TUSC: Rolex 24 weekend recap, on-the-ground side

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Some general weekend observations from the scene at Daytona International Speedway, site of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The buzz, of course, was a little different this year with this being the opening round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, new for 2014.

Elsewhere over the weekend, beyond the on-track action

  • There were big crowds… Two really good signs that this felt like a bigger deal: a packed infield, and a packed line to get onto the grid for the grid walk. As I was trying to meander through in advance on Saturday, I hit a crowd wall. A good sign for the speedway, and the series.
  • But a quick trigger on a late yellow… There were a little more than 20 minutes to go, and a full-course caution flew when Alex Job Racing’s No. 22 Porsche 911 GT America went off course at the second hairpin, and resumed. But to me and a number of others, it seemed like that call came rather quickly. Here’s my tweet:
  • …And long delays post-race. Each of Thursday, Friday and Sunday saw a post-session issue come up and in each instance, the word took a while to get out from IMSA communications. Granted, I respect the process and appreciate the process… it just seemed as though the GTD pole flip-flop (Thursday), the GS race winner drop (Friday) and GTD race winner swap (Sunday) all took a long time to get officially sorted. Ideally, IMSA learns from this weekend and can expedite the process going forward.
  • …And a high volume of commercials. Ads are good. Ads help pay the bills. Too many ads, however, don’t help attract new viewers. The choppy nature of the ads – which were frequent – all too often interrupted the flow of the race, particularly as the four class battles reached their climax.
  • Some GRAND-AM media carryover. On the ground, it felt as though there was a unified front, with a clear message that this was IMSA and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. But with regards to the TV and radio coverage, the GRAND-AM-esque style of coverage seemed overly prominent; the headlining P class, and the Daytona Prototypes in particular, got way too much air time. PC, GTLM and GTD are classes too, and many times, like they did Sunday, they’ll have great racing.
  • A challenging MRN radio broadcast. I’ll use the word “challenging” here rather than some of the more negative words I’ve seen and heard over the last 72 hours, because I know from experience that covering sports car racing presents a complex, distinct and serious challenge. That’s why so few organizations can do it well. The challenge for MRN in future races is to better adapt to the flow of sports car racing and tell the stories beyond the obvious, NASCAR-centric type of nuggets. It’s what we have for now, and there’s plenty of room for growth.