January 2012 will mark the 50th running of the world famous 24 Hours of Daytona. While this year will be a hallmark for the race itself, its also shaping up to be quite an event for BMW enthusiasts. Over the last few years, the presence of the Bavarian Motor Works along the pit lane of Daytona has only continued to grow. Last year, after an incredible triple stint by BMW Team RLL driver Joey Hand, the Chip Ganassi Racing Daytona Prototype pulled off an overall victory, fighting down to the last lap. The engine resting amidships the Ganassi prototype? A BMW 5.0 liter V8!
This year promises to be just as exciting with a multitude of teams competing with the help of BMW Power across a number of different classes. Turner Motorsport will be on-hand once again with M3’s to contend the GT class against the likes of Porsche GT3’s, Mazda RX8’s and Camaros.
Turner brings with them an impressive driver line-up with Jorg Muller, Dirk Muller and Bill Auberlen – all well-established drivers behind the wheel of a BMW. Interestingly, APR Motorsport will bring an Audi R8 into Grand AM for the first time to battle it out with the likes of the BMW M3’s with former Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro – someone well-versed at delivering victories behind the wheel of an Audi. No doubt, Turner Motorsport will be pushing to beat out the incumbent Daytona winners TRG Motorsports and their Porsches and the overall GT champs from 2011: Brumos Porsche and their red, white and blue GT3’s!
In the DP class – the Ganassi team will have their work cut out for them with new competition from Chevy Corvette entries and renewed efforts by the Action Express team. To combat the challenge – TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley has enlisted a driver roster of the who’s who of motorsports with Graham Rahal, Joey Hand, Dario Franchitti, Scott Pruett and Juan Pablo Montoya making up the bulk of the team. Expect to see some great DP class battles with the notable drivers such as Alan McNish, Lucas Luhr and Jan Magnussen in other Daytona Prototypes as the race plays out over this Saturday and Sunday.
To celebrate what could very well be a repeat of last year – a BMW-powered car landing the top podium spot – the Jacksonville-based BMW CCA chapter, First Coast BMW CCA, will host an infield corral for BMW CCA members and enthusiasts throughout the course of the race. Parking will be available outside of the track with trams providing regular transportation to and from the infield. The First Coast chapter’s corral will be located in motor home spots #46 and #47 near the Horseshoe near turns 1 and 2. Be sure to look for the BMW flags waving high and proud to locate the corral! For those interested, we recommend heading over to the First Coast chapter’s homepage here to reserve special passes to the corral and BMW parking!
Thus far, the 50th running of the 24 Hours of Daytona is shaping up to be an incredible event both for its history and the sheer amount of competition from international teams converging on the beach side track to take victory over the grueling race. If the competition isn’t enough – the Performance Center Driving team will be on hand with their M3’s and expect a special appearance by the F10 M5 courtesy of our friends over at Axis of Oversteer!