7 best American Cars at the Classic Daytona 24

06th November 2022
Ben Miles

We’re in America, so why not pick out our favourite bits of US machinery racing this weekend at Daytona? A simple task you might think, but when there’s so much to choose from it wasn’t easy.


Riley & Scott Chevrolet Camaro

The Camaro of the mid-1990s/early-2000s is rather alien to those of us in the UK. So to get to see, and hear, one in full Grand-Am racing spec is pretty cool. This one raced for Riley & Scott in the early 2000s, including competing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona back in 2001.

Overall it’s results (usually in the teens or 20s) seem mediocre, but it was a Camaro that won the GT class at Daytona that year, and it claimed several other race victories through the year.


Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Driven this weekend by one of Goodwood’s regular race winners, Craig Davies, this Mustang GT350 is resplendent in a proper blue with white-stripes livery. Perhaps surprisingly it’s the only one racing this weekend in the Classic 24, and it stands out in a group filled with more svelte Porsches.

Craig is no stranger to racing big American machines, having raced and won in Mustangs regularly at both the Revival and Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport.


Chevrolet Corvette C7.R

It arrived late, it only raced for a few laps before breaking, but boy was it nice to see a Sting Ray back in action in GTLM spec. The Corvettes, in both C6 and then C7 form were a tonic of American goodness in the GT ranks at Le Mans, and back home were super successful racing in IMSA. Even in this company the C7.R sounds absolutely mighty.


Riley & Scott MkIII

Vivid is one way to describe this particular MkIII. Splashed with orange and blue and filled with a massive V8 engine, it’s not the fastest prototype on show this weekend, but it makes a real impression.

In its day though, the MkIII won multiple championships across IMSA, the ALMS and Grand-Am, bringing home a not unimpressive 48 race wins out of 135.


Corvette Daytona Prototype

The Datyona Prototype class is unloved, for pretty good reason. They were ugly, and no matter how good they sounded, the LMP cars racing in the rival American Le Mans Series were far more impressive to watch. But then, later in their lifetime, the cars underwent two separate transformations. Firstly slimming the cockpit and giving them less of an ungainly look, and then adding a series of speed upgrades so they could compete with the incoming LMP2 cars when IMSA and Grand-Am merged.

One of the resulting machines was the Corvette Cayote DP. This is a Coyote DP car with a Chevrolet V8 under the engine cover and some Corvette bodywork. It looks and sounds awesome, especially in this Whelan livery, a livery that has been so incredibly successful in IMSA since the merger.


Ford Mustang GT1

The name of this particular car is a proper confuser. Yes, it’s called a Mustang GT1, no there was never a Ford Mustang that raced in GT1. In fact it could not be more different from the production-derived racing cars that competed for the GT1 series.

This is a Trans-Am machine, from the greatest era of the championship. That means a tube-frame chassis with a big Ford V8 motor out front and some Mustang bodywork draped over the outside. This thing is as lightweight as they come, with more power than it can really handle and about as far away from the road-going Mustang of the day as you could get. And it’s awesome.


Panoz Esparante GT2

This isn’t the highest-rent car here, and isn’t perhaps the car you think of when you hear “Panoz” but it’s always cool to see a car with Dr Don Panoz’ name on the front. Powered by a meaty Ford V8 the Esperante raced in the ALMS – owned by the boss man – in the mid-2000s to mixed results. It won at Petit Le Mans, pretty much first time out, and then struck reliability issues all season.

And that was pretty much the story of this weekend too, the Esperante looked quick for owner Steven Lisa and then proceeded to catch fire. Less than ideal, but it looked and sounded great until then.

Photography by Pete Summers and Ben Miles

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