2011 marked the twelfth season for the Grand American Road Racing Championship (Grand Am). As was the tradition, the twelve-race season opened at Daytona with the Rolex 24. There were some changes to the 2011 schedule – the addition of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, after not being included in 2010 and Road America returned after a nine-year absence. Gone in 2011, were Miller Motorsports Park and the second Daytona event. Most races were 2-hour and 45-minutes in length - the major exceptions were the 24-hour event at Daytona and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of Watkins Glen.

Probably the biggest news in 2011 was Continental Tire becoming the official tire supplier for Grand Am. Continental also became the title sponsor for Grand Am’s street stock series.

Teams and drivers competed in the Daytona Prototype and Grand Touring 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: Chevrolet, Porsche, Ford and BMW. 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: Porsche GT3 Cup, Chevrolet Camaro GT.R, BMW M3 and Mazda RX-8. To equalize performance among the different brands, rules were implemented that included adjusting the vehicle’s weight, limiting tire size and engine RPMs.

The 49th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona took place on the weekend of January 29 and 30. There was a total of 48-starters (18 in DP and 30 in GT). Drivers would compete for 24-hours around the freshly paved twelve-turn 3.56-mile track which utilized an infield road course and almost the entire tri-oval.

Weather impacted this year’s event as dense fog in the early morning resulted in fifty-seven laps under caution.

The start of the 49th running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Eighteen Daytona Prototype entries receive the starters green flag first and using a split start, will be followed by thirty Grand Touring cars. At the end of 24-hours, four Daytona Prototypes were on the lead lap and the margin of victory between first and second overall was a mere 2.070-seconds.
With less than an hour remaining in the event, the top teams pitted for their final stop. Lead driver, Scott Pruett was running third in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing entry. An excellent pit-stop allowed Pruett to exit first and maintain the lead for the remainder of the event. He shared the victory with co-drivers – Memo Rojas, Joey Hand and Graham Rahal.
American Le Mans Series regulars Flying Lizard Motorsports had previously participated in the Rolex 24 but always competing in Porsches. In 2011, they entered a Porsche-powered Riley in the Daytona Prototype category. They made their presence in the DP class known by qualifying on the pole. The car was driven by Patrick Long, Jorg Bergmeister, Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek. They suffered a number of incidents but an engine fire forced the team to retire on lap-654.
From left to right it is the Grand Touring class winning drivers – Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, Wolf Henzler, Brendan Gaughan and Steven Bertheau. This was Lally’s third Grand Touring category victory at the Rolex 24 and the second for Pumpelly and Henzler. For The Racers Group team owner, Kevin Buckler, it was his fourth class win.
The second entry in the Chip Ganassi Racing stable was the No. 02 BMW Riley driven by Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray. This group of drivers encountered some setbacks (two flat tires and a gear cluster change) early in the race. But having their misfortune at the beginning of the event gave them an opportunity to make up the deficit. By the end of the event, they were in contention for the win but finished second.
The class winning GT Porsche GT3 Cup was the fastest qualifier but started last after the time was disallowed. Drivers Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, Wolf Henzler, Brendan Gaughan and Steven Bertheau, made good progress during the race and moved up the class order. Despite losing a clutch in the seventeenth hour, The Racers Group entry took the win and was one lap clear of the second place Porsche from Paul Miller Racing.
Thirty Grand Touring (GT) cars receive the Starter’s flag at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 29. The class winning GT Porsche GT3 Cup of The Racers Group (TRG) would complete 685-laps just 36 behind the overall winners from Chip Ganassi Racing. TRG also finished one lap ahead of the second-place Grand Touring entry of Paul Miller Racing.
The Racers Group No. 66 Porsche GT3 Cup was driven by Dominik Farnbacher, Tim George Jr., Ben Keating and Lucas Luhr. Farnbacher qualified the Porsche on the GT class pole and led the first lap of the race. The Porsche ran with the category leaders until the fourth hour when Keating damaged the car while avoiding a spinning Ferrari. A series of problems caused the team to fall down the order and retire.
After changing to Ford engines in 2008, the Wayne Taylor team was back with General Motors - using Chevrolet motors. It appeared that the switch paid off as lead driver Max Angelelli qualified second. Angelelli along with co-drivers Ricky Taylor and Ryan Briscoe were in contention when Taylor was forced to the garage after contact with Montoya. Later suspension issues required another visit to the garage. They made up many of their lost laps and finished fifth.
Bryce Miller qualified the Paul Miller Racing Porsche GT3 Cup twelfth in the Grand Touring class. The experienced driving team of Miller, Tim Sugden, Rob Bell and Bryan Sellers raced with the lead group. The team only experienced a couple of minor setbacks with the front spoiler. The relatively trouble free run was rewarded with a second place in class and thirteenth overall finish.
Most of the media attention was focused on the No. 40 Mazda RX-8 entry from Demsey Racing. Driving this car was Tom Long, Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and actor Patrick Dempsey. Dempsey had to take the ‘redeye’ from the Sundance Film Festival to make the race. The Mazda started thirty-sixth overall and fourteenth in class. At the end of 24-hours, the team earned the final spot on the victory podium.
Third place in Daytona Prototype and overall went to the Action Express Racing Porsche-powered Riley. The car was shared by an experienced group which included Terry Borcheller, JC France, Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Max Papis. The team started from the twelfth position of the grid and finished on the same lap as the race winners.
Autohaus Motorsports was one of three teams that entered a Chevrolet Camaro GT.R – the other being Stevenson Autosports and Banner Racing. The Autohaus Camaro shared by Jordan Taylor, Bill Lester, Johnny O’Connell and Matthew Marsh started from the second position for GT category cars. As is usually the case for most teams, they encountered some issues during the event and finished fourteenth in Grand Touring.
The Chip Ganassi Racing team celebrate their fifth win on the victory podium at the Rolex 24. Ganassi is surrounded by the crew and drivers – Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Joey Hand and Graham. In the last five years the No. 01 car has completed every lap and won the race three times. With this victory, Ganassi's teams had won the Daytona 500, Indy 500, Brickyard 400 and the Rolex 24 all within the course of a year.

1DPPruett / Rojas / Rahal / HandBMW Riley721-
2DPDixon / Montoya / Franchitti / McMurrayBMW Riley721-
3DPBorcheller / France / Barbosa / Fittipaldi / PapisPorsche Riley721-
4DPBrown / Patterson / Blundell / BrundleFord Riley721-
5DPAngelelli / Taylor / BriscoeChevrolet Dallara720-
6DPKrohn / Jonsson / Zonta / MinassianFord Lola720-
7DPAllmendinger / McDowell / WilsonFord Dallara719-
8DPTucker / Bouchut/ Diaz / WilkinsBMW Riley718-
9DPLaw / Donohue / Rice / FrissellePorsche Riley717-
10DPPew / Negri / Goossens / ValianteFord Riley706-
11DPTucker / Hunter-Reay / Westbrook / MatosBMW Riley703-
12GTBertheau / Gaughan / Henzler / Lally / PumpellyPorsche GT3 Cup685-
13GT Miller / Sugden / Sellers / BellPorsche GT3 Cup684-
14GTFoster / Dempsey / Espenlaub / LongMazda RX-8681-
15DPFogarty / Gurney / JohnsonChevrolet Riley679-
16GTPotter / Stanton / Lietz / HolzerPorsche GT3 Cup675-
17GTHaywood / Davis / Keen / LiebPorsche GT3 Cup673-
18GTEdwards / Tremblay / Christodoulou / BomaritoMazda RX-8670-
19GTNonnamaker / Nonnamaker / Nonnamaker / GidleyMazda RX-8661-
20GTEversley / Graeff / Wallace / Yarab Jr / Zahn JrPorsche GT3 Cup659-
21GTThomas / Ludwig / von Moltke / FriedmanPorsche GT3 Cup655-
22DPLong / Bergmeister / Neiman / van OverbeekPorsche Riley654Fire
23GTGue / Cameron / James / LaceyMazda RX-8650-
24GTGarcia / Edwards / MaassenChevrolet Coyote649Not Running
25GTEarnhardt / Monroe / Harrington / Hull / SandbergPorsche GT3 Cup635-
26GTLiddell / Bremer / MagnussenCamaro GT.R629-
27GTFarnbacher / George Jr. / Keating / LuhrPorsche GT3 Cup612Not Running
28GTTaylor / Lester / O'Connell / MarshCamaro GT.R607-
29GTWagner / Poordad / Baron / JonesFerrari F430588-
30GTBleekemolen / Pappas / Pilet / SofronasPorsche GT3 Cup578Not Running
31DPPotoliccio / Popow / Iannetta / VisoFord Riley577-
32GTAuberlen / Dalla Lana / Said / PlumbBMW M3565-
33DP Forest / Dalziel / Lowe / Braun / EngeFord Riley552Not Running
34GTGrupp / Murry / Downing / TrinklerMazda RX-8544-
35GTSweedler / Lewis / Sheehan / PagereyPorsche GT3 Cup495-
36GTRettich / Jensen / Marsal / Jensen / BufordMazda RX-8453Not Running
37GTMichaelian / Doyle / Mulligan / Castellano / DobsonPorsche GT3 Cup423-
38GTCheng / Papadopoulos / Lewis / HyattBMW M6402Not Running
39GTLedoux II / Curran / Schaldach / GavinCamaro GT.R398Not Running
40GTBurtin / Ragginger / Tandy / ArmindoPorsche GT3 Cup378Not Running
41GTWalker / Wong / LuxPorsche GT3 Cup328Not Running
42DPFrisselle / Richard / Bell / KaiserFord Dallara312Not Running
43GTSkeen / Dumoulin / Davidson / Geddie / HarringtonFerrari F430286-
44DPPeterson / Valentine / Beyer / Mayer / HeylenFord Riley215Not Running
45GTAssentato / Segal / Ham/ LazzaroMazda RX-8202Not Running
46GTJoe Sahlen / Nonnamaker / Nonnamaker / NonnamakerMazda RX-8124Not Running
47GTHacquard / Cumming / Miller / MarksMazda RX-8122Not Running
48GTAtterbury / MacNeil / Pobst / WhitisPorsche GT3 Cup121Not Running

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