Justin Gurney will be keeping a close eye on Thursday’s qualifying for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, continuing a family tradition.
P.J. Jones set the all-time Daytona International Speedway road course record back in 1993, running a lap of 1m33.875s in a Toyota Eagle MKIII (pictured) fielded by the legendary Dan Gurney, who passed away last January.
“It’s bittersweet,” Dan’s son Justin admitted. “We try to watch Daytona qualifying every year — especially when [brother] Alex was running. He had the pole twice, and we always compared lap times.
“Every year we’d watch to see if anyone could beat the record. I was thinking the record would stand one more year — and might be broken next year — until we saw the times the Mazdas were turning at the Roar.”
Dan Gurney’s Eagles dominated the 1993 competition, the final year of IMSA Camel GTP competition. The team won all 10 races it entered, with Juan Fangio III edging Jones for the championship.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting,” Justin said. “My father would watch it every year, and he was excited that he held it a long time.”
Justin said he wrote to Mazda Racing Director John Doonan after the Roar to congratulate his team on unofficially breaking Jones’ record.
“He sent a note back, so I sent him another note, telling him we were dusting off our GTP car and Alex was getting his helmet out to get the record back!”