Spirit of Daytona Racing
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Spirit of Daytona Racing (known as VisitFlorida Racing from 2015 to 2017) is an auto racing team that competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Class with the No. 90 Cadillac DPi-V.R, driven by Tristan Vautier, Matt McMurry and Eddie Cheever III.
Spirit of Daytona was founded in 1987 by owner Troy Flis. The team is based in Daytona Beach, Florida where they have an 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) shop. The team originally started racing in the number 16 Crown Royal Cask Volkswagen. The team has competed in every season of the Rolex Sports Car Series since the series was created in early 2000. The team has enjoyed some success by winning 16 Grand Am series races. They have also won a pair of Grand Am Series Team Championships in 2000 and 2001. They won a Grand Am Drivers Championship in 2001. They also won their class in the 2002 24 Hours of Daytona. The team's two main drivers are 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, and Antonio García, who was part of the Brumos Porsche team that won the 2009 24 Hours of Daytona. Spirit of Daytona finished 8th in the 2010 Rolex Sports Car Series points. In 2010 they had nine top-tens, and four top-five finishes.
Antonio García and Richard Westbrook joined the Spirit of Daytona team during the 2012 Rolex Sports Car Series season. The team won overall at the 2012 Barber Motorsports Park race in a Corvette Daytona Prototype. The team also won at Mid-Ohio with drivers Westbrook and Michael Valiante. Afterward, Garcia would leave to join the Corvette factory team, his replacement being Jordan Taylor, son of Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona winner Wayne Taylor. Although Taylor and Westbrook would not win, during Grand-Am's final year, the duo had a best finish of third and finished 97% of the laps.
In 2014, Grand-Am merged with the American Le Mans Series to form the Tudor United SportsCar Championship. Taylor left to join his father's team, being replaced by Michael Valiante. The duo combined for three podiums as well as their sole victory at the 6 Hours of the Glen en route to third in the championship. The following year saw the team take its second consecutive 6 Hours at the Glen victory along with the win at Laguna Seca, and a runner-up at the Rolex 24. Despite Valiante and Westbrook finishing second in points, both drivers were released in favor of Marc Goossens and Scotsman Ryan Dalziel. Of note, Goossens raced with 2012 IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay at Long Beach due to Dalziel driving for Tequila Patrón ESM in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Against the dominant Action Express and Wayne Taylor Racing entries, VFR saw the podium twice, at Daytona and Laguna Seca, and Goossens finished 5th in the final standing.
For 2018, the team renewed its partnership with General Motors and Cadillac by becoming the third IMSA team to race the Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Prototype category after Wayne Taylor Racing and Action Express Racing. Van der Zande departed SDR to replace Ricky Taylor in the No. 10. SDR hired former IndyCar Series driver Tristan Vautier and European Le Mans Series and North American Endurance Championship driver Matt McMurry for their first full-time seasons in Prototype and Eddie Cheever III for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring races. The team struggled in the first half of the season. The No. 90 failed to finish the Rolex 24 due to an engine misfire. At Sebring, Vautier qualified on pole but in hour 11 of the race, he crashed into the Turn 17 barriers on his first lap after climbing back into the car, damaging the tub beyond repair and forcing the team to miss the following two rounds at Long Beach and Mid-Ohio. The team returned for Round 5 at the Detroit Grand Prix but again retired, this time due to a gearbox failure. Misfortune continued at the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen, where Vautier spun after making contact with another prototype on the first lap. The car was hit by a third prototype, forcing the car into a closed pit lane for repairs, and resulting in a time penalty. The team managed to reach the checkered flag for the first time all season, finishing 11th. A lack of funding began to impact the team, preventing it from competing at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and at Road America. The team planned to return at or before the season finale, Road Atlanta's Petit Le Mans but did not.
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship winsEdit
|#||Season||Date||Classes||Track / Race||No.||Winning Drivers||Chassis||Engine|
|1||2014||June 29||Prototype||Watkins Glen||90||Michael Valiante / Richard Westbrook||Coyote Corvette DP||Chevrolet 5.5L V8|
|2||2015||May 3||Prototype||Laguna Seca||90||Michael Valiante / Richard Westbrook||Coyote Corvette DP||Chevrolet 5.5L V8|
|3||June 28||Prototype||Watkins Glen||90||Michael Valiante / Richard Westbrook||Coyote Corvette DP||Chevrolet 5.5L V8|
|4||2017||September 24||Prototype||Laguna Seca||90||Marc Goossens / Renger van der Zande||Ligier JS P217||Gibson GK428 4.2 L V8|
- Lavigne, Kyle. "New (but familiar) faces emerging in the IMSA paddock with Felipe Nasr, Tristan Vautier and Matt McMurry". NBC Sports.
- Cavin, Curt (April 16, 2012). "Corvette Claims First Overall Win In Rolex Series". Autoweek. 62 (8): 80.
- "Spirit of Daytona wins in Ohio". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. June 10, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
- "Early End to Rolex 24 for Spirit of Daytona Racing". Spirit of Daytona Racing.
- Jacobs, Caleb. "IMSA: 2018 Mid-Ohio 34-Car Entry List Revealed".
- "Early Exit For Spirit of Daytona In Detroit". Sportscar Racing News.
- "Spirit of Daytona Racing Earns Solid Finish at Watkins Glen". Endurance-Info.com.
- Dagys, John. "Spirit of Daytona to Miss CTMP; Additional Races Unclear". Sportscar365.