PATASKALA, Ohio (WCMH) – Most auto races are measured in distance. The Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, each are 500 miles long. In Formula One, Grands Prix have a set number of laps.
But in IMSA, North America’s top level of sports car racing, races are measured in time. And much like how NASCAR opens its season with its most famous race, the Daytona 500, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship begins its season with its longest race: the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
Yes, 24 hours long.
The distance that the winning car traveled by the end of the race last year was nearly 3,000 miles. Imagine driving from New York City to San Francisco in one day, reaching speeds of up to 200 mph on the way.
That is the prestige of the Rolex 24, and two race teams in the Columbus area will be on the grid.
This is not Michael Shank’s first Rolex 24. His team, Meyer Shank Racing, has entered the 24-hour marathon every year since 2004. In 2012, they won the whole thing racing IMSA’s top class of prototype car.
From 2017 to 2020, MSR fielded a GTD car, a slower category more in common with its street-legal counterparts. But this year, Shank’s world-class driver lineup is back in a top-level prototype. And yet, Shank says, the differences between this car and the 2012 winner are “night and day.”
“They’re a lot more powerful, more downforce, faster,” the team owner said at his race shop in Pataskala earlier this month.
MSR’s Acura ARX-05 DPi (Daytona Prototype International) can lap Daytona International Speedway’s massive, 3.56-mile road course layout in just over 90 seconds. That is 10 seconds quicker per lap than the GTD cars, Shank said, and three or four seconds…