This year’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 was much bigger than last years… why? My guess would be because of Fernando Alonso… and maybe a gaggle of other Formula 1 drivers, along with a whole fleet of new Prototype and GT cars on display.
I’m thrilled to have had an opportunity to visit the pit area for WeatherTech Sports Car Championship practice, and I can’t wait for the proper enduro at the end of the month. It will be fantastic.
Here’s a few pix:
The elusive Team Joest Mazda
Jackie Chan Racing
Hopefully… with a little bit of luck… this will be my view for the Rolex 24 in pit out.
Also hoping the weather is like this, warm and sunny.
With no Miatas racing in IMSA any more, it’s nice to see an RF at the Team Joest garages.
The news of this team going kaput is terrible… not shocking, but just sad really. I used to follow SpeedSource from when I started marshaling in the US. Back in 2013 they raced the Mazda RX-7 firebreathers in GrandAm, the cars that now made their way to Australia (ironic as I’m sure there is similar local talent, including Mad Mike in New Zealand, home of the four rotor Mazda’s).
I used choose races to go to specifically to root for the Mazda diesel-powered GX cars that were just introduced… they kind of sucked but ended up on the podium because frankly no-one else raced in GX class. There were a few Cayman’s if I remember correctly, and the only car that was worse than them was the Lotus Evora.
When they shoved the diesel engine into their Lola’s the results were similar. It was a bit pathetic to watch LMP2 prototypes race so slowly. Things improved with the petrol AER engine, but the cars were so fragile even if they were fast… you look at them sideways and they would break down. Yet I was cheering for them!
I’m sure the Lola’s could have any engine the new buyer chooses for them to be competitive again on the club or even historics racing level… The Mazda6 GT cars don’t need to be propelled by a diesel either. But it’s a cool piece of history on sale here that I hope I’ll see again at a track in the future… or even in a museum somewhere.
Merry Christmas folks… buy yourself a perfect present: Race Car!
PS. I will have to do a follow up write-up on all the Skip Barber liquidated Miata race cars one day. I know there’s one “small” team in Cummings, Georgia area that is restoring 15 of them to their racing glory… maybe I’ll get to visit them in the future to take some photos… maybe I’ll see them at VIR or Road Atlanta in action. One man’s loss is another man’s gain, or however that saying goes. And these liquidation auctions are precisely that.
Super thankful for the opportunity to work this year’s Sebring 12 hour endurance in Florida because I had such an amazing time.
New experience for me working as a pit marshal… right in pit lane. It was super awesome. I was stationed right next to the Mazda VIP area, close to the Mazda Prototypes setup in the paddock, and just generally close to everything. I was sooo cool!
I’ll be sure to share a bunch of posts about the role as a pit marshal, and the Mazda stuff, but for now just a little preview of it all… as I’m super tired and it will take me a few days to get back to normal.
The #1 attraction of the Rolex 24 at Daytona for me this year was the prospect of watching the new Mazda DPi platform MRT24-P race for the very first time. Neither car finished, so that was a bit disappointing. But I got a chance to check out Mazda / SpeedSource operation up close and personal, be inches away from the cars and getting some Mazda swag in the process and for that I’m really grateful. Here are some pix from the event:
I almost missed my opportunity to do the grid walk because it was so busy running around in the paddock where I was stationed. But thanks to an open minded boss, I managed to snap these shots just in time (thanks to the Mazda/SpeedSource mechanic that helped me).
They started playing the national anthem just after this shot was taken so I had to run off into the cold side of the pits to watch the start of the race.
In the paddock the Mazda setup was impressive touting their history
and the fact that more Mazda’s are raced on any given day in the US than any other brand
In the infield the Mazda Owner’s Lounge didn’t disappoint either, I got my new Mazda hat for recording a short infomercial for the brand
and got to check out the Long Roar Racing cutaway half-street half-race Mazda MX-5 Miata Roadster
I made a post a while back wishing prototypes looked more like production cars (e.g. Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, Porsche 911 GT1, McLaren F1 GTR). I think this year’s Mazda DPi platform came fairly close at resembling a production Mazda… though you have to squint just right to see that resemblance.
I think, and I could be wrong, but to me the current SpeedSource Mazda RT24-P looks a lot like the 1st Generation Mazda RX-8 especially the very early models of 2003-2008 vintage.
Just look at it:
And compare it to this picachu yellow RX-8:
To me, the narrow grille, the almond shaped headlights, the big wheel arches and even the fog light openings all resemble one another on the new prototype and the old street car.
Granted there are plenty of differences, like the fact the RX-8 was Rotary powered being the most obvious. And the fact that few things about the MRT24-P (besides the sponsorship money of course) actually come from Mazda Motors, the car was built by Multimatic in Canada, the same company that builds both the race and the street versions of the Ford GT for Ford Motor Company, engines are AER, etc. Still I would say they did a great job creating a vehicle that at first look does resemble a real Mazda! This is obviously not the case with the Cadillac DPi’s for example, or even the Tequila Patron Nissans (although they did a great job modifying a nose of the Ligier to look very Nissan-like).