Street circuits hold a certain allure. As race engines echo off of the buildings that once lined your daily commute, race flags pepper the city skyline with color. For a weekend, the city transforms and fans line each block to catch a glimpse as their favorite drivers scream by. Street corners where pedestrians once waited become split second apexes before the long straight down a back street.
In many ways, the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona International Speedway elicits the same emotions as the first days of school. After a long, cold winter absent of racing and cars, we all converged on the Florida beach town to kick off the racing season. I saw familiar faces as I made my way through the paddocks and into the photographers’ room. The smell of race fuel flooded my mind with memories backed by the throaty exhaust notes echoing through the row of garages.
Along side Detroit Belle Isle, the Long Beach Street Circuit is the shortest race of the United Sports Car Championship season; an all-out sprint between narrowing corridors of fencing and blockades. With just 100 minutes of racing allotted, the competition is fierce and fleet-footed, tailored to deft driving and quick thinking, putting drivers at odds with the many skills needed to win the prior races.
As our plane touched down on the tarmac, it quickly became apparent that Atlanta’s weather was a far cry from the sun that we had left behind in Southern California. The dark skies cast a shadow over our arrival while Mike and I wondered what Mother Nature had in store for us. Our itineraries indicated a 30% chance of rain that we paid little attention to when we packed for the weekend.
As the American LeMans Series continues, the teams hit the road to return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a track that they have raced at since the founding of ALMS. The famous track is known for its picturesque beauty as the tarmac snakes through the hillsides and orange dirt of Monterey, California. With an assorted variety of tricky off camber turns, elevation changes, and fast straights, it’s a technical course that is sure to challenge anything the teams can throw at it.