The Classic 24 at Daytona: A Trip Down Memory Lane

They say that you have to remember where you came from to know where you are going. That was clear as I pulled into Daytona International Speedway the morning of the HSR Classic 24 Hours at Daytona. I was, as Mr. McFly would say, transported back in time.

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This was my first time shooting Historics at Daytona and the sheer size of this iconic place captivates me every time. I grabbed my media vest and gathered my gear in anticipation of what I knew would be the beginning of an epic weekend. As I rounded the corner of the first set of garages I was greeted by not one, but four E9 BMW 3.5 CSL’s.

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A few garage stalls over was this mint Saleen S7R. It’s hard to believe this car is already over a decade old.

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There was very little time to admire all the eye candy the garage area had to offer, as cars were already lining up at the grid.

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I realized that I wasn’t at a loss because I would soon be capturing all these classics racing wheel to wheel around this 3.81 mile road course over the next 24 hours. Prime example number 1, this immaculate Porsche 962.

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You really don’t appreciate how steep the banking is at Daytona until you’re standing in the infield, looking up at cars rounding oval sections of the track.

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As the sun sank behind the horizon and the track lights flickered on, the cars really started to come alive.

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The stress that both car and driver are put through during the event are as formidable as a current racing series. These are definitely not parade laps. These cars are built for the sole purpose of being raced and driven hard.

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Some other series use the Classic 24 as an opportunity to test their machines after the close of their season. Mike Skeen and CRP Racing took advantage that it’s racing season all year round in Florida.

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As the sun rose the next morning, it dawned on me that these cars paved the way for modern prototypes you see racing today; technology moves forward quickly in the motorsport world.

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Amongst the field was a Huracan GT3, which will be racing in the new GTD class of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship in 2016.

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Also circling the road course were two Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 RSR’s. These have always been personal favorites of mine.

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Heading into the morning, driver fatigue was clearly becoming a factor. Mistakes were more frequent as the Classic 24 came closer to its end.

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Everyone is watching from the road course. That leaves the confetti colored grandstand seats empty, making for a great backdrop. This is a feature unique to Daytona.

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With the end in sight, the agony of defeat was made all too real for Mike Vess, Jason Hart and Mike Skeen. A collision with two other entries damaged the right rear suspension ending the team’s event.

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The BMW CSL looks even better barreling down the track than it did in the garage.

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It was a great end to the weekend seeing the Hubbell Racing Chevy Corvette prototype take the win in it’s class. This car is a favorite at many south Florida road racing events at Homestead-Miami Speedway and it’s always a pleasure to see its drivers, Eric Curran and William Hubbell in victory lane at other venues.

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Thanks for the trip down memory lane Daytona. I’ll be seeing you soon.

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