“I am going to Daytona!”, I shouted shortly after hitting submit on the Daytona International Speedway website. I had just booked tickets for the “Roar before the Rolex 24” and I was excited that I was going to watch fast cars running on the famous Daytona race track. I had visited Daytona in 2012 (read about it here), but this time I was going to experience the atmosphere of the place, the engine noise and witness everything that takes place at an active race track. To say I was excited was an under statement!!
So the day FINALLY arrived and since we are from the UK, we had purchased “Will Call” tickets. These were easily collected from the welcome desk on arrival.
Daytona International Speedway is known for it’s NASCAR racing, but today we were going to see suped-up road going sports cars, which participate in the Rolex 24. The tickets we had purchased were for the “Roar before the Rolex 24” and are an amazing value at $15 each.
So what is the Roar Before the Rolex 24?
The Roar Before the Rolex 24 is the first event of the racing season at DAYTONA and its when drivers from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, arrive at Daytona and start testing for the Rolex 24 race. This is a chance for the public to view their favourite drivers during testing, in preparation for the race in three weeks time.
So what is the Rolex 24?
The Rolex 24 is a gruelling 24 hour endurance race taking place on the 3.56 mile Daytona course, which includes the banked track of the oval NASCAR circuit as well as the infield section. There are between 3 to 5 drivers for each car and the race distance is approximately 650 laps. I am a fan of the Le Mans 24 hour race which is held in France, so it was exciting for me to see how things are done for its Amercian equivalent.
Schedule for the day
Roar for the 24 was over two days and this is the schedule for the Saturday. As you can see it is a packed day, with so much going on for everyone.
So onto the cars!
There are many types of cars which take part in the Rolex 24. Here are just a few :
Lamborghini Huracan GT3
Audi R8 LM3 GT3
Lexus RCF GT3
Car number 10, is a Cadillac DPI driven by Max Anglelli, Jeff Gordan, Jordan Taylor and Ricky Taylor. This was the winner of the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Completing the race in 659 laps. The results of the Rolex 24 can be seen at : Results for the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona
About the day
Visitors to the Roar before the Rolex 24, can spend the day wandering around the track and observing the cars during the test sessions. What struck me was the noise of the cars, as the sound echoed around the track. Since I was a novice at visiting race tracks, it had not occurred to me to bring ear defenders and my hearing was significantly reduced by the end of the day!
The public have access to much of the track areas and have fantastic views.
Footage from the 2017 Roar before the Rolex 24
Here is some of the video footage I took during my visit.
At lunchtime, a driver forum was hosted where the drivers were interviewed and asked questions by the fans. It was here I learnt that Bruno Senna, the nephew of the Formula 1 legend Aryton Senna, was going to be racing at the Rolex 24. I was somewhat awe struck since I had followed his formula 1 career from 2010-12. Bruno Senna is sat on the far left in the photo below.
There was also a chance for fans to visit the pit garages and meet the drivers.
I had a fantastic day soaking up the atmosphere at Daytona – the place was buzzing and the vibe was infectious. It was great to see so many fans turn up, on a day when the weather was more like the UK than Florida. Yet the rain did not dampen their enthusiasm, as they watched their heroes practice. It was also pretty cool to say motoring clubs turn up to this event, some were driving Mini Coopers and Ford Mustangs.
I can’t wait to go back, but next time I really must see a NASCAR race. That is going to be truly awesome!
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