Reflections on the Rolex 24

sunrise best_

Photo by Matthew Lowell Thompson

It was about 10 p.m. on Saturday night. Eight of the 24 hours of the Rolex 24 were in the books. I stood along the fence at the International Horseshoe, watching cars whiz by under the glow of the Ferris wheel. That’s when it hit me — don’t take any of this for granted. Ever. Enjoy every single bit of it.

I stopped and took a look around me, reminding myself that I was standing in the middle of Daytona International Speedway, the World Center of Racing. I thought about all the laps that had been turned on the track and all the drivers who had driven it. That’s a lot of history right there.

Then I turned back to the track and watched cars from Grand Am running in the same race as cars from ALMS. All of my favorite cars and drivers in one place. Never did I think that would happen. Sure, the Tudor United Sports Car Championship is not perfect. But I wasn’t expecting perfection the first time out. But hopefully this is a step in the right direction for sports car racing in the United States. And I was there to see the first race for this unified series. Even more history.

I looked across the track to the spot where Memo Gidley’s accident had happened earlier in the day. It would be hours later before I see video of the accident and know exactly how brutal it was. Regardless, it served as a reminder of just how dangerous racing can be.

I caught a glimpse of the Rolex clock over pit lane. About 16 hours to go. The cars had been running when I watched the sun set over Turn 1. They would keep running when I went back to the hotel to catch a cat nap. And they would still be running when I watched the sun rise over the Superstretch the next morning. Twice around the clock.

As I watched the checkered flag wave exactly 24 hours after I saw green flag fly to start the race, all I could think was coming back next year and doing it all over again.

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