How Old Is Daytona Speedway? [Expert Review!]

In honor of its first birthday, let’s take a look back at the historic track, which is now a part of the DAYS family of franchises.

Where Did The Name Come From?

Daytona is named after Daytona Beach, Florida. The beachfront city was first incorporated in 1846 and named for Sarah Annis Daytona, the first European-American to immigrate to the area.

The community quickly established itself as an important shipping hub and resort city, attracting major industry leaders and prominent residents like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Henry Holmes Davis, a prominent New York banker and land speculator.


The city’s first track was founded in February 1896 and was originally called the Daytona Short-Course Racetrack. The track’s first race took place two weeks later on April 4th. In 1899, the name was changed to its current form, Daytona Beach Racetrack.

The track was soon considered one of the premier racing destinations, earning it the nickname the “Grand Prix of the East.” Over the years, it has hosted such iconic races as the Twilight Grand Prix in 1902, the Miami Beach Grand Prix in 1912, and the Grand Prix of the Americas in 1914. It’s also been home to many world records, including the land speed record for an airplane, which was set here in 1926. In 1933, the Grand Prix was canceled due to the Great Depression.

The Birth Of A Track

The track’s first incarnation was a dirt track that was built with public money. When the track was constructed, it was designed to be more economical and practical for local residents. At the time, it was the only paved track in the area. This first version of the track only had 30 gates and measured 1.7 miles in circumference. Because it was designed for local drivers, it lacked the iconic grandstands and other features that make today’s Daytona the famous racetrack that it is today. However, it did inspire the construction of a newer, more elaborate track.

The New Era

In February 1922, John Henry Patterson, a wealthy Florida entrepreneur and founder of the Daytona Automobile Racing Club, purchased the rights to the Daytona Beach track. One of his first actions was to hire a topnotch racecar driver named Ralph De La Vega to drive for him. Vega would go on to establish himself as one of the greats of racing and become the inspiration for the character of Johnny Rutherford on the NBC drama series, “Days of Our Lives.”

Soon after, Patterson commissioned an Italian engineer named Enzo Brecca to design an improved, fully paved track. This would prove to be a turning point in the history of the track, as the new asphalt surface was both smoother and more reliable than the dirt surface that it replaced. It also enabled the organizers to install the very first enclosed cars, creating a more intimate atmosphere for the spectators.

Modern Day

The new asphalt track soon became renowned for its unique blend of speed and entertainment. Since its opening, the track has hosted some of the most famous motorsport events in the world. It has also been the scene of some of the most iconic sporting moments.

In addition to hosting the Daytona 500, the track today also hosts various other races and events like the USAC Silver Crown Championship, the Sportsman Super Tour, the Grand Prix of St. Louis, and the Rolex Sports Car Series. It is also the home of the Daytona International Speedway Museum, which was founded by the legendary car owner and racer, Bobby Rahal. The museum’s collections include racecars, posters, and other memorabilia that span several decades of auto racing history.


Even now, the track’s records still stand. There are many aviation and automotive records that the track has hosted, including the land speed record for an airplane, the world’s first million-dollar motor race, the first NASCAR Cup Series points race, the first-ever night race, and the first Daytona 500 winner. The track is also the venue for the prestigious Rolex Awards, presented annually to the designers and manufacturers of the year’s finest cars.

It’s fair to say that today, the track is more than just a track. It’s an identity. When thinking about motorsports and the Daytona 500, what comes to mind? Immediately, the track and its famous race would leap to mind.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!