DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Patrick Lindsey took the strangest and most entertaining Sunday drive ever.
At famed Daytona International Speedway of all places. During the prestigious Rolex 24 no less. And in the midst of thousands of spectators, many of them shocked to see a race car veering so far off track.
After Lindsey's Porsche had an axle issue on the road course at Daytona International Speedway early Sunday, he turned down a service road and ended up driving through the infield.
He weaved in and out of traffic — passing cars, motorhomes and golf carts — had to slow down for pedestrians and ended up wishing he had a horn. His jaunt even brought him more attention than winning Petit Le Mans last year.
"A couple of my sponsors came by and said, 'Hey, that was awesome,'" said Lindsey, a full-time driver in IMSA Series. "Everybody I guess got a good laugh about it unbeknownst to me. Yeah, it's funny. We won Petit at the end of last year and people are like, 'Yes, super, good for you.' But I drive through the freaking paddock on the street and people are like, 'Yeah!'"
Lindsey lost forward drive coming out of Turn 5 and didn't want to cause a full-course caution, so he decided to take a short cut through the infield. He knew where he was going and what he was getting into.
And it was as weird as expected.
"First of all, I got to sit there for a minute while the guy woke up and opened up the gate," Lindsey said. "I don't know what time it was, but people were just kind of foggy. I made it through there and I didn't exactly know where I was but I knew there was a road there somewhere. People were walking, like having their morning coffee, and there's a race car behind them.
"The cars this year are a lot quieter and I'll be damned if we don't have a horn. Because there is nothing you can do except just wait for them to figure out that there's a race car there. As soon as they did, they were kind enough to jump up out of the way."
Well, most anyway.
Even the tram pulled over to let Lindsey by, but not everyone was as considerate. Lindsey said a white Ford truck and a white Acura "were not paying attention."
"I was seriously thinking about tapping the Acura that was just cruising in front of me," he added. "Then I thought to myself, 'Well, do I have to stop and like talk to the guy after I hit him? Technically, he signed a waiver to get in here, right? So if he gets hits by a race car, it's kind of his own bad, so I literally had this discussion in my mind about just giving him a love tap."
He eventually got by those two and then drove by the famed Ferris wheel, past concession and souvenir stands and then by all the sports car clubs before getting to the garage, where crew members started changing the gear box. His No. 73 Park Place Motorsports entry fell more than 100 laps behind the GT Daytona class leader.
"It's an emotional roller-coaster beyond the obvious mental and physical (strains)," Lindsey said. "When something bad happens to the car, you're distraught and frustrated. One little thing can kind of set you off. Fortunately, we had already had some bad stuff happen. If that was the first bad thing that happened, I would have been pretty upset.
"It was already a bad deal. It was just a little entertainment after that."