The Classic 24 Hour Daytona 2015 was staged November 11-15 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Sanctioned by Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR), the 2nd running of Classic 24 was dedicated to the cars and drivers that raced in Daytona’s classic endurance races of the past.
Six period correct groups of race cars were featured, each based on performance and age, competing in one-hour sessions, four times each over the 24 hours. The first group took the green flag at noon on Saturday for 45 minutes of wheel-to-wheel competition. A five-minute pit stop during each session (driver change optional) was required. When one group took the checkered flag the next group was on the grid and ready to roll out behind the pace car for their chance to race on the high banks of Daytona. The competitors in each group covering the most total distance in the shortest amount of time in their group’s four sessions were crowned Classic 24 at Daytona champions.
“We are very, very pleased,” said HSR President David Hinton. “The event exceeded our expectations for this year, as well as it did last year, the quantity of the cars was good but the quality of the cars was even better.”
The entry list for the 2015 HSR Classic 24 Hour at Daytona presented by IMSA featured nearly 175 race cars, a tally of 300 drivers and teams from 15 different countries on four continents. For the second-year in a row, Doug Smith, this time co-driving with Butch Leitzinger, took the overall win in a 2005 Audi R8 LMS, covering the most distance in the shortest combined time. Additional race highlights include:
Group A – 1960 to 1972: The oldest division, Group A featured such race cars as the Ford GT40, Lola T70, Chevron B8, Ferrari 365 GTB, Lotus Elan, Alfa Romeo GT Junior, several 1960s-era Corvettes and Mustangs, including a Shelby GT350, and a field of early Porsche 911s. Another entry not frequently seen in the United States was the French-built Matra MS630.
The No. 44 1971 Chevron B16 of Gray Gregory and Randy Buck won overall group and A-2 class honors, followed by the A-1 class winning No. 1 1969 Lola T70 Mk. III of Gerard Lopez and Frantz Wellborn and John Delane in his A-2 class No. 50 1971 Lola T212.
Group B – 1973 to 1982: With a little more turbocharged power and wide-body aerodynamics, Group B attracted four Porsche 935s, six BMW CSLs, two Greenwood Corvettes, a Dekon Monza, several Porsche 911 RSRs and Carreras and big-bore Mustangs, Camaros and Corvettes. This group also featured several of the ultra-quick and classic Chevron, Lola and March open-cockpit sports prototype race cars.
The No. 8 1975 March 75S of Robert Blain and Ron Maydon took overall group and B-4 class victories. They were joined in the top three by the No. 88 1979 Greenwood Chevrolet Corvette of Jules Gounon (B-1 class winner) and the 1982 Chevrolet Camaro of Alain Ruede.
Group C – 1983 to 1993: The GTP and Group C era was at the heart of this run group. A lineup of six Porsche 962s shared the spotlight with two Jaguar XJR-5s, a Jaguar XJR-7 and a Porsche Fabcar. Several production-based race cars were also in Group C as was the Aston Martin AMR-1 prototype that raced at Le Mans.
The No. 99 1986 Porsche 962 of Mark Patterson and Christian Zugel won overall and the C-1 class. Jeff Lewis finished a strong second overall and first in C-4 in his No. 551 1993 Porsche 964 RSR, while the No. 17 1994 Porsche 964 Cup of Alan Benjamin, Barry Waddell and Robert Ames completed the overall podium and won the C-5 class.
Group D – 1994 to 2002: The highlight machines in Group D included several Riley and Scott Mk IIIs and Daytona Prototypes, a Lola B2K, Crawford DP03 and GT Porsches, Corvettes, Vipers and a TVR T400R. A debuting entry of note was the Saleen S7R GT1.
Dean Baker took overall honors and the D-1 class win in the No. 0 1998 Riley and Scott Mk III Judd V10. Spencer and Bruce Trenery were second overall and won D-2 in their No. 15 2006 Riley Mk XI Chevy, while J.C. France and Timmy Rivers completed the overall top three and second in D-2 in the No. 59 2004 Doran JE4 Chevy.
Group E – 2003 to 2012: This group let ALMS and Le Mans prototypes that couldn’t race at Daytona in their day a chance to take to the high banks. Two Audi R8s, a pair of Pescarolo 01 LMPs and a Porsche RS Spyder highlighted the group that also included three Oreca FLM09s and several different Daytona Prototypes. GT cars were plentiful too and included several Porsche 996, 997 and 991 models, two LMS Audi R8s and a Camaro, Ferrari F430 and Nissan GTR. Another entry not frequently seen was the BMW Alpina B6 GT3.
Doug Smith and Butch Leitzinger took the win in the No. 38 2005 Audi R8 LMP for the second year in the row. The Audi edged the No. 18 2007 Pescarolo Judd of David Porter who was second overall and runner-up in the E-1 class. Another 2007 Pescarolo Judd, the No. 16 machine of Chris Carel and Christophe Tinseau, finished third overall and in the E-1 class.
Group F – HSR Cars: This group was home to HSR classes that are not represented in the other five other groups. Group F also let competitors with race cars that were never eligible to compete at Daytona a chance on the track in the Classic 24. Offering a mix of machinery from six different decades, this group was also home to the oldest car in the Classic 24, a 1962 Lotus Super 7.
Similar to 2014, Sports Car Digest also documented the 2015 Classic 24 Hour Daytona, with photographer Michael DiPleco offering the following pictures of the historic race cars navigating the Daytona International Speedway road course. We split up Michael’s pictures into two galleries. The first gallery starting below features our favorite images, all displayed in the full-width view of Sports Car Digest, while the second gallery can be found on the last page of the article and gives a comprehensive view of all the photographs.
Classic 24 Hour Daytona 2015 – Featured Photo Gallery
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