The words ‘Test Session’ can bring about yawns, but this past weekend the celebrated Daytona International Speedway featured some of the world’s most exotic cars and drivers from all forms of racing in the ultimate test session.
Known as the IMSA Tudor United Sports Car Championship, the preview and practice session takes place just 15 days before the The Rolex 24 to allow drivers to work out the kinks from the off-season before the start of the challenging race. The goals of IMSA are to develop new ideas that not only benefit racing but can be transformed into the general auto industry.
Four dozen IMSA teams were present with four separate races going on at the same time. The Marquee class is the Prototypes (15 cars were present), then the slower but similar Prototype Challenge, and then GT LeMans and GT Daytona resemble street sedans, but hardly handle like your daily driver.
Teams like Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing, as well as drivers from around the world. Names like Joao Balbosa (Portugal), Christian Fitipaldi (Brazil), Sebastian Bourdais (France), Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson and AJ Allmendinger (NASCAR Cup Series), Rubens Barrichello(F1), Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan (Indy 500 Champions) are but a few of the stars. The late Paul Newman was known to stop by and jump in for a few fast paced laps, and there was buzz that Patrick Dempsey was listed to drive the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America.
Jordan Taylor in Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP ran the fastest lap of the three-day session, at 1:39.181, and according to IMSA, “Other class leaders were Colin Braun, Prototype Challenge (PC), running 1:41.769 (125.814 mph) in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09; Earl Bamber, GT Le Mans (GTLM), 1:44.316 (122.857 mph) in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR; and Marc Goossens in GT Daytona (GTD), 1:46.948 (119.834 mph) in the No. 33 TI Automotive / ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R.”
Friday brought a heavy fog-like ceiling and cool temperatures where headlights, seat warmers and windshield wipers were the norm, and Sunday was all about the rain, but a sunny Saturday brought together the one thing all these cars and drivers have in common: speed and noise, a ROAR if I ever heard one!