Even before Dayna international Speedway announced a record attendance for the race, I knew it. I felt it, I saw it. It was in the jam- packed food court, and the long lines for at food trucks that in years past, you could walk right up to anytime. The record crowd was in the hoseshoe grandstand, which was nearly full all the time. In other years, it empties out after the fireworks Saturday night. When I returned Sunday afternoon, I swear some fans had been there the entire 24 hours.
The 61st Rolex had some improvements, but they still have a long way to go. Wifi was available in the infield campgrounds, but not in the main grandstand. Two video boards were added, one in the food court and one near turn 1. One is needed in the horseshoe and two more should be installed on the front stretch.
The Grid Walk, always a disaster waiting to happen, was worse than ever. The problem is getting everyone through just a couple of narrow openings, then having the crowd wait for race teams to drive through to prepare for the race. What the track and IMSA should do is have more and wider openings, and not have an entry point through the garages and near pit entrance. Once everyone gets out to the track, everything is fine, but management needs to work on the getting there part.
This year was my third camping experience. I have learned a lot from my friends Brian runnells and Debbie Howard, and I felt more comfortable camping this time. I was much better prepared, for one thing. Thursday night Doug Boles came to our campsite. he usually pops in, but this year he was taking an in depth look at how campers set up to give him an idea of what IMS might look like for the IMSA race this fall. He spoke to several groups of campers and viewed their setups.Bokles is always learning to improve IMS.
I had an ice chat with him about the Speedway honoring Bill Vukovich this year on the 70th anniversary of his first win. I think we will see something. We had a great chat about Vuky.
GTP- History Made
The race saw the debut of the GTP class, which replaced the DPi cars. It was refreshing. The new cars, represented by Cadillac, Acura, Porsche, and BMW, each have a distinct look. It was nice to see race cars have some variety in appearance. I thought the BMW were the best looking of this class. It was nice to be able to tell which car was approaching by its looks.
In addition to the distinctive front, there were some differences in the body style and sidepods. More of this diversity, please.
I expected the cars to have more issues in the race than they did. Only two cars fell out of contention early, and the others finished the race.
I don’t know how this happens, but after 24 hours you wouldn’t expect a class battle to come down to a pass at the line. The LMP2 finish was incredible.
In GTP, Acuras were the fastest cars, and Cadillac I thought performed better than expected. Porsches were the most disappointing. The Penske team had more development and test time than the other teams.
It was nice to see Cooper McNeil win in his final Rolex24 in the GTD class.
Yellow flags flew early and often, but then there was a stretch of six hours of continuous green flag racing. Yellows in the last hour added a bit of drama, but in the end helped the contenders with it strategy.
Too Many Classes?
While it was fantastic to see a field of 61 cars take the green, I wonder if IMSA could cut back to three classes. i don’t think it would hurt the product.
I think IMSA should eliminate the LMP3 class and consolidate GTD and GTD Pro. LMP3 cars are barely quicker than the GTD cars, and both GTD classes run the same equipment. It was challenging enough frying to follow four classes, let alone five.
This might be a case of addition by subtraction.
I will have a photo gallery up at some point tomorrow.
Some Indycar Notes
Congratulations to Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, who were part of the winning team, the number 60 Acura of Meyer Shank Racing.
Tomorrow and Wednesday are Indycar media days. All drivers will talk to the media, and I will share what I find out. Thursday and Friday is Indycar Spring Training, with 11 hours of practice at the Thermal Club near Palm Springs, California, split into two sessions each day..
Timing and scoring is available, but there is no streaming, one of the pitfalls of going to a club track