Joao Barbosa knows what it feels like to drive a Corvette Daytona Prototype (DP) to victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, which he did in 2014 alongside Action Express Racing co-drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais.
Barbosa and Eric Curran both know what it’s like to drive Corvette DPs to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship titles. Barbosa did it alongside Fittipaldi in 2014 and 2015, while Curran won the 2016 title with Dane Cameron as his co-driver.
That’s why both drivers are excited for this weekend’s Classic 24 Hour At Daytona Presented by IMSA. They’re going to get the chance to relive positive memories from their not-too-distant past in Corvette DPs this weekend.
“We won the Daytona 24 with a similar car,” said Barbosa, who is teaming up with JC France and Tim Jernum this weekend. “It’s not exactly the same car but was a very similar car.”
The feelings are similar for Curran, who will drive a Corvette DP prepared by Hudson Historics this week. Curran said the team is bringing five Corvette DPs to Daytona this week, one still wearing the same Whelen Engineering livery that he and Cameron drove to the 2016 title.
“It’s fun to kind of go back in time a few years and go back to Daytona Speedway in a few of my old Daytona Prototype Corvettes that I raced for years around that track in the past,” Curran said. “So, it’s a bit of a different animal than the Cadillac DPi, but still an exciting race car to race.”
The unique 24-hour race organized by Historic Sportscar Racing, LLC (HSR) brings a variety of different sports cars onto the legendary, 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway circuit, some of which never raced in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
That’s obviously not the case for the Corvette DPs, which were built primarily with the Rolex 24 in mind.
“That car feels really at home at Daytona,” Barbosa said. “It’s a great car. We developed that car. When the new era of the Corvette DPs came along, we developed the car a lot at Daytona with the downforce and the tunnels and everything and the different aero package. It’s a car that’s suited for Daytona and it’s still fast. It’s just a great overall fun car to drive around Daytona.”
Fun is the name of the game this weekend. While these Corvette DPs could likely compete for 24 consecutive hours as they used to, this weekend they only will need to run four, one-hour races in a 24-hour period beginning at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday.
There are seven different run groups participating in the Classic 24. The DPs are part of Group F, which runs at 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 12 a.m., 6 a.m. and 12 p.m.
“You’re not having to drive for four or five different stints, three or four hours apiece, that’s for sure,” Curran said. “But it’s still an exciting weekend. I mean, it’s cool the way that they have it staged throughout and all the different classes and cars. Yes, it’s much lower key than the true Daytona 24, but still exciting nonetheless.”
And if Hudson Historics is looking for any late-night or early-morning volunteers to drive the car, they won’t have far to look. Curran is ready and willing.
“Why not?” he said. “It gives a little bit of memory of what the true Daytona 24 is all about. I don’t have any problem. I know that there’s some early A.M. shifts to do and it’s not problem. I mean, it’s again much lower key than what you’re actually doing in the 24. I have no issue. Whatever stints they sign me up for are the ones I’ll do. It’s a little bit of preparation for the [Rolex] 24 [in January], so it’s exciting.”
Tickets for the Classic 24 Hour At Daytona Presented by IMSA will be available for purchase from the Gate 40 ticket booth at Daytona International Speedway beginning Thursday, Nov. 14. For more information, please visit Classic24Hour.com.