Tomorrow afternoon, Daytona raceway will roar with the thunder of 66 of the fastest, best-tuned race cars in the world. Nearly every major auto manufacturer will be represented at the opening race of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and there will be plenty of new racing ideas making their way around the track once the green flag falls.
The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is the first race of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and the series has opened the door for a variety of alternative fuels and ideas in the Prototype class. One of the most written-about green race cars on the 24 Hours of Daytona entry list is the 2014 Mazda Prototype race car, operated by Speedsource and driven by the same four drivers who gave Mazda nine wins in the short-lived Grand Am GX class.
The Mazda Prototype racer will compete in the LMP2 class, and will utilize a production-based 2.2 liter turbodiesel engine making some 450 horsepower and 580 ft-lbs of torque. It’s worth noting that Mazda is the only diesel competitor thus far, despite the inherent advantages that come with the torque-heavy, fuel-efficient motors. With a 186 MPH top speed and an unwavering commitment to motorsports, I have high expectations for Mazda’s diesel race car this weekend, and all season in general.
But it isn’t the only car I’ll have my eye on. The Don Panoz-led Deltawing Racing team will also be carving up the course, utilizing a unique design that has delivered some thrilling racing action despite setback after setback. Using just half the power, half the cylinders, and half the fuel as many competing race cars, the Deltawing has proven to be a hard-to-discourage competitor with its impossibly-tight handling and acceleration like you wouldn’t believe.
It’s a favorite of both Jo and myself, and a car that will be easy to find thanks to its one-off design. It’s definitely an underdog in the prototype class, especially after Nissan parted ways and came out with a similar design, but the Deltawing is an underdog with a lot of bite and a fighting chance.
Another green racing competitor worth looking out for is a pair of Ford Daytona prototype racers with EcoBoost V6 engines modified by Roush-Yates. Even with two fewer cylinders and less displacement than many of the other competing Daytona cars, the EcoBoost racer managed to set a lap speed record at Daytona shortly after debut. Being down in displacement isn’t going to hold this turbocharged racer back.
This is what makes the new United SportsCar Championship so enthralling to me; various competing technologies from different manufacturers all going after the same prize; victory. A win here could give a project like the Deltawing would force other manufacturers to reconsider their designs. Conversely, should the Mazda diesel snatch victory, that could translate into an advertising blitz just in time to capitalize on the launch of the long-delayed and lusted-after Mazda 6 diesel.
Though there are many teams competing this weekend, you should be watching for if you’re green racing enthusiasts like us.