Rolex Sports Car Series

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Rolex Sports Car Series
2013 Rolex Sports Car Series season
Grand-am rolex series logo.jpg
Category Sports car racing
Country or region North America
Inaugural season 2000
Folded 2013
Prototype Classes DP
GT Classes GT, GX
Last Drivers' champion/s DP: Max Angelelli, Jordan Taylor
GT: Alessandro Balzan
GX: Jim Norman
Last Teams' champion DP: Chip Ganassi Racing
GT: Scuderia Corsa
GX: BGB Motorsports
Last Makes' champion DP: Chevrolet/Riley
GT: Ferrari
GX: Mazda
Official website http://www.grand-am.com

The Rolex Sports Car Series was the premier series run by the Grand American Road Racing Association. It was a North American-based sports car series founded in 2000 under the name Grand American Road Racing Championship to replace the failed United States Road Racing Championship. Rolex took over as series sponsor in 2002.

It ran a mixture of classes of sports prototypes and Grand Touring-style cars. In 2003, the series debuted their custom prototype chassis, known as Daytona Prototypes, named after their premiere event, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The series staged the North American Endurance Championship, featuring three of its premier races at Daytona, Watkins Glen, and Indianapolis.[1]

On September 5, 2012, Grand-Am announced that it would be merging the Rolex Sports Car Series with the American Le Mans Series to form a unified road racing championship[2] to be known as United SportsCar Racing,[3] later retitled as the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship. The final Rolex Sports Car Series race was held on September 28, 2013 at Lime Rock Park.[4]

History[edit]

Following the failure of the United States Road Racing Championship in 1999, the new Grand American Road Racing Association announced their intentions to adopt a format similar to the one used in the USRRC, centering around the 24 Hours of Daytona. This series was seen as an alternative to the former IMSA GT Championship, which had since been replaced by the American Le Mans Series in 1999. The new series would run two classes of Sports Racing Prototypes identical to the rules used in the new FIA Sportscar Championship in Europe, while Grand Touring-style cars would consist of three classes: GTO for larger production-based race cars, GTU for smaller production-based race cars, and AGT for American tube frame[disambiguation needed] cars. The league would also acquire the Six Hours of Watkins Glen, giving the league a second endurance race alongside the Rolex 24 at Daytona to compete with the ALMS' 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans. GTO and GTU would be renamed GTS and GT for 2001 to better match the classes used by the similar American Le Mans Series.

A GT-class Porsche spinning out after navigating a curve at the 2005 Grand-Am Road & Track 250 at Laguna Seca

2003 would see the series go through a radical change, as Daytona Prototypes debuted for the first time to replace both of the Sports Racing Prototype classes. Although SRPs would be allow to continue until the end of 2003, few were seen while the Daytona Prototypes took over the series. The American GT class was also dissolved with the cars being placed into the similar GTS class.

In 2004, the faster GTS class was abandoned in order to provide a larger gap between the Daytona Prototypes and GT cars. The GTS cars were as fast (if not faster) than the Daytona Prototypes. This meant that the GT class was now the top tier, being joined by the Super Grand Sport (SGS) class moved up from the Grand Am Cup series. This was further streamlined in 2005 with all Grand Touring-style cars being in a single GT class.

A 2007 Riley MkXI Daytona Prototype seen as the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

This formula led to the Rolex Sports Car Series having a large number of competitors at most events, mostly due to the ease of use and low cost of the cars in either class while the Grand American Road Racing Association was able to keep the competition equalized.

With such high car counts, Grand-Am has had to split GT and DP races at shorter tracks where it is not feasible to put 50 cars on the track at one instance. In each case, the GT cars race on Saturday, and the DP cars race on Sunday. This split format allows drivers to run both races. Each race is the same distance, as it would be if the two classes were running together. This did however make GT races slightly longer than combined events, since GT cars would likely finish several laps behind the winning prototype and thus not cover the full distance.

When the GT and DP races were combined, the two classes would use a motorcycle racing-style "wave start," a concept from Roger Edmonson, who had been in motorcycle racing before organising the Grand American series with the France family. In this case, the DP cars would take the green flag first, followed, usually 20–30 seconds later (depending on track length) by the GT cars. By starting the cars separately, the organisers hoped for safer starts by having the two classes of cars race separately.

Due to the series' affiliaton with NASCAR, many Sprint Cup Series drivers occasionally participated in Rolex Series races, particularly the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Pruett/Rojas at Road America, champions in 2012

Series champions[edit]

Season Classes
2000 SR SRII GTO GTU AGT
United Kingdom James Weaver United States Larry Oberto United States Terry Borcheller United States Mike Fitzgerald United States Doug Mills
2001 SRP SRPII GTS GT AGT
United Kingdom James Weaver United States Andy Lally United States Chris Bingham United States Darren Law United States Craig Conway
2002 Belgium Didier Theys United States Terry Borcheller United States Chris Bingham United States Bill Auberlen
United States Cort Wagner
United States Kerry Hitt
2003 DP SRPII GTS GT
United States Terry Borcheller United States Steve Marshall United States Tommy Riggins
United States Dave Machavern
United States Cort Wagner
United States Brent Martini
2004 DP GT SGS
Italy Max Papis
United States Scott Pruett
United States Bill Auberlen
United States Boris Said
United States Andy Lally
United States Marc Bunting
2005 DP GT
Italy Max Angelelli
South Africa Wayne Taylor
United States Craig Stanton
2006 Germany Jörg Bergmeister United States Andy Lally
United States Marc Bunting
2007 United States Alex Gurney
United States Jon Fogarty
Germany Dirk Werner
2008 United States Scott Pruett
Mexico Memo Rojas
United States Paul Edwards
United States Kelly Collins
2009 United States Alex Gurney
United States Jon Fogarty
United States Leh Keen
Germany Dirk Werner
2010 United States Scott Pruett
Mexico Memo Rojas
United States Emil Assentato
United States Jeff Segal
2011 United States Scott Pruett
Mexico Memo Rojas
United States Leh Keen
United States Andrew Davis
2012 United States Scott Pruett
Mexico Memo Rojas
United States Emil Assentato
United States Jeff Segal
2013 DP GT GX
Italy Max Angelelli
United States Jordan Taylor
Italy Alessandro Balzan United States Jim Norman

Television[edit]

Speed Channel was the near-exclusive broadcaster of the Rolex Sports Car Series and included coverage of the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen and the 24 Hours of Daytona. On August 17, 2013, Fox Sports 1 became the new near-exclusive broadcaster for the Rolex Sports Car Series until 2014 when both Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series form United Sports Car Racing.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]