After the 1992 Indianapolis 500, I was positive I would never be any colder at a race. After last year’s Angie’s List Grand Prix, I was positive I would never be any colder at a race. After last weekend’s Rolex24 at Daytona… you get the picture. This race completed the podium of cold weather races on the top step. Plus there was rain. Despite the weather, it was a great race. The skies cleared and the temperature warmed enough at the end for an exciting finish.
Endurance racing is a different type of racing. Race three hours. Try to survive during the night. Race the last three hours. Some drivers must drive a designated amount of time. A driver can only drive so many hours in a certain time frame. Pit stops must work around these factors.
The opening segment had lots of good racing throughout all the classes. As evening came, most teams settled in to their long range strategies. The rain began around 8 pm and continued for thirteen hours off and on. Mostly it was a steady light rain punctuated by two heavy downpours.
Your intrepid reporter put up a good fight, but surrendered at 1 am. I went back to my lodging and tried to sleep. I returned to the track around 7. I found out the previous hour was almost entirely under caution for rain. The class battles tightened up after the race returned to green. The rain finally stopped for good a little after 9. The skies eventually lightened and actually got a bit sunny by the end of the race.
As for the end of the race, I happened to be sitting directly across from turn 1. I thought Taylor could have waited to pass Albuquerque. His car was the fastest the entire race. It had cut through the field to regain lead in short order after every pit stop. He would have passed on that lap anyway. But contact occurred and the stewards ruled no foul.
The GTLM class had a four car battle going until the end. The #66 Ford GT of Chip Ganassi.Racing won with a late pass. Indycar driver Sebastien Bourdais was a driver on the winning team. Other Indycar drivers didn’t fare as well. All had car problems at some point. Some Indycar drivers will return at Sebring the week after the Verizon Indy Car Series opens at St. Pete.
Good places to watch
There are several great places to watch this race from. The most popular is the bleacher section at the exit of the International Horseshoe, turn 3. From here you have a view of turn 1, where the cars exit the oval; pit out, the horseshoe, and the straight leading to turns 4 and 5. I also like standing behind the fence at the apex to turn 3 and at the entrance to turn 3. From the last two spots you get a great sense of how to drive this corner. There is quite a difference in the approach of prototype and GT car.
In the main front stretch grandstand, the entrance of turn 1 provides a great view of 95% of the track. You can see the entire road course section, watch some pit stops, and watch the reentry to the oval. This year I walked along the grandstand to the end, to turn 4 of the oval. It’s a beautiful view of the cars sweeping through the high banked turn. As the cars come in to the pits, they all come to nearly a complete stop as they try to get down to pit speed before the cones. The rain made for great rooster tails here. As I went to my car parked outside turn 4, a cloud of spray rose from the track as cars ran through the turns.
Cadillacs are fast and proved to be durable in their debut.
The GTLM class will be the one to watch for close battles this year.
I hope there are more video boards next year. There is one in the fan plaza and one in turn 6 very far away from most spectators.
I really enjoy the vintage cars display and the fact they take laps before the race. Below is a 1962 Ferrari and two Lolas.
I will publish more photos in a couple days as well as catch up on Indycar news.