Written by: Parker Kligerman
The Best Kept Secret in Motorsports
It’s not a rumor or a juicy bit of news. No, the best kept secret in motorsports has been going on in plain sight for over 60 years.
It’s full of the best driving talent the world can assemble. Endless car manufacturers, numerous intoxicating noises, propulsion systems and it goes from day to night and back to day again. With tons of people who get drunk, sober up, drunk again, sober up and then eventually pack up and go home.
No, this isn’t the SOHO House.
If you haven’t already guessed, it’s the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Which you may be thinking I have lost it. You’re screaming in your head “This race is no secret, Parker!” To be fair, the description is essentially the same as the Le Mans 24 and endless racing festival type scenes. But you would be wrong…
Since I have been watching the Rolex 24 in the early 2000s and eventually attending as a part of the NBC broadcast team in 2018, I have been astonished as this race continually occurs in front of what doesn’t nearly feel like a crowd befitting the event. Except for the cars and i’m not talking just the race cars. An absolutely epic car show occurs in the infield. This race is more like a car show, where a race broke out.
The green flag will fall a bit before 2pm on Saturday in front of an almost empty grandstand. Yes, on NBC we will show you the shots of a packed grid before the race (A General Admission pass gets you right up to the cars) and last year was a record-setting crowd. And yes, last weekend for the Roar before the 24, there was another record crowd. But don’t let any of this fool you.
This isn’t Daytona 500 levels, not even close, and that’s what makes it so epic, because of this there is a relaxed nature to this that makes it feel big but not like an Indy 500. More like you have been invited into a special club full of the who’s who in motorsports.
Last year I literally bumped into the Team Principal of McLaren, Zak Brown (tried to interview him but we ran out of time), then I had the same thing happen with Michael Andretti… Which means I should probably be more careful. And it continues, I have rubbed shoulders with F1 champions, OEM CEOs, Owners, Drivers Galore and the list goes on. Usually, it’s because the crowd is big enough in the confined space of the garage to make it hard to navigate and no one goes into the grandstands.
But mostly because to the motorsport world this race is more a big-time meet-up, a let's-all-hang-out with some really cool cars, race our guts out and then all go about our normal jobs type of affair.
Which is exactly why you should attend. With just a General Admission pass, you can join the club. Oh, and it sounds like Brad Pitt will be there this year, but no one will bat an eye.
This is a club after all, behave accordingly.
NASCAR’s New Rules
📣 Big Changes for the NASCAR Cup Series 2024: The way qualifying positions 11-40 are determined is getting a revamp in NASCAR's 2024 season, officials announced. This shake-up aims to "limit those possible variances" due to changing track conditions. Group A losers will set the outside row, while Group B will form the inside row
⏱️ Out with the old: For superspeedways, the old group method is ditched for a two-round system, propelling the top 10 from round one to compete for the pole in round two
📈 Qualifying Group Assignments: Group assignments still based on performance metrics: 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race finish position and 35% of the owner points position
🚗 Innovation in Towing: A new method helps cars with flat tires during qualifying get back to pit road without damage
🌧️ Wet-Weather Gear: On short tracks and road courses (except for Bristol and Dover), wet-weather tires are back in play
🛣️ Daytona's Grass Goes Away: Following Ryan Preece’s 2023 crash, officials have replaced the grass with more pavement
😬 Curbing Changes: After data from drivers' mouthguards showed excessive force, the steep curbing at Watkins Glen is being replaced
💸 Xfinity Series Cost-Cutting: Backup car restrictions aim to reduce costs, with limits on the number and preparation of reserve cars
🔆 LED Signage in Cup Series: Teams can now have lighted, LED signage on pit boxes, creating new sponsorship opportunities