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Car Chase

The Greatest Daytona 24 Hour Race Ever?

By Steven S. Brooks Published: January 26, 2009
Juan Pablo Montoya (01), of Colombia, races David Donohue (58) out of the pits after the final pit stops during the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009. Montoya led out of the pits, but Donohue's car went on to win the race, with Montoya in second. (AP Photo/David Graham)

Since 1962, the Daytona 24 Hour endurance race has marked the traditional beginning of the sports car racing season. American road racing enthusiasts would make the pilgrimage to Florida by the thousands and the rest of the world would be glued to their televisions for this race with participants from around the planet.

With the current state of the worldwide economy, expectations were fairly low for this year's race. The entry list was shy fifteen teams from last year's event, including perennial champion Audi which announced earlier in the year their withdrawal from the American prototype road racing scene. Sponsorship and ticket sales were also lagging. Daytona 2009 was going to be more of a blip than a blast off.

Well, the racing fans that didn't buy the pre-race pessimism were rewarded with an amazing spectacle. Whether you were at the track or just caught any of the sixteen hours of coverage between Fox and Speed, you got this feeling that something special was going on. The racing was clean and close and there was an aura about the whole event. And, like any special story, there was a fairytale ending...or two.

David Donohue, racing a Daytona Prototype Porsche for the Brumos team won by the closest margin in Daytona history; a scant .167 seconds. Imagine racing for 24 hours straight, completing over 750 laps on Daytona's road course and beating your opponent by less than two tenths of a second! Additionally, he accomplished this feat almost forty years to the week from the time his dad, racing legend Mark Donohue, won his first Daytona 24. It also marked a return to dominance for Porsche by winning the DP and GT classes. It was also a very special victory for the Brumos team whose driving force and co-founder of Grand Am racing, Bob Snodgrass, passed away just a year and a half before.

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