DC's Mid-Summer's Night Song

A MID-SUMMER'S NIGHT SONG As a kid -- and we're talking more years ago, actually more decades ago than I really care to compute -- and attending a runnin' of "The 24," I'd take a late-night hike to the Daytona International Speedway grandstands...


As a kid -- and we're talking more years ago, actually more decades ago than I really care to compute -- and attending a runnin' of "The 24," I'd take a late-night hike to the Daytona International Speedway grandstands closest to the East Bank exit. Facing the track, the Start/Finish line was (and still would be) to my right.

Over the years, as the grandstands grew farther east, I'd follow their expansion and gladly take the new vantage point it'd provide. I'd hike a little way up -- maybe a third or half-way of whatever was available -- so that, if I really wanted to, I could better see the cars as they passed.

However, I was really there for something else: I'd lie back against the empty board-seat behind -- sometimes poking only my head out of a down-filled sleeping bag -- and just listen.

Most of the time my mates thought I was half-crazy and, after a while, I simply stopped trying to talk anyone into going with me.

Yet, I'd still go and listen to the cars all but fly into the Tri-oval.

There wasn't anything like hearing a finely tuned engine -- cranking out an astounding, give or take, 10,000-or-so revolutions per minute (if an 8-cylinder, that's one cylinder firing about 20-times-per-second! Imagine: 20-times each second! One cylinder! Heck, I can't) as the cars powered past beneath me.

Like most any "24" back then, many cars had long been eliminated from the field by 2 a.m. or so. Plus, the infield partying was left only to the hardiest of hardy partiers who, ever more rarely as a Sunday morning daybreak loomed larger, would punctuate an occasional still moment with a hoot that'd sometimes make a hound dog's howl sound downright cheerful.

Back then there wasn't the backstretch, now Superstretch, "Moretti" Chicane and cars would come around that East Bank already well into full song.

And what a song it was, so soothing I'd at times find myself drifting off to sleep - but one not owed to partying. The engines' throb would ever-so-slightly vibrate the wooden boards beneath me, gently lulling me toward sleep far faster than any La-Z-Boy I ever tried.

Captivating no matter the make, I could in a split-second's time tell the difference between an Alfa, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Ford, Porsche and more, and whether each was a prototype or street-type car - each singing distinctive notes that, in their own right, were as beautiful as any I'd ever heard.

(Except when something had broken, but even then I'd intently try to discern what had broke, just by listening to the exhaust or, sometimes, "percussion" notes).

Years later, well, okay, decades later, the annual mid-summer run of The Paul Revere was just as special, only by then I'd already taken my "official" spot in Tower 3 -- the Union 76 Ball-turned-Sunoco platform at the end of the SuperStretch -- which, a little later, directly overlooked the chicane's exit (now located farther west).

First, without the chicane, then later with it I still most enjoyed listening to engines at night -- the different perspective's sensory experience being unique, though.

In the grandstands, you could hear a car as it made its way down the backstretch, into and out of the East Bank. Conversely, situated at the end of the backstretch, you hardly could hear a thing until a car blasted past. Wow, I can still hear the hum of a dual-turbo 935, rear-end aglow and charging into the East Bank like it was, well, right now.

(Then, in mid-bank, the 935's right-rear tire would pop and . . . that's another story.)

With The Revere, though, there was always a difference from the 24: urgency.

At the Rolex 24, one knew not to needlessly push a car. At the Paul Revere, it was nothing but "push."

And that's what makes this mid-summer's night song, now the Brumos Porsche 250, so special (thank you, Bob Snodgrass, for helping keep this race alive. Yeah, trust me, he hears me).

At the season's halfway mark, when the Rolex Series takes to the 3.56-mile DIS road course for Thursday evening's Brumos Porsche 250, there's a lot on the table with which no one will easily part. In short: it's time to start scrapping. The end is near (a darn-sight nearer than when the Rolex 24 ran).

I tell you, if it wasn't for deadline writing I'd return to my old grandstand haunt just so I could just listen; really listen. I do miss it so.

Then again, I did just get a brand-spankin' new PC wireless card.

    DC Williams, exclusively for Motorsport.com

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About this article
Series General , Grand-Am , History
Drivers Bob Snodgrass
Teams Williams