Daytona International Speedway
The Daytona International Speedway (DIS) is one of the premier speedway tracks in the USA and is located in Daytona Beach close to Daytona Beach International Airport and Interstate I–95. Nearest Amtrak station is Deland with a ThruWay “bus/taxi” connection to Daytona Beach.
It is home to many famous motorcycle, car and truck race series including the NASCAR Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 and the Rolex 24.
The venue opened in 1959 and has a total capacity of over 167,000. Redevelopment of the grandstands will reduce permanent seating capacity to around 101,000 by early 2016.
At 480 acres, it is one of the largest sporting venues in the world and the layout of the course with its banked track and grandstands means that 90% of the track is visible from any seat in the grandstands.
There are several different tracks incorporated into the speedway:
- 2.5 mile (4 km) Tri-Oval
- 3.56 mile (5.73 km) Sports Car Course
- 2.95 mile (4.75 km) Motorcycle Course
- 0.25 mile (0.40 km) Dirt Flat Track
- Lake Lloyd powerboat course
The Tri-Oval is the main circuit with amazing 31 degree banking on the two main turns and 18 degrees on the tri-oval turn at the Start/Finish line. The main grandstands look out over the first and last turns, the Start/Finish line and pit lanes with a smaller grandstand at the start of the back straight.
Inside the Tri-Oval is the 180 acre infield which houses the pit area, Sprint Fanzone, Lake Lloyd and campgrounds for both tents and motor homes.
There are around eight major race meetings each year starting with the Rolex 24 in January, Daytona 500 in February followed by the Daytona 200 motorcycle race in March. The Coke Zero 400 takes place in July.
On race days, you can watch the race from one of the grandstands or to see more of the prerace action you can buy a ticket to the Sprint Fanzone in the infield where you can see the drivers and the cars before the race. You can even take a tour of the garages and see the pit crews in action.
On most race days, there is live music entertainment and food and drink is available at the Budweiser Bistro.
You can take a tour of Daytona International Speedway though access is either stopped or restricted during race meetings. Tours last from between 30 minutes to three hours.
The shortest tour is the Speedway Tour where you take a trip around the track, see the infield and pit road area and ride through the NASCAR Nationwide Series garage. Prices are $16 for adults and $10 for children (aged 6 to 12). Children aged 5 and under are free. No advance booking is possible.
The All Access Tour lasts 90 minutes also takes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, the Drivers Meeting room and Gatorade Victory Lane plus views from the seventh floor Frontstretch Suite 701. Prices are $23 for adults and $17 for children (aged 6 to 12). Children aged 5 and under are free. No advance booking is possible.
The most comprehensive tour is the VIP Tour which also includes access to the International Speedway Corporation Archives, viewing of the current champion’s Daytona 500 car and watching a film in the Coca-Cola IMAX Theater. Price is $50 per person and advanced bookings are recommended.
Daytona 500 Experience
The Daytona 500 Experience (formerly known as Daytona USA) was an interactive motorsports attraction at Daytona International Speedway but it closed to the public in 2010 and can now only be accessed at private functions and tours.
Richard Petty Driving Experience
For the more adventurous, it is even possible to drive or be driven around the circuit at speeds of up to 165 mph, with the Richard Petty Driving Experience, in a 600 HP NASCAR race car.
Ride-Along experiences start at around $79 for 3 laps in the passenger seat and if you want to actually get behind the wheel yourself, prices start from around $449 and go up into the thousands depending upon the number of laps.
As well as the Driving Experience, Richard Petty is also offering the Exotic Driving Experience package where you get to drive an exotic super-car including models from Ferrari, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Nissan and Aston Martin. Prices start from $169 for 5 to 6 laps.
If you just want a ride in a super-car then the Thrill Ride package offers you two laps as a passenger with a professional driver; prices start from $105.
The Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando offers the same Richard Petty Driving packages as Daytona International Speedway.
The various Driving packages are only available on selected dates so reservations are essential and not all cars are available at each location.
Daytona Beach Bike Week
The Daytona Beach Bike Week is one of the biggest motorcycle events in the USA with around 500,000 visitors expected of the 10 day event. It takes place each year in March and coincides with the Daytona 200 Week.
A second major event, the Daytona Biketoberfest is usually on the weekend immediately after Columbus Day.
History of Racing in Daytona
Daytona has long been associated with speed. Many of the early land speed attempts in modified racing cars took place on the sands of Daytona Beach dating back to the early 1900s. The last land speed attempts were in 1935 before moving to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah but production cars continued to race until the 1950s.
The original Daytona Beach Road Course on both the beach and highway A1A was important in the founding of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and NASCAR is still very much a part of Daytona to this day. The old course closed when the new purpose built Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959.