The sun is shining through high wispy clouds at Daytona International Speedway. It’s sunny with a chilly breeze. Fans are thronging everywhere, living up to the expectations voiced in the Crew Chief meeting by Grand American Rolex Series Race Director, MARK RAFFAUF. He said that the pre race ticket sales were up and that the attendance should be very good this year.

The Rolex Series drivers are signing autographs in the Fan Zone area – Daytona Prototype drivers in the special little nooks on the other side of the wall from their garages, and the GT drivers along side the large display of legendary cars.

The Victory Junction-Orbit Racing team got special permission from Grand-Am Friday night to work late in the garage past closing time of 7 PM. They pulled a long night beavering away on the No.45 BMW Riley DP, repairing the suspension and frame damage incurred after Friday morning’s crash when driver BILL LESTER spun into the concrete wall at the Bus Stop. The car has been repaired and now the team is finishing off the final bits and pieces as part of the pre-race setup.

Penske Racing No.16 Porsche Riley DP  Photo by MARK WEBER
Penske Racing No.16 Porsche Riley DP Photo by MARK WEBER

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. The graphics on the new No.16 Penske Racing Porsche Riley DP were changed Friday night. The original graphics were, in large part, designed by team owner, ROGER PENSKE. One crew described Penske as the in-house graphic designer. Once the team puts together a general idea, Penske works it and then the team – including Penske –  finalize the look. This time it took more than six hours. After watching the car in night practice, Penske decided to change the sponsor logo to make it pop – more. Ever the attention to detail, it was done and the team then made new hero cards.

Penske Racing is one of thirteen race cars carrying an in-car camera for the 24-hour race. Among the cars with cameras are No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley DP, No.40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT, No.69 and No.70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 GT. The entire list didn’t come to mind when I asked one of the broadcast technicians.

Dempsey Racing No.40 Mazda RX-8 GT  Photo by MARK WEBER
Dempsey Racing No.40 Mazda RX-8 GT Photo by MARK WEBER

“Real men wear pink.” Race car driver, team owner and actor, PATRICK DEMPSEY, is using his race team and celebrity status to promote the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Dempsey, whose mother is a cancer survivor, has created the Dempsey Racing Challenge, to raise money for the Avon Walk and awareness of breast cancer in general. Dempsey’s team will run special pink and white graphics on the car and uniforms. The top fundraiser in each of the nine Avon Walk for Breast Cancer events will meet Dempsey and the team as special guests for the 2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Dempsey will attend one of the nine, and his special driving suit will be auctioned off for the Avon walk.

Snoop & McDreamy
Snoop & McDreamy

Dempsey has also founded the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer, Hope and Healing at the Central Maine Medical Center, to honor his mother.

Dempsey’s busy TV and movie schedule will determine in which races he can compete. “Hopefully if I do a movie, they will let me out to go racing. We are working on that. We are working on the insurance policy to make that happen.”

MAX PAPIS/No.56 Mastercar-Coast 2 Costa Racing Ferrari 430 Challenge GT will run 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in a Toyota starting with Las Vegas with GEICO sponsorship. He also will run six truck races starting in California. Papis said “I will build up like a crescendo, with more races at the end of the season.” Despite being labeled a road course racer, Papis said “I want to win my first NASCAR race on an oval. I come from a country which doesn’t even have an oval track.”

The race starts at 3:30 PM EDT, with the first 90 minutes airing live on Fox, followed by coverage on SPEED TV coverage into the night, and resuming again Sunday.