The Daytona International Speedway is the largest and one of the most popular NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) tracks. The speedway is located in Daytona Beach, Florida, approximately an hour and a half drive from Disney World, offering a glimpse of American motor sports at its best. If you’re planning to visit Florida anytime soon, keep this in mind – you won’t want to miss out on the action at the Daytona International Speedway!
The History Of The Speedway
The Daytona Speedway opened in February 1950 as a joint venture between Richard Petty and Fred Lorenzen. At the time, both men were competing full-time in NASCAR; however, they were looking for a way to spice up their already hectic schedules. The brainstorming session led to the development of the world’s largest racing oval, and it was officially opened to the public on February 18, 1950. The track’s first race was held two days later, and it hosted its first annual Thanksgiving Day race in 1956. During those early years, the speedway was considered a “retirement track” for drivers, with many of them using it as a second home during the winter months. Since then, the speedway has seen many changes and improvements, the most recent and largest of which was completed in 2016.
The track’s first asphalt surface came with a price – it was originally built as a dirt track, and switching to asphalt meant removing a ton of dirt from each week’s racing action, which in turn meant fewer wacky surprises for the drivers. Another major change that year was the introduction of the Budweiser beer garden, located just past the entrance to the track. It’s an American tradition to drink alcohol while watching NASCAR – drivers and fans alike enjoy the refreshing drink while waiting for the race to start. The Budweiser garden was a great way to enhance the fan experience, since it offered a scenic view of the track while downing a cold one.
The 2016 Renovations
The first noticeable difference you’ll experience upon entering the new Daytona International Speedway is the vibrant green colour of the track. The entire outside of the track was painted by hand by over 100 dedicated volunteers, and it took them over 200 hours to do so, ensuring that each brick, block, and bit of surface is uniform in colour, as well as texture. The second thing you’ll notice is that the grandstands are now mostly enclosed, protecting fans from inclement weather conditions and offering them a more comfortable viewing experience. An additional set of bleachers were also added to the mix, providing more room for fans to sit and stretch their legs.
The New Lights
The third difference you’ll notice upon entering the new speedway is the expanded use of lighting technology. When the lights go down at night, they don’t simply go out, they actually change colour, enhancing the viewing experience and adding to the ambience, especially during a thunderstorm. For the last several years, the speedway has been using a special mix of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) that produce different colours, and they’ve been carefully selected to produce a breathtaking rainbow effect during night races. These LEDs are synced with the cars’ headlamps, allowing them to shine through the various layers of dark surface as the vehicles pass by. It’s an added touch that will have you wondering how the night could possibly be falling when you’re at the speedway!
One feature that was added in 2016 was a new digital billboard located adjacent to the backstretch, offering drivers and sponsors an opportunity to reach out to the nearly 100,000 spectators that line the streets each week.
There are so many features that make the new Daytona International Speedway special, from the amazing view of the track to the comfortable grandstands and beer garden. If you’ve never been there, you absolutely must go – there are plenty of reasons why you should visit Florida, and one of them is the Daytona International Speedway!