Geneva, 20 January 2020 – The world of motor racing arrives in Daytona Beach, Florida, this week for the 58th edition of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA. The green flag will drop at 13:35 local time on Saturday 25 January, marking the start of the race and the 2020 motor sport season for Rolex. The Swiss watch brand has been Title Sponsor of the 24-hour endurance contest since 1992, highlighting Rolex’s long-standing commitment to motoring excellence. The partnership began in the early 1930s when Sir Malcolm Campbell wore a Rolex timepiece while breaking land speed records at Daytona Beach.
The Rolex 24 At DAYTONA launches the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship which is contested over 12 rounds across the continent between January and October. The 39-car field set to take on North America’s most pre-eminent endurance race comprises four classes – Daytona Prototype international (DPi), Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD).
At the Roar Before The Rolex 24, from 3–5 January, all competitors took to Daytona International Speedway® for the three-day prologue event. The marker was laid down ahead of the intense 24-hour race by Olivier Pla who topped the timesheets in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest DPi with a time of 1:33.324, leading from the two Acura Team Penske DPi entries. The No. 77 car unofficially broke the track record for the second consecutive year and has first choice of garage location and pit stall this weekend.
Every year, the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA attracts high-profile drivers from multiple racing disciplines, whose wealth of experience and expertise are put to the test. A notable addition to the 2020 line-up is Kyle Busch, the double and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, who will co-pilot the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. Former Formula 1® driver Juan Pablo Montoya returns as part of the Acura Team Penske setup, while IndyCar legend Scott Dixon will bid to defend the 2019 race victory of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Girl Empowerment Around Racing (GEAR Racing) also confirmed their GTD entry, with Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen, Tatiana Calderón and Rahel Frey sharing driving duties. Earlier this month, three-time winner of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA Christian Fittipaldi, who retired from competitive racing after the 2019 event, was announced as Grand Marshal for the 2020 edition.
The twice-around-the-clock race is an extreme test of man and machine, with the circuit presenting an unusual challenge. The tri-oval banked layout, combined with the sweeping infield road course section, requires technical precision and an unrelenting focus from behind the wheel. Adding to the intensity of this gruelling contest, teams must negotiate 13 hours of driving at night, the longest single period of darkness of any 24-hour race.
In recognition of their achievements, the winning drivers are rewarded with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. Five-time overall and ten-time in class winner of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA and friend of Rolex Scott Pruett reflects: “I was incredibly blessed to race at the Rolex 24 over three decades. To come away with the victory is extremely special, but to be presented with the watch is a privilege and a memory that lasts forever. I learned so much from this race during my career and I always look forward to returning. It is a particular honour to share my experiences and knowledge with the young drivers in the paddock – and to watch them grow year after year.”
ROLEX AND MOTOR SPORT
Rolex’s close ties with motor sport date back to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s World Land Speed Record successes in the 1930s, when he became the first driver to break the 300 mph barrier (483 km/h) at the wheel of his car Bluebird. Since then, Rolex’s presence in motor racing has grown steadily, its support extending to revered endurance events such as the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship. In 2013, Rolex became associated with Formula 1®, the pinnacle of motor sport, having supported Rolex Testimonee Sir Jackie Stewart since 1968. The brand also has a global appreciation for classic car events steeped in elegance, beauty and tradition, including the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the Goodwood Revival.
AN UNRIVALLED REPUTATION FOR QUALITY AND EXPERTISE
Rolex, a Swiss watch manufacture headquartered in Geneva, is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products. Its Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. The word “Perpetual” is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 500 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Furthermore, Rolex is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.