What a week in Daytona! It was the kickoff to the 2024 IMSA racing season with the Rolex 24 and all its supporting events. Not only was the weather absolutely perfect, but we also had a record number of fans there to watch all the action, which made the week even more special.
The MX-5 Cup racing certainly did not disappoint—as expected! We had near photo finishes in both races, and there were some incredible drives throughout the field. It was impressive to watch some of the series rookies vying for the win, too. This will potentially be the most competitive season yet in Mazda MX-5 Cup racing.
After all the support series excitement ended on Friday, we kicked off the big show Saturday morning with the annual Daytona Heritage race. Mazda entered one of its famed RX-7 GTO cars from the 1991 IMSA season. Having driven this car at Daytona just a few months ago, it was a ton of fun for me to get back in and put the car through its paces with its screaming 4-rotor engine. I was out there with all kinds of prototypes and other GT cars from throughout the years, and the Mazda did quite well amongst them.
Once the race was done, it was time for the manufacturer hot lap session prior to the Rolex 24. I gave a bunch of Mazda executives and special guests a ride in the Whelen MX-5 Cup pace car. It was a thrill for them to experience the high banks of Daytona and to be on the same track drivers would be competing on in just a short time. Taking off the helmet to share that experience with my passengers made it a fun moment for me, too.
It was also exciting to see Connor Zilisch take home the class win in LMP2 in his first Rolex 24 attempt. Connor is a Mazda Shootout scholarship winner and longtime MX-5 Cup competitor. In fact, he ran both MX-5 Cup races at Daytona before diving into the Rolex 24. His win makes him the second-youngest Rolex 24 winner in history.
If Daytona is any indication of the season ahead, it’s going to be a fantastic and exciting year for sports car racing.