Endurance Racing Is Fun

- 5 min read

I recently wrote about our Daytona 24 experience a little while ago. The post initially started as a rant against some behaviour I’ve seen from a particular YouTuber. The individual in question is irrelevant, but their attitude to endurance races is more relevant as it rubs me the wrong way. I want to explore why I race in these events, but I’ll also concede that there is room for different perspectives.

Meatspace Endurance Racing is Expensive

A few years ago, I helped as team manager for some friends racing in a 24-hour Lemons race1. A Lemons race is very appealing from a costing point of view, but the reality is that it still requires quite a bit of capital investment into a car, and there are still the running costs to consider. Looking at the results from that race, team Datsfun (one of the teams my friends raced as) completed a staggering 450 laps! My notes had Datsfun’s fuel tank estimated at around 60 litres, with a stint length of 2h30m and an average lap time of 2m35s, which puts a stint at about 58 laps.

A lap at Red Star Raceway is about 4km, which puts average fuel consumption at just under 4 km/l! It means that, at a minimum, my friends had to buy about 465 litres of petrol to complete this race. The fuel alone today @ R24/l would cost just under R12k! The costs are more palatable considering there were 4 drivers that split the costs, but we still need to consider covering license and entry fees or the capital required to get a car in racing shape. My point is that endurance racing in meatspace is expensive.

Camaraderie is Amazing

It didn’t stop people from entering, and it was quite the experience to be involved. The pits were buzzing with energy for the entirety of the 24-hour race! While I was standing on the pit wall next to the track, I could hear music pumping from the restaurant area. In areas designated safe to do so, people lit a braai, hung out and had a good time.

This is one of my biggest takeaways from the experience—the camaraderie between not just my friends but everybody around. We were cheering when a team suffered near catastrophic damage but somehow managed to fix the issue and get their car back out. My friends entered a total of three cars, but only one made it to the end. It was devastating when the others retired, especially the one car going through a hurculean five gearbox changes! As they say, that’s racing.

I’ve found that the camaraderie is common in meatspace and sim races. An example from the recent Daytona 24 event on iRacing where a driver had shared that they won their split solo had everybody in the split cheer the guy on. In our race, there was some chatter where people were encouraging one another to get to the end, but more importantly, taking on such a significant endeavour as a 3-man team and having other teammates join our voice chat to say hello and good luck was all the camaraderie I needed.

Don’t Forget About the Journey

The event was a big journey for both the 2023 and 2024 Daytona 24. I started preparing for the 2023 race a few weeks prior, partly due to me joining another team that I don’t usually race with. Going through all the motions is a lot of fun, and remembering to enjoy the journey more than the destination is important. My prep for the Nürburgring 24 Hours was completely different. I did a total of 2h40m worth of practice, but experience on the Nürburgring left me feeling more confident, and we were in the Toyota GR 86, which is a much more forgiving car to drive. These 24-hour events are much more about the journey for me, which I enjoy. With the 6 Hours of the Glen race, I found that there was much less of that, but the reliance on others still makes the journey worth it. You learn to celebrate the highs as a team and push through the lows.

When Competition is Too Much

While I’m very competitive, my sim racing journey has taught me a lot about expectation management. I’m holding down a job, I’m married to a lovely wife, and we started the journey of parenthood a few months ago. I can’t myself to the people who are sim racing daily, building a following on streaming platforms. If we crash during a race, we’re damn well pushing to finish, even if a win is out of our grasp.

They are sinking orders of magnitude more hours into their sim racing journey, and they will likely expect to compete at the field’s upper end. When I go onto X (formerly Twitter) and see that they’ve thrown in the towel, I struggle to have compassion for their lack of follow-through. Still, knowing you won’t be winning will take away quite a bit of enjoyment when you cross that finish line. It’s a fine line to walk, but considering that a sim racing endurance event is so much cheaper to compete in, I’d encourage whoever is reading this to keep in mind that you can still have fun even if you’re not going to be competing for a win.

  1. In short, a lemon is a race car that needs to fit into a stringent budget cap. For the race my friends raced in, their budget was R50k, and the race also had the shortest lap time of 2m30s; laps under 2m30s get deleted. Going over budget will have you see laps deducted, while coming in under budget will add bonus laps to your tally. The intention is to run an affordable format where teams need to balance their spending such that a good result isn’t purely down to how much money you can pump into your car. ↩︎