IMSA, WeatherTech Championship Open 2024 Season at Record-Setting Pace

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship continues racing into new territory and driving momentum higher. The Rolex 24 At Daytona that opened the 2024 season set records on and off the track. A series of events held in and around the iconic race at Daytona International Speedway also piqued interest and were highly attended.

“By most any measure, this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona was an overwhelming success,” IMSA President John Doonan said, “and shows the positive momentum that IMSA continues building. We couldn’t do any of this without the tremendous support of our partners, manufacturers and participants, and each and every one of them played a role in writing this success story.

“The fans that turned out in record numbers are just as important because they’re what we all do this for. We’re eager to carry on this energy from the Rolex 24 and take it forward to next month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Cadillac, and to every event on the schedule this year and beyond.”

A vast array of high-profile events and records established the 62nd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona as one for the annals. Among them:

Record Attendance for Rolex 24 At Daytona: Daytona International Speedway announced that the 2024 event set an all-time attendance record. Attendance at the Rolex 24 has doubled since 2018.

Viewership, Social and Digital Engagement Continue to Climb: Close to four million unique viewers tuned in to the Rolex 24 when combining the linear and streaming broadcasts, with Peacock seeing a dramatic increase more than doubling its 2023 audience. IMSA’s social and digital platforms broke previous record highs of reach and engagement, including 31 million video views during the month of January.

Track Speed Record Smashed in Qualifying: Pipo Derani blew past the old track record for the Daytona International Speedway’s 3.56-mile road course by more than a second in qualifying on Jan. 21. His Motul Pole Award-winning lap of 1 minute, 32.656 seconds was a full 1.029 seconds quicker than the standard set in 2019. In fact, all nine Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) cars that qualified this year went faster than the old record.

Record Merchandise Sales: Craton Promotions, the official merchandising partner for IMSA, reported record sales at the Rolex 24 for the second straight year. Sales for this year’s event increased by 30 percent over 2023.

IMSA Driving Innovation Technology Forum: New to the Rolex 24 calendar of events, the forum featured a panel discussion on the relationship between IMSA’s cutting-edge emerging technology and the automobile industry. An audience of over 80 technology-racing industry and automobile industry leaders, as well as constituents from NASA, heard from panel members Matt Kurdock, IMSA Senior Technical Director; Jacob Bergenske, Director, Bosch Motorsport North America; Shawn Henry, Chief Security Officer, CrowdStrike; CJ Moses, Chief Information Security Officer, Amazon; Steve Clayton, VP Strategy and Communications, Microsoft; and Taylor Newill, Senior Director, Oracle.

“Win the Weekend Presented by Michelin,” Season 2: Filming began at Daytona for the second season of the popular YouTube docuseries that takes fans inside the IMSA paddock. After focusing on the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class in 2023, this year’s eight-episode series will dive into the stories of the hyper-competitive Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) and Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) classes.

IMSA Twenty-Four Premier at ONE DAYTONA: The fan engagement experience on Wednesday evening of race week saw massive participation from teams and drivers, who were rewarded by equally massive fan attendance at the free-admission event across the street from the racetrack. There were 115 drivers from IMSA-sanctioned series on hand to meet fans, sign autographs and join in question-and-answer sessions on stage. Thirty-four cars were stationed around the area for fans to view up close. Pit stop demonstrations and other activities also kept attendees entertained.

GTP Telemetry Website Powered by AWS: The soft launch of a new public web page displaying telemetry information from the competing GTP cars debuted during the Rolex 24 race. Available to both fans and the media, the page displayed real-time information for each hybrid-electrified GTP car, including how much energy was remaining in the car as it raced, when energy was being regenerated through braking on track or while in the pits, when the car was using the throttle or braking, speeds achieved and more. The GTP telemetry page was a hit with those yearning to gain inside knowledge of this technologically relevant race class. The page will be active again on race weekend at Sebring and throughout the season.

Apple Original Films on Site: Actor Brad Pitt was on site filming the Apple Original Films’ untitled Formula One Racing Feature from director Joseph Kosinski, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Plan B Entertainment and Sir Lewis Hamilton’s Dawn Apollo Films banner. Production took place during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona and is directed and produced by the same teams that created the “Top Gun” franchise and other major action movies. The movie includes a fictional IMSA team, “Chip Hart Racing,” fielding the No. 120 Porsche in the GT Daytona (GTD) class. The actual No. 120 car – with an identical livery to the film car – was fielded by Wright Motorsports and finished seventh in the Rolex 24. Bruckheimer also served as Grand Marshal for the race. The film is set to be released in 2025.

Record Turnout for Chairman’s Breakfast: One of the largest annual gatherings of automotive executives from around the world, this year’s breakfast hosted by NASCAR and IMSA Chairman Jim France on Rolex 24 race morning saw more than 160 leaders attend. Among those on hand were representatives from each of the industry-leading 18 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who have committed to participating in IMSA-sanctioned series during the 2024 season, IMSA constructors, racetracks and corporate partners, as well as the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), Automobile Competition Committee for the United States (ACCUS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and IMSA broadcast partner NBC.