- Gidley Takes First Laps at Daytona Wednesday Since 2014 Rolex 24 Accident
- Ron Fellows and James Gue Added to Impressive Lineup of Past and Present Racing Champions Entered in the Classic at Daytona
In preparation for this weekend's Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) Classic at Daytona presented by IMSA, Memo Gidley turned his first laps at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in nearly four years today and is ready to race on the 3.56-mile DIS road course again after fully recovering from severe injuries sustained in an accident in the opening hours of the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Gidley has returned to DIS to compete for the first time in the 24-hour long Classic at Daytona race in a Doran Racing Ford GT with co-drivers Brad Jaeger and Lyn St. James. Doran built the 600-horsepower Ford GT in 2008, and the race car remains a fan favorite nearly a decade after competing in the IMSA American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
Gidley himself has always been popular in the paddock too. Universally liked by race fans and competitors alike, his long and tireless recovery and determination to get back behind the wheel just further endeared him to the worldwide motorsports community.
"There is no hesitation from me about driving at Daytona again," Gidley said. "It just makes me feel excited to think about it. For me, it is a milestone event after what happened to me at Daytona in 2014. To now drive at Daytona again is just going to be pure joy for me and I hope an inspiration to somebody that maybe saw what I went through and now sees me back on the track."
Gidley's return to Daytona this week is his second visit to the World Center of Racing this year. He attended this past January's Rolex 24 for the first time since his accident to extend his gratitude to DIS, IMSA and the Daytona area medical personnel who helped in his treatment and recovery, in addition to announcing he had been medically cleared to race again.
"Getting back as a spectator earlier this year to show my appreciation to Jim France and all the Daytona and IMSA people was a very important goal of mine," Gidley said. "It's also special to be able to make my Daytona racing return with the Doran Racing team and many of my friends and old teammates."
Gidley raced a Daytona Prototype with Doran Racing from 2008 through 2010, frequently co-driving with Jaeger.
"Memo and I were co-drivers for three Rolex 24 Hour races at Daytona and over that time became really good friends," Jaeger said. "It means so much to be able to reunite at the HSR event this weekend in Daytona, and with Doran Racing, who we both drove for. I know that this is a really special weekend for Memo, and I'm just happy that I can be a part of it, and in a Ford GT nonetheless. The Ford GT is an amazing car! Not only does it look and sound great, but it's a forgiving car, which means it's quite easy to drive it at the limit. Driving a Ford GT alongside Memo and Lyn St. James at Daytona will make for a memory I hold onto for a long time!"
St. James will be pulling double duty in the Classic at Daytona. She will partner Kathy Blaha in the Heritage Motorsports No. 14 1974 Porsche 911 RSR - the only all-woman driving team in the race - in addition to trading off with Gidley and Jaeger in the Ford GT.
"I am looking forward to co-driving with Kathy in her classic Porsche 911 and I'm also very happy to be racing the Doran Ford GT this weekend," St. James said. "I've been able to race it at Indy and Watkins Glen, and it's become one of my favorite race cars, so Daytona here I come!"
- Along with Gidley, Jaeger and St. James, Ron Fellows and James Gue are among the other notable drivers and past Daytona winners added to the Classic 24 at Daytona entry list just this week.
An overall winning co-driver for Team Corvette in the 2001 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Fellows makes his Classic at Daytona debut in a similar HAWK Performance 2006 Corvette.
Gue, who co-drove to the PC-class victory in the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona, has been added to the powerhouse Rogers Motorsports team for the Classic at Daytona. He is listed to drive the team's 1985 Group 44 Jaguar XJR-7 with Doug Smith and Andy Wallace, and could also join Smith and Wallace behind the wheel of the team's 2005 Audi R8 LMP that is undefeated in the Daytona Classic and going for its third-straight win this weekend.
- Friday night's VIP Driver Panel at 5:30 p.m. EDT will showcase Adrian Newey and Ray Evernham in a true meeting of two of the greatest minds in modern-day motorsports. Although best known for their illustrious achievements outside of the cockpit, both Newey and Evernham are driving in the Classic at Daytona. Newey, the only designer to win Formula 1 World Championship titles with three different constructors, will be co-driving a No. 88 1983 March 83G, a design he perfected in the early stages of his winning career. Legendary NASCAR Crew Chief and Team Owner Evernham will be co-driving with David Roberts in the No. 121 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4.
All Classic at Daytona ticket holders and credentialed competitors and guests are welcome to attend the panel, which will be held this Friday, November 10, at 5:30 p.m. EDT in the Daytona International Speedway Drivers Meeting Room in the DIS infield. The panel will be moderated by the knowledgeable founder of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, Bill Warner, who is also competing in this weekend's Classic 24-hour race. Warner will co-driving the No. 65 1965 Shelby GT350.
The list of current and legendary drivers and motorsports notables confirmed for the Classic 24 includes Newey, Evernham, Gidley, Fellows, St. James, Gue, Warner, Jim Pace, Patrick Long, Andy Wallace, Jurgen Barth, Joao Barbosa, Butch Leitzinger, Eric Curran, Jules Gounon, Terry Borcheller, Aaron Scott, Dieter Quester, Kees Nierop, Bruno Junqueira, Eric Van de Poele, Didier Theys, Forest Barber, Fredy Lienhard, Gunnar Jeannette, John Fergus, Carlos de Quesada and more.
The Classic 24 features six period-correct run groups rotating through a full 24 hours of racing on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course. The run groups, which include various classes of similar-era race cars, each take to the track four times throughout the 24 hours. The competitors in each group covering the most total distance in the shortest amount of time in their group's four sessions will be "crowned" Classic 24 at Daytona champions.
Overall Run Group winners will be presented with custom-made HSR Classic 24 Hour B.R.M. Chronographes watches.
The entry list for the 2017 Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) Classic 24 Hour at Daytona presented by IMSA is available by clicking here.
Classic at Daytona tickets are available for at-event purchase commencing this Thursday, November 9, just inside the DIS Gate 40 entrance off of Williamson Blvd. Visit www.HSRTickets.com for pricing and availability information. Learn more about the Classic at Daytona at the official event page at www.HSRRace.com/Events.