Posted Jan 27th 2012 12:30PM
As full on race fans, we are pretty stoked that the Rolex 24 at Daytona is this weekend. We know that not all of our readers are quite as gung-ho as we are about racing so we thought a little bit of a primer might be in order to get everyone up to speed.
Held annually at Daytona International Speedway, the 24 hour endurance race for sports cars is the first racing event of the year. Because most other series are in the off series, the Rolex 24 draws big names from NASCAR, Indycar and most other large series, sometimes even current Formula 1 drivers.
Hit the jump for a teaser video after the break.
2012 is the 50th anniversary of the race in Daytona. The first event, called the Daytona Continental, was a 3 hour race that was won by Dan Gurney driving a Lotus 19. In '64 the race was extended to 2,000 kilometres, effectively doubling the classic distance used at European races like Spa and Monza, but was not as long as the distance covered at the Le Mans 24 hour race. In 1966, the format was extended to 24 hours, just like the famous French race.
The current layout of the Daytona track uses a combination of the NASCAR oval and an infield road course. The track is 5.73 kilometres in length. In 2011, the #01 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Riley BMW won the event, covering 4,125.6 km.
There are different classes of cars entered in the Rolex 24, which can be a bit confusing to the first time viewer. At the top of the heap are the Daytona Prototypes, which are purpose built race cars that are powered by production based engines from the likes of Lexus, Porsche, BMW and Ford. The GT cars were originally production based, however in recent years the rules have been changed to allow full tube frame race cars with stock appearing bodies to help racers control costs. Some cars, like the Porsche GT3 Cup are actual production, factory race cars that come off the same production line as their road going cousins. Others, like the Mazda RX-8 only look like regular cars.
There are several Canadian drivers in the race, and we'll be keeping you up to date with their progress over the weekend.
Video source: Go-Pro via Youtube