DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2017) – A 24-hour race is by no means a flat-out sprint, but it sure has looked that way in recent years at the end of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Extra-close finishes have become the norm, in lieu of multi-lap margins of victory. That would seem to require extra emphasis on Thursday’s qualifying sessions for the season-opening race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Thursday’s Rolex 24 qualifying runs from 3:10-4:40 p.m. followed by night practice from 7-8:30. Also Thursday will be qualifying from 5:30-6 for Friday’s four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge, the first race of 2017 for the production-based Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
The 55th running of the Rolex 24 is set to start at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday on the Daytona International Speedway 3.56-mile road course, with 55 cars entered across four classes – Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD).
Personifying the present level of competition in IMSA was last year’s Rolex 24 finish for the GTLM class, with two Corvette Racing entries crossing the line 1-2, separated by 0.034-seconds – the closest class finish in Rolex 24 history. In addition, the top three overall finishers last year, all in the headlining Prototype class, finished on the same lap. In 2015, the margin of victory for the overall winners was 1.333 seconds; in 2014 it was 1.461.
The Rolex 24, as always, offers fans much more than a traditional racing experience. Inside the world’s only motorsports stadium, there will be a number of other entertainment options:
The 2017 Rolex 24 Heritage Exhibition: A number of historically significant race cars will be on display inside the UNOH Fanzone near the FPL Solar Patio. The display will include sports cars from 1960-2014 that raced in the Rolex 24. On Saturday morning, participating cars will turn several demonstration laps and a parade lap around a portion of the road course.
· Taste of the 24: The most unique dining event of the year will take place in the Midway Suites of Daytona International Stadium. Fans can enjoy the excitement of the Rolex 24 while tasting food from 24 of Daytona Beach’s finest restaurants. Tickets include admission to the Taste of the 24 and a two-day (Saturday/Sunday) ticket to the Rolex 24. To purchase, click here or call 386-310-5710.
· Driver Autograph Session: Nowhere will fans find so many great drivers all signing autographs at the same time and in the same location. The UNOH Fanzone will host for the giant IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship autograph session on Saturday from 12-12:45 p.m.
· Pre-Race Ceremonies: This is a show in and of itself. Before the race, you can get right in the middle of all the excitement and build-up to start as cars line up in qualifying order along pit road. The starting grid is then opened for all fans to get an up-close look at cars and drivers.
· Wine & Cheese Party: The annual Wine & Cheese Party inside the Café 24 Activity Zone will be on Saturday from 6-8 p.m.
· Live Music & Karaoke: The Main Stage inside the UNOH Fanzone will welcome a variety of exciting bands and musical acts throughout the weekend. However, the highlight will be Saturday night from 10:30 p.m. to midnight when fans take the stage for karaoke.
· Boardwalk Experience: Visit the infield for a wide selection of food and carnival rides, including one of the largest Ferris wheels on the East Coast.