When a group of Chicago-based friends need to get away for
the weekend, especially in the winter, they tend to head to
Florida. Only instead of sandy beaches and piña coladas, these
four and their kids head to the high banks of Daytona or the
runways of Sebring to drink in the various sights and sounds of
an IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar Championship event.
Words by George Tamayo
“For our family, it’s usually Daytona
instead of Disney,” says Sharon Ptak,
who along with her husband Jim and
son Wesley have made it to
numerous IMSA races. “As a sensory
experience it’s amazing, plus the
access to the drivers and teams and
the fact that the races are long
enough to be able to watch from
multiple vantage points makes it
really family friendly.”
Jim has been a sports car racing fan
since childhood, stating that he could
pick out the sound of an air-cooled
Porsche at the age of three.
Along with Doug Metzel and
Warren Daniel, who often brings his
son, Tats, these four friends have
become kindred spirits around IMSA
races, both on event as well as
watching on TV or the IMSA app.
All of them enjoy a wide variety of
motorsports, but there’s no doubt that
they put IMSA races at the top of the list.
“I went to the F1 race in Austin and
it was fantastic, but at the same time,
my ability to enjoy the event was really
restricted to where my reserved seat
was,” says Doug. “By contrast, IMSA
races allow you almost total freedom
to move around and see the race from
different vantage points in addition
to all the interaction with the teams
in the paddock.”
Varied interaction is definitely a key
to their enjoyment.
“Everyone from the drivers and crew
members to the officials is so
personable. You never feel like you
don’t belong,” says Warren, who is
admittedly the newest to the sport, but
has quickly become an ardent fan.