The race is over, the stands empty, the fans looking forward to Sebring. The winners are celebrating, the rest of the field is commiserating, rallying, looking forward to Sebring. This is the time to look back at the Rolex 24, to enjoy what it was—and what it wasn’t—before moving on to the rest of the season.
Unlike last year’s race, which was marred by the horrific crash of Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli, this year’s race was free of any serious injury, and nearly free of any serious accidents at all.
In fact, if anything, the atmosphere of this year’s Rolex 24 was rather sedate. Endurance racing can often be a roller coaster of emotion, of effort, of sheer attention--for drivers, teams, and fans alike. But this year’s race was a ride in the kiddie park next to last year’s Six Flags.
Perhaps its because of the (much) smaller field. Perhaps it’s because of the impending switch to GT3 category racing in 2016 (in part a cause of the smaller field). Perhaps it’s just the muted feel of a race watched, and enjoyed, but which never really felt significant.
Whatever the cause, this year’s Rolex 24—for this fan at least—was somewhat underwhelming. Fortunately, there’s more to look forward to this season, and even more to hope for next year.
Among the highlights of what’s coming to United SportsCar Championship racing in 2016:
- A switch from the current GT Daytona category with its spec wing and splitter to full FIA-spec GT3 cars
- A brand-new Audi R8 production car that will spawn a whole new race car
- The possibility of Cadillac’s new ATS-V.R GT3-spec car entering the series in addition to its Pirelli World Challenge hunting grounds
- Because of the more stable GT3 spec, likely more teams joining the series
And of course, the rest of this season still holds the potential excitement of Sebring (March 18-21), Long Beach (April 18), Laguna Seca (May 3), Belle Isle (May 30), Watkins Glen (June 28), Lime Rock (July 25), Road America (August 9), VIR (August 23), Circuit of the Americas (September 19), and Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans capping the season on October 3.
2015 Rolex 24, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Daytona International Speedway