The best weather of the week provided the perfect backdrop for a colorful and competitive conclusion of the Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) Classic Daytona presented by IMSA that was run for the seventh time this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway (DIS).
Under a clear and sunny sky with temperatures approaching 70 degrees, a diverse mix of first-time and repeat winners wrapped up 24 hours of vintage and historic racing on the 3.56-mile DIS road course throughout Sunday morning.
The overall Run Group winners included a pair of always-quick Chevron sports racers, two mighty prototypes from the LMP1 and GTP eras, a pioneer Corvette Daytona Prototype, a fast Oldsmobile Aurora GTS that pulled off another upset and a Porsche Cayman from a team that has perfected is “HSR Classics” race strategy.
The GMT Racing No. 8 Chevron B21 of John Delane was the first race winner crowned Sunday morning after a strong Group A battle throughout the race with the Heritage Motorsports 1969 No. 27 Lola T70 of Damon DeSantis and David Hinton. The victory was the second-straight for Delane in HSR Classics competition after driving the same GMT Racing Chevron to a Group A overall victory in last December’s Classic Sebring 12 Hour at Sebring International Raceway.
Josh Boller continued the run of Chevron victories in Group B with a perfectly driven solo run to the overall win in his 1976 No. 119 Chevron B36. Boller’s victory ended a streak of three straight HSR Classics wins by the second-place 1974 No. 26 Chevron B26 of Gray Gregory, Randy Buck and Ethan Shippert dating back to the 2019 HSR Classic Sebring 12 Hour.
Group C marked the return of a mighty Jaguar GTP to Daytona victory lane after a pair of overall Rolex 24 victories in the 1980s and early 1990s. The victory was secured in the HSR Classic 24 debut of the ex-Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) 1991 No. 3 Jaguar XJR-16 co-driven by car owner Malcolm Ross and his teammate Corey Lewis.
Ross and Lewis finished just ahead of Group D winners Steve Cohen and his co-driver Paul Fix, who beat the faster prototypes and their GT competition in the Sundry Racing 1995 No. 5 Oldsmobile Aurora GTS for the second time in the last four Classic 24 races. Cohen’s flame-throwing Oldsmobile first earned the overall Group D win in the 2018 HSR Classic Daytona.
Group E honors were secured by co-drivers Juan Gonzalez and Butch Leitzinger who marked their return to HSR Classics competition with a convincing one-lap victory in the ex-Rollcentre Racing 2007 No. 18 Pescarolo Judd prepared by GMT Racing.
Gonzalez and Leitzinger co-drove the Pescarolo to victory in the 2017 HSR Classic Sebring 12 Hour just weeks after Gonzalez purchased the car from fellow competitor David Porter. Now, five years on, Gonzalez has finally paired the Sebring victory up with a Classic 24 triumph at the “World Center of Racing.”
Another first-time Classic Daytona winner emerged in Group F with veteran HSR competitor William Hubbell breaking through for the victory in his Hudson Historics 2012 No. 230 Corvette Daytona Prototype. Chassis No. 0001, the winning car was the first Corvette Daytona Prototype produced nearly a decade ago.
Hubbell’s victory was aided by the addition of Tim Rivers to the driver lineup after an accident earlier in the week sidelined Rivers’ primary entry. Rivers was scheduled to compete in a similar Corvette Daytona Prototype owned and driven by JC France, but the car was destroyed in a high-speed accident coming out of the DIS tri-oval. France was uninjured in the incident and gave the full green light for Rivers to pursue other options in the paddock, which ultimately led to the winning move to Hubbell’s team.
Group G, which is open to a variety of production based HSR race cars, once again featured some of the closest competition in the Classic Daytona. Five different teams went into Sunday’s last round of the race with a chance to win the Group, but in the end, it was the detailed team strategy of Zotz Racing that delivered a second -straight HSR Classics victory.
The Daytona winner was co-driven by Scott Kee and Ron Zitza who crossed the finish line with a comfortable and calculated 10-second margin of victory in the 2016 No. 351 Zotz Racing Porsche Cayman GT4.
The Zotz victory follows last December’s win in the HSR Classic Sebring 12 Hour where Zitza’s son Eric Zitza and co-driver Chris Ruppel won in a 2010 No. 119 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup. Both victories were anchored by a pitside strategy that called for an early lead followed by a carefully managed and paced run to the finish in the second half of each race.
All seven Run Group winners were presented with special-edition HSR Classic Daytona 24 Hour B.R.M. Chronographes. Additionally, the top finishing GT entries in the majority of the Groups were awarded B.R.M. Chronographes.
The GT winners included Alan Benjamin and Barry Waddell (Group A) in Benjamin’s 1972 No. 18 Porsche 911 S/T; Jack Lewis (Group B) in his Jack Lewis Enterprises 1974 No. 9 Porsche 911 RSR; debuting co-drivers from Argentina Jorge Cersosimo and Ruben Salerno (Group C) in their 1991 No. 25 Porsche 911 C2; Pierce Marshall and Eric Foss (Group E) in Marshall’s Matador Motorsports 2016 No. 63 Corvette C7.R and Robby Foley and Vincent Barletta (Group F) in the Turner Motorsport 2015 No. 96 BMW Z4 GT3.
Next up for HSR is the season-ending HSR Classic Sebring 12 Hour at Sebring International Raceway. Officially titled the HSR Classic 12 Hour at Sebring, Pistons and Props, presented by the Alan Jay Automotive Network, the sixth-annual running of the Classic 12 Hour, December 1 – 5, will see the fly-in return of classic and historic military aircraft after a one-year absence in 2020.