2011 Rolex24 at Daytona International Speedway


Late last month, this olelongrooffan was lucky enough to get to attend the Rolex24 Hours at Daytona International Speedway. It is a blast to attend as a bunch of buddies set up camp immediately adjacent to the west Horseshoe and we basically party like it’s 1999 for 3 days. I thought I might share some of my experience at this year’s Rolex24.

I previously posted here in the Hooniverse a couple different blogposts about my experiences while crashing the arrival of the teams for the Roar Before The 24 as well as a Fastback Friday post and finally, a Seen In The Lot post, similar to the one I did for the Winter Park Concours last fall.
Well, as I related in one of those blogposts, or maybe it was another one, attending the Roar Before The 24 is a blast. In general the teams are more relaxed, tend to share more of their thoughts and adventures, and access to their garage area is nearly unlimited. During the 24 it is decidedly different.

The Ganassi and the Wayne Taylor Suntrust camps had, understandably, blocked all fan access to their garages during their prerace preparations for the Rolex24.
This race seems to become more popular every year and while that is a good thing for the series and its owner, NASCAR, it is becoming more NASCAR like in its fan base and the amount of trash and litter left in the infield subsequent to the race reflects that. Alright, this olelongrooffan will step off my bully-pulpit now.
Anyway, see those grooved tires on that flat bed golf cart in the above image? Those are not rain tires but the tires that are used for set up for tech inspection. These tires are never driven on and they are ubiquitous to this series as well as the NASCAR series. Put them on, set up and go through tech, take them off, put on slicks and go racing is the procedure these teams follow.
And at this event, this olelongrooffan decided not to do separate posts for the Seen In The Lot section but I did want to include a few I spotted that were pretty cool.

The passes I had for this event were through Grassroots Motorsports and included a free infield parking pass for my Comanche alongside this sweet Triumph TR3.

As well as this highly desirable Acura NSX. Who knows why they quit producing these anyway?

My ole Comanche was not the only vintage rusty pickup truck to make an attendance at this event!

The air-cooled contingency was well attended by some sweet rides that this olelongrooffan is sure Amber will enjoy. Even more showed up throughout the weekend.
Now understand this olelongrooffan has been attending this race for nearly every year since 1989—I did miss it when my daughter was born on February 16, 1995—and I feel as if I have covered every aspect of it. Whether it is the feeling of going to the pits at 3am with the Kid, blogging about the Koni Challenge last year or posting about some of the vintage American muscle there last year.
Well my fellow Hoons, this year the Powers That Be over at International Speedway Corporation set up a pretty cool exhibition race demonstration of some of the past participants of the Rolex24 during its IMSA affiliation days. It was pretty cool to watch as some of the drivers of these race cars were rather leisurely moving around the 3.56 mile road course, while others were thrashing their rides to beat the band.
And in the latter category was this beautiful Ford Escort that was campaigned back in the day by none other than P. L. Newman and Tommy Ciceine.

It is a 1972 and raced in the Rolex24 in 73, 74 and 75. As we were watching this thing fly around the track, we were speculating on what it was. This olelongrooffan was sure it was a Lotus and I damn sure regret not getting more, better quality images of it to share with my fellow Hoons.

I did, however, snatch an image of this BP-sponsored 1966 GT40 that captured the overall win at the 1966 24 Hour race at Daytona.

wirewheel.com showed up with several cars, including this recreation of a 1964 Lotus Elan 26R. The actual race car won 2nd in class in 1965 and 3rd in class in 1966.

As I was examining the engine compartment containing that wet sump engine which powered that 1,500 lb automobile, Bobby Rahal wandered on by and questioned the salesman from wirewheel as to whether it was a real one?

“Negative” was his truthful response. Sorry, this olelongrooffan was too flabbergasted to grab a shot of Mr. Rahal. Anyway, that salesdude honestly represented this vehicle as to what it was. Price? $60,000. If it were a real 26R? $200K.
I then moved around that exhibition to spot some other cool, well as least to me, stuff to share.

Think all vintage racecars are kept in pristine condition?

Those fiberglass cracks are on the surface of the engine cover of this1995 Chevy Cannibal.

Now this olelongrooffan had seen this at the 2010 show but had not recorded what is was, but this year I did. This is the only IMSA World Super Car that is front-engined and it is based on Pontiac GTO underpinnings, if the placard posted near the car is to be believed. It raced in the IMSA series from 1995-98.
And I have to state this 1992 Nissan 300ZX Turbo is one of my favorite race cars of the modern age. I even tried to build a 1/25 scale model of it years ago. Read: FAIL.

But damn, to me it is just perfect.

Color, scale, stance and even the decals are awesome.

This is the Porsche, my notes tell me, RSP that Hurley Haywood and John Graves won their class win in 1975.

And Hurley Haywood also drove this 911S in the 75 race along with Peter Gregg.

This is the interior of a 1967 Ferrari 330P.

Can you believe the owner of this ride actually has it licensed for street use in New York State?

But I have this say about that. It is an absolutely beautiful piece of automotive sculpture and I am thrilled to have gotten this close to it. It was a factory sponsored ride and in 1967 it was the first factory ride win the 24.

So, after having checked out those exhibition cars, I decided to leave the FanZone and head into the garages to take a look around.

And am I glad I did. It seems driver autograph sessions were just getting ready to start and there is no better place to avoid tourists than to be in the garages while the drivers are out in the FanZone autographing pretty much anything those tourists can put on ebay! Yes, that curly haired dude seen through the window is Boris Said.

Before leaving the garage area for the day, I decided to head up top on the garages and get a shot of the fans down in the FanZone.

I got back to our base camp just in time for the ceremonial popping of the champagne corks on the first green flag lap.


And just a shot of our base camp that weekend.


And one of my buddies got a shot of the night time on track action from atop the step ladder I just happened to have in the bed of my old truck.

And what Florida home is not complete without a pink flamingo in the yard?

Around midnite, thejeepjunkie and the Kid showed up and we headed back down to the garage area to see what was up.

On the way in, a full course yellow came out and by the time we arrived in the garage area itself, this roofless and hoodless BMW 6 series was parked in its garage. We marveled at how the entire roof and hood had just peeled off. Apparently the hood went first and the roof followed.

A little later we came across this Camaro in its garage getting the radiator replaced. If you look at the blue piece of carbon fiber laying in front of that red car, you can see where some of the BMW’s hood or roof had ended up. One of the wrenches pulled it out of the front end of that Chevy.

We headed back to the base camp and they took off for the house while I climbed in the Big Brown Bus for a exhaust noise filled night of sleep. That is until about 5:45 am when the race was red flagged due to fog surrounding the entire track. The overwhelming silence woke everyone in our camp up and, what the hell, time for mimosas. The race resumed around 8 am and the on track action was furious the rest of the day.

Just a quick shot of my lunch table that Sunday afternoon.

For years, the Daytona International Speedway was populated by only Chevrolet trucks. Two years ago, I noticed the formerly annually updated Bowties had not been replaced. Last year, I saw a sprinkling of Toyotas in with the Chevys and this year there were several Fords also around.

And finally, the Flying Lizard Motorsports team had a great race until the 22nd hour when their Riley Porsche developed a fatal electrical problem and it left the track on a strap.

However, when this olelongrooffan mentioned to the wrench with the headphones on in the above image that I was sorry about the way their day ended up, he said, “No worries, we’ll be back next year.”
And so will this olelongrooffan.
More images can be seen on my Flickr page.

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  1. scroggzilla Avatar
    scroggzilla

    The 330 P4 is owned by Jim Glickenhaus, and I'm not surprised that it's road registered. After all, if Jim's GT40 MkIV is road legal then shouldn't the Ferrari enjoy the same status?
    <img src="http://www.glickenhaus.com/jim/mkivonbridge.jpg"&gt;

    1. scroggzilla Avatar
      scroggzilla

      Jim's P4….on what looks to be the northern end of the Garden State Parkway
      <img src="http://www.glickenhaus.com/jim/ontheroad.JPG"&gt;

  2. Mr_Biggles Avatar
    Mr_Biggles

    Another good Longrooffan experience, complete with pictures. Love the Ford Escort.
    What do you suppose the holes in the hood of the Porsche RSP are for? They look a bit like velocity stacks.

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      Ya know, I don't remember looking specifically at them. Possibly for fuel intake?

      1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar
        BlackIce_GTS

        You're probably right, I know that's where the fuel intake on the broadly-similar 935s are.

  3. BGW Avatar
    BGW

    After all these years, the Cannibal still turns the stomach a little. Basically, it was a tube-frame IMSA GTS Olds Cutlass that got hacked up to kinda, sorta meet WSC rules. Thankfully, it's spent most of the last decade out of sight.
    *shudder*

  4. smokyburnout Avatar
    smokyburnout

    This comes up when you do an image search for that WSC Cannibal. Amusing!
    <img src="http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e311/racer27x/Public/GrandAmDog.jpg&quot; />

  5. BlackIce_GTS Avatar
    BlackIce_GTS

    There's a racy looking silver thing next to the Grand Marquis behind the NSX. Any guesses?

    1. Thrashy Avatar

      Mitsu Evo IX — the oval fog-light openings inboard of the brake ducts are a dead giveaway:
      <img src="http://www.seriouswheels.com/pics-2006/2006-Mitsubishi-Lancer-Evolution-IX-SA-Road-1280×960.jpg&quot; width="450">

  6. Lotte Avatar
    Lotte

    Oh, the Ferrari P4 is so sweet! Those cojoined buckets look so cozy, and it's a right-hand-drive with the gearshift on the correct side! That leaves the other hand free for your special designated passenger. And I'm right-handed (dominant hand for holding the wheel and shifting) so this really is perfect.
    I want one! <– (Not a bajillionaire)

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