Daytona International Speedway – the World Center of Racing
It was the miles of firm sands on Daytona Beach that gave birth to it becoming the home of supercharged speed. The first Daytona speedway races ran for almost 50 years in an unofficial racing circuit that included the beach and part of the A1A Highway which runs parallel.
Finally the racing was placed on a more permanent footing when the Daytona International Speedway was built in 1959 on what became known as International Speedway Drive. The stadium has since become a landmark of the area. The track is 2½ miles long and the building of the improved circuit coincided with faster and more reliable racing cars so the main race was increased from 200 to 500 miles in length.
The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s biggest and most prestigious event on the racing calendar and takes place in February each year. The date for 2012 is Sunday February 26, one week later than previous years. The event involves around 40 of the best stock car drivers and 2016 will be the 58th annual event. The race is 500 miles long, which is 200 laps, and is the first series race of the year. Its importance in the racing calendar has led to it being called the “Superbowl of Stock Car Racing”.
The Daytona 500 draws around 200,000 visitors to Daytona every year to watch the event live. The winner is presented with the Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane and the winning car is displayed at the Speedway Museum dedicated to the Daytona 500 Experience.
Other Events at the Daytona Speedway fans will be interested in
If you cannot get to Daytona in February to see the Daytona 500, there are plenty more races and events throughout the year including the Rolex 24, the Budweiser Shootout for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the Coke Zero 400 and a host of motorcycle events.
When races are not in progress visitors can take a guided tour of the huge stadium on the 480-acre site. Guides take you behind-the-scenes to see what is involved in making NASCAR events run so smoothly. Visitors get to see the Drivers’ Meeting Room, tour the NASCAR Spring Cup Series garages, view the Victory Lane and take a peek inside the press box, seven floors above the track itself. Full tours cost around $22 for adults. There are other shorter and cheaper tours available giving visitors access to the NASCAR Nationwide Series garages, pit and the infield.
The Speedway is just a small part of Daytona Beach; for many more fun and interesting things to do and see there check out “Days Out Around Cocoa Beach” which has 15 more places to visit. The Villages residents will also find this a useful addition to my “The Villages” series of books.