
10GTPumpelly / Ballou / Collard / Lietz / George, Jr.Porsche GT3 Cup694-
11GTMartien / Zacharias / Maassen / PiletPorsche GT3 Cup691-
12GTEdwards / Collins / MagnussenPontiac GXP.R689-
13GTFarnbacher / Lux / Marsh / RoushPorsche GT3 Cup688-
14GTLiddell / Davis / BucknumPontiac GXP.R684-
15GTJohnson / Lacey / Nearn / Westbrook / SofronasPorsche GT3 Cup680-
16GTKeen / Werner / Henzler / WestbrookPorsche GT3 Cup676-
17GTAssentato / Segal / Longhi / PlumbMazda RX-8675-
18GTJacalone / Jacalone / Pobst / Bonilla / LewisPorsche GT3 Cup675-
19DPTucker / Zabinski / Bouchut / MatosRiley Mk XX BMW665-
20DPTaylor / Beyer / Martinez / TaylorRiley Mk XI Pontiac662Did Not Finish
21GTForest / Merrill / Salvo / WestphalPontiac GXP.R656-
22GTGue / Long / Eversley / BeikerChevrolet Corvette650-
23DPCosmo / Russell / Pridmore / WardCoyote CC/08 Porsche649Fire
24GTvon Moltke / Cameron / Sellers / PetersonMazda RX-8647-
25GTGutierrez / Ende / Pallis / Miller / SchroederPorsche GT3 Cup625-
26GTRosa / Kaffer / Petrobelli / Simonsen / RosaPorsche GT3 Cup622-
27GTGomez / Graeff / Henzler / Yarab, Jr. / CampolloPorsche GT3 Cup604-
28GTHaskell / Tremblay / Ham / BomaritoMazda RX-8591-
29GTQuinlan / Ledoux / Watkins / Zadig / KossmannPorsche GT3 Cup572-
30GTBentley / Carter / Harrington / NixonPorsche GT3 Cup519-
31DPGidley / Jaeger / Gollin / BobbiDallara DP01 Ford504Did Not Finish
32GTAschenbach / Valverde / Willsley / Rodriguez / CruzPorsche GT3 Cup454Did Not Finish
33GTStanton / Holzer / Potter / MillerPorsche GT3 Cup379Did Not Finish
34DPKrohn / van de Poele / GavinLola B08/70 Ford374Engine
35GTFoster / Dempsey / Espenlaub / Lewis, Jr. / ThorntonMazda RX-8343Did Not Finish
36GTDrudi / Campanico / Papis / SwartzbaughFerrari F430324Did Not Finish
37GTAlessi / Daskalos / Montano / VinkemulderPontiac GTO.R321Did Not Finish
38DPWilkins / Frisselle / Farano / FiggeRiley Mk XX Ford301Engine
39DPDeQuesada / Dalziel / Dumoulin / Enge / DucoteRiley Mk XI BMW292Did Not Finish
40GTCastellano / Bertuzzi / Pirri / Montanari / WagnerFerrari F430292Accident
41DPPatterson / Negri / Hunter-Reay / BraunRiley Mk XX Ford262Engine
42GTRagginger / Burtin / Baldwin / McGehee / FriedmanPorsche GT3 Cup259Did Not Finish
43GTMichaelian / Michaelian / Kapudija / McMullen / LewisPorsche GT3 Cup245Did Not Finish
44DPManning / Lester / Hindery, Jr. / PettyRiley Mk XI BMW216Did Not Finish
45GTLowe / Pace / Van Overbeek / SugdenPorsche GT3 Cup201Did Not Finish
46DPJonsson / Zonta / TurnerLola B08/70 Ford159Oil Pressure
47DPValiante / James / Allmendinger / PewRiley Mk XX Ford153Did Not Finish
48GTSaid / Kelly / Morris / NastasiFord Mustang52Did Not Finish
49GTNonnamaker / Nonnamaker / Nonnamaker / SahlenChevrolet Corvette24Did Not Finish

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