An entry list for the Rolex 24 At Daytona that doesn’t include Bill Auberlen is a strange thing to behold, but that’s exactly what the 2024 edition has to offer as North America’s winningest sports car driver is due to miss the race for only the third time since 1992.
The BMW factory driver from California completed the most recent IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with his longtime team at Turner Motorsport in the GTD category, and despite expectations for the partnership to continue with a pair of BMW M4 GT3 entries, Turner dropped down to a single car for the year as the GTD class underwent expansion from other teams.
Without a second car to lead for the BMW aftermarket and tuning specialists, Auberlen says he’ll spend race week preparing to race in another series while keeping tabs on the event he’s done 33 times since making his Daytona debut in 1987 at the age of 18.
“I’m bummed I won’t be there, but I’ll be training and watching all my friends race,” Auberlen told RACER. “But the good news is I’m back with BMW and I’ll be racing sports cars again, but we’re not yet ready to say where and who it’s with. But I’m quite happy about it, which I can say.”
Auberlen has two class wins at the storied American endurance season opener, with the first dating back to 1996 with the Prototype Technology Group and its BMW M3. The 55-year-old’s most recent visit to the Rolex 24 podium came in 2015 with BMW Team RLL in the V8-powered Z4 GTE and his latest GTD win was secured in 2022 with Turner at Mid-Ohio.