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Travel Tips for Daytona & The Rolex 24

posted Jan 9, 2018, 6:52 AM by Gran Touring Motorsports Club   [ updated Jan 9, 2018, 6:56 AM ]

Article by: Matt Y; 1/8/2018

Our very own Matt Y shares his tips and experiences for making the best out of your trip to Daytona, FL and the Rolex 24 hours.

I'm truly disappointed that I can't make it to Daytona with y'all this year - time, money, health and on-going lobotomy treatments are killing me.  I haven't been there in a few years but have a few tips for the first-timers.  

Get there early! - Parking is usually over-sold for the Saturday start - if you get there Friday night, you MIGHT be able to find a space inside, otherwise, be prepared to park outside and take the shuttles.  This actually isn't a bad way to get around since the shuttles will take you virtually everywhere in the facility.  There are lots of people who use their car as a "home base" - you'd be wise to do the same.  Take only the stuff you're willing to carry for more than 3 hours - for example, leave behind the bulky jackets and food stuffs - come back to the car for that at a later time.  

Remember that this is a 24-hour race PLUS practice, qualifying AND support races - in other words, no need to see everything in the first 15 minutes.  Also know that the facility is an absolute zoo at the start of the 24 BUT as the day progresses, the herds thin significantly.  All that said, be sure to visit the Pits and Garages - that's the cubic dollars are stored and as the race progresses, that's where the interesting stuff happens.  

For those who visit the garages, PLEASE stop by and say "Hello" to TGM Motorsports - they're racing a Beetle and a GT-R (NOT a Datsun).  Ted Giovannis is a friend for whom I've crewed in the past - mention my name and avoid his fists.  He's still salty over my introducing him as the owner of "Team AARP".  

The In-field:

The midway is a good place to kill time - GM usually puts on a good show as does Continental and the other "sponsors".  Yes, there will be a myriad of souvenir trailers selling mostly NASTYCAR crap - remember that NASTYCAR owns the IMSA series.  Aside from event t-shirts, I'd suggest you purchase souvenirs elsewhere as they tend to be pricey at the track.  The various food vendors are good inside the facility albeit pricey (as expected).  Perhaps my favorite vendor in the past was the Chinese food vendor - when I attend a race, I think of hot dogs and hamburgers, NOT Kitten on a Stick but hey, I'm old-school.  For those of you who imbibe, the Fan Zone by the garages has a bar with entertainment - again, not cheap BUT if you must...

Good places to spectate are anywhere along the infield - as the race progresses, the stands become more available.  The only caveat is that if it's cold, there will be an abundance of fires and the smoke gets a bit thick in the in-field.  The local PCA has a corral by the in-field - I'm not sure what's required to make a reservation with them but that might be a good way to secure in-field parking.  Other good places to spectate are ANYWHERE on the outside grandstands - since IMSA has virtually no appeal to spectators, those stands will be almost empty.  The only caveat is that spectators cannot stand and watch at the fence - otherwise, you can watch from there and move around freely.  

The Museum:

If you're looking to warm up or find a quiet place, the Museum/Visitor Center isn't bad.  It will provide a full history of NASTYCAR and even a simulator when I visited the last time.  Even if you're not a NASTYCAR fan, it's amusing especially when you think about all the suckers who are dumping tonnes of money just because of the NASTYCAR logo.  

Food Service:

Bring your own snacks and beverages unless you have a desire to pay inflated park prices.  For faster service, you'd be wise to get as far away from the track as possible before stopping for a restaurant.  That said, there is a Krystal within eye-sight as well as a Krispy Kreme - Krystal has the best sliders this side of White Castle and there's nothing like HOT FRESH Krispy Kreme.  While you're there, don't forget to ask for some KK hats - I have a collection myself from one of my stints working Grand Am.  Lastly and I haven't been here in a few years BUT I found this restaurant -  It's not too touristy in the off-season and from what I recall, the food was decent.  

It dawns on me that I neglected the "after hours" tips.

For those of you who are interested in the "full 24-hour experience", go out to dinner on Saturday, AWAY from the track.  That'll give you a welcome break and a chance to rest.  The best time for viewing is in the middle of the night, when things start to break and the like.  Personally, I LOVE watching racing at day-break - the cars are racing with just the headlights clearly visible and then, suddenly and as if by miracle, COLOUR POPS - there's nothing more amazing to watch!!  

Other Stuff:

This place is across the street from the Track - Speed Park Motorsports - Daytona Beach, FL  I've been there years ago and for a "fun land", it was pretty "fun".  The dragsters are infinitely cool while the karts will likely be a disappointment but remember that these are aimed towards the average NASTYCAR fan.  

Have fun!!  I expect to hear reports that do not involve incarceration.