We Went To The Rolex 24 At Daytona, What Life Is Like For 24 Hours At The Track

It’s Tuesday Morning, I’ve had 10 hours of sleep since Saturday at 6 am and here is why.

Apex Off Went To The Rolex 24 At Daytona

A spur of the moment trip saw us buying wristbands and driving 12 hours to Daytona to watch a 24-hour race with no hotel, RV, or campsite available. You’re probably thinking man that sounds badass. And it was. Let me break down life for you over the course of 26 hours because you get there before the race.

Hour 1: You try to find parking. If you don’t buy a parking pass you’re limited to Lot 2 or Lot 3 and it’s a free for all like Black Friday at an Alabama Walmart. We lucked into a great spot in Lot 3 next to One Daytona think of a new “multi-purpose shopping and living development” in your town, that’s One Daytona. It’s next to the NASCAR/ISC/IMSA tower and will be great for the 500. Get all your stuff together and put your wristbands on.

Hour 2: Now you’re in the stadium after going through the most lack security ever. Seriously, we got a knife into the stadium completely by accident. Pro tip, take a knife because after all this is Daytona and it is in Florida. Now you’re wandering around and the crossover gate opens which leads to people falling down the banking and looking at cars while some lady says, can you imagine painting all this grass green? It’s sod, lady.

Hour 3: The race finally starts and the clock starts ticking, there’s a literal clock. We spent the first hour sitting in the stadium at the entrance of turn 1 and the exit back onto the speedway. Best seat in the whole place, you can see it all. Mid-deck or upper deck. Helio was throwing massive blocks, the Ford GT quickly proved the BoP didn’t work and GTD had the last place car pacing the circuit like James May nickname.

Hour 4: You’ve seen action from the stands, you’re hungry and on the search for food. Inevitably you’ll stumble across Papa John’s greasy pizza and think that sounds great. It’s fine, whatever and now you’re refueled. You’re wandering around the stadium now checking out different view angles but you want to go to the infield. HIT THE TRAM. You can walk and we did it but unless you want to walk 15 miles, seriously that was my count Saturday night, take the tram.

Hour 5: Now you’re in the infield. There are a million motorhomes, that one is painted up like the A-Team but Mr. T is white and you’re a little nervous. Someone has a butler in their food serving area while the bus next to them is playing Edward 40-hands. The infield is wild and you’re so caught up in it you forget the race is on.

Hour 6: It’s the golden hour now. You’re posted up in a bleacher outside of turn 2/3. Cars are zipping by, you’re trying to be a professional photographer and realizing quickly you need to understand your camera better. I figured it out kind of. Take a look below:

Rolex24

Hour 7:  It’s 6:40 now and you’re starving again. You get up and ponder your options as a 911 flys by behind you shattering your eardrum with its banshee screeching exhaust. There’s a taco bell across the street, TACO BELL it is. To the tram!

Hour 8: You scarf down some fake ass Mexican food that’s part of the KFC brand and try out nacho fries. 7 out of 10. You go back to the stadium to get the wifi hookup. Great wifi in the stadium and in the midway down in the infield. You’re trying to check Twitter and a Corvette roars by shaking your chest. An unmistakable sound from those hearty V8’s, same with the Cadillac DPi’s. It down poured for a minute, just seek cover but know the infield bleachers will be wet and muddy.

Hour 9: You’re back in the infield now and you’re looking at that massive Ferris wheel that’s changing colors and you think you’re in Fear and Loathing but you’re just tired. After snapping a few photos you decide it’s time to take the wheel for a spin. Spend $5 on the ticket and get in line. It’s at that moment you’re looking at this thing wondering what a terrible decision this was. You get on, it takes off and the car is swaying ways a Ferris wheel shouldn’t. Then inevitably it stops you at the peak and while the view is great you’re wondering if gravity will win.

Hour 10: You’re now sitting in the stands attempting to figure out who is leading GTD. Getting a scanner would have been smart, do that. The wind is picking up, remember a sweatshirt or a jacket.

Hour 11: You tune in to the supercross 450 main. Great HD streaming quality, well done DIS. As you look up you catch a Penske DPi hip checking a GT car out of the way for the 11th time in the race. The #5 DPi is slowly skating away from the field.

Hour 12: It’s midnight now. You’re feeling good still. You pop open a nice soda to sip on and watch the race start to unfold. Take snacks in with you, they’re lifesavers. You might go to the infield here, we walked. There was a man roasting an entire pig that still had its head. An old man fell down some stairs, drunk. His son got him up like a Vietnam soldier and walked his dad out, you could tell this wasn’t his first rodeo with the old man.

Hour 13: All of a sudden you’re starting to feel a little tired, you want to fall asleep but the drone from the exhaust is too much. Stay awake, you have to power through that first sleep onset.

Hour 14: Brother wanted to catch some sleep for the drive home Sunday. Walk out to the car with him, turn the race on SiriusXM but sound outside the track is still loud. He crashes, I steal some Fairfield Inn wifi and watch some of the race.

Hour 15: Fuck sleep, I can drive back to Cincinnati after staying up 30ish hours. Go back into the track and look at people scattered around the stadium like a natural disaster refugee camp. They all lived, no Katrina catastrophe here.

Hour 16: It’s 3:40 am and you haven’t seen this time in years or since the last time you had to fly early and they said to get to the airport early. Skirt in there at the last minute, it’s fine. But you’re sitting there looking at other people just chuckling inside about the absurdity of watching cars going 190mph at 4 am.

Hour 17: The 4 o’clock hour is a weird hour. When you think about it no one wakes up at 4 am and most people aren’t still out at the bar at 4 am. Just a wasteland outside of the track and inside the track.

Hour 18: Now 5:40 am, you’re brother is awake now. 4 hours is enough to get back to Cincinnati. A word from the wise, fly don’t drive. Orlando is an hour away. Driving there if it’s more than 5 hours is idiotic. But 5 am racing is great to watch. Guys are still giving it their all, some people thrive at night and watching a good nighttime driver is like watching a magician work.

Hour 19: At this point, you see airplanes at Daytona International moving and you know the sun is about to come up. You’ve decided you’ve spent enough time in the stands and want to go back to the infield. You go down and the TRAM IS RUNNING. Fuck yeah, hop on and they make you wait. Need to maximize the spots but there isn’t a soul around outside of the guy who is obsessing over his NSX still.

Hour 20: The SUN has risen. It’s cresting over the horizon, you know because it rises in the east and Daytona is 5 miles from the beach. Cars start to look dirtier and dirtier and you’re so happy to see something that isn’t darkness. People start coming out of their RV’s/tents looking like not a bag of money. The Porsche club guys are staring at their tents wondering why they did this. They have to get that tent back into the bag again. Impossible. Suddenly a Mazda catches on fire and you go running this is only after the Wayne Taylor car nearly clipped you as he drove through the fan area with a flat tire.

Hour 21: At this point, you’re STARVING. The food stands in the stadium aren’t open yet, so you do what anyone would do and head to the infield to find food for survival. The place serving breakfast sandwiches isn’t open yet but the chicken tender place is. Fries and Chicken for breakfast!

Hour 22: The sun is out! It’s 9:40 am and warming up. Everything is alright in life. You’re a little tired but you’ve made it through and there’s a restart coming up. Look at that Penske DPi went for a spin, hmm.

 

Hour 23:  At this point, I was starting to get hot. Sun was beating down on me, the temperature was rising fast and I was about to be sunburnt. Oh the #5 car had a 3 lap lead so we went to the gift shop. Like, everyone, we bought Alonso gear and the Rolex 24 yearly shirt like a true tourist.

Hour 24: It’s now 11:40 am, you’re struggling. Just completely dragging yourself around the infield. Look at Lake Lloyd, then you check out all the manufacturer pop-ups.  DAMN that AMG building is massive. Who cares about Mini’s? That person could never afford a Lamborghini. So that’s where everyone got their Porsche jackets. You know what kind of car each middle-aged guy has based on the jacket, shirt or hat they and their family are wearing. Back to the race now.

Hour 25: There are 2 hours left! I can’t believe this has gone by so quick. We wandered around the garage and tried to take the entire WTR engine cover they tossed next to a dumpster. No dice, security wouldn’t let us take it.

Hour 26: No lie we were dragging. The #5 was dominating but ran into some issues. That was the saving grace for the race and kept everyone tuned in. Action Express pulled a Patriots, let everyone think they might lose it then close it out. The GTLM battle was a snoozer but damn do those cars look great going around the track. One hour left, will it rain?

Hour 27: THE FINISH. It didn’t rain, the clouds were out but the temperature was still nice. We posted up on the start-finish line to get those checkered shots. Good news, camera battery died and like a good photographer I left the spare battery in the car.

You can stick around after the race in the garage area and check out all the cars. We bolted and got on I-95 north which is basically a plater race to get back to Cincinnati on Monday. In all it was a great experience that we will definitely do again. Just remember you need a hotel or an RV, sleeping in the car sounds ok but it’s not. Terrible idea when you’re a borderline giant. Like always though, Daytona’s amenities were second to none and the staff was over the top helpful, unlike the yellow shirts.

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