Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rolex 24 Hours in 24 Seconds

This past weekend I met up with my old buddy Punch for the Rolex 24 Hours of  Daytona.  This race is a tradition with us as we have been going to it for years.  This weekend was the 50th Anniversary of the event and we were both at the first one in 1962.  Teenagers at the time mind you, but we were there.  So, this weekend was kind of special and, indeed, it turned out to be about as beautiful as you could hope for.

As the name implies, this is a 24-hour race, so the pace around the paddock is a bit slower than at most races and it's an overnighter to Daytona Beach for us both. Here's a down and dirty photo tour of the race weekend at the track with no tricks or touch-ups.  Hope you enjoy.

After the drive down from Gatorville on Saturday morning, my first stop was a pit stop.  Thought you ladies might like to see how sophisticated, no, make that downright elegant the men's facilities are.

Early in the morning and the stands are bare.  Gives you some idea of the enormity of the facility.

Fans begin to trickle in.

While still pretty vacant, the pace is beginning to pick up in the garage area.

The Fan Zone is beginning to fill and the high school cheerleaders are getting ready to do their schtick.

Cars going through inspection to be sure they don't violate the rules.  As you can see, it's a pretty thorough process.

Beautiful Ferrari Italia leaving inspection.  There are two classes of cars racing in Grand Am, GT (Grand Touring) such as the Porches and Ferraris, and the DP (Daytona Prototype), hand-crafted speedsters such as the 02 car pictured below.

Drivers and teams go through last-minuted preparations prior to the start of the race at 3:30 pm EST.

A portrait of the artist as an old man.  This is shot through a window in the garage area.  Each of the garages has a window which allows fans to see their heroes without the expense of a garage pass, about $500 for a NASCAR Sprint Cup event.  The Rolex 24 is a lot more low-key, and low-attendance, than Sprint Cup, a two-day garage pass costing only $35.  As a military veteran, my two-day infield and garage access pass cost me $50.  The best deal in racing.  Don't know what the attendance for this race is, I would guess about 50,000 over the weekend.  This is an infield spectator event with hardly anyone sitting in the stands so it's difficult to visually guestimate attendance.

Officials clear a path in the now packed house for the cars to roll onto the track.  This is the most exciting part of the weekend.  Really electric.

The Marching 100 leading the field to the grid.

Teams push the cars to their spot on the grid, followed by the drivers.  This is the Chip Ganassi uber-team comprised of F1 and NASCAR star Juan Pablo Montoya (on the left) and 3-time Indy 500 and Indycar Champion Dario Franchitti (Mr. Ashley Judd, wearing dark shades and hair, 3rd from right).  This team also featured two other pretty well known drivers, Scott Dixon and Jamie McMurray.  They finished 4th.

The eventual winners, a small-time team owned by Michael Shank (in black pushing the car).  That's driver Justin Wilson in blue & white to the left.

Proof that cars aren't the only things that are fast at Daytona.

Up on the front straight "low" banking just prior to the start of the race.  Gives you some idea of how steep the "high" banking is in the corners.

Believe it or not, there are cars lined up in the pit lane in front of the tents.

Finally, the race is underway and the action is fast and furious as the faster DP cars begin to lap and pick their way through the GT class.

The home team dominated the GT class through most of the race but had to settle for a third-place finish due to a fuel miscalculation at about 6 hours to go.  A win would have given Hurley Haywood his 6th victory.  He still holds the record at 5.

200+ mph on the high banking.

Sometime about noon on Sunday, I took a stroll through the 4th turn campgrounds.  It's always fun but by that time, many people were packing up to leave.  I did the same.  Sensory overload and besides, if I left at mid-day I could be home in plenty of time to watch the finish of the race on TV along with a beer and a nap.  Now that's what I call a perfect weekend.


  1. Almost as good as being there! Thanks for sharing. (Um, except for the urinal trough ... coulda definitely done without seeing that!) Sounds like you had a super trip.

  2. A car carnival but nobody came in fancy dress.

    I am always amazed at the colourfulness of American events, spectators and exhibits.

  3. well done Bro. you set the tone so i will try to follow.

  4. One of my many sins as a Southerner is that I never got into NASCAR or any other car racing. Yeah, I am ashamed and my brothers and sister will barely acknownledge my existence.

    To this day though when I see car racing now the first thing I think of is the Pixar movie "Cars."

    Great pictures, especially of the ladies.

  5. My blogging friends expand my world and take me places I would never get to on my own. Excellent photography and thank you for sharing this experience!

  6. Susan... I knew I could count on you to appreciate the finer things about motor racing.
    Friko... We ain't nothing if not gaudy, and loud. After all, "if a little is good then more is better" is the American way.
    BB... Boy, you belong on another planet. Gearheads aren't confined to the South. It's a universal affliction.
    Thanks Nance, always a pleasure.
    Punch... counting on you for the details.

  7. What the hell...all those money pits and only a half of a picture of the cheerleaders...just what kind of fan are you?

  8. Great pictures. Thanks for taking us on your vacation.

  9. Very colorful pictures. Never mind the race cars. Love the yellow VW bus!

    LOL at the couch on top of the white van.

  10. What walking man said. Not even one gratuitous butt shot.

  11. Oh, btw, Beach Bum...I'm wid you dude. I never could get into it. Now road rallies...that was my thing.

  12. Great shot of some hot fannies walking on the track and all you horny old men can do is complain that there isn't more. Geeez!

  13. what a wonderful photo essay... felt like an insider.

    and i'm green with envy(at least i think it's envy), looking at those restroom facilities.

  14. It might not be envy, but you would certainly be green.

  15. How come you guys don't mind peeing practically on top of one another, but if a woman asks what you're thinking, you get all secretive? I don't get it...

  16. iWench, there is a pisser trough etiquette, you know. It goes something like this...don't look, and don't ask. That rule applies to many encounter situations in a man's life...including being drilled. Nothing personal, you understand.

  17. C, sorry, didn't mean to butt in. OK, I did.

  18. Well, I didn't want to say it was a reflexive action.

  19. I was referring to Intelli's question. appreciate the help.

  20. intelli...what an opening line!

    'do i dare to eat a peach?'


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