Reverence for the past while chronicling the present best describe SPEED’s upcoming live, multi-platform coverage from this year’s historic 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. The broadcast from Daytona International Speedway begins Jan. 28 at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT, with green-flag action following at 3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT.
In total, SPEED and SPEED.com are covering more than 25 hours of activity starting with a one-hour, pre-race show featuring all the great heroes, cars and festivities that have helped color this great event. Then at 11 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. PT, duties are handed off to SPEED.com, where strategically positioned cameras and a live timing-and-scoring ticker keep overnight action up to date. On Sunday morning (Jan. 29), starting at 9 a.m. ET/ 6 a.m. PT, SPEED rejoins the race with full production to its conclusion.
To help call the occasion, SPEED adds four-time SCCA Trans Am Series champion Tommy Kendall to the analyst team. The California resident and host of popular series, Test Drive, has enjoyed quite a bit of success in the Rolex 24, securing two class victories and a second overall in 1993.
The play-by-play voices of Bob Varsha and Leigh Diffey are anchoring the on-air presentation, while Kendall joins fellow analysts and former race participants David Hobbs, Dorsey Schroeder and 1990 Rolex 24 class winner, Calvin Fish, to round out the broadcast booth. On pit road, series experts Brian Till, Chris Neville, Jamie Howe and Greg Creamer report on the latest happenings in and around a busy paddock area.
Much like the many dramatic storylines that have romanticized the world’s most prestigious endurance races, similar moments have also become synonymous with Daytona’s 24-hour classic. None more defining than Dan Gurney’s (SPEED Performer of the Year committee member) legendary victory in the inaugural three-hour Daytona Continental back in 1962. This link remembers how Gurney turned what could have been a painful ending into one of his greatest triumphs… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqPXmdqNqNg.
The aforementioned Hobbs also participated in that 1962 race, which ironically, was an important marker in his illustrious driving career.
“It was a milestone in my life because it was my first, real professional race,” said Hobbs, whom also covers Formula One for SPEED. “I had just finished my apprenticeship with Jaguar, and the managing director had directed me to the race team. In those days, it wasn’t as easy to get from England to Florida. We had to fly into New York and the car (a Jaguar ‘E’ Type racer) was shipped over by boat. Then we drove from New York to Daytona, and I was with the great Jimmy Clark (two-time Formula One World Champion). Unfortunately, the race was short lived for me because it lasted about 16 laps before the fuel pump broke. It wasn’t a very successful day.
“Today, the cars are so much more reliable, and you can drive them pretty much flat out,” Hobbs added. “In the last two or three years, we have seen some absolutely eye-watering races for the whole 24 hours. There’s been seconds splitting the top two or three cars for the entire time – it wasn’t like that back then.”
Not to be outdone, Justin Bell, who is co-driving the No. 4 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 with teammates Ryan Eversley, Daniel Graeff and Ron Yarab, is also serving as an in-race pit reporter. He’ll deliver in-car commentary and, when available, provide news and notes from around the race throughout the weekend.
“We couldn’t be more excited about covering this year’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona 50th Anniversary race,” said Frank Wilson, SPEED Vice President of Production and Executive Producer. “Through our partnerships with Daytona International Speedway & Grand Am, SPEED & SPEED.com are putting together a production the combines the great racing that Daytona traditionally provides, while paying homage and recognizing all the cool historical storylines that makes this classic race so important. From the pre-race parades and build up, to the winner’s circle celebration, fans have a chance to take it all in.”
In addition to the live streaming, SPEED.com is offering a series of historical features to celebrate the race’s 50th anniversary. Marshall Pruett and sports car editor John Dagys are going to lead the online coverage, drivers Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe are providing daily vBlogs, while Leigh Diffey is providing his insights though ‘Voices of SPEED.’ Also, long-time motor sports writer, Holly Cain, is taking the readership ‘behind-the-scenes’ on what it takes to produce a 24-hour race for television.
The popular car-by-car spotter’s guide, vintage and daily photo galleries and daily editorial updates are also planned for the weekend.
50th Anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona
2012 Daytona International Speedway On-Air Schedule
(All Times Pacific; Schedule Subject to Change)
Saturday, Jan. 28
Pre-Race: 50th Anniversary Celebration 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Live)
Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona 12:30 – 8 p.m. (Live)
Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona 7 p.m. – 6 a.m. (SPEED.com; Live)
Sunday, Jan. 29
Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona 6 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Live)