With 15 runs at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, four podiums, and one win on Jan Magnussen’s record, it feels like his son Kevin was destined to add his name to the great race’s history. Freed from eight largely unfulfilling seasons of grand prix racing, the ex-Formula 1 driver is starting a new family legacy in IMSA.
As part of Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing, the Dane has even managed to remain within his father’s long-held racing family at General Motors, where he’ll share the No. 01 Cadillac DPi-V.R with six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande.
Having accompanied his dad at numerous American sports car races in his youth (such as this visit to Elkhart Lake in 2007, main image), the 28-year-old has found a sense of belonging in a paddock that welcomes him as an extended relative.
“I’ve been to the races a couple of times and I’ve seen firsthand how great the atmosphere is,” Magnussen told RACER. And then I’d heard, obviously with my dad racing in the U.S. for close to 20 years, he always said how great it is. I’ve always been able to really feel that he loved it; he loved every single moment that he’s had in racing in America.
“And that made my decision even easier to come and race in IMSA, because I know how great it was for him. And I’m looking forward to meeting all these fans that have supported him over the years, and hopefully I’ll be able to make them proud as well.”
Magnussen led for a considerable portion of Sunday’s qualifying race at Daytona, and looked right at home while keeping the DPi veterans at bay. Everything he’s mentioned as motivation for switching from F1 to IMSA is being realized.
“I just didn’t have that in F1 the last couple of seasons,” he said. “I didn’t truly believe that I was able to get on the podium or win races with the cars I had. And that’s just the way Formula 1 works. Even though I’m a good driver and the people I was working with in Haas F1 were extremely good engineers and designers, we just didn’t have the budget and the resources to go and fight with the big teams in F1. So even though you feel like you have the ability, you don’t really go anywhere. I just felt like now was the time to go and achieve some stuff.”
Magnussen and the No. 01 Cadillac team start seventh when the Rolex 24 gets under way on Saturday afternoon.