Established in 1999, the Grand American Road Racing Association was brought about to return some sense of stability to major league sports car road racing in the states. The Grand-Am is regarded worldwide as the most competitive road racing organizations. 2008 marks the ninth season of competition for the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
Intentions were announced in 1999 by the all-new Grand American Road Racing Association to adopt a format that was similar to the one used in the SRRC, centering around the 24 Hours of Daytona. This new series was an alternative option to the earlier IMSA GT Championship which had since been replaced by the American Le Mans Series in 1999.
The premiere series run by the Grand American Road Racing Association, the Rolex Sports Car Series is a North American-based sports car series founded in 2000 to replace the unsuccessful U.S. Road Racing Championship. Located in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Grand-Am is located on the same campus as NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway, and ISC. Grand-Am offers a completely different product that features extremely competitive sports car racing on both historic and street circuits and in major market speedways throughout the U.S.
Facing many tough and unpredictable times during the 90's, sports car racing in North America went through a lot. Uncontrolled technology and all of the costs that came with it were the majority of the problems. Fortunately Grand-Am addressed these problems head on and mandated affordable rules with a ‘firm commitment to a level playing field'.
Two classes of Sports Racing Prototypes would be run with the new series, these classes would be identical to the rules used in the new FIA Sportscar Championship in Europe. Grand Touring-style vehicles would be classified in three classes, GTO; for larger production-based race cars, GTU; for smaller production-based race cars, and AGT; for American tube frame vehicles. For 2001, GTO and GTU would be renamed GTS and GT to better match the classes that were used by the very similar American Le Mans Series.
In 2002 Rolex took over as series sponsor. Through the years, the series has run with a mixture of classes of Sports Racing Prototypes and Grand Touring-style vehicles.
Daytona Prototypes were introduced in 2003, their custom prototype chassis that was named after their signature event, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The series went through a very radical intense change in 2005 at Laguna Seca2003 as Daytona Prototypes were introduced for the first time with the intention to replace both of the Sports Racing Prototype classes. The American GT class was deleted as cars were now being placed into the very similar GTS class.
The GT class was ranked on the top tier as the faster GTS was deleted in 2004 in order to make a larger gap in between the Daytona Prototypes and GT cars. The GT class was now joined by the Super Grand Sport class that was moved up from the Grand Am Cup series. Today these two classes are DP and GT in the Rolex Sports Car Series.
GT and DP races had to be split at Grand-Am into shorter tracks, in places where it wasn't possible to put 50 cars on the track at one time. The GT car races would occur on Saturdays, while the DP car races were held on Sundays. This split format allowed drivers to run in both races. The races were the same distance, and it was just as if the races were held at the same time.
When the two races are combined, the two classes use a motorcycle racing-style ‘wave-start'. The DP cars take the green flag first, and 20-30 seconds later the GT cars followed. The organizers who set this up hoped for a much safer start by having the two classes starting separately.
In 2008 the Grand Am began its ninth season of competition. Rolex is one of the world's most recognizable names in history, long known for its quality and reliability. Rolex Watch USA has been the title sponsor of Grand-Am's premier series for six years. Rolex is now synonymous with legendary events worldwide. The Rolex Series Daytona Prototype category has established itself as the most competitive professional road racing championship in America, and has attracted the attention of both superstar drivers and universally recognized teams worldwide.
The Rolex Series GT class has done the same for high-performance, production-based sports car racing that the Daytona Prototype class has done to redefine prototype sports car racing.
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series was presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 in 2008. Every year Rolex Series drivers compete for the highly prestigious, specially engaged steel and gold Daytona Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Rolex watch.
The Grand American Road Racing Association was established in 1999 to return stability to major league sports car road racing in North America. As the organization begins its ninth season of competition in 2008, Grand-Am is universally regarded as one of the world's most competitive road racing organizations.
Grand-Am is located in Daytona Beach, Fla. on the same corporate campus that is also home to NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and Daytona International Speedway, but operates as its own stand-alone corporation with a group of independent investors and its own board of advisors. Among the company's investors are several of the key people behind NASCAR's success, but Grand-Am offers an entirely different product that features extremely competitive sports car racing on historic road and street circuits and in major market speedways throughout North America.
Sports car racing in North America endured tough and uncertain times for the majority of the 1990s, a far cry from the successful IMSA series of the 1970s and '80s. As is often the case in motor racing, sports car racing's decline during this period could basically be traced to uncontrolled technology and its related costs. Grand-Am has addressed this with sensible and affordable rules that are competition driven but grounded in common sense and stability with a firm commitment to a level playing field.
Grand-Am's top-tier Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask #16--which begins its ninth season of competition in 2008--has established itself as the most competitive professional road racing championship in North America. The Rolex Series Daytona Prototype category has attracted the attention of superstar drivers and universally-recognized teams through its extremely raceable and relatively affordable format, and has revolutionized sports car racing with plentiful battles at the front of the field and close finishes in virtually every race.
Grand-Am races at some of the world's most prestigious venues--Daytona, Montreal, Mexico City and Watkins Glen--and has taken the role of a top annual attraction at some of the newest venues in the industry such as Miller Motorsports Park, Barber Motorsports Park and Virginia International Raceway. Grand-Am is also making a standard out of the newest form of circuit racing--'Stadium Road Racing'--on the road course layouts at tracks like Homestead-Miami Speedway.