Sure, bump drafting was a staple at Nascar's Daytona 500 (before the new Gen-Six cars), but for Daytona 24 qualifying? Won't those high-falutin' sporty-car drivers spill Beluga caviar all over their kid-skin driving gloves?
No, but one team did burn a bumper. During qualifying for the Continental Race, which runs in the lead-up to the Rolex 24 Grand-Am race this weekend at Daytona, CJ Wilson Racing's Mazda MX-5 race cars had a bit of a bump-draft mishap. They were following so closely, the exhaust of the lead car melted the bumper on the trailing car.
Ironically, the driver in front, during the bumper burning (not shown), was Chad McCumbee, a stock car veteran who's bump-drafted at Daytona for Nascar Sprint Cup. The trailing driver was Stevan McAleer, who recently won the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, and from whom we wouldn't have expected such mad rubbin'. McAleer got so close to his teammate for so long that he burned a baseball sized hole in the front of his #5 CJWR car due to the prolonged contact with the #3 car's exhaust.
Here's why they do it: While quick on the technical tracks, the MX-5's suffer from a full-throttle speed deficit on the high banking at Daytona. (In the Continental ST class, the larger cars are up to 16 mph faster than the MX-5s.) In order to maximize qualifying speed, these two CJWR Mazdas hooked up to do some Nascar-like bump drafting.
On the last lap we got to do a little NASCAR tandem stuff, it was worth a lot, I just wish we had managed to do it earlier in the session.
Doing the pushing was great; it was kind of like old times. The only difference was having to figure out the shifts, but that wasn't an issue. Whatever aero stuff makes this work, the cars feel heavy when you hook up like that but it's like glue. It must be worth 10 mph. I'm not sure exactly what speeds were hitting but I was shifting way early compared to lapping by myself and I know we were really rolling. It's a pretty cool phenomenon how it works.