By Adam Tate, Managing Editor
It began as a vision, a design for an entirely different series, an under powered, oddly shaped, overly hyped misfit.
It’s team engulfed in legal issues, it’s engine changed, it’s series changed. It suffered failure after failure. It was punted off track by it’s rivals, it was laughed at and written off.
But the team held the course, led by Don Panoz, they slowly evolved the aerodynamics, the chasis, the engine and finally the gearbox.
Yesterday, Katherine Legge climbed behind the wheel of the much maligned machine for the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona and put on a clinic. She schooled the boys and the DeltaWing schooled the P2 cars, the Daytona Prototypes and screamed from last to first. With the best lap times and a signifigant lead, the laughing suddenly stopped.
Maybe, just maybe they had finally worked out the kinks, the high speed nature of Daytona finally rewarded the low drag DeltaWing as it flew by it’s rivals.
Then Katherine handed the car off to Andy Meyrick and Meyrick began the work of bringing the car back to the front, until he speared straight into the stranded No. 8 Starworks PC car of Chris Cumming who sat, stranded in the middle of turn 1.
Both cars were quickly rushed back to the garage, the drivers treated at the infield care center and released. The Starworks car eventually returned to the race.
The DeltaWing’s carbon tub was cracked. Just like that, it’s race was done, the fairy tale was over.
With IMSA set to change its prototype regulations for 2017 to be more aligned with WEC’s new P2 guidelines, the DeltaWing may never see another Rolex 24.
Surely Don Panoz will rally the troops and the team will press to remain relevant and fight for wins for the remainder of the season, but Don, Andy, Katherine and every one watching last night will surely think back to this weekend and wonder what could have been.