Select photos: Traci Cottle
Daytona International Speedway is a special place. It is a key track that has shaped the scenery of racing in the US for the last 50 years and it all started from a passion for racing.
And for the fans, that passion for Daytona is felt worldwide.
One man in particular has a passion for Daytona and racing in general that carries over to every aspect of his life and that man is DJSA Outlaw Jet Ski president Jim Lambert. Jim’s racing experiences started early. “Growing up as kids, a passion for motorsports racing was passed onto my brother and I by my dad Bob. From midget car races at the Oakland Exposition building, Sprint cars running the San Jose Mile, road races at Sears Point, to local dirt track racing at Antioch Speedway, my family’s weekends were always filled with racing. My Dad always took my brother and I into the pits after a race to meet our favorite drivers, and it was this lasting impression the drivers made on us as kids that stayed with us forever. This passion led me to my own racing adventures in karts, motocross, APBA hydroplanes, and most recently creating and directing the Diablo Jet Ski Action racing organization in Northern California. My brother still races AHRMA vintage motocross to this day,” said Jim. “Up until last month when our Dad passed away unexpectedly from cancer, the 3 of us shared an intense addiction to NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. Bob was an avid Jeff Gordon fan, my brother a Dale Jr. fan, and myself a serious Tony Stewart fan, but a year ago my Dad found out about a well known Grand AM road racer who was racing Jet skis in the DJSA outlaw point series, and Bob quickly became Memo Gidley’s biggest fan on the water – and on the pavement.”
At this year’s DJSA Jet Ski awards banquet, Memo Gidley, compliments of Team Sahlen, was able to give DJSA president Jim Lambert a gift he will never forget. Memo told Jim that his team would race with the DJSA logo on the side of the teams Mazda RX8’s at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Memo and Derrick Kemnitz Jr. at DK1 Designs, a premier Northern California graphic supplier who made the decals, decided that a special edition DJSA Outlaw Racing Bob Lambert memorial decal would be most fitting in remembrance of Bob Lambert, Jim’s Dad who passed away this past year.
Jim was presented with the memorial decal at the DJSA awards last weekend and was brought to tears by the gesture. “Having the DJSA logo with my Dad’s name on the Team Sahlen race car running the Rolex Daytona 24, is an incredible honor that has truly touched the hearts of my family,” said Jim. “It is the ultimate racing tribute for a great man who raised a “racing family”, and in turn that passion for racing became the catalyst behind the DJSA racing series. On behalf of the DJSA race staff, racers, crew members, and my family, I thank you for this highest honor. We wish all the drivers the best of luck for a safe race, and I know for a fact Bob will be cheering on Memo and Team Sahlen from a front row seat in heaven.”
Memo recounts, “I first met Jim when I began racing jet skis a couple of years ago and right away I knew he was a very special individual,” said Gidley. “Every DJSA race weekend he amazes me as one of the hardest working, supportive, and most genuine people that I have ever met. And even more, Jim is a role model to me and I’m sure many others with the quality of his character because he is such a solid individual. After receiving the gift Jim shared his extreme gratitude. But like I told Jim, he is the one that deserves all the thanks…so thank you Jim.”
Jim is such a NASCAR fan that along with wearing his favorite Nascar team shirt whenever possible including at this year’s DJSA banquet, he also years ago he named his DJSA safety staff Team Orange along with painting all his safety boats a bright orange Home Depot color in honor of one of his favorite teams.
Will Nonnamaker of Team Sahlen shares “Racing is certainly a passionate sport, both to be in and be a part of. I can certainly relate how adding the extra element of having this passion be something that the entire family shares. I grew up watching and crewing for my Dad all the way back to when he raced a Ford Pinto. And now we are able to race together on the same team in the 2011 ROLEX 24 Hours at Daytona. It is a great honor to be able to pay tribute Bob Lambert and his passion for racing that he shared with family by carrying the memorial decal on the side of our Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8 at Daytona.”
Green flag racing for the Grand-Am presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 series Rolex 24 of Daytona kicks off Sat January 29th at 3:30 PM ET. You can catch all the action starting at 2PM ET on SPEED.