Endurance racing is not for the faint of heart. And as your friends at The BLOCK were about to find out, endurance spectating isn’t either. On Saturday, January 26, your loyal motorsport fanatics here at The BLOCK set out on an epic journey to experience the Rolex 24 At Daytona in a way most of us only grew up dreaming about – in the infield, meeting people, coveting race cars and avoiding sleep at all costs.
To help bring you along on our historic experience, we’ve truncated our journey in much the same manner that so many classic novels have been over the years. C’mon, you remember those little, yellow booklets you used to pass your high school English Literature class. Wink, wink.
In summary, if you can get to Daytona in late January for the Rolex 24 At Daytona – do yourself a favor and become part of one of motorsports most iconic racing events. If you and your cohorts can make it to the end of the 24, the racing you’ll see and the people you’ll meet will be unlike anything else you’ve ever done.
Without further ado, check out our experience below – and feel free to let us know how you’ve done the 24 in the comments and in the Grand-Am Forum!
Our journey didn’t start when the green flag waved, and for the rest of you who don’t live in Daytona, neither will yours. Our experience started 220 miles away, so we needed a rental car – we recommend one with enough room for a tent, chairs, a cooler tightly packed with energy drinks, and of course your best buddies who share your affinity for being serenaded by the roar of small block Chevrolet V8s for 24 hours straight.
We arrived early. As in, we got to the track before the fast food places across the street from the track stops serving hot cakes and hash browns. You’ll want to do the same for next year’s race. Not only will you and your buds be able to fuel your bodies for the big day ahead of you, but you’ll also have enough time to get to the track and stake out the perfect campground spot, which will serve as your home base to enjoy the ensuing action, both on and off track.
The Race: Start Time – 3:30 p.m. EST January 26, 2013
In order to proclaim personal victory – being there for the whole 24 hours – you’ll need to be on time and watch the green flag drop with your own eyes. Then you’ll be able to stake your claim to being a true gearhead, as well as bear witness to the awesome power of more than 50 cars laying down insane horsepower in unison as the green flag drops.
Side note: Before the race starts, set yourself up right with the right real-time, track-side intel. Get started by following @TeamChevy on Twitter, as they tweet updates on drivers, retweets from the who’s who at the track, and exclusive photos throughout the 24. If there are any giveaways or special events at the Chevrolet Performance display, you’ll hear about it first from the folks at Team Chevy on either Facebook or Twitter. So do yourself a favor and get hooked up with them socially before any race where you see the Chevrolet display.
Know Your Teams:
Just like following any sport, you have to pick your side. In this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona eight teams flew the Chevrolet banner. So before the race, we took special note so that we knew exactly who to root for, and we suggest you do the same for your favorite driver or team, next year.
No. 10 Velocity WorldWide/Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP – Driven by: Max Angelelli, Jordan Taylor and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Only for Rolex 24)
No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP – Driven by Burt Frisselle, Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Mike Rockenfeller (Only for Rolex 24)
No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP – Driven by Brian Frisselle, Nelson Piquet, Jr. (Only for Rolex 24), and Felipe Nasr (Only for Rolex 24)
No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP – Driven by Richard Westbrook, Ricky Taylor, Oliver Gavin (Only for Rolex 24) and Antonio Garcia (Only for Rolex 24)
No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP - Driven by Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Memo Gidley (Only for Rolex 24) and Darren Law (Only for Rolex 24)
No. 3 8 Star Motorsports Corvette DP – Driven by Enzo Potolicchio, Stephane Sarrazin, Danthony Davidson, Pedro Lamy (Only for Rolex 24), Anthony Davidson (Only for Rolex 24), and Nicolas Minassian (Only for Rolex 24)
No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R – Driven by Robin Liddell, John Edwards, Tommy Milner (Only for Rolex 24) and Jan Magnussen (Only for Rolex 24)
No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette GT – Driven by Boris Said, Brandon Davis (Only for Rolex 24), Lawson Aschenbach (Only for Rolex 24) and Eric Curran
Hour by Hour of the Rolex 24 of Daytona:
Hour 00 (3:30 p.m.): If you watched the flag drop in person like we did, you’d be in the center of the action right now. From here, we took the opportunity to cruise the FANZONE and see classic race cars of old on display.
Hour 01 (4:30 p.m.): The sun was due to set at 6pm, so we boogied on over to turns 3 and 4 to watch some of the early infield battles for position. On your way to turn 4, we recommend stopping by the Chevrolet display to see what giveaways they have while supplies last. They also have unique and in depth looks at Chevrolet’s racing technology that you can touch and feel for yourself.
Hour 02 (5:30 p.m.): After the sun and the mercury dropped, we walked over to turns 5 and 6 to enjoy the perfect, late-January Florida weather.
Hour 03 (6:30 p.m.): While around turn 7, we met and chatted with some fellow race fans in the campgrounds. There was no shortage of interesting people, stories or great views of the racing action around here.
Hour 04 (7:30 p.m.): The FANZONE concert started at 8, so we headed back to get good seats for the performances.
Hour 05 (8:30 p.m.): We arrived at the main stage of the FANZONE which began at 8. We grabbed some dinner while enjoying the music. We went for the BBQ pork sandwich, which was definitely on point.
Hour 06 (9:30 p.m.): Do you enjoy listening to a live concert accompanied by the roar of race cars? Yeah, so do we, we weren’t going anywhere!
Hour 07 (10:30 p.m.): The karaoke sessions on the main stage had just started. If you were braver than us, you could jump right on stage to show your fellow race fans how it’s done. We enjoyed watching others try their hand at belting out their favorite tunes.
Hour 08 (11:30 p.m.): Ferris wheel time! With the main stage winding down, we headed to take a ride on the largest Ferris Wheel on the East Coast. It’s 150 feet tall at the highest point which provided a view of the action that you can’t get at any other track. This is a must!
Hour 09 (12:30 a.m.): It had been a long day to this point and we needed some fuel, which is why we made a beeline for the funnel cake stand. It’s right next the Chevrolet display, which you can’t miss on your way from the FANZONE to the Ferris wheel. Enjoy.
Hour 10 (1:30 a.m.): Powered by a funnel cake-infused sugar rush, we headed back to our campground to see some of the night racing at turn 5.
Hour 11-15 (2:30AM-6:30 a.m.): Lights out at our campground. The weather got so cool at night that it required a warm blanket or sweater to catch some rest.
Hour 16 (7:30 a.m.): Up and at ‘em! We started our day watching the race run under caution for one hour and 45 minutes due to fog. Even though it was under yellow, seeing 530 horsepower Corvette Daytona Prototypes burst through the fog over and over again never get old.
Hour 17 (8:30 a.m.): With the weather still cool and the racing action set to heat up, we took a walk by Lake Lloyd, which had some great early morning views with the Corvette DP’s racing behind it. Fun fact: Lake Lloyd has hosted powerboat racing events. The entire city of Daytona is a motorsport lover’s paradise.
Hour 18 (9:30 a.m.): We headed to the Cafe 24 Breakfast Garage to grab some food. The FANZONE area opened at 8 a.m., and around this time, others fans filled the area and activity picked up everywhere. We took the opportunity after breakfast to roam the midway and check out the Chevrolet display to see what new vehicles and accessories were on display.
Hour 19 (10:30 a.m.): If you hadn’t taken enough photos at this point, you could’ve headed to victory lane and grabbed another one next to the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona trophy. It was on display specifically for photos at this time.
Hour 20 (11:30 a.m.): With 4 hours of racing left, teams kicked it into final gear and began jockeying for a position to make a run for the win. We elected to watch some passing attempts around the back straight where exit speeds were at their highest.
Hour 21 (12:30 p.m.): We headed back towards the FANZONE area. When we arrived, the tension around the track from fans and teams started to mount. The end was near and everyone knew it.
Hour 22 (1:30 p.m.): Two hours left. We set up next to turns 2 and 3 so we were in the center of all the action.
Hour 23 (2:30 p.m.): The atmosphere really started to get electric in the final hour. We got in position in the FANZONE area to watch the checkered flag wave and see the winners as they went from the track to victory lane.
Hour 24 (3:30 p.m.): Twenty four hours completed! At the end, the No. 10 Velocity WorldWide/Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP provided Chevrolet the first ever Rolex 24 At Daytona podium with a second-place finish. What a race!
While 24 hours of endurance spectating isn’t as dangerous, exhausting or challenging as 24 hours of endurance racing, we can proudly say we made it! We hope that next year you can be part of history like we were, and watch the Rolex 24 At Daytona in person. We promise it’ll be an experience you never forget.
If our story got you wanting to take the journey to the 24 yourself, let us know in the comments and forum. We’d love to hear how you’d go about taking part in the race!
And, if you were there, share your story with us in The BLOCK.com's Grand-Am Forum. Let us know where you camped out and what you’d recommend for first timers.