For millennia, the hard-packed Florida sand of Daytona and Ormond Beaches just sat there, waiting. Then, in 1902, Ransom Olds (of the Oldsmobile fame) and Alexander Winston (of the Winston Motor Carriage Company) showed up with their new motorcars and announced a race, thus kicking off the pursuit of speed here on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
Since that day, Daytona Beach, Florida, has been hallowed ground in the pursuit of speed.
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 International Speedway.
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 winning Mustang Sampling prototype car covering just shy of 2,900 miles over those 24 hours, a record. The race is also a sprint: cars have simply become so reliable that car attrition is less a factor than ever before. These machines can run flat out for 24 hours.
Human exhaustion, however, 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.