Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Underdogs Take the Win

by Tammy

It's a truism that anything can and will happen in an endurance race.

The 24 Hours of Daytona race proved it again this year, with favorites falling early and late, and a couple underdogs staying out of trouble and pulling through for their first wins.

Was it epic? Probably. It was only one lap short of an all-time record distance, and each class had two or three cars that finished on the lead lap. In fact, in both classes, first and second were separated by no more than 10 seconds ... AFTER 24 HOURS OF RACING! That's astonishing.

What's interesting is the change that's happened in the endurance world, the result of teams and cars getting better and more reliable. More than one "old timer" commented during the broadcast that in their day, you'd be conservative until the last couple hours, and then you'd really race--because if you tried to race flat-out the whole time, your car would break. But as one driver (Andy Lally, GT winner) put it, "This was 24 hours of qualifying."

I can't even stay awake to watch it all. I can't imagine how the crew does it (even the drivers get some sleep, but the crew only catches what naps they can in the pits between pit stops).

There's always a story with the 24 Hours of Daytona, and this year, between the visiting celebrities of the entertainment world (Billy Johnson of AC/DC and Patrick Dempsey) and those of the racing world (Michael Waltrip, Travis Pastrana, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jamie McMurry, Mario Andretti, Dario Franchitti, and many more), a set of series regulars and underdogs came through for the win. Both were, in some ways, the Little Engine that Could.

New winners. New stories for the year ahead. I'm liking this start to the 2012 racing season. What about you? Did you watch? Did you enjoy?

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