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Classic Race Cars Were the Best Part of This Year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona

With a group like this, it’s hard to pay attention to the action.

Conner GoldenWriter, PhotographerBilly RehbockPhotographer

The window-rattling thunder from this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona has long since subsided, but we can't shake flashes of that incredible race from our minds. Of course, the on-track action inspires plenty of reminiscing, but it's what was in the infield that has us daydreaming the most. As is customary, a section of the infield spectator area played parking lot to classic race cars of Daytonas past.

Sandwiched between a sprawling beer pavilion and the primary team garage area, this field of Daytona classic race cars is knee-buckling in breadth and significance. There's a little bit for every enthusiast; Detroit iron had ample representation at this year's display with a smattering of Mustangs, Camaros, and a trio of musclebound Greenwood Corvettes. Predictably, Porsche was out in full force with the enigmatic Gunnar G99-001, 962-14B, a 914-6, and a handful of 911s. From the other side of the world, a flame-spitting Mazda RX-8 and a Skyline GT-R gave JDM fans an earful of screaming rotary and howling inline six, respectively.

We've highlighted a few of our favorites below, but make sure to hit the full gallery for the entire field of Daytona classics.

Greenwood Corvettes

Thanks to the many successes of the Corvette Racing team, it's hard to imagine endurance racing without at least one Corvette on the grid. Prior to the debut and subsequent domination of the Corvette C5-R in 1999, General Motors rarely backed Corvette race teams in any serious capacity, instead focusing on the competition careers of the Camaro and Monza.

That didn't stop privateers from modifying their own Corvettes and hitting the race circuit in search of glory. Of the many solo 'Vette outings over the years, none made as strong an impact as John Greenwood and his Stingrays. The racer and car fabricator turned a handful of C3-generation Corvettes into swollen, star-spangled endurance racing juggernauts, blowing eardrums and burning rubber at Sebring, Daytona, and Le Mans.

Even by modern standards, these are terrifying machines. Monster 10.8-liter (660 ci) V-8s spit out around 1,000 hp, routed to the massive rear wheels through a Muncie four-speed manual transmission. Of course, this made these 'Murica-mobiles unbelievably fast, shattering both lap and speed records with abandon. Despite three unsuccessful runs at Daytona in 1976, 1977, and 1978, the Greenwood Corvette holds the likely unbeatable title of fastest top speed recorded on the Daytona banking - 236 mph.

Gunnar G-99

Ce n'est pas une 911 GT1. Yes, despite sharing an identical silhouette, Porsche 911 GT3 drivetrain, and Porsche script scattered around the exterior, this isn't an actual Porsche 911 GT1. This is a Gunnar-Porsche G99, a race prototype built from the ground up on a custom chassis for use by Champion Racing, though the team decided to campaign a Lola for the 2000 season. The G-99 returned for the 2003 Rolex Sports Car Series, but was quickly banned following a switch to Daytona Prototypes later that year.

2011 BMW M3 GT

In honor of BMW taking the GTLM class win at this year's race, we had to feature this legendary E92 M3 GT that took the ALMS Driver, Team, and Manufacturer championships in 2011—along with back-to-back class wins at Sebring in 2011 and 2012. What a way to send the first—and last—V-8-powered M3 out with a bang.