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I don’t often state with overwhelming confidence that something is going to stink. But having said that, “the Roar” is a pain in the ass 100% of the time.

“The Roar before the 24” is the season-opening test for the IMSA WeatherTech Series and it takes place in Daytona Beach Florida in January, prior to the Daytona 24-hour race. Since the last race of the series is mid-October of the previous year, a layperson would think that gives teams loads of time to show up refreshed, refunded, and repainted…..but that isn’t the case.

Following the last race of each season, there are two paths teams take. Well established teams who have secure funding, happy sponsors etc get straight into off-season testing and development. Often, you’ll go straight from the last race to a tire test or worse yet the dreaded endurance tests. After these tests, you will spend the next few months developing all of the parts and procedures you’d like to implement for the upcoming season. Throw in a few holidays, various manufacture shutdowns etc and you’ll find yourself the first week of January with stripped cars on high stands, wondering where your “off-season” went.

The winter is tougher for the little teams. After the last race, if the financial future is unclear, the cars and equipment often go back to a shop and sit patiently, dirty, and exhausted from a season of hard use. These teams spend the winter refurbishing spares and shining up any parts that will accept some polish. Everyone patiently waits to hear if “the Check” has arrived yet. “The check” is next years sponsorship commitment and subsequent approval to spend $$. Without fail, this never clears until after the new year and….just like the big teams you’re spending the next few weeks in a mad thrash to get to the Roar.

Either road you take, odds are, you’ll show up half-cocked. You’ll see a lot of cars wearing only their carbon fiber bodies, some last-minute stickers on the side. The lower budget teams have rented semis and trailers as they struggle to find new equipment at the peak of demand. The crews become haggard and the year is only starting. Welcome to endurance racing.

A quick story on the car pictured above. This was at the Roar in 2015. The car is a Honda ARX-04b, maybe you’ve heard of it as it was terrible enough to make headlines. The chassis you see here was the most complete of the two that we were building. The other was literally a pile of boxed parts delivered to the track. We managed as we always did to pull it off. However, the car was a bigger “pile” on track than it was on the garage floor. The car only ran Daytona in 2015 as it was deemed an engineering failure and discarded. Just another antiquated racecar.