The Daytona International Speedway is one of the most recognizable and historical sports venues in the United States. Constructed back in February of 1966, the speedway is officially the home of the NASCAR (now, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) and is one of the first places that you might think of when someone mentions NASCAR.
One of the most interesting facets of the speedway is its seating arrangement. Although the capacity of the speedway is officially 75,000, over the years the capacity has varied between 70,000 and 77,000 due to various seating configurations.
On February 17, 1966, a group of track enthusiasts got together and voted to create the Daytona International Speedway. The facility would be designed with a circular layout throughout so that every seat was visible from every other seat. This makes the speedway a perfect venue for concerts, comedy shows, and the like. Sadly, the original plans for the speedway were not constructed and it took several years for the track to become the world-class sporting venue that it is today.
Changing Seating Arrangement
Back in 2011, the seating capacity of the speedway was decreased as a part of a major renovation. In that year, single-screen cinemas were installed in the middle section of the grandstands. The new seating arrangement reduced the capacity of the speedway by about 5,000 seats.
As a result of the renovation, the layout of the speedway was altered. Instead of having a circular shape, the oval was redesigned to create more space for the stands. This renovation also installed additional luxury boxes and increased the number of clubs and restaurants available at the speedway. The seats in those sections are also wider than they were before. There are currently only three screens at Daytona, whereas there used to be five or six before the 2011 renovation. This certainly makes the venue more attractive to potential sponsors and corporate partners.
More Seats Than You’d Expect
While the capacity of the Daytona International Speedway is 75,000, it probably would not surprise you to hear that there are more seats there than you’d think. For instance, in 1993, the track’s then-owner, the Ford Motor Company, built an addition to the speedway that doubled the seating capacity. This was part of a deal with Disney, who owned the naming rights to the speedway at the time, to increase the track’s seating capacity by 15,000.
When the three-year deal with Disney expired in 1996, the track’s capacity increased by another 5,000 seats. This time, the expansion was funded by Richard Petty and the Petty Enterprises group, which owned the speedway. The expansion was named the Tri-Petty Ford Premium Experience and added eight levels of parking.
In 2011, the seating capacity of the speedway was decreased as a part of a renovation. The renovation increased the available luxury seats and added screens to those areas. The addition of the screens was a way for the track to stay relevant in an ever-changing world. The renovation also added single-screen cinemas which resulted in a decrease in the overall capacity. The speedway has had several layouts throughout its history.
The End Of An Era
The Daytona International Speedway will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022. Although the capacity of the venue remains the same as it was 50 years ago, the track is going to have to make some changes to remain relevant in today’s world. The renovation project that is taking place this year is a prime example of this.
On April 16, 2022, the first practice session for the season will be held. As part of the renovations, the entire frontstretch will be torn down and completely rebuilt. This will result in the loss of over 25,000 seats and put a serious dent in the venue’s overall capacity. Fans will have to find alternative places to sit and follow the racing action.
There is no question that the Daytona International Speedway is an icon in the world of motorsports. The track is a mecca for motorsport fans and there is often a lot of buzz surrounding the speedway. One of the main reasons for this is the seating arrangement. The track is famous for being one of the first venues to implement the idea of separating fans from the action on the track. This is a concept that has been adopted by most other sports venues around the world. Having said that, the venue is definitely going to have to make some alterations to remain relevant in today’s world.