Complications from his recent knee surgery have forced the legendary AJ Foyt to miss the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona, where he intended to be the Grand Marshal of the race.
Foyt issued the following statement:
"I am really sorry that I can’t be there this weekend for the Rolex 24. I was really looking forward to it because I thought it was a great honor to be asked to be the Grand Marshal of the 50th Anniversary of that race and considered it to be one of the great highlights of my career. I feel so bad that I let everyone down. I was also looking forward to seeing some of my old friends and the race cars that I drove in that race. It was going to be a really fun weekend for me but I guess I’ll be watching the race from my hospital room--yep the doctors pulled rank on me. And I hate to admit, but I think they’re right--this time. I’d like to wish everyone a safe race and I’ll be with you in spirit.”
Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood wished Foyt "a speedy recovery. We hope he's back on his feet soon."
During the rainy morning before the start of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge two-hour race, Grand-Am announced that VISITFLORIDA.com has been named presenting sponsor of its inaugural North American Endurance Championship, a special series of races at three of the North American continent's more iconic venues: Daytona International Speedway, Watkins Glen International and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The North American Endurance Championship is eligible for both Daytona Prototype and GT classes.
The three events will each be scored uniquely, enabling drivers and teams to earn a possible maximum of 20 points at each. For the Rolex 24 At Daytona, points will be awarded based on standings in each class at six hours, 12 hours, 18 hours and the finish. At Watkins Glen International, points will be awarded at the three-hour mark and finish, with points multiplied by two. At Indianapolis, points will be awarded at the finish of the three-hour race, which will be multiplied by four.
The champions in each class get their titles on the Victory Podium at Indianapolis Motor Speedway following the inaugural Grand-Am debut on the 2.605-mile road/oval course. The DP champion team earns $100,000; the GT victor gets $50,000.
“This inaugural championship is an exciting new addition to the Rolex Series season and now we have a great presenting sponsor partner to support it as well,” said Grand-Am CEO Ed Bennett. “Champions will no doubt cherish the moment when they are presented their trophies, at a legendary setting--Indianapolis.
“We obviously have a nice fit here, with VISITFLORIDA.com. The state of Florida is home to the Rolex 24. Daytona Beach is the birthplace of GRAND-AM and our corporate headquarters--and Florida is a great tourism destination. People who visit Florida usually have one thing in common: they fall in love with it and keep coming back."