50th Running of 24hr Rolex Race
Saturday morning myself and good buddies Mark and Jim woke up early to get on a plane and head to Orlando for the 50th 24hr Rolex race at Daytona International Speedway. There we met up with Al, Chris, and Bob who had gotten down there on Thursday to watch the pre-race festivities. I had backed out of the early trip due to conflicts in schedules with shop supervisor duties, but when the call came in to fly out on Saturday, I was on it. We planned the trip in about 2 hours, got tickets, and were set to go! We were lucky enough to meet up with some of Mark’s friends down at the track who had an RV rented just inside Nascar turn 1 by the Sprint trailer/tv. There they fed us fantastic steak dinner along with breakfast the next morning and gave us a place to hangout. It was nice to be able to walk around, and then kick back and hang out. One thing is for sure…..you see WAY more of the race on TV (RV had a tv, muhahaaha), but the experience of being around the cars is worth not being able to see 100% of the race. The rumble from the prototype cars shakes your ribcage….for 24 hours non stop.
It sucked not having Val there with her big camera to take the action shots. I took my little hand held, but it just couldn’t keep up with the speeds of the cars, so I didn’t get many race shots. James Sofranos in the GMG sponsored cup car.
Flying Lizard Motorsports among a few others.
For me, this was the best part of the track 😉 Garage access.
Turner Motorsports 94 out for the race.
A quick corner balance and alignment.
What shocks me is that though it is a race environment, the guys don’t seem to hustle when working on the cars. It gave me the shakes watching things take so long, LOL. Well….that and not being under the car with them.
If you are planning on going, a few tips:
1. EARPLUGS. You can buy some at the track if you forget. Like I said before, the noise is non stop for 24 hours. You can’t talk without yelling, lol.
2. Good walking shoes, clothes from shorts to light jackets. You can’t fathom the amount of walking you will do. Guys who drive in seem to bring golf carts or scooters with them in their trucks…for a reason. The sprint fan zone and garage is on one end, but things are spread out on the other. To get outside and to the grandstands you can either take the tram from the fan zone to the outside, but there are no stops in between to get off if you want to watch from a different corner. Though it was about 70-75 degrees, there was a cool breeze all the time which made it feel colder.
2b. Backpack. Toss an empty one in your luggage to use while at the track. You can toss a light jacket in it, shorts, camera, water bottle, and anything you might want to buy at the stands (t shirts, hats, etc). Carrying a gift stand bag around with you for a few hours after you find that shirt you wanted is a PITA. Did I mention you will walk….ALOT? I’m not joking here.
3. Get a hotel in advance if you want to stay close….there are a lot of places to stay around the track for 100 bucks a night if you book early enough. With it being the 50th, they may have filled up faster than normal. We stayed about 20 miles from the track, and did take a break in the wee hours of sunday morning for sleep. There is enough racing going on you won’t miss much. The garages get pretty active at night (and the fans really clear out after 10pm…before that it is hard to move around the infield with saturday spectators), so stick around until midnight or so if you want to get up close to the cars while being worked on without a ton of people in there with you. I’d say the most action seems to happen once dusk hits, and then the last couple hours of the race. While the tv makes it look pitch black on the track, it is not, there is enough lighting that I don’t think the cars would even need headlights. Getting around the infield is easy at night (you won’t spend much time in the grandstands, everyone is in the infield).
4. Unless you plan on camping or having an RV there, take time to go outside the track and get away from the noise for dinner and/or lunch and to sleep. Not having a base camp do hang out at would get really tiresome.
I doubt there are too many people that can go to the race and not sleep at some point.