The introduction of the Grand Touring Prototype class at Daytona International Speedway this weekend at the Roar Before the 24 is just a taste of what’s to come, says Mike Hull, Chip Ganassi Racing’s managing director. The LMDh cars such as the Cadillac V-LMDh his team is racing in both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the World Endurance Championship are a global platform that came about with collaboration between IMSA and the ACO, designed to have parity with the FIA’s Hypercar formula. That means that for the first time since the heyday of the American Le Mans Series, the top prototypes in sports car racing can compete together worldwide, as Cadillac is about to demonstrate.
With CGR having campaigns across many different forms of motorsports, Hull has lived through the splits in both IndyCar and North American sports car racing. Although both the NTT IndyCar Series and the modern iteration of IMSA have emerged from the tumult in very different ways, he sees them finding their stride, and convergence has accelerated that in the sports car world.
“Open-wheel racing in the United States and sports car racing in America went through this period of time where there were two factions,” he noted. “They came back together and IndyCar is starting to come out of the dilemma that it was in, finally, and sports car racing certainly is doing the same thing in a very positive way globally. So I think what we’re seeing here at Daytona is exactly what’s going to happen for the future. This is like the down payment, what we’re seeing this year. By 2025, or ’26, not only are you going to be fighting for 61 positions in the garage area and and in the pit lane, but the quality of the teams is going to be way, way higher than it is today.”
There are bound to be teething problems, and those who like to make predictions about such things say this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona is going to come down to which team and car has the least problems. Hull welcomes the technology, but also notes that any time you start with a new race car, you forget all the things you have to do to make it run — never mind all the new things teams are dealing with electrification and the spec hybrid systems. But eventually, he notes, it will all be second nature.
“What I like about where we’re racing now with this category of GTP cars is the technology that it represents going forward,” Hull said. “Going forward, we need to embrace alternate technologies if we want to continue racing cars and have manufacturers help us do that. And that’s a big deal. The cars are complex, but the reality is that the complexity is secondary to the message. That’s what I like about it.”
The real test of the technology will come next weekend when the brand-new race cars from Cadillac, BMW, Acura and Porsche have to last for 24 hours of all-out racing.