Daytona International Speedway, first opened its gates in February of 1959 and is the largest race track in the world. It is located in Daytona Beach, Florida and covers an area of 8.6 million square feet. This makes it about 11 football fields long and 7.5 football fields wide. If you have ever been there, then you know how big the place is. It’s a full-blown city at the end of a racetrack. It’s difficult to find your way around in the first place, and it’s hard to find a parking spot too. But all those things aside, it is truly a unique sports and cultural experience to see a race anywhere in the world. Whether you are a motorsport fan or not, you must have heard of Daytona!
A Record-Breaking 8.6 Million Square Feet
To put this in perspective, the entire area surrounding the Daytona International Speedway is approximately 9.5 square miles of which 8.6 million square feet is the track itself. This makes it about 25% of the whole area. When you compare this to other sports venues, it is quite evident that the Daytona International Speedway is the largest of its kind. Additionally, the grandstands hold an incredible 107,000 people and the whole thing seats up to 250,000 people. That’s a lot of spectators!
An interesting fact about the Daytona International Speedway is that it was originally built for cars rather than people. The speedway was built to accommodate the rapidly growing automobile industry in the 1950s. They needed a place big enough to hold large motor vehicle races. So, they built the track and began holding automobile racing events regularly.
The Most Famous Race: The Daytona 500
The most famous and, perhaps, the most popular event held at the Daytona International Speedway is the Daytona 500. This is the prestigious “granddaddy” of them all. It was first held in February of 1959 and is named after the Daytona Beach Hotel and the 500 grandstands that reside there. The Daytona 500 is the first race of the year and the first big race of the season. It is also one of the most historic and prestigious races in all of sports. It brings in the crowds and sets the tone for the rest of the season. This is a big deal for the track!
The Daytona 500 is also the largest single-day sporting event held in the United States with 100,000 watching the race on television, 150,000 attending the live event, and over 300,000 attending some form of the race. It is, quite literally, a global event! Furthermore, this year the Daytona 500 is celebrating its 60th anniversary. So, if you have ever seen or listened to any of the classic rock radio stations, then you know exactly what is coming up on March 16th.
Daytona’s Other Major Events
Besides the Daytona 500, the track also hosts many other events such as the Mobil 1 Showdown, the NHRA Drag Racing Invitational, and the Sports Car Club of America’s Grand Prix. This is a partial list of the events that the Daytona International Speedway has to offer. If you add any other major races or exhibitions to the above list, then it truly is a world-class event venue!
Additionally, the track has a section that is lined with charter aircraft. It was originally built as a site for testing new aircraft designs. It’s a unique and rare opportunity for everyone to get a glimpse of an airplane up close and personal. Some of the pilots who work with the aircraft companies that have offices there will even give you a ride in the cockpit for a small fee!
A World-Class Entertainment Venue
The Daytona International Speedway is a premier entertainment and cultural facility. It is home to a performing arts center that is dedicated to showcasing a variety of performances from world-class musicians and performers to local high school theater groups. The center has over 90,000 square feet of space and can accommodate audiences of up to 500 people. Additionally, the speedway hosts the Florida Renaissance Festival in the fall. This is an annual event that features theatrical performances, jousting matches, exhibitions, parades, and more. It lasts for about 10 days and draws thousands of people from around the world.
All in all, the Daytona International Speedway is a unique sports and cultural venue. It is the largest of its kind in the world and, quite frankly, one of the most beautiful and historic venues I have ever been to! If you are a fan of automobiles or if you just want to visit Florida, then there is no question that you need to see this place!