Never Stop Driving #83: Corvette vs. Mustang

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There’ll be a Motown fight fest in Florida this weekend when the Chevy Corvette and Ford Mustang compete in the 62nd running of the 24 Hours of Daytona. This kickoff to the 2024 racing season, officially known as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, will be broadcast on and Peacock. Can I get an Al Pacino Hoo-Ah?

Against all odds, sports car racing is healthier than it has ever been, with more than a dozen car companies directly or indirectly spending millions to field race cars. Why the sudden resurgence in racing investment from carmakers around the globe? Because they’ve realized they’re not simply in the “mobility” business; they are in the “passion” business. And there’s no better way to prove automotive passion than on a racetrack. Not long ago, the common narrative was that cars would evolve into faceless pods and racing would remain only for a few Luddites still clinging to their steering wheels. The adage, “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” still has legs. Hoo-Ah!

Sports car racing has long existed in the shadows of NASCAR here in the States and Formula 1 internationally. Sure, fans tune in for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but sports-car racing viewership generally trails far behind those series and IndyCar. Since most car companies treat racing as marketing, the series with the largest viewership typically enjoy all the dollars. Yet tens of millions are pouring into IMSA, the sanctioning body behind the 24 Hours of Daytona and the rest of the season.

Ford Mustang GT Class IMSA Roar Before The Rolex 24
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

There are 59 cars on the grid this weekend, divided over four classes, and all cars and classes run on track at the same time. Essentially, there are four races in one, with two distinct types of cars: 1) the oddly named “prototypes,” which are pure-bred racing machines, and 2) the GT cars that are based on familiar road cars you can buy. For more details, check out this explainer I wrote last year.

The Corvette and Mustang GT will race against each other and against Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Lexus, Mercedes, Lamborghini, and Acura. The variety of makes is unheard of, made possible by a rules scheme known as “Balance of Performance,” or BOP for short.

Under BOP, the rules are in constant flux. Officials adjust a car’s minimum weight, engine horsepower, and many other details to equalize the performance potential of all the cars racing. Everyone complains about BOP, how it unfairly favors one car over another, but no one’s come up with a better scheme so that a Mustang can run with a Ferrari. Judging by the size of the field, the racers are generally okay with it. I had a fascinating conversation about BOP and the race with longtime racing journalist Marshall Pruett. Listen on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube.

While we’re talking motorsports, 61-year-old Carlos Sainz proved that old guys do indeed rule when he won the weeklong desert-racing suffer fest known as the Dakar Rally. Sainz drove a series-hybrid Audi RS Q e-tron with a race engine that powers a generator, which in turn feeds electrical energy to two electric motors. With carbon-fiber body panels, gullwing doors, and a suspension that would laugh at Detroit potholes, the otherworldly Audi had me fantasizing all week about bounding through desert terrain at breakneck speed. Check it out here.

And here’s my weekly roundup of favorites from the Hagerty Media universe, all sure to entertain and inform you this winter weekend if, like me, you’re not fortunate enough to be at Daytona International Speedway:

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Have a great weekend!





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    While everyone hates the BOP when they are at a disadvantage they love it when it works for them.

    Many fans complain about it but racing is no longer pure. Years ago you built the best car you could and you raced it inside the limited rules there were.

    As technology came we started to get some very odd cars even if they had to build a specific number of them to race them. The Dodge Daytona and even the Pontiac 2+2. Both exploited the rules.

    Even in this case the Mustang is not the usual Mustanger.

    Also add in the technology of today. The tech can do many thing but it adds costs. The old joke in IMSA was how much does it take to win a Million Dollars. $5 Million.

    The fact is racing today is not pure anymore as costs and tech have taken over. Racing today is first a business and second entertainment.

    Companies want to participate but cost have to be retained or people leave. I have seen the GTLM class race with only two Corvettes as companies left. We saw the same in Can Am with Porsche and Penske running off many. Same in Trans Am.

    Cost have to be retained to make it so companies stay.

    Second this is entertainment. People like to cheer on their brands and they MFG like to show the share holders a win and return on the investment.

    So we are left to the BOP. Is it perfect no. Has it always been honest No! Lets face it for Ford to go to Lemans with a new car and win in the 50th year going away was a bit suspicious.

    The truth is they try to keep it close and have used BOP to keep MFGs in the series. If there are no MFGs the series will die. If there are no fans the MFGS will not invest.

    Even in GT3 Pro Am the series has looked the other way as many of the AMs in the series were well established drivers in other series.

    Sadly pure racing is pretty much over in most series. They all tweak cars to make them competitive and MFG and fans happy. Even at the local level you see some of this.

    You do not have to like BOP but we all need to understand it is a part of racing that keeps it alive.

    Good Luck to Pratt Miller. I hope the luck is with them as is the BOP.

    MotoGP may be the best “racing ” left. Yes, it has lots of technology but it also has a multitude of manufacturers and is a pure race once the flag drops – no pit stops, no artifical yellow flags, etc.

    Well Larry, maybe the first shot across the bow as one might say…with the KohR Motorsports Team Mustang GT 4 piloted by our local driver Luca Mars from Sewickley, PA took two first places in the prelude to the 24 Hours of the Rolex at Daytona…Roar before the 24.

    IMSA has the best racing out there, multiple classes at the same time and right and left turns as well as hills, what else could one ask for. More television time would be great. Almost as great as the CanAm series of the 70’s.

    Just read you piece on the upcoming 24 Hours of Daytona. I am outraged that I can’t watch it on regular TV but have to pay Peacock. Don’t they earn enough money. It’s bad enough that many of us pay up to $200 a month for cable TV and then we have to get gouged by the major networks so that their shareholders can earn lots of money. Ugh !

    I corresponded with IMSA on where it will be broadcast. It will be on NBC and USA at various times on Saturday and Sunday. Too many motorsports (Dakar, WRC, etc) have moved to streaming only. They lost me as a viewer and fan.

    Thanks Mel. I agree that too many motorsports have moved to streaming and it isn’t free. They will soon lose me as well if this continues. Cheers !

    I grew up a drag racer, but also loved SCCA Trans Am (late60/70/80) and go to VIR every year to watch Trans Am there. This year going to VIR to see the IMSA boys duke it out. I do have an 84 Mustang that I have owned since new so glad to see the Mustang step up to GT3 and also GT4. It will be really something when they go to mid-engine…maybe? Great racing overall IMSA, hope the NASCAR owners don’t screw it up. Still a pretty pure form of racing for more hard-core type fans.

    Your info on where the Daytona 24 will be broadcast is incomplete. It will be on NBC and USA at various times Saturday and Sunday. Suggest you send out an update.

    The article’s title says “Corvette vs Mustang”, yet that’s never covered. It’d be an apples/oranges thing anyway — CAMARO vs Mustang has been the historic rivalry. A two-seater mid-engined pitted against a front-engined four-passenger isn’t really an equal competition, is it?

    Good article, but I believe you left out BMW as a competitor. The M4 GT3 competed against Corvette and Mustang in both GTD classes.

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