I am assuming that you are interested in learning more about the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona but may not yet have a grip on sports car racing. Look that is cool, no problem nut with two of the sport’s most iconic races being held here in the state of Florida, you might just find that if you check them out you could be hooked.
The qualifying will take place on Thursday with the race being run on Saturday at 3 pm and ending of course at 3 pm on Sunday. Before we talk more about this race let’s talk more about the history of sports car racing in Florida.
Only the 24 Hours of Le Mans is considered a more a more grueling test of man and machine than is the 24 hours of Daytona. Then in March is the 12 Hours of Sebring, again one of the world’s most prestigious sports car races.
Where both NASCAR and IndyCar both covet speed and endurance, they are races measured in miles and laps. IMSA racing is The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) the North American sports car racing sanctioning body based in Daytona Beach.
Now another fun thing about the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is four different types of cars all race together at the same time on the same course. So, there are four different winners, one for each class of car in the race.
We are all familiar 2.5 tri-oval at Daytona where we will see the NASCAR season begin in a few weeks with the 500. But the 24-hour race takes place on a much bigger and more interesting course.
The 24 hours of Daytona’s 5.73 km road course features about 13 or so hours of night racing. While the banking section will be lit up like daylight, most of the rest of the course will not, so you will see cars running with their lights on for a large part of the race.
What makes the race so challenging is four classes of cars on the same track at the same time running at massively different lap times while still trying to catch and pass your own competition.
So let’s talk about a couple of things first there will be a minimum of three drivers per race team. Each will pilot their cars for a predetermined amount of time.
Now let’s address the different classes and cars you will see.
Overall 47 cars will be on the starting grid for the race and the most exotic of the classes would be the Daytona Prototype International class.
This is the class that gets the most attention because of sleek nature of the cars, they don’t look like any car you buy in the showroom but more like the “concept cars,” you might see at a major car shows around the world. This year the cars in that division are powered by Cadillacs, Acura’s, Mazda’s, and a single team from Nissan.
The second group is the international GT3-class and these are cars you would see in a showroom but only a few people could afford them. We are talking the Lamborghini, Audi, Porsche, Ferrari, Lexus, Mercedes-AMG, Acura, and BMW all have entrants, with cars that look like what you’ll see on the street.
The third class fall into the GT Le Mans class is cars like the Corvette C7. R, Ford GT, and BMW M8 and is expected to have nine entrants. The last and least interesting class is the four-car LMP2 category, all driving Oreca chassis cars.
The race begins at 3 pm Saturday and a worldwide audience will follow the action, here in the United States the race can be seen on NBC Sports Network. You can also stream the race on their app or at IMSA.TV.