Dayton is a legendary and always gentlemanly figure in Vintage racing, where he has captured the Grand Prix of Monaco for Historics eight times (the winningest driver ever around the historic street circuit), making Highcroft Racing one of the most respected teams in the Vintage racing world.
No, it was when he turned to the American Le Mans Series to race the latest, most exotic new prototypes that he showed a different audience and paddock full of competitors just how deadly serious he and his team can be.
Newcomers face tough sledding in the ALMS, particularly in the prototype classes, often taking several years to become truly competitive. Dayton threw away the timetable, entering just a handful of races in 2006 before making a major move.
Acura stunned insiders when they named the Danbury, CT-based Highcroft Racing as its third and final team for its LMP2 class ALMS factory campaign.
The skeptics, and some disappointed rivals suggested Dayton and Highcroft were unknown and unproven.
Some said they were nice guys, but really just Vintage racers, far out of their league and certainly not a team to develop a new prototype. They were wrong.
Highcroft Racing has first class talent, resources, and the leadership and experience to put it all together. Dayton built from his core Vintage team, but added Indy Car veteran team manager Robin Hill and the ultra-successful David Brabham as lead driver.
After a year of growth with Acura, Dayton added an outstanding sponsor, Tequila Patrón, to the side pods and the talented Scott Sharp as co-driver for 2008.
They quickly became a dangerous team, a threat to win at every race. Being chosen by Acura to lead chassis development on their new prototype soon paid off as Highcroft delivered Acura’s
first overall race win here on home soil in Connecticut at Lime Rock Park last July.
Now, racing the radical new Acura LMP1 class prototype for 2009, Patrón Highcroft Racing has already delivered a victory at St. Petersburg and currently leads the American Le Mans Series LMP1 championship.
And, in an ironic twist, Robert Clarke, the now retired Acura exec who put Highcroft in the Acura camp back in 2007, is now President of the archrival de Ferran Motorsports Acura team. De Ferran has won the last two races, but this is Highcroft’s home track and they are the defending champions.
That makes Patrón Highcroft Racing deadly serious.