Daytona Beach, FL 2-2-2014: The Endurance Karting series took the Daytona International Speedway by storm for the Inaugural 6 Hours of Daytona. Over the course of the two days, drivers from all over the US came and put their driving skills to the test through changing conditions on the infield karting course on the north side of the Daytona property. The race was Endurance Karting’s first ever trip to the famed Super Speedway nestled between I-95 and the Atlantic Coast, and the facility did not disappoint. The track, which proved to be one of the quickest tracks that Endurance Karting has visited, had multiple corners where a simple mistake would be costly and this made the driving more intense over the course of the 6 hour event held on Saturday.
On Friday, drivers fed into the course for their first laps during the Endurance Karting practice sessions. Drivers who came early were met with a wet track and a light drizzle, which was compounded by the track having a strongly rubbered-in dry line. Drivers who adapted quickest to the conditions found the outside edge of the track to hold the key to maintaining the grip. It was like being a dirt sprint car driver and finding the cushion right up against the wall. Only the bravest drivers would venture that far out, but those who did were greeted with much faster lap times. As the day progressed, the track began to dry and the true nature of the beast began to show its face. Lap times dropped a whole 20 seconds which is almost unheard of in karting, especially on a track with a 45 second dry laptime to begin with. Because the track became as fast as it did, the driver was placed in the position of needing to maintain momentum more importantly than diving deep into a corner. Smooth driving was rewarded with times at the top of the charts, while others struggled to adapt to barely touching the brakes. By the end of Friday’s track time drivers were ready for the grueling 6 Hours of Daytona that awaited them.
That night Endurance Karting held a meet and greet dinner at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse across from the track, with over 30 drivers attended the gathering. The dinner was a huge success as drivers from all walks of life were able to get to know one another and share their bench racing stories. With a long day of battles ahead it was good to see the drivers relaxed and in good spirits, and enjoying one of several handcrafted brews that BJ’s creates themselves. Endurance Karting will host several more of these meet and greets at the events we go to over the year, with the next being at the 6 Hours of AMP.
On race day drivers began to weigh and register at 7am. For 2014 we are weighing teams to average weights so that the field is better balanced and light weight teams to not hold a massive advantage. Included in the registered drivers were Jordan and Ricky Taylor, who the week prior finished 2nd in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Their team Bugs Bunny Racing was one of several clever team names that were entered. A couple of the standouts were Team Lard, and Titanic Rowing Team. With the amount of rain expected for raceday, maybe a rowboat would have been a better choice. In all we had 14 teams registered including two drivers racing solo; Tim Hilliard who traveled all the way from Massachusetts and Patrick Shores from St. Mary’s, Ga.
During the 40 minute qualifying, the track which once again started with a very damp track and heavy fog, times were in the low 1 minute range. The drivers who were able to practice the day prior were immediately to the top of the sheet as they already knew the line and what was expected of them. In the last 10 minutes of qualifying, things began to take on the feel of Formula 1 knockout qualifying. The track which was drying quickly with a little help of the Atlantic breeze and some sunshine, started to allow the karts more and more grip. Each lap there was a new pole sitter as the top 7 karts exchanged the honor. In race control we knew who ever was the last kart on the track was the one who was going to be on pole. Sure enough PT Racing was the last driver to get a lap in and vaulted them from 3rd to 1st.
The race started with the traditional “Le Mans Style” start where the drivers line up opposite of their karts for a running start to get the racing going. Immediately the GT-Pro drivers separated themselves from the field as the pace turned into an intense battle. The two solo drivers settled into their pace and went about clicking laps off. With each team required to make 15 trips to pit road the team strategies were varied between the camps. Some of the teams elected to do drive-through stops to click off one of the required trips while others went with a driver change each trip. Two of the teams, the Blue Bunnies and Yellow Peeps, came together as one group of friends and even had their own side bets going on during the event. Their fun attitudes made pit road the hang out place as they talked smack between one another and pushed their teammates to make faster laps and quicker driver changes.
At the midway point the traditional Florida rain made its appearance. Although not nearly as bad as what was expected, the quick downpour was enough to create plenty of problems. Within seconds of the rain making contact with the surface of the track several drivers had major off track excursions. With Endurance Karting’s 4-off rule, many teams began making their appearance on pit road to check tire pressures after their own exploration of the grounds. Watching the teams on track as they test the waters with different lines and braking points really added to the excitement. While one competitor would dive in deep and drift around the corner, others would go wide and hook up on the cushion. As the track began to dry, drivers that held on too long to the wet line suffered in terms of their laptimes. Like the day prior, there was over a 20 second difference in lap times. Because of this it became easy for teams to lose laps to the leaders.
While there were 3 teams still on the lead lap at this point, the battle in the midpack was heating up. From 6th-10th teams were exchanging positions almost every lap. Included in the mix was Patrick Shores’ solo effort. Patrick who made the decision to compete the day before the race was making the most of his previous knowledge of the Endurance Karting fleet as he is a regular within the series. Also in the mix were the teams of Radiation Engineering, The People that Passed You, Titantic Rowing Team and Crash Club. The other solo effort from Tim Hilliard was in a fight with MV2 for 11th. Tim who is a regular competitor at Lime Rock Park decided to make the trip to Daytona to be a part of the inaugural event at Daytona as soon as it was announced; he was the event’s first entry as well.
As the race wound down it became a race between Detroit Rock City, Bugs Bunny Racing, and Team Lard. Detroit Rock City was driven by Joseph Buffa and Drew Cattell who were a part of the 2013 24 Hours of America winning team. Bugs Bunny Racing was made up with Justin Voyles, Ricky and Jordan Taylor. Finally the 3rd contender was Team Lard raced by former Endurance Karting owner Johan Schwartz and Hartmut Feyhl. All 3 teams made their final and 15th stop in the last 1 ½ hours, and put their ace in the kart to finish the event off. In the end, the lead that was held by Detroit Rock City was too much and held off Bugs Bunny Racing by 43 seconds to win the Inaugural 6 Hours of Daytona.
Endurance Karting thanks all of the drivers and guests who came out to be a part of the inaugural event held at Daytona International Speedway. Being able to interact with everyone during the two day event was a great honor and a lot of fun. We are looking forward to seeing many of you at other events in 2014 and hopefully back at Daytona in 2015. We will make one more swing into Florida during 2014 for the 12th Annual Jacksonville Grand Prix benefiting held on April 4-6.
In addition to the meet-ups the night prior Endurance Karting is pleased to announce a championship for the 2014 Series. The 2014 Endurance Karting Championship will encompass all Endurance Karting events for the 2014 year. In order to qualify for the Championship you’ll need to complete these three items; A) Enter at least three (3) events, B) One driver must be present from a previous race, C)Team name must stay the same. The overall winning team will receive a 50% off entry into the 2015 24 Hours of America. This is a huge opportunity to for drivers to have more than your local reason to go racing with Endurance Karting, make a trip out of it and visit race tracks that you may not have previously thought you could race.
Photos courtesy of Track9
Photos courtesy of Joseph Dent
Photos courtesy of Perry Herndon
Endurance Karting Championship:
Daytona - 6 Hour – Feb 1st
Jacksonville – 6 Hour – Apr 5th
Atlanta Motorsports Park - 6 Hour – Mar 16th
Charlotte - 6 Hour – Apr 27th
Lime Rock (All 1.5s) – May 17th
New Jersey Motorsports Park - 6 Hour – Jul 12th
Midnight Ride at VIR 5 Hour – Aug 16th
Lime Rock 6 Hour – Sept 7th
Atlanta Motorsports Park – 10 Hour – Oct 18th
6 Hours of Daytona Class Results:
1 Detroit Rock City 421
2 Bugs Bunny Racing 421 - 43 sec
3 Karting for Kids 419 - 2 laps
4 PT Racing 417 - 4 laps
5 People That Passed.. 411 - 10 laps
1 Titanic Rowing Team 410
2 Radiation Engineering 408 - 2 laps
1 MV2 402
1 Team Lard 420
2 1-800 We Insure 412 - 8 laps
1 Optimum Performance 401
2 Blue Bunnies 383 -18 laps
3 Yellow Peeps 382 - 19 laps
Endurance Karting Championship
1 Detroit Rock City 200pts
2 Bugs Bunny Racing 195pts
3 Team Lard 190pts
4 Karting for Kids 185pts
5 PT Racing 180pts
6 1-800 We Insure 175pts
8 People That Passed You 170pts
9 Titantic Rowing Team 165pts
10 Radiation Engineering 160pts
11 MV2 155pts
12 Optimum Performance 150pts
13 Blue Bunnies 145pts
14 Yellow Peeps 140pts
See the complete schedule for 2014 at the bottom of the page.