Old favourites and new faces make up BAR1’s five-man driver squad for this weekend’s IMSA season opener
BAR1 Motorsports’ driver lineup for this weekend’s Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona has a familiar look to it, despite changes since the Roar. Team owner Brian Alder has kept BAR1 regulars Tomy Drissi and Marc Drumwright, adding Eric Lux, Tomy Drissi and Alex Popow to the crew for BAR1’s Prototype class debut.
Tomy Drissi has considerable experience racing with BAR1 Motorsports, including a class win at last year’s Petit Le Mans in LMPC’s swansong race. He’s also been a stalwart competitor in Trans-Am, where he won the 2009 championship. Drissi has also been banned from Trans-Am twice, but is still allowed to compete in championships run by other sanctioning bodies and is clearly trusted by BAR1 management to be a safe pair of hands.
Marc Drumwright is another regular in BAR1 cockpits. The Houston-based real estate businessman has taken podiums at Petit Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring, including third in LMPC with BAR1 at Daytona. He’s not the fastest gentleman driver, but managed to keep the notoriously difficult Oreca LMPC cars pointing the right way. It’ll be a major step up into the WEC-spec LMP2 prototype this year.
Casino magnate and former NASCAR talent Brendan Gaughan has a very solid average finish record at Daytona. He took a class win on his debut in 2011, sharing a TRG Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, Wolf Henzler and Steven Bertheau. Gaughan returned to Daytona in 2016, this time taking a BAR1 LMPC to third in class alongside Marc Drumwright, Johnny Mowlem, Tomy Drissi and Ricardo Vera. Now ‘retired’ from full time competition, Gaughan has been very clear that he still has a bucket list of races to complete and loves endurance.
Eric Lux has been off the scene recently, but took six podiums on the way to the 2011 American Le Mans Series LMPC title and ‘Rookie of the Year’. He also holds the record for youngest Grand-Am winner at 17, has multiple podiums at Sebring and partnered endurance star Tom Kimber-Smith and American single-seater hero Alexander Rossi at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2013, taking a Greaves Motorsport Zytek LMP2 to tenth in class. The versatile New Yorker is nothing to do with the other Eric Lux who was involved with Adrian Sutil and Lotus F1.
Alex Popow was previously deeply involved with Peter Baron’s Starworks outfit, racing Grand-Am Daytona Prototypes and Oreca LMPC machinery with the team. The Venezuelan has also taken LMPC victory at the 6 Hours of the Glen, 12 Hours of Sebring and 2012 LMPC drivers’ championship. Popow also took second overall at Daytona back in 2012, sharing a Starworks Riley DP with Ryan Dalziel, Lucas Luhr, Allan McNish and fellow Venezuelan Enzo Potolicchio.
With an uneasy Roar performance and Joel Miller jumping ship to Performance Tech, BAR1 are on the back foot going into the Rolex. However, it’s understood that some of the new Multimatic upgrades weren’t delivered to the team in time for the Roar but have since been fitted. Expect an unchanged Balance of Performance and upgraded parts to make a dent in their pace deficit, but BAR1’s prototype debut will still be about survival and laps rather than outright speed. This team is a reminder of the grit, passion and effort that define endurance, and a clean run to the end will feel like a podium.