- For over 50 years the best drivers travel from around the world to compete in the Rolex24 at Daytona.
- The race is composed of dozens of cars that span across three to four different classes that reach speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour.
- Scott Pruett, a 10-time winner, takes us turn by turn and explains what makes the Rolex24 a challenge worthy of the best drivers in the world.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The following is a transcript of the video.
Scott Pruett: There are guys that think that they can win that race in turn one, turn two. They run into people, they go off the track, they take themselves out, they tear up their cars. And this is the start of 24 hours, which is just insane that guys look at things this way.
Hi, I’m Scott Pruett. 10-time in-class winner and five-time overall winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and I’m gonna take you turn by turn around this incredible racetrack.
In this car we’ll be doing – in the Lexus RC F GT3, we’ll be rolling about 188, 190 miles an hour. In a prototype, we’re running 210. A bit faster. And then you’re thinking about going from 200 miles an hour to about 70 miles an hour going through turn one. So the amount of braking is insane as you head into turn one in that heavy-braking area. So it’s absolutely incredible. You get down into turn one, you’re going at this high rate of speed, and then turn one, as you exit it, you gotta think of turn one and two as kind of being continual. Because the way you exit turn one, you’re preparing yourself for turn two, and they’re flat out. I mean, they’re literally, they’re – you never lift once you get back to throttle, your hard throttle, up into turn three. This is also one of those circumstances where you have to be acutely aware of the guy you’re passing or the guy who’s trying to pass you. Because there’s not a lot of room. You’re using up a lot of the racetrack, and it’s not uncommon to get a little bit of— tight quarters. I mean, really tight quarters at times, and that’s one of those places where guys have got caught up in somebody else’s mistake. They drop a wheel, their car jumps, catches the car next to him. And unfortunately takes you out of the race.
From there, you accelerate hard. Back up to about a hundred and… probably about 135, 140 miles an hour as we work our way into turn three. Turn three. Very straightforward, hairpin. Accelerate hard coming off. And, again, as we accelerate hard off it, we’re heading now towards what we call the kink. And the kink is a very fast left-hander. You need to use up the whole track. Again, this is one of those areas where you’re gonna see incidents from time to time. You’re gonna see guys trying to make that move where they don’t really have enough room because they get anxious, because they feel like they have to make that pass happen. The experienced guys will, if they can make it, and they know they can make that pass without a chance of getting themselves caught up, they do. These little, small, little winglets and underwings and splitters, all this stuff, even though we make it as durable as it can, it still can be fragile if you hit someone. And that’s one of those circumstances where you just don’t wanna take any chances with your car until, you know, it’s money time. You know, the money time is, like, the last hour of the race, the last 20 minutes of the race, when you’re trying to make it happen. And if you’ve gotta do it then, then by all means, baby, you do what you gotta do to get to victory lane first.
Then back to left as I set up for turn five. And, again, these are all turns where you just have to manage the car all the time.
Announcer: A lot of traffic to pick your way through, and this is where the top drivers earn their money.
Scott: I mean, literally, you can be a group of 10 to 15 cars, and it’s mayhem. I mean, there’s cars going right to left, left to right. I have been here so many times, I feel the racetrack. Some of this timing, you actually think in your head, “OK, you hit this bump, OK, one, two, OK, now turn in.”
As we continue on, exit hard. You’re going all the way to the left as you exit turn five, but you’re thinking about turn six. And turn six is really important because this leads up onto the banking. It’s all about straightaway speed. It’s all about how fast you can get up and onto the banking. Especially if you’re racing with a guy, you wanna be able to draft, get back into that area behind his car where you don’t have as much resistance to the wind so you can slingshot out and around by him. This is also a very popular place to try and make a pass. So, once you’re up onto the banking, then it’s just all about hard acceleration. I use up – when I come up off turn six, I go all the way up to the wall, and then I just gradually bring the car right back down to the bottom of the racetrack. When you think about the oval at Daytona, you wanna make that distance as short as possible. If you run around that whole oval at the top, you’re gonna cover, you know, significantly more racetrack than if you ran all the way at the bottom. So you’re accelerating hard, you’re chasing the guy in front of you if there happens to be somebody in front of you, but you’re also watching the mirrors around you, and, as you see from time to time, the prototypes, the cars that are faster than this level, they’ll be coming by you at, you know, 10, 15, 20 miles an hour faster speed. So when you think about the Rolex 24 and you think about what goes into that, it’s that awareness at hour two, at hour three, at hour 15, at hour 20. You have to be acutely aware all the time, and that’s what’s different than other sports – baseball, football, basketball – there is no time-out.
You see a prototype pass me on the right. Hard on the brakes. This is what we call the bus stop. To the left. To the right. To the right. Back to the left. And when you’re going through there, it’s very fast. It’s another one of those places where you see guys get in trouble a lot. When you look at a lot of the crashes that happen at Daytona, a lot of them happen in the bus stop. It’s, you know, guys try and make that last-minute pass as they work their way in. It’s very narrow. It’s difficult to get through. Our guys catch a curb wrong on the inside, and they’ll go out into the tire barriers off to the left. Again, this is one of those places you have to be heads-up all the time. But when I think about when I’m out there, lap after lap after lap, you wanna do the same thing. You know, you’re trying to be very focused, very rhythmic, and just hitting your mark.
And then it’s just that race through NASCAR 3 and 4 to the start/finish. But when you think about the way your car moves through the air, you think of it like you’re driving through snow. So you’re pushing this air, or, figuratively speaking, snow, and it’s having to move around your car. And then as it moves around your car, it has this big opening at the back. And it’s the same thing with air, is that when you get behind a guy, all of a sudden you have significantly less aerodynamic drag on your car. And so, when you look at this big hole that’s being produced by this car in front of you that you’re wanting to pass, you wanna slipstream up. So you’re, all of a sudden, as soon as you get into that slipstream, you’re gonna start accelerating pretty aggressively, as hard and as fast as you can, and wait till the absolute last minute to pull out and slipstream by. Two reasons you do that. One is you wanna be able to get past him as quickly as possible. And two: If you do get out there and you’re not running fast enough, then all of a sudden you have what’s called side drafting, which is, when you get out on the side of him, if you don’t have enough momentum to get by him, you’ll get up about halfway and all of a sudden, because of the interaction of the air on the two cars side by side, then it starts slowing you back down, and then you just run side by side. So you wanna make the pass. You don’t wanna run side by side.
So, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, for me, is that race that is the true match of man and machine. When you look at a 24-hour race and being able to go the distance and make it to victory lane, it’s pretty awesome, and it’s something that is shared by that whole team. But you’re looking at that race as a fight. You know, you’re fighting the conditions, you’re fighting the car, you’re fighting the rain, you’re fighting the cold, you’re fighting the heat, you’re fighting the struggle, and then when you can get to victory lane, and, again, when you can get one of these, one of these Rolexes that says “winner,” it is something that is so cool and so awesome. And is such a test of man and machine that is truly incredible.
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