Located in the heart of the Florida peninsula, the Daytona International Speedway is the place to be if you’re a car lover. Every year, thousands of people flock there to take part in the annual Daytona 500, the Super Bowl of American motorsport. In 2020, the World Cup in Speedway will return to the Daytona Global Seafood Dinner, marking the 50th anniversary of the iconic American race track.
The 2019 annual report from the city of Daytona Beach, Florida, states that the population of the city is 98,000, of which 47,500 are registered to vote. The city is also home to the Daytona International Speedway, as well as the Florida Aquarium and the Southern Daytona Lodge & Spa. With all this in mind, it is clear that the Daytona International Speedway is a big deal.
Is the Daytona International Speedway under water? Or, more accurately, does it lie in the path of a water hazard? Let’s find out.
Is The Pits Area Located In The Hurricane Zone?
The northern part of Florida is located in the hurricane zone, which is why the city of Daytona Beach is well prepared for the possible threat of hurricanes. On the other side of the peninsula, in the city of St. Augustine, Florida, the streets are still named after the famous King of Spain, who visited the area back in 1513. These days, St. Augustine is better known for its historic district and its beautifully preserved homes, churches, and plazas. In 2019, St. Augustine was hit by Hurricane Emily, causing major damage and forcing the city to close down for several days. Hurricane conditions continued in Daytona Beach for several days after the storm made landfall, which is why thousands of residents and tourists had to evacuate the area. Fortunately, the worst of the storm passed without causing any major damage, and the city was able to reopen. However, this was not the case for the Daytona International Speedway, which was directly in the path of Hurricane Kelly, a category 3 hurricane at the time. Luckily, the worst of the storm missed the track by a few miles. According to Weather.com, the hurricane would have made a direct hit on the track, causing major damage and possibly killing thousands.
In 2019, the city of Daytona Beach issued a $20 million dollar insurance policy for the Daytona International Speedway, which is one of the largest insurance policies for a sports facility in US history. The policy covers the cost of repairing or replacing damage to the track, which is a testament to the fact that the city and the NASCAR racetrack have worked together to ensure the safety of the fans, spectators, and staff. However, this does not mean that the Speedway is completely secure from flooding, as it lies in the swatch of the notorious “St. Jude’s Storm”. Every year, between June and October, massive amounts of rain descend upon the city of Daytona Beach, causing frequent flooding and serious damage to properties near and far from the track. The annual storm surge affects more than 300 homes and businesses in the immediate area surrounding the Daytona International Speedway. If you happen to be one of the unlucky houses or businesses, you will have to deal with the economic and emotional stress of starting over once more. This is what makes the annual flooding in the area so tragic. The damage is never just physical, as the stigma that comes with being close to “the track” means that many area residents and businesses struggle with economic hardship for years after the storm. This is made even more tragic by the fact that the city is generally not adequately prepared for these types of extreme weather events, and does not do enough to mitigate their effects. For example, during the height of the storm surge, roads near the track become completely impassable, turning the area into a complete gridlock, and preventing residents from getting to work, school, or medical appointments. During the height of the storm, police are also overwhelmed as they are forced to evacuate residents to safety, resulting in extended road closures. According to FEMA, in 2018 alone, the city of Daytona Beach was impacted by 68 floods, 48 of which were deemed “major”. In 2019, the number of floods had increased to 74, with 57 of those being “major” floods. It is obvious that these numbers are not going down, and neither is the area of the city that is affected. In fact, in 2021 the number of floods is predicted to reach 85, with 70 of those being “major” floods. The fact is that due to sea level rise and increasing rainfall, the city is becoming increasingly vulnerable, and this is something that needs to be addressed soon.
Is the Daytona International Speedway one of the places you want to be if you’re a lover of cars and motorsport? Or does it pose a threat to your health? Take some time to explore the place, as there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. You may find that the answers are both yes, or maybe even no. Whatever the case, keep in mind that the city is located in a flood zone, and the chances of it being inundated are never very far from your mind.