Rolex 24 at Daytona, Tudor United Sports Car Series debut

Tudor United Sports Car Championship got off to a good start with the Rolex 24 at Daytona last weekend. I realize my last post left a lot to be desired but instead of removing what I felt about the weekend personally I wanted to focus on the series itself and how good the racing was. For one, the fields were huge. Not just the Tudor Series but the Conti Challenge as well. The Ferrari Challenge was as always entertaining, and things were going impressively smooth. I wanted to link to the loooong /Drive /Shakedown video for some excellent chatter and interviews with Leo Parente’s post-race debrief:

The things that affected my outlook on the race personally were a combination of factors, starting from the weather (it was miserably cold) to the people I was hanging out with, down to the people in charge of my assigned post (corner captains) which resulted in me getting kicked out of my station in the 23rd hour. I know I owe a lot of apologies to people I have offended at the event, but after working nearly the whole 24 hours non-stop there were aspects of other people’s behavior that got to me. It would be nice if there was a standardized training offered to the marshals in attendance so that instead of having fifty people doing their own thing, we’d have everyone focus on the same approach to the task. But that may be a lot to ask.

But back to racing and the series at hand. I was massively impressed with how open the paddock was for us to walk around. I have gotten quite a lot of good footage from the pits and the paddock using my GoPro that I’m going to put together in a short video soon. But overall I felt extremely welcome at Daytona. Like previous Rolex events we didn’t really walk away with much Tudor mementos, instead Mazda came by and offered some goodie bags, there was an Central Florida SCCA social with swag giveaways but nothing Tudor branded, at least none that I saw. It would have been nice to walk away with something from the inaugural event, that other places around the country didn’t get. Though I have a feeling we are more likely to have that happen at Sebring or Long Beach. We did of course get our usual Rolex 24 patch, which was nice.

daytona grid

I was hoping that the Le Mans P2 cars would be stronger than the Daytona Prototypes. With the balance of performance it seemed that the balance was quite off, with the first six positions of the race held by DP’s at the end of the race. Muscle Milk’s Nissan P2 was running a respectable 5th but was obviously struggling against the much faster DP’s. Luckily, GTLM cars were significantly faster than the GTD cars, which was expected. With the amount of blue flag time I got volunteering at turn 3 I could really appreciate the speed differences. Though I can already see people having an issue with similar cars in both GTLM and GTD categories when it comes to blue flagging, especially if those people had less exposure to the two series in the past. The hardest to distinguish were the Ferrari’s in LM and D, as well as the SRT Vipers, even though they’re different colors, in the right light conditions they look identical from the front.

I noticed that the same incidents appeared differently depending on where one was observing it from. For example the first lap spin of the PC car looked different to me observing it from behind than to someone watching the cars head on. In that moment, and potentially in the cloud of dust that was created, I lost sight of GTLM cars being overtaken by GTD cars and it was quite surprising to me how they came around in that order on the second lap. I had a good view of the big crash involving a DP Corvette and a GTLM Ferrari, but others on my station reacted differently to it. I have a feeling that the last lap controversy for the victory in the GTD race was again left to the interpretation of the marshals which resulted in controversy. I think if most of us walked around with GoPro’s and somehow those cameras broadcast to Race Control, decisions about incidents would be far more accurate. Maybe one day this will be a reality.