Over the Halloween weekend, HSR (Historic Sportscar Racing) held their now annual marquee event, the Daytona Classic 24. This event started a few years back as kind of a test to see if anyone was interested. It has now grown into a fixture on the historic circuit in the USA.
The iconic Daytona International Speedway hosted the Classic 24 once again in 2021. Porsche was the featured marque, but there was a good mix of cars of all types and ages.
The weather this year for the most part co-operated. There were storms on Thursday but the rest of the week was typical Florida Fall days.
An Overview of the 2021 Daytona Classic 24
The race is run very much like the Le Mans Historics, with a few exceptions. The cars are broken into six groups, which then run for a total of 4 hours each in the 24-hour period (although when factoring in the slow down, the grid of the next group, and so on, these turn out to be 42-minute segments).
A mandatory three- minute pit stop is required during each segment. You are allowed to add fuel, change tires and or drivers as needed.
HSR has a big job in assigning all the various entries into each group. It is inevitable that some fairly disparate cars end up in the same group. The groups in 2021 were as follows:
Early FIA cars 1962-1972
Early IMSA GTX, GTU, GTO, AAGT 1972-1982
Late IMSA GTP, WSC era 1983-1993
Early Grand AM, GT era 1994-2003
Current Prototype, GT era 2004 -2018
Modern Prototype, GT era 2004-2018
HSR cars that do not fit in Groups A-F
Groups C and D ran together to facilitate the maximum of six groups. This year, the featured marque was Porsche. I would guess over 50% of the entries were Porsches of some type. There was really the full gambit, from the Porsche 356 all the way up to the Porsche 2018 911 GT3, with all kinds of others represented in between.
One of the Group C entries, the 1997 Porsche 993 GT2 EVO of Tom McGlynn. With Brady Refenning driving, it would finish 8th overall in group C/D.
The technical rules differ somewhat from Le Mans in that FIA papers are not required to enter cars. Many of the cars are replicas of older models. Understandably, some do not want to race originals as many are too valuable.
That said, many participants do race original cars. Some of the cars are not exactly in their original configurations, as they raced in period. But, as someone said—we are here to have fun, not win $100,000 in prize money.
Preparing For the 2021 Daytona Classic 24
The question to ask is, do vintage cars require vintage tools? Kevin Doran bought this torch set from Holbert Racing in 1988, and it is still providing good service today!
In addition to the main event, HSR also runs sprint races, as well as enduro (1 hour) races as a prelim to the 24-hour. Some entrants just run the sprints; most use the sprints as prep and testing for the 24-hour race.
This beautiful Jaguar XJR7 only ran in the HSR preliminary races. A lot commented, this was the best sounding car here!
I would once again work helping my friends at Doran Racing. I had worked many years with them since 1993, up to around 2015 when Kevin stopped racing for a bit. He is now running USAC sprint cars and does the occasional vintage race.
Kevin had entered the 2003 Doran DP (Daytona Prototype), which had won the 24 hours of Daytona in 2004. It would be driven by two of the 2004 drivers—Forest Barber (the car owner) and Terry Borcheller.
Two Ford GT 2005 vintage cars were also on hand. One was brand new, just completed from an original chassis, and the backup was a 2006 version built about 4 years ago that had run at this race for the past several years. Brad Jaeger and Kody Swanson would drive this car.
Kody had just recently clinched his 6th USAC Silver Crown Sprint car championship in a Doran Racing Sprint car. Always trying to improve himself with road racing, he had run in the car at the 2020 and 2019 events. ###
The 2004 Rolex Daytona 24 winner, a Doran JE4 Daytona Prototype, would run in group C and be driven by Forest Barber and Terry Borcheller.
The Doran entered Ford GT being driven by Brad Jaeger and Kody Swanson during the event.
Kevin Doran (left), Dan Binks and Kody Swanson (right) discuss matters in the garage. Swanson is the USAC Silver Crown Sprint car champion for 2021 (for the 6th time). Most of those races were done in a Doran entered sprint car. Dan Binks was the engine builder for the car.
Wednesday practice sessions were marred by the huge accident of JC France in his Corvette DP car. As he passed the start finish line, a tire blew—the car flew upside down and landed heavily on its roof. He was lucky to escape without any serious injury.
However, his helmet apparently wore down dragging on the pavement as the car slid upside down. The car was wrecked and withdrawn. The newer Doran Ford ran briefly but kept spitting off engine belts. The car had run on the dyno without issue, but somehow on the actual track, things were not correct.
After several belt replacements, this car was left in the garage and the older backup model used. David Porter and his Peugeot 908 diesel hardly ran at all, as the car had a hydraulic issue and was basically undrivable without working hydraulics.
Several teams had right side tire issues but managed to make setup changes before anything drastic happened (Daytona, with all of its banking, is notoriously hard on right side tires).
The brand new Doran entered Ford GT, just built with period chassis and parts, ran briefly, but had issues with the engine belts. While it ran fine in testing on the dyno, for some reason, it kept throwing off the belts at Daytona. This car was parked after tearing up three belts, and the team reverted to the older backup (#21).
Thursday practice was shut down for most of the afternoon due to heavy rain, lightning, and tornado warnings. Night practice on Thursday was sparsely attended, as it was still wet on the track. The forecast for the weekend was good, so not many cars went out.
The Doran cars did reasonably well in the HSR sprints and Enduro races. Forest Barber and Terry Borcheller managed to win one, and finish third in one. However, Forest had a coming together with Hubbell in turn one of a sprint race.
Both cars suffered damaged wheels and body work and were out. Probably more troubling, they both received a lecture from race Director Dorsey Shroeder. In an IMSA Weather Tech race, it would have been deemed a “racing incident.” But as someone said, this is a fun event, not an IMSA WeatherTech race!
Brad Jaeger and Kody Swanson in the Ford also did well, finishing all races, and winning the 1-hour BRM enduro outright. Kody Swanson even won one of the qualifying races. However, in HSR, qualifying races are not really races per se—the fastest lap of the “race” is used to set grid positions, not finishing position.
The Doran JE4 DP car got some good results in the preliminary races. A podium finish in this HSR sprint race.
Race Day at the 2021 Daytona Classic 24
The fall Florida weather cooperated, and the race started with Group A at 1pm on Saturday. This seemed to be the calmest of the groups—which was unsurprising, since it included all the older cars.
After four segments, the group was won by John Delane in a 1972 Chevron B21. He beat the Lola T70 of Dave Hinton and Damon DeSantis by one lap.
Group B consisted of a lot of fan favorites—plenty of Porsche RSRs and Porsche 935s. All three of the 935’s failed to finish, only running in the first segment. These were all tribute or replica cars, as probably no one wanted to take the chance of racing a real one.
There were also three 2-liter sports cars in this group, which took the top three positions, led by Josh Buller in a 1976 Chevron B36. Jack Lewis was the highest finishing GT in fourth with his 1974 RSR.
The 935 tribute car of Willis Woerheide only ran in the first segment of the race. It was built as a replica in tribute to John Paul Jr.
The Porsche Carrera RSR of Jack Lewis finished 4th in group B, the 1st GT car in that group.
The C/D group race started as a battle between the 2003 Doran DP of Barber and Borcheller vs the 1992 Jaguar XJR-16 Turbo of Malcom Ross and Corey Fergus.
Nearing the end of segment three, the Doran had a lead of about 50 seconds when a broken gearbox put the car out—possibly caused by collateral damage from an incident earlier in the week during one of the HSR sprint races. This gave the Jaguar a clear lead to go on and win the C/D category after the final segment Sunday morning.
There were two Porsche 962s in this group, the 962-114 of Angus Russell and 962-F01 of Joe Robillard. Somehow, at the exit of turn three on the first lap of the last segment, they managed to crash into each other and both ended up in the fence.
The crash was tough to watch, as these are both cars that raced in period. That segment was under yellow for quite some time, as there was a great deal of clean-up required.
The Jaguar XJR16 of Malcom Ross and Corey Fergus won Group C/D. After some struggles in practice, they had a trouble free run.
The Porsche 962 of Angus Russell ran well, but was put out after an accident with the other 962-F02 in the 4th segment. This is an ex Kremer Leyton House 962C.
The two 962’s in the event inexplicitly crashed into each other on the first lap of the 4th segment on Sunday. Here, safety crews clean up the carnage.
The ex-Wynns 962-F01 in the garage. This car was built by Hotchkiss, and raced in period on a FABCAR chassis (F01). This is an IMSA version car with a single turbo engine.
Group E was by far the largest. This race started ominously, when the Lamborghini Huracan of Greg Griffin crashed heavily and caught fire on the first lap. Not something you expect to see in vintage racing, but there it was.
The race was stopped by a red flag for some time to clean everything up. There were no injuries, thankfully.
The fastest car in the group was the Peugeot 908 of David Porter, but it dropped out in segment two with hydraulic issues. One of the mechanics told me the car is undrivable without hydraulic pressure since that controls the steering, as well as other systems.
This left the 2007 Pescarolo-Judd of Juan Gonzalez and Butch Leitzinger to cruise to the win in this category. I asked Butch at the end if he got the nice BRM watch for the winners. He said, ah no, Juan took that. Ah, the life of the professional driver.
The highlight of this group were the GT cars. Two ex-factory Corvette C7R were on hand. They had even brought in Dan Binks, the ex-factory Corvette technical director to assist. He is now “retired” he says but seems to be working to me. He builds engines for many cars, including the Doran Racing sprint cars.
The Corvette C7R of Pierce Marshall and Eric Foss took second overall and won the GT section. There was a spirited battle from 3rd-7th between our Ford GT and four current day GT3 cars including a Turner entered BMW.
Our guys, Sprint car champion Kody Swanson and Brad Jaeger did an excellent job, both going quicker than they did last year in the same car, and not turning a wheel wrong all week. But they could only get sixth overall in this group, albeit on the same lap with the faster GT3 cars.
The 2005 Ford is not really competitive with current day GT3 cars. But again, as Kevin Doran said, “we are here to have fun, there is no $100,000 check waiting at the end”.
This was the fastest car, the Peugeot 908 turbo diesel of David Porter. It struggled in practice with hydraulic issues. Towards the end of the 2nd segment, the makeshift fix of the hydraulics failed again, and the car had to be retired, as it is impossible to drive without the hydraulic system.
The ex- factory GTLM Corvette C7R of Pierce Marshall and Eric Foss was 2nd overall in group E, and 1st GT car.
Overall winner of Group E was this Pescarolo-Judd driven by Juan Gonzalez and Butch Leitzinger. After the demise of the Peugeot, this car had a trouble free run to victory.
Representative of some of the late model GT3 cars in group E. This is the 2016 Porsche 991-GT3R of Thomas Gruber who finished 3rd overall in the Group E race.
Group F was won easily by William Hubbell and Eric Curran in the Coyote-Corvette Daytona Prototype Generation 3 car. They finished two laps up on the nearest competitor. Several of their potential competitors did not even start, having issues or crashes in practice during the week.
The final group, G, was the closest finish. These are cars that do not fit in the first six groups. Two Porsche Cayman GT4s finished 10 seconds apart after four segments led by Scott Kee and Ron Zitza.
Final Thoughts on the 2021 Daytona Classic 24
Although there were quite a few more problems and crashes than you would expect in a vintage race, the HSR staff led by Dave Hinton got us all through it. The speedway safety crews were exemplary (as usual), and the nice Fall Florida weather co-operated—unlike in 2020.
Everyone seems to enjoy this event, and it is a great time at the end of the season to see old friends and old cars. We look forward to 2022.
The winner of the best paint job (wrap) award: the Jim Matthews Porsche Cup car.