On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 2012 January will once again see the Daytona International Speedway near Daytona Beach, Florida, USA come alive with celebrations. Drivers, auto manufacturers and race fans from all over the world look forward to the Rolex 24 at Daytona which is the first major race of the international motor sport season. Many people play a pivotal role in making the Rolex 24 at Daytona a success every year. The Grand Marshals are one of them. People playing the role of a Grand Marshal hold the key to the success of a particular racing event.
As drivers line up on the start grid, our heart starts pounding and the adrenaline starts racing. During this crucial moment, it is the Grand Marshal who gives the racers their cue to start their engines. The command given by the Grand Marshal has taken a variety of forms over the years. Most of the commands are usually some variations of the same phrase. Generally, â€œDrivers, start your engines,â€ stands to be the standard protocol for a Grand Marshal. However, it is totally unofficial and at the discretion of the Grand Marshal on how he wants to use this command for the forthcoming races. As a partial host for racing festivities, the Grand Marshal is usually someone who has shown exceptional leadership in their field all these years and he is often regarded as a cultural hero in the racing hemisphere. For the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, A.J. Foyt (USA) will be stepping in as the Grand Marshal for the auspicious occasion. Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said that Daytona is honored to have one of the greatest drivers in the history of auto racing â€“ A.J. Foyt â€“ serve as the Grand Marshal on the commemoration of 50 years of endurance racing at the â€˜World Center of Racingâ€™. A.J. Foyt is a two-time overall champion of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He won this racing event as a twice-around-the-clock challenge in both 1983 and 1985. He holds the distinction of having led the first lap of the inaugural race in 1962 â€“ then known as the Daytona Continental â€“ in a Nichels-prepared Pontiac Tempest.
In 2010, Vic Elford of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (GBR) served as the Grand Marshal for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Vic Elford was the winner of the 1968 Rolex 24 at Daytona. He is a three time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has been carrying out the duties of signaling and presenting the winners with Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosomograph Daytona timepieces in Gatorade Victory Lane. Dan Gurney in 2008, Richard Petty in 2007, Benny Parsons in 2006, Derek Bell in 2005 and Sir Stirling Moss in 2004 are some of the names who were honored with the task of Grand Marshal. All of them were racing legends in their respective times.