Daytona 24: Rolex 24 hours of skill and speed

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 29, 2002) - The new year comes to Daytona along with the hopes of the world's best sportscar drivers focused on the great prize in North American road racing * the Feb. 2-3 Rolex 24 At Daytona. To understand what makes...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 29, 2002) - The new year comes to Daytona along with the hopes of the world's best sportscar drivers focused on the great prize in North American road racing * the Feb. 2-3 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

To understand what makes the Rolex 24 so prized, you have to go back to the early 1960s when the names of the greatest sportscar drivers and teams were etched on the trophies of the Rolex 24 in its early years. Gurney, Hill, Rodriguez, Miles, Ruby and Bandini were among the early victors of the race.

Porsche's commitment to endurance racing and subsequent dominance in later years was forged on the twists and turns of Daytona. Early European interest in the 24 became obsession by the 1970s as Ferrari joined in the battle. Still a young event, the Rolex 24 At Daytona was already being mentioned with LeMans and Sebring as one of the world's premier sportscar races.

Drivers will tell you that the Rolex 24 At Daytona is sportscar racing's greatest challenge because of the mental and physical obstacles to be conquered. In 24 hours, a driver faces unpredictable circumstances, unrelenting pressure while still holding out hope, prayer and determination just to finish. When the endurance test is completed, drivers realize that win or lose they have participated in a one-of-a-kind experience.

Camped out in the infield of the "World Center Of Racing" or perched atop the 3.56 miles of asphalt in one of the best seats at Daytona International Speedway, it's easy to see why fans the world over come to witness the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Every hour of drama is within your eyesight.

Each perspective is as different as it is spectacular. Hard breaking into the International Horseshoe Turn contrasts with the rapid acceleration onto the high banked 31-degree turns to the east and west of the mammoth Speedway. Every moving picture becomes a masterpiece for the memory.

Men and machine unavoidably break at every hour of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The challenge for the team is overcoming failure and getting the car and driver back on track and back in sync.

Mechanics with folded arms pace endlessly in the pits. While listening to the gearbox and engine pitch, they track the car's performance on television monitors. Every circuit that passes is an affirmation of a well turned out racer or a car dying a little more with every lap.

The final hours of the Rolex are the most telling. The teams that usually test Daytona in a furious rush ultimately realize that their fate is that of an also ran. The right pace is the greatest ally of those who wish to finish and win.

Drivers with a knack for getting around the track time after time without punishing the car to its limits are the ones who have a chance to win. Brakes are changed, oil and fuel are added to service the beast. Internally, the car must be almost as efficient as it was in it's first hours of racing.

In and out of the pits, drivers jump in and out of the cockpit. They too must adjust to the conditions and to the machine that doesn't handle, doesn't accelerate and doesn't feel as well as it did twenty or so hours ago.

All questions are answered in Daytona's Victory Lane. What sits on the checkered floor of racing's most hallowed ground after the Rolex 24 at Daytona is the greatest combination of brute force and reliability.

After the Rolex 24, you can't count all the hugs. The tears roll off the faces of grown men like so many miles in the 24. Handsome works of fine wood and beautiful Rolex Cosmograph watches are the reward for meeting every requirement and answering every challenge in the world's toughest race to win.

See who conquers this year's 40th Rolex 24 At Daytona. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

-dis-

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Series Grand-Am