The Twelve Hours of Sebring and the Rolex 24 at Daytona are the two premier sports car endurance races in North America. Disagree with this premise if you like; that’s the premise.
These two races have long histories (61 and 61 years, respectively) and throughout those histories have attracted world’s best drivers. Both have produced legendary events and spawned hours of stories and photos.
I attended my first Rolex 24 at Daytona last weekend, and in my very limited experience, they are two vastly different events.
The crowd, compared to Sebring the past several years? I’d say maybe a quarter if that. Lots of people but not rows and ranks and lines and piles of people everywhere.
A good crowd, as in a quality crowd, but a Lot smaller than Sebring. But numbers aren’t the whole story by any means.
I found the Daytona crowd to be as friendly and easy to talk to as any Sebring crowd. I have never met an obnoxious person at ether track. I met far fewer people at Daytona (odd, considering I was there longer) but the people I did talk with seemed more informed about racing than folks I have met at other Grand Am events. I put that down in part to the fact that Daytona, like Sebring, is a tradition—I ran into a lot of “I’ve been coming here for 12 years (or 22 years)” sorts of fans.
I noticed a lot of Daytona fans, as opposed to sports car or Grand Am fans. A lot of people seemed to come to every race at Daytona, NASCAR, Grand Am whatever.I was surprised by the number of NASCAR fans I came across, possibly because I didn’t expect to meet any. This reinforced in me the idea that a lot of folks outside of the Internet message boards are not vehemently opposed to certain types of racing and radically supportive of other types.
None of the people I listened to seemed at all embarrassed to admit they were fans of one series or another, or to think it odd that they were fans of both NASCAR and sports car racing. They were Race Fans—imagine that.
Next: In for the Long Haul