Wednesday’s weather at Daytona International Speedway was sunny and warm in sheltered locations, and really windy in others. It was set-up day for the 2011 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 49th running of the sports car endurance race. The crews were unloading the cars and running them through technical scrutineering. Here and there were drivers, mostly under the radar. How welcome that must have been for them – to have time to chat up and catch up with friends, fellow drivers and teammates. Some were in driver’s suits for seat fittings, but the majority were in civvies, blending into the whole scene.

The nearly 70 degree F weather was in sharp contrast to the previous day’s wretched thunderstorms. It bucketed in Daytona Beach and with all the tornado and lightning warnings, planes were not allowed to land at the Daytona airport right next to the track. Flights backed up in Orlando and elsewhere.

Wednesday afternoon was picture perfect for the traditional class photos of the Rolex Series cars – 17 Daytona Prototypes and 32 GT’s. The cars lined up on the front straight, and the high-bank fence was awash with photogs and crew members. Try lining up 32 cars so they all fit in the photo. Arranging the DP’s wasn’t as complicated as the GT’s, but both shots had a very specific pecking order of who went where.

Starting with overall 2010 points standings – Pacesetters DP points – DP points – Pacesetters GT points – GT previous experience – timely entries – late entries.

In the garage area the technicians from Broadcast Sports Production were busy installing in-car cameras. Grand-Am rules mandate that all Rolex cars carry a dummy camera, a la F1, for equality. The in-cars cameras are paid for by the team – a set price, and one can get a better deal if a season-long package is purchased. More details to follow on this race’s designees.

Thursday is the first of the four-day weekend, and it is a busy schedule. Starting at 10 am ET, the Rolex Series cars are on track for 4.5 hours of Practice including two hours of Night Practice, and 15 minutes for each of the two classes to Qualify.

Friday the Rolex Series cars have an hour and 45 minutes of Practice and are done by noon, so they can rest up for Saturday’s start of the 24-hour race.

People talk about staying up for the whole 24 hours of the race. But think about it – from early Saturday morning to late Sunday night, for those folks it’s more like a 40-hour day. Talk about The Longest Day.

Sorry for no photos. My enthusiasm exceeds my technical skills.