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 second round of the 2009 Grand Am Road Racing Association season was held at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Drivers would compete on the eighteen-turn 3.270-mile road course for eighty-one laps in the Bosch Engineering 250.

The first lap through corner three and the No.99 Gainso/Bob Stallings Racing Riley has moved up from its third place starting position to challenge the pole-winning Chip Ganassi entry driven by Memo Rojas. Following this pair is a field of thirty-four Grand Am competitors (sixteen – Daytona Prototype and eighteen – Grand Touring entries).
The Gainco/Bob Stallings Racing Riley MK XX was driven by Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney. The Pontiac-powered Riley started in the third grid position – just 0.516-seconds behind the pole-sitter. Fogarty took the lead during the first caution period. The two drivers were in contention the entire contest. The final sprint was between Gurney and Michael Valiante. Gurney passed Valiante on lap-64 and led the remaining sixteen circuits.
For the second consecutive year, the Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R captured the Grand Touring victory. As in 2008, the driving duties were shared by Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis. In the final thirty minutes of the contest, it was evident that the win would be decided between Liddell and Paul Edwards in the Banner Engineering Pontiac. A late race pass by Liddell allowed him to move into first place and he held the position to the checkered flag.
Michael Valiante and John Pew shared the No. 6 Riley MK XX. Pew started seventh and drove the first stint but on lap-7 he was knocked off the track by J.C. France. Later, Valiante was hit by Alex Gurney and left the racing surface. In both cases, the car was able to continue. Valiante was leading during the final hour when he was overtaken by Gurney. The No. 6 Riley finished in the runner-up position – 0.705-seconds behind the winners.
What a difference a year makes. In 2008, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty started at the back of the Daytona Prototype grid after a technical inspection revealed that their Gurney flap was not within specifications. And, to make the situation worse, a mid-race collision removed any chances for a victory. Naturally, the 2009 event went much better as the scored the class and outright win.
The No. 58 Brumos Racing entry won the opening round of the 2009 season – the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Driving the Porsche-powered Riley MK XI at Virginia International Raceway were Darren Law and David Donohue. The team started in the fifth position on the grid. Early in the race, Law made contact with the Krohn Racing Lola of Nick Jonsson but was able to continue. At the checkered flag, the duo finished third overall and in the Daytona Prototype class.
Banner Engineering entered a Pontiac GXP.R in the Grand Touring category for Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins. The Pontiac started twentieth overall and fourth in class. In the final thirty minutes of the race, Edwards was running first in Grand Touring. A driving error caused him to go wide and he was passed for the lead by the Pontiac of Robin Liddell. Liddell held on to the top spot and Edwards and Collins finished second in class.
Qualifying second in the Grand Touring category was Dane Cameron – making an all Mazda front row. Sharing the Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 with Cameron was Bryce Miller – to date this was the best qualifying effort for the team. During the race, the pair could not match the pace of the quicker Pontiacs and Porsches. They finished on the same lap as the Grand Touring winners – eighth in class and twenty-first overall.
Memo Rojas was the fastest at the end of the qualifying session. Unlike 2008 when he was moved to the back of the grid for a technical infraction this year he would start on the pole. Rojas led the contest until the first caution when the team chose to pit. He and co-driver Scott Pruett were in first place throughout the event but an incident between Pruett and Max Angelelli relegated the team to a twelfth-place finish in class.
Farnbacher Loles Racing entered two Porsche GT3 Cup cars in Grand Touring. Quicker of the two was the No. 87 co-driven by Dirk Werner and Leh Keen. The Porsche started nineteenth overall and third in class. At the conclusion of the event, they were the highest placed Grand Touring Porsche – finishing seventeenth overall and fourth in class.
Fastest during the fifteen-minute Grand Touring qualifying session was Nick Ham driving the SpeedSource Mazda RX-8. Ham’s time was almost two seconds quicker than the previous lap record. He shared the Mazda with team principal, Sylvain Tremblay. During the race, the team had the speed but could not match the overall pace of the Pontiacs. At the checkered flag, the No. 70 SpeedSource entry was third in class.
During qualifying, Timo Bernhard driving the Penske Racing Riley MK XX traded fastest laps with Chip Ganassi driver, Memo Rojas. Rojas prevailed and Bernhard and his co-driver, Romain Dumas started second. The No. 12 Riley took a turn leading the contest with Bernhard behind the wheel. At the conclusion of the event, the pair was on the lead lap and finished seventh overall and in the Daytona Prototype class.
The Grand Touring podium at Virginia International Raceway. On the left are the runner-ups Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards and on the right side are third place finishers, Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay. In the center are the winners for the second consecutive year, of the Bosch Engineering 250, Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis.

1DPGurney / FogartyRiley Mk XX Pontiac81-
2DPPew / ValianteRiley Mk XX Ford81-
3DPLaw / DonohueRiley Mk XI Porsche81-
4DPTucker / BouchutRiley Mk XX BMW81-
5DPGidley / JaegerDallara DP01 Ford81-
6DPPatterson / NegriRiley Mk XX Ford81-
7DPDumas / BernhardRiley Mk XX Porsche81-
8DPFrance / BarbosaRiley Mk XI Porsche81-
9DPManning / LesterRiley Mk XI BMW80-
10DPCosmo / RussellCoyote CC/08 Porsche79-
11DPWilkins / FrisselleRiley Mk XX Ford79-
12DPPruett / RojasRiley Mk XX Lexus78Accident
13DPAngelelli / FrisselleDallara DP01 Ford78Accident
14GTLiddell / DavisPontiac GXP.R78-
15GTEdwards / CollinsPontiac GXP.R78-
16GTTremblay / HamMazda RX-878-
17GTWerner / KeenPorsche GT3 Cup78-
18GTLux / HenzlerPorsche GT3 Cup78-
19GTPumpelly / BallouPorsche GT3 Cup78-
20GTFoster / EspenlaubMazda RX-878-
21GTMiller / CameronMazda RX-878-
22GTStanton / PotterPorsche GT3 Cup78-
23GTForest / AschenbachPontiac GXP.R77-
24GTGutierrez / SchroederPorsche GT3 Cup77-
25DPTaylor / BeyerRiley Mk XI Pontiac75-
26DPWallace / FinlayCrawford DP08 Pontiac73Accident
27GTvon Moltke / GroenewaldPorsche GT3 Cup64Did Not Finish
28GTNonnamaker / NonnamakerChevrolet Corvette52-
29GTPhinny / KapudijaPontiac GTO.R37Did Not Finish
30GTMarks / LallyPorsche GT3 Cup33-
31GTSahlen / NonnamakerChevrolet Corvette20Did Not Finish
32GTGrant / Grant / GrantPorsche GT3 Cup13Did Not Finish
33GTAssentato / SegalMazda RX-85Did Not Finish
34DPJonsson / ZontaLola B08/70 Ford1Suspension

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