The end of the offseason is so close, I can almost smell it. It smells like Florida, and in this case, I’m entirely okay with that. IMSA’s big test weekend, the Roar Before The Rolex 24, is happening now, and it’s essentially a big preview for the 24 Hours of Daytona as well as the rest of the season.

The Roar is a three-day test session at Daytona International Speedway for the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship (formerly Tudor United Sports Car) and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Advertisement

Although The Roar is not televised, it is a public event, and plenty of awesome photos and videos are making their way onto the Internet.

Here’s a video from the first WTSC practice session with some great close-ups of the cars themselves. Not all of the cars entered this weekend have their full liveries yet, but you can still see what’s running in the fles—err, um, carbon fiber.

Here’s even more footage of Friday’s tests from Racer, showing the cars out on track. It’s hard not to love the WTSC field this year. New GT cars include the Ferrari 488, the BMW M6, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and the Ford GT.

The lovely folks at Porsche put together a quick feature on their cars at The Roar as well. Yet another long-time Porsche team (Magnus Racing) jumped ship to run an Audi R8 this year, but the flat-six-in-the-trunk set also picked up the Black Swan Racing team (who formerly ran in Pirelli World Challenge). Additionally, Frikadelli Racing—including Nürburgring queen Sabine Schmitz—is making the trip over to run at Daytona to run a 911.

Advertisement

Advertisement

...

(HOLY CRAP, SABINE SCHMITZ.)

I’m...I’m going to need a moment. A rare, deserved starstruck moment. That’s just...that’s...I can’t even.

[Edit: A few of you have pointed out that the roster has since been changed and she’s not there. Porsche confirmed the lack of Sabine in a press release this morning as well. NOOOOOOOOO!]

There is one trend on the liveries that have appeared this weekend that’s truly Making The Paddock Great Again: ‘Murica. Lots and lots of ‘Murica. The stars and stripes are flying all over the WTSC paddock, and with good reason: this is America’s major endurance racing series, and the home of such delightful home-grown cars as the new Ford GT.

Stevenson Motorsports—the same guys who ran a Camaro in CTSCC last year—moved up to the WTSC this year, but adapted their extremely patriotic livery to their new Audi R8. It’s very thunder-chicken-like up front in a great way.

The DeltaWing DWC13 whipped out a throwback livery to the 2002 American Le Mans Series Panoz Roadsters, per Racer. It’s never looked better.

Lastly, if you’re running a Corvette, you’re pretty much running a race car fueled by bald eagle tears and fireworks anyway. You might as well play that up on the car, as Corvette Racing is doing this year with its subtle nod to the U.S. flag.

However, it’s best to keep the fireworks away from the rear fenders if we’re whipping out the apple pie and celebrating America. (‘Tis just a flesh wound. They’ll be back out tomorrow.) According to Racer, this car-b-que caused by a malfunction in the fuel system on track was the second fiery incident for the Corvette team after a fire broke out in their garage.

Just in case you couldn’t get enough random footage from today’s test, here’s an onboard from Ozz Negri in the Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2-Honda.

Advertisement

Advertisement

According to Sportscar365, the Michael Shank Racing team and the Ferrari-driving Scuderia Corsa will be the two teams from IMSA making the trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, running in the LMP2 and GTE Am classes, respectively.

Elsewhere in the Prototype class, Racer reports that Mazda’s two prototypes finally have a gas-powered engine instead of their old diesels. They’re comparatively much, much closer on pace to the rest of the field if today’s times are any indication.

Interested in who’s the fastest? Us too. You can view live timing and scoring here for each session and find the full entry lists here for WTSC and here for CTSCC. Sportscar365 will likely post multiple galleries like this one of brand spanking new race cars in action. Marshall Pruett has also been putting together fantastic live-blogs of the test weekend on Racer, including this one from today’s practice session. Happy stalking!

Advertisement

GIF via YouTube


Contact the author at stef.schrader@jalopnik.com.