Daytona is one of the most beloved racing tracks in the world. The iconic speedway was first opened to the general public in October 1946, and immediately became home to some of the greatest racing stars of all time. Since then, it has welcomed numerous movie stars, royalty, and presidents as spectators, and now even welcomes live music events.
But who owns the track? And more importantly, who decides what happens there?
We examined the corporate ownership of the Daytona International Speedway, as well as who is in charge of the day-to-day operations, in order to determine exactly who owns Daytona and what makes it tick.
The Historical Context
The Daytona International Speedway is one of the most storied venues in all of sports. For decades, the track has been known around the world for its annual springtime race, the Daytona 500, and its historic International Motorcycle Exhibition, which was first held in August 1967 and grew in popularity every year after.
The speedway was first built in 1927 and was originally known as the Daytona Beach Speedway. At the time, it was a very popular track and became known as the place to be for high-profile automotive races. It also hosted several different motorsport events, including boxing matches, baseball games, and even rodeos. In fact, the entire city of Daytona Beach was centered around the racetrack, and it became an official town in 1964.
In early October 1946, four years after the end of World War II, a promoter named Earle Moody decided to build a new speedway near the site of the former Naval Outpost in Daytona Beach, Florida. The purpose of the new track was to host an automobile race to celebrate the upcoming Christmas holiday season. The first annual “Great American Race” was held on October 12, 1946, and was won by Louis Meyer in a Buick. The race drew over 100,000 fans, and it was immediately dubbed the “Grand Tour de France” because of its prestigious title sponsor, French cigarettes, Renault.
The Track Wasn’t Built By Individual Philanthropists
A little over a year later, on November 21, 1947, the Board of Directors of the Daytona International Speedway adopted a motion to officially change the name of the track to the “Daytona Beach Grand Prix”, in honor of the former Grand Tour de France. The name change was made permanent in December 1949.
In 1954, an entrepreneur named Fred Gough bought the track and began a major renovation. Gough wasn’t originally from Daytona Beach, but he had become very wealthy when he started a chain of dry cleaners called Gough’s Cleaners in the early 1950s. He employed a team of architects and engineers who redesigned the entire track. Gough also expanded the racing activities at the speedway, adding two more races, a Sportsman’s Stable, and a Southern 500. He died in 1969 at the age of 61, but not before adding a Gold Rush 50th anniversary race to the calendar in 1968.
Many of Gough’s renovations and design choices remain in use today, such as the hexagonal brick pattern that lines different parts of the track. These days, the term “brick wall” is often used to describe the sound made when a car drives into one of these walls at a high rate of speed (in other words, a “crash”). Additionally, the speedway still uses many of the same track paddocks that Gough built nearly 60 years ago. They’re still in use today and are some of the only original structures left at the track.
The Corporate Ownership Of The Daytona International Speedway
It wasn’t until 1994 that the Daytona Beach Grand Prix name was officially changed to the Daytona International Speedway. That same year, corporate ownerships were consolidated, and the track became part of International Speedway Corporation. The goal of the new corporate owners was to raise the profile of the track and make it more appealing to the general public. They wanted the track to be a year-round destination, and in order to do that, they needed to establish more live events and make the overall experience more convenient for fans.
In 2004, the track was completely renovated, and a new main entrance was constructed. It’s now easier for fans to find their way into the track, and it also promotes a more convenient way to get around once inside the gates.
Who Runs The Daytona International Speedway?
The Daytona International Speedway is operated by International Speedway Corporation, a publicly traded company that owns and operates sports and entertainment venues around the world. The group also owns and operates six other NASCAR tracks, namely the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Darlington Raceway, the Research & Development Center, the Kansas Speedway, and the new combined track, the Texas Motor Speedway. The group’s headquarters are located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As of September 20, 2018, the stock price of ISC was $5.83 per share, and the market capitalization is $23.8 billion.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of International Speedway Corporation is Richard Petty. He took over for his father, Lee, who passed away in May 2018 at the age of 88. Richard is one of the most respected figures in the motorsport industry, having won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship 10 times, more than any other driver. He also owns and operates Richard Petty Motorsports, an automotive racing team that fields a Ford Mustang for his own driving experience. Over the years, the team has won 15 championships and draws large crowds to all of their races, particularly during the summer months when the track is open.
The Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of the Daytona International Speedway is Steve Phelps. He has been with the group since 2004 and oversees the operations of all the company’s properties, including the speedway. Phelps also chairs the Board of Directors of the International Motorsport Federation. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in business administration. From 2007 to 2010, Steve was the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Auto Club Speedway, a NASCAR track in California. He then moved to Florida and became the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Florida Speedway. While there, he was also the track’s General Manager. In 2017, he was named the General Manager of the Year by the National Alliance of Sports. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Special Olympics’ Global Speedway Project, which brings teams of coaches and volunteers from around the world to work with disabled athletes.
Daytona International Speedway’s Major Events
The speedway is not only home to some of the greatest racing moments in history, it is also the site of some of the most exciting concerts and live music venues in all of sports. It was once the home of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and was the final resting place of Enron CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors Jeffery Skilling prior to his death in January 2018.
As mentioned above, the speedway has welcomed some of the greatest sporting icons of all time as fans and was home to several teams of Wall Street traders, including the original Black Nobility, back in its days as a stock car track. It was even home to a team of mathematicians from Princeton University, who used to come out to the track and help the bankers keep score during the day’s races.
Today, the Daytona International Speedway is one of the most popular attractions in all of sports, and it continues to grow in popularity each year. It is often ranked among the top 5 all-time tracks, and with good reason. The track is a great venue for concerts and live music events, and it is quite easy to get tickets for these events, as there is usually a wide range of tickets available for purchase. Additionally, the owners have made a concerted effort to become more eco-friendly, and they have banned the use of plastic straws and plastic bottled water at all of their venues, including the speedway. Finally, with its unique history, design, and location, it is safe to say that the Daytona International Speedway will continue to be a central part of the sports and entertainment landscape for generations to come.