The 2014 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona was a huge success for the newly formed Tudor United Sports Car Racing series, which is sanctioned by the IMSA. Stars from NASCAR, Indycar, World Touring Car and even V8 Supercars participated in this highly prestigious race alongside, of course, some of the best sports car racers on the planet. Action Express took the overall victory, but I want to focus on one of the drivers who took the win in the Prototype Challenge class for CORE Autosport. His name is Colin Braun.
Colin is one of those lost talents of NASCAR and by lost, I mean stock car racing lost one heck of a racer. Colin’s aptitude behind the wheel of a race car became apparent at a very young age, collecting championships in both the Formula TR 2000 Pro Series and the Formula Renault TR 1600 division. At just 17 years old, he drove a Daytona Protoyope in the 2006 Rolex 24, the youngest to ever do so (finished fifth).
He ended up in NASCAR as a developmental driver for legendary car owner Jack Roush. After getting his feet wet in ARCA, he moved up to the Camping World Truck Series full-time in 2008. That year, he came within a couple positions of victory lane in both the Truck and Nationwide divisions. In 2009, he won a Truck race en route to a fifth place points finish and was promoted to the Nationwide level in 2010.
Unfortunately, he was released from Roush because the funding just wasn’t there. Although he struggled in his first season in Nationwide season, his results mirrored that of rookie teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who went on to win the next two Nationwide titles & currently races full-time at the Cup level.
Ever since his NASCAR career came to a screeching halt, Braun has been doing just fine for himself. In both 2012 and 2013, he assisted CORE Autosport on their way to the ALMS Prototype Challenge team championship. Last October, he took a Michael Shank Racing Daytona Prototype around Daytona International Speedway at a speed of 222.971, shattering the previous lap record of 210.364 mph that had stood since in 1987.
Now, he’s a class winner at the 24 Hours of Daytona, beating his closest competition by over a lap. Colin is just the latest ex-NASCAR star to grab headlines after winning a notable event. Just a few weeks ago, former NASCAR up and comer Bryan Clauson won the Chili Bowl and ended the stranglehold that the Swindell family had on the event. There are dozens of very talented racers out there who didn’t get the shot they deserved in NASCAR because of the unfortunate fact that sponsorship is so hard to come by at the pinnacle of stock car racing.
NASCAR continues to lose extraordinary talents everyday and it’s really sad to see. Ross Chastain is currently fighting to keep his foot in the door and it was announced recently that the very talented Jeb Burton has lost his sponsor and is consequently, out of a ride as well. In the cutthroat business of auto racing that chews up and spites so many out, it’s always great to see guys like Colin and Bryan still winning and showcasing their ability in other forms motorsport.
Nick DeGroot is a Contributing Writer for Rant Sports NASCAR. Connect With Him on Twitter @ndegroot89