Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week’s IMSA Reflection comes from Magnus Racing driver Andy Lally who looks back on some highlights of his storied career and shares why he only has one of his Rolex watches from his five Rolex 24 at Daytona wins.
What moments throughout your career racing on Continental tires have meant the most to you and why?
“Since I’ve been racing on Continental tires I’ve won the 24 Hours of Daytona three times, we’ve won the Six Hours of The Glen twice, we’ve won the 12 Hours of Sebring, we’ve won the first ever race for the Acura NSX GT3, we’ve won at Indy, and Petit Le Mans.
“All the top endurance races, I’ve been fortunate to be in victory lane on Continental tires and I can’t tell you how special any one of those is.
“To put any one on top, Daytona for me is my magical place and Watkins Glen is my home track, so to be able to add up multiple wins a both of those places, and lock up two North American Endurance Cup championships in that time span as well, it’s just amazing.”
What does it take to win those prestigious endurance races?
“It sounds cliche to say it takes a team to do this, but without a doubt it does.
“No matter how good one driver is, you’ve got to have the right driving mentality, partnership, strategy, engineering, and you have to have the right manufacturer behind you that’s built a really good car.
“I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve been put in a situation where I’m with really good people across the board. There are no weak links, and that’s what you need.
“You can throw Continental Tire right into that mix. You need tires that you can push flat out, non-stop to win races that big.”
From a driving standpoint, what does it take to win a race like the Rolex 24?
“For me, my mentality is to stay cool for 24 hours, or at least 23 and a half. If you get to a point where you’re coming down the home stretch and there’s still competition on your butt, that’s when you have to turn it up.
“It’s keeping cool and calm under pressure and drawing from years of experience, whether it be track conditions, knowing the guy that you’re going against, knowing the car that you’re in and what it’s going to do over a stint, to understanding the pace.
“It’s being on the absolute edge without making a mistake, because even one tiny mistake in a 24-hour race can end your entire deal.”
You’ve won five Rolex watches from the Rolex 24, but you only have one. Why do you give them away to important people in your life?
“Yeah, I gave them all away except for my first one which is a 17-year-old Rolex. But I’m only going to wear one watch. It’s a special watch and it’s a great momento of a cool race and an obvious high point in a career.
“If I can share that with people who have supported me along the way, it’s been received as a special gift from everyone I’ve given it to so that’s what I want.”