The Rolex 24 has two very different ways to experience the daylong race: in the suites or from the infield.
BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
From outside the Daytona International Speedway, the sound of the engines was no more than a quiet rumbling, but impressive in its own right.
From inside, the rumble rose to a deafening roar, and for those who attended any part of the Rolex 24, or Taste of the 24, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26 and 27, it was constant.
The race started at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and continued until the same time Sunday, with a win for Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Pruett’s team.
But for many in attendance, there was more to do than sit and watch. There was the Taste of the 24, featuring 30 area restaurants serving samples of their dishes on three levels of the Speedway’s corporate suites.
Among the Ormond Beach restaurants was Dimitri’s Bar, Deck and Grill, 790 S Atlantic Ave., Theia’s Pastries, 15 N. Ridgewood Ave., and Maria Bonita, 195 W. Granada Blvd.
“This was just a great opportunity to get some exposure,” said Eleni Papadakos, of Theia’s Pastries. “The clientele is our target clientele. It’s an honor to be with these other restaurants.”
Theia’s Pastries served baklava, kourembiethes and carrot cake, while Maria Bonita served its guests quesadillas, queso dip and chips and salsa. Dimitri’s Bar, Deck and Grill served mini gyros, golden gator bites and braised pork shank.
The corporate suites provided an isolated, comfortable view of the race, while down below, spectators in the infield were surrounded by the action.
The infield not only had a stage with live music, a Ferris wheel, food and drinks, but also thousands of fans, many of which came in their campers, ready for the long night.
One of these fans, Chad Bell, of Leesburg, quickly dismissed the notion of not sleeping. Bell said getting sleep was about finding the right combination of headphones, ambient noise and maybe a sleeping pill, as the cars, and their roar, continued through the early hours.
Bell, in his third year attending the race, said the Rolex 24 is a less crowded, more laid back atmosphere than the Daytona 500, when fans will camp out at the speedway for the week leading up to Feb. 24, and the actual race day.