For millennia, the hard-packed Florida sand of Daytona and Ormond Beaches just sat there, waiting.
Then, in 1902, Ransom Olds (of Oldsmobile fame) and Alexander Winston (of the Winston Motor Carriage Company) showed up with their new motorcars and announced a race.
Thus began the pursuit of speed here on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Since that day, Daytona Beach, Florida, has been hallowed ground.
In 1959, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. built Daytona International Speedway. That same year saw the arrival of European-style sports car racing to Daytona. In the decades since, as the endurance race evolved from a 3-hour sprint to a 2,000 kilometer marathon to a full 24-hour test of wills, men with the names of Gurney, Elford, Andretti, Haywood, Foyt, and Montoya have claimed the checkered flag at Daytona.
The Rolex 24 at Daytona now opens the annual IMSA season each January. It is the season’s longest race. It is a marathon, with the 2018 race-winning Mustang Sampling Cadillac prototype covering just shy of 2,900 miles over those 24 hours, a record.
The race is also a sprint: these cars have simply become so reliable that attrition is less a factor than ever before. These machines run flat out, unfazed, for 24 hours.
Humans, however, haven't changed much since this track was built: exhaustion remains a constant threat. Even as the 24-hour race streaks through the night, team members must remain alert, finding find brief moments of calm to rest, to consult, and to prepare for the coming hours.
The Mighty Motor team was on hand for the entire 2018 race. As always, our aim was to capture not just the cars but also the bravery, focus, camaraderie, and emotion that make racing such an intensely human experience.