The Daytona International Speedway is one of the most iconic sports venues in the world. With its huge track sprawled across the countryside, it is home to the season opener of the American racing season, the Great American Race. Millions of fans come here to see the biggest names in motorsport history battle it out on the track, with victory celebrations and incredible hospitality alongside the world-class paddock and grandstands.
It is located about an hour and a half north of Miami, in a town called Daytona Beach. If you are unfamiliar, the Daytona Beach area is famous for its beaches and its warm subtropical climate. It is, in fact, the largest and most popular beach destination in the world. So it is understandable if you are curious about the track and want to know how long it is. Let’s find out together.
How Long Is The Track At Daytona?
The Daytona International Speedway is a 3.5-mile course with 60 degrees of banking. It is one of the earliest and most historic venues of its kind. It first opened its doors in May of 1959 and has continued to grow ever since. As the years have gone by, the trackside buildings and bridges have been expanded, new stands have been erected, and the whole experience has been renovated.
The world-famous track currently hosts the Great American Race, the Rolex Sports Car Series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and the International Motorcycle Association (AMA) Touring Series, in addition to several other important racing events and festivals throughout the year.
The track measures 3.5 miles around but covers a little bit more than that, with a starting/finishing line that is 3.285 miles long. According to the track announcer, the entire course is 3.7 miles. While that may be true, it is rounded out with a small loop around the inside of the track that the cars travel in order to get to and from the line at the end of the lap. So let’s say, for the sake of argument, that 3.5 miles is exactly what we get when we add up the 3.285 miles starting/finishing line and the 0.2 miles of that loop around the track—we will use that number for the purposes of this article.
Is The Track Always Three-and-a-Half Miles?
Nope. Not always. The track can vary in length from 3.25 to 3.75 miles, depending on the configuration of the race. There are a couple of multi-lap events that are more than three miles at least and, as mentioned above, the entire course is sometimes longer than 3.5 miles. That extra 0.5 mile and a half comes from the loop around the track. So unless otherwise specified, we can assume that all 3.5-mile courses are the same length.
Here are some more things to know about the track:
Does The Track Have Paddocks?
Nope. That would be the infield. The paddocks are the areas between the track and the seating rows, where the cars are parked and prepared for the race. There are also some paved areas nearby that the drivers can use for overtaking and making last-second changes in direction, if necessary.
Is There Any Safety Concerns?
The track is extremely safe. In fact, it is one of the most famous and safest racing venues in the world. It is well known for its incredible track safety record, which, in turn, makes it a great place for fans to experience the thrill of motorsport. There are no known health concerns regarding the track. In fact, it is a completely vegan and vegetarian-friendly venue.
Unfortunately, the track does get incredibly crowded during peak season. The line for parking can grow to over an hour long during the weekend and traffic can be terrible. During these times, it is recommended that attendees use public transportation or park and ride.
With that in mind, here are some more interesting facts about the famous track:
What Is The Temperature During The Race?
The temperature can vary greatly, depending on the season and the time of day. In the summer, it can reach the high 90s, while in the winter, it can dip to the low 40s. You will always find a way to keep warm, though, with lots of available heat blankets and ice chests around the track. Motorcycle riders especially love to come here in the winter, as the track is a frozen tundra, which provides the perfect surface material for training and racing.
How Much Does It Cost To Attend A Race?
In the grandstands, it costs $20 to $60, depending on the event and the day of the week. Reserved seats in the pits are around $400 and a pair of grandstand seats for the main event are around $1,000. You will have to pay in advance, as there are no refunds. In the camping area, it costs around $45 per night. You can bring your own tents and sleeping mats, but there are no hookups available. For those wanting to stay for the whole event, you can hire a camper and park for around $60 per night.
Is Public Transportation Available?
Nope, but the track is a few miles from the closest big city. That is not a problem, though, as there is always ample parking and lots of free shuttles available directly from the airport, to the hotel and the track. Many major car manufacturers and their associated companies also have a presence here, which provides the public with easy access to test-drive their vehicles. Those interested in taking a spin can find nearby locations where they can get behind the wheel of a car, boat, or even an airplane.
Is Alcohol Allowed At The Track?
Yes, but you will need to be 21 or older to drink alcohol. You cannot bring any liquor or beer into the track with you, as it is considered a dry facility. It also does not allow food or liquid into the track area, so please do not bring a picnic or a bottle of wine to the event with you. You will also need to remove your hats and sunscreen during the race. While the track is beautiful and the weather is perfect, the last thing this track needs is people drinking and partying, distracting drivers and creating a dangerous atmosphere. So please, be respectful of this amazing place and its incredible legacy as a sports and entertainment venue.
There is so much more to discover about this legendary track, including the fact that it is the third-oldest sports facility in the United States. So if you are a fan of NASCAR and you are heading to the coast, make sure to add this one to your list of must-sees. Who knows, maybe you will even learn a thing or two about racing along the way.