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.
Jon Bennett has become one of the most successful gentlemen drivers of his generation, and has built his CORE autosport operation in to a championship-caliber race team.
In this week’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflection, Bennett looks back on the remarkable 2014 season that saw CORE dominate the Prototype Challenge class in the newly-merged IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
With class wins at classic endurance events at Daytona, Sebring, and Watkins Glen, plus a victory on the Kansas Speedway roval, Bennett and CORE made 2014 a year to remember.
What do you remember from the Rolex 24 in 2014?
“We had a remarkably smooth race. I can remember being awoken at 5:45 in the morning and I asked: how bad is it? What happened in the middle of the night?
“Well, nothing had happened in the middle of the night. We were doing great, we were leading. You have to go to sleep during these events, but you hate that you have to take your eye off the ball and something might go wrong.
“Maybe it’s a pessimistic view, but I was so happy that everything was still alright and we were still in contention.
“After a smooth morning stint, Colin [Braun] and James Gue took it to the checkers in 2014 for a class win. I was speechless.”
Did that help jumpstart your championship run that season?
“We took the momentum that we had started in Daytona to Sebring that year and won Sebring as well.
“We went on to have a very, very good season winning the endurance championship, the drivers’ championship, and the team championship that year in PC. It was a really memorable season for us.”
How much did those experiences help prepare you for the step to the Prototype class this year?
“I don’t come from any racing family lineage, so I’ve spent a lot of time looking through the fence at the top categories of racing.
“To roll through the tunnel this year at the Rolex 24 knowing we were competing in the top category, not competing for a class win but an overall win, it’s a bit mind blowing for me.
“We’re fortunate to have the six or seven years of experience behind us here in IMSA to prepare us for this season. It’s not going to be an easy task.
“The Prototype class is deep and super talented, but we’re here to compete and I think we’re going to have a very successful season.”