The Daytona 500 is the jewel in the crown of NASCAR racing and one of the biggest racing events at the Daytona International Speedway alongside the Rolex 24 at Daytona and concludes the Daytona Sprint Unlimited and Daytona Budweiser Speedweeks event.
The 500 refers to the number of miles (805 km), some 200 laps of the 2.5 mile oval circuit. The Daytona 500 is the first race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup Series calendar and carries the largest prize money. It is often referred to as “The Great American Race”.
In 2019, the Daytona Speedweeks schedule starts on Saturday, February 9 with the Lucas Oil 200 Driven By General Tire, followed by the DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger and Advance Auto Parts Clash on February 10, Duel At DAYTONA on February 14, NextEra Energy 250 (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series) on February 15 and DAYTONA 300 on February 16.
Speedweeks ends with the Daytona 500 race on Sunday, February 17.
There are around 43 cars taking part each year. Richard Petty is the leading overall winner with seven wins between 1964 and 1981. The fastest average lap speed during qualifying of 210.364 miles per hour (338.548 km/h) was recorded by Bill Elliot in 1987.
In 2019 the 61st Daytona 500 race itself starts at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 17 but the day starts at around 7:00 a.m. in the morning when the garages open.
Daytona 500 Event Schedule
On race day, the UNOH Fanzone and garages open at 7:00 a.m. with the grandstands opening at 8:00 a.m. Guided garage tours in the UNOH Fanzone are available from 8:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
The Daytona 500 race starts at 3:00 p.m.
There is also a midway carnival, live music, food and drink concessions.
Last year, Rascal Flatts performed as part of the DAYTONA 500 Pre-Race Show on the pit road of the “World Center of Racing”.
Daytona 500 Tickets
Daytona International Speedway has recently undergone some major redevelopment work to the grandstands with 101,000 permanent grandstand seats.
Single day ticket prices depend upon where on the circuit you want to watch the race from. They start at $99 but sell out quickly. You can also buy multi-day packages.
If you want to get closer to the pre-race action, you can get a Daytona 500 UNOH Fanzone / Pre race wristband that allows you to watch the garage activity and take part in the fan forums on the main stage. You can also get access onto the track surface of Daytona International Speedway, watch the driver introductions, have great photo opportunities on the start/finish line and along the pit road.
Children 12 and under are free but must be accompanied by an adult. Note wristbands do not include a race day admission ticket.