Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First Coast Racers Getting Up to Speed; Jacalone Brothers Hire Veteran Drivers for the 24 Hours of Daytona

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First Coast Racers Getting Up to Speed; Jacalone Brothers Hire Veteran Drivers for the 24 Hours of Daytona

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE

DAYTONA BEACH - Brothers Joe and Jerome Jacalone hired three ringers for this year's Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, and it didn't take long for the Grand-Am Road Racing Series to notice Thursday.

The sanctioning body quickly noticed their Porsche GT3 was six seconds - more than 5 mph - faster than a year ago.

"We should be faster," Jerome Jacalone said. "We've added some world-class drivers this year."

Grand-Am was so surprised by the sudden burst of speed for Gotham Competition it ordered a second round of inspections. The car had its fuel tank drained and inspectors pored over the car before allowing it back on the track. Once Grand-Am was convinced it was legal, it turned the car back over.

"It's a good problem to have," Joe Jacalone said. "We were a bunch of amateurs last year. With the team we put together this year, we should be six seconds a lap faster."

Joe Jacalone is one of three area racers hoping to find a successful niche in the GT class at Daytona International Speedway, while legendary racer Hurley Haywood, the only five-time Daytona winner, will drive again for Jacksonville-based Brumos Racing.

The 24-hour race, which starts Saturday at 3:30 p.m., features the ultra-fast Daytona Prototypes and slower GT sports cars. A year ago, the winning prototype finished 31 laps ahead of the top-running GT sports car. The Jacalones finished 52nd in their first try at endurance racing, completing 364 of 695 laps after falling out with a broken gear box.

Joe Jacalone of St. Augustine hopes the addition of two-time overall winner Randy Pobst and world-class drivers Shane Lewis and Gerardo Bonilla will help them not only finish the twice-around-the-clock race, but challenge for a top-10 spot in GT.

Eric Lux and Mac McGehee, both of Jacksonville, are hoping for the same with their GT teams.

"The object is to stay on the track longer than anybody else," McGehee said. "For me, it starts with a type-A personality. I always wanted to do a 24-hour race. It satisfies a desire to drive a car fast and being competitive and coming out of it in one piece.

"What we always hope for is a win. What we'd be happy with is a top 10, and we'd be satisfied just to finish the race. …

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