Grand Touring Man
The classic 24 hour
If you have a penchant for vintage motor racing and would love watching iconic racing cars come alive like the way they used to, then the southeastern part of the United States is where you should be. It is where Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) is situated and diligently organises such an event year round at all the great tracks such as Sebring, Road Atlanta—and Daytona. Annually around mid-November, HSR would hold the Classic 24 Hour at Daytona, by not only bringing together the cars participated in the actual race in period but also most of the drivers who drove them at that time too. During my last visit there, I was able to meet with such legendary drivers as Brian Redman, who drove the Porsche 917 and the BMW “Batmobile” here, Derek Bell, five-time winner of Le Mans and who also won the Daytona 24 Hours back in 1989 in the Porsche 962 and Frank Biela who drove for Audi in the American Le Mans series a little over a decade ago.
Face-to-face with legends
What made the visit to the Classic 24 Hour at Daytona fulfilling and special was not about seeing real racing cars (from the lone Matra MS630, the Porsches 934, 935, 956 and 962, the Jaguar XJR, the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport and the Lola T70, to name but a few) in the flesh racing at full speed day and night or even the great cars that were parked outside the track, but also for its accessibility. Here during the race weekend you can walk in to take a closer look at all cars that you only saw on TV or in magazines all along the pit lane and garages where they are prepared before going onto the track. If they are not too busy, then you can have a word with virtually any past racing drivers who came to take part. While the sights and sounds of thirty to forty year old racing cars sticking itself on the banking at 200 miles per hour or even more was thrilling enough(remember this is Daytona, you do not hold back) , I also got the chill of meeting my hero Derek Bell in person and had a brief conversation with him. I mentioned that I was looking forward to seeing him change from his civvies to his racing overalls and take a Porsche onto the track. To which he replied with humour, “Well I came over here and was supposed to race the 962 that I won the ’89 race with, but I found out that the car is now for sale!” If only there were more than 24 hours in a day.