Indy Lights cars and
Daytona Prototypes may
seem radically different,
but going quickly follows
a common formula.
WORDS & IMAGES Richard S. James
he Daytona Prototypes that race in
the Prototype class of the TUDOR United
SportsCar Championship and the Indy
Lights cars that serve as the final training
ground for aspiring IndyCar Series drivers
occupy opposite ends of the racing
spectrum. While both are purpose-built
racecars designed for a singular function,
those functions are rather different.
The Daytona Prototypes must pound
around a race track for up to 24 hours –
four races in the TUDOR Championship
are six hours or more. The Indy Lights
cars typically race for about an hour.
Even the shortest event for a DP car is
longer than an Indy Lights race.
Yet at the same time, there are some
similarities. For example, each car is a bit
of an anachronism in its own way.
The Daytona Prototype is a tubeframe
car in a world of carbon fiber composite
chassis. “The easiest way to explain it is a
cross between a Sprint Cup car and an
Indy car, really,” says Mike O’Gara, team
manager for Telmex Chip Ganassi Racing
with Felix Sabates. That team, with regular
drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, along
with third driver Marino Franchitti, won
the 12 Hours of Sebring in March; then
Pruett and Rojas backed it up with a win
on the streets of Long Beach in April. The
team has been strong since its inception
and has seven DP titles to show for it.
Like Ganassi in DP, Schmidt Peterson
Motorsports has seven championships, all
coming in Indy Lights. The Lights car is a
little out of its time (a new car from Dallara
is on its way for 2015), albeit in a different
way than the DP. Unlike the DP, it only has
to compete with cars just like itself, so it
doesn’t matter that it’s more than a decade
old; every driver in the series is competing
in the same car and having to wrestle
with the same challenges it provides.
Two Prototype class
wins from the first
four 2014 TUDOR
had left Ganassi duo
Scott Pruett (ABOVE)
and Memo Rojas just
three points out of
the class lead.
The Lucas Oil-supported Telmex
Chip Ganassi Racing
with Felix Sabates
team hadn’t raced at
Long Beach since
2006, but still came
away with a victory.