The calendar’s about to flip from January to February, and that only means one thing: Florida is about to reawaken from what passes for winter down here and get into some serious things concerning automobiles. Really, it’s already underway. We were offline for a bit while I was covering the huge Mecum auction in Kissimmeee, which was anchored by the sale of the 1968 Ford Mustang from Bullitt, for Hemmings Motor News and Hemmings Muscle Machines. You’ll be able to check out the reportage in the next issues of both magazines. I also got to interview Sean Kiernan, whose family owned the Bullitt car for 35 years, and you can find that story on the Hemmings website. But specifically, this is about auto racing. Speedweeks gets underway officially this coming weekend with the running of the Rolex 24 for sports cars. Yesterday, there was a long line of haulers waiting to enter the garage area at Daytona International Speedway to get the week underway.
The Rolex 24 is the opening round in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. One of the top guns contesting the GTLM category will be BMW with its partner, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing, which is probably more widely known for its efforts in IndyCar. BMW’s weapon of choice for its two-car effort is the M8 GTE, the number 24 car shared by John Edwards and Jesse Krohn, with backup driving help from Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert. There’s a stronger IndyCar connection with the other RLL BMW, whose drivers include Colton Herta, one of the baddest little race drivers to come down the pike in quite a while. This team, with Connor De Phillippi and Phillipp Eng as the other drivers, is the defending class winner of the Rolex 24. The race will kick off Daytona’s annual orgy of speed, with short track action dominating the next two weeks at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna, plus the USAC national Sprint and Midget tours at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala. See you on the road.