It’s that time of the year. The International Motor Sports Association’s (IMSA) Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is going down this weekend at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida. After a clean and easy-going Roar Before the 24, which is what I call the longest qualifying session in history, and a quick glimpse at the entry list, the competition is set to be stacked and packed, as there are more cars running the race than usual (61, compared to the typical field of around 50).
It’s a legendary event that lasts a whole 24 hours that’s been going down pretty much every year since 1962. This endurance race is an immense test of physical, mental, and mechanical strength, and 2022 should be an excellent next chapter. I just hope there aren’t too many incidents on track due to the massive number of cars.
What better opportunity to reflect on the event’s past than to take a look at old videos and see how previous chapters unfolded from different perspectives? Thankfully, our almighty web-based overlord YouTube has an endless variety of this kind of subject matter, and I’ve gathered a few uploads that are worth your time.
Shunji Kasuya Pilots an R32 Nissan GT-R Up Against IMSA’s Best
Shout-out to The-T-Anderson on Twitter for pointing us in the direction of this video.
In this video, Japanese racing driver Shunji Kasuya travels to Florida to join the No. 532 GTU-class Nissan Motorsports Skyline GT-R during 1994’s installment of the Daytona 24. Unfortunately, it’s all in Japanese and there are no English subtitles, but it’s very entertaining nonetheless. It’s lengthy but covers a lot of steps that Kasuya went through to reach the pit wall and climb inside the mighty GT-R.
What’s also interesting is that it doesn’t look like Nissan campaigned an R32 GT-R ever again in IMSA. Sure, it has all the solid results elsewhere around the globe, but this looks to be the only year, or even single time, that the brand ran it on U.S. soil. If you know of other appearances in American professional racing, comment below.
The team finished well, too — it was beat out by a bunch of its 964 Porsche 911 RSR class rivals but still reached a decent position, considering how rough of a race Daytona is. Also, any form of aerodynamics is absent from the R32’s bodywork, perhaps an indication that it was watered down for being such a capable chassis compared to its 964 911, 911 Turbo, Porsche 964, Ferrari 348, and Mazda MX-6, and RX-7 opponents.
Racing Beat’s Underdog Effort in 1983
This is one of my favorite vintage racing documentaries ever. It covers the Southern California rotary masterminds at Racing Beat during their effort at the 1983 Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GTO class. Spoiler alert: They won it, which is impressive, as they were the underdogs up against better-funded European hardware at the time.
It’s thoroughly neat to hear their reflections and status updates, as well as watch them swap motors with two adult shoulders and a plank of wood. Gotta love tiny, angry rotary engines. It’s also a testament to how less expensive racing was back then. It costs several barges full of cash nowadays, especially for any small team with aspirations to tango in this legendary event.
Dale Earnhardt Thoroughly Kicked Ass at Road Racing
This one’s really cool, but also sad. It highlights Dale Earnhardt’s first stint (meaning the first time he got behind the wheel in-race) at the 2001 Daytona 24, racing the Compuware Chevy Corvette C5.R. This is one of the best-looking racecars ever, by the way.
It’s cool because Earnhardt was an absolute beast on road circuits during his career. Most hotshoes who typically race on ovals generally are, but Earnhardt was next-level. Quick sidenote: this footage of him at Sonoma in the mid-’90s is so entertaining.
It’s sad because Earnhardt passed away during a wreck in the Daytona 500 just a few weeks later. Same track, different kind of racing. The year 2001 was a sad time for the sport. At least the world got to see him wrangle this ‘Vette around the circuit like nobody’s business, as well as be there for the rest of his long, legendary career.
These are all great videos that do this great event justice, and I highly recommend taking an afternoon or evening to watching not only these clips, but all of the other gold that YouTube has to offer.
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