It can take a while to acclimate to 31 degrees of banking in a corner even if your name is legendary.
In the video above, Derek Bell recalls his first laps around Daytona International Speedway.
“My first time at Daytona was in 1971. It was my first time on the banking. It was the weirdest sensation because as you come down a straight as a racing driver, when the road sort of turns sharp left normally you would put the brakes on to slow down. But you had to get used to the fact that you didn’t slow down you just turned the wheel and hopefully balance the car.”
As IMSA celebrates their 50th year, they take a look back at some of the drivers and events that have been a part of their history.
“I never actually took it flat,” Bell said. “I was jolly close, but I never did. It was the most amazing experience. … I got used to it after a while, but the first time it was pretty forbidding.”
Bobby Rahal has driven in some of the biggest races in the world, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 Hours and, of course, winning the Indianapolis 500 as a driver in 1986 and in 2004 as a team owner.
But winning the 12 Hours of Sebring two years in a row (1987 and 1988), Rahal feels, is right up there in terms of his greatest accomplishments as a race car driver.
As IMSA celebrates its 50th anniversary, Rahal reflected on what racing at Sebring International Raceway has meant to him:
“To me, Sebring is the ultimate endurance race. Not as long as Daytona or Le Mans, but the demands put on a car and driver at Sebring are highly unusual.
“My father raced at Sebring in the late 60’s. To win that race two years in a row really meant something to me.
“While we’ve won a lot of other races, we’ve won just about everywhere, you name it. But for me personally, winning at Sebring those two years in a row was very special.”