24 Hours to Glory

While much of the spotlight went to the highly funded, factory supported Prototype teams this past weekend at Daytona,  one should call to mind the independent teams and the blood sweat and tears that make the 24 Hours such a formidable, but challenging task.

While I watched several hours of Speed Channel’s coverage–which by the way is outstanding–the broadcast was largely dedicated to  the front running Prototypes.  You will catch a peek occasionally of a GT class car getting lapped for the hundred and something-eth time.  For most drivers out there, one can commiserate with the thrill, anxiety, expense and demands of the driver clawing his way into the show–and fighting to stay there.

One such driver, who I am proud to call a friend, is Nick Jones of Brentwood, California-by way of Wales, UK.  He is a creative and happy-go-lucky guy and when prompted, can drive the wheels off a car.  In his ten year racing career, he has several Skip Barber series wins and a year of British F3 under his belt–He finished seventh in the series on a bunch of tracks he had never seen before.  Then he came back to the States where he sought a ChampCar ride–and ended up driving a short stint for Jensen Motorsport in the Toyota Atlantic Series.  Sadly this was ruined by a wanna-be club racer who owns a bunch of furniture stores in the Southwest–getting tangled on the final lap of the test, causing Jones to barrel-roll though several corners of the Homestead road course.  He was OK, save a broken foot, but the car was written off.

Last year, he did six races in the Porsche Cup Challenge, a support series for the Patron IMSA/ALMS show.   He managed top 10 in the standings before funding ran out.

2011, started off with a bang for the 28-year-old.  He was given a ride in a GT Class Ferrari 430 Challenge entered by DragonSpeed out of the Los Angeles area in the 24 Hours of Daytona.  Teamed with the Cali-Welshman was teamed with last years GT-class winner Cort Wagner and teammates Fred Poordad and Doug Baron.  The group survived the 24 hours handily and were classified 15th in GT class and 29th over all.

Former manager Johnathan Bartlett, who is currently doing computer based timing and scoring for DTM teams overseas said, “Well that has to date been the best performance I have ever seen from Nick, he was lapping close to the factory driver on tripple stinted tyres. When the engine was dying at the end he and the factory driver were the only guys that kept the car in the race by doing under 2min lap times! truly one of the great drives! Proud very proud!”

We are all proud of you Nick and look forward to more great moments!

 

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2 Comments

  1. Tom,

    Great start on your new website, On Motorsports.

    Race coverage has always favored the leading cars of the race. Having a race within a race has always played 2nd fiddle to any press coverage.

    Racing has gotten so expensive and technically reliable to race the full 24 hrs….gone are the days of of the independent teams and their competitive outcome in long distant races.

    The Gt category was the only really interesting portion of the Daytona 24 hr. race, why?…..because they had individuality. The DP’s were separated only by their livery. Most who watch these cars felt they were watching a spec car race.

    I have been very honored to have raced in a memorable time of motorsports. One of the Memorable Daytona 24’s was indeed a “Rocky Balboa” story, in1979 when a historic Ferrari Daytona GTB4 GT coupe took on the best of the newer more powerful twin Turbo Porsche 935’s. This was a independent team, owned by two Ferrari enthusiasts, some that could not happen today. Ck out pics and recap on the incredible Daytona 24 hr race
    http://www.a2zracer.com/page78.html Cheers !
    Tony Adamowicz
    a2z Racer
    http://www.a2zracer.com

    1. Thanks for checking out the site Tony. You ARE racing history. As for good race coverage, if one car is walking away it actually has been discovered that watching a fight for eight vs. a high speed parade at the front is a much better show. Mario recently told me that he always felt the stadium tracks were not good draws for road racing. He feels there is little attendance compared with the mob-scene that is Sebring. Considering that NASCAR owns the Grand-Am series, it’s not surprising to see it looking spec: just look at the Cup cars these days. Sad, but I think that the future of racing lies in its past.

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