Daytona International Speedway Featured Packages
Daytona International Speedway History
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Daytona is another word for speed.
Daytona International Speedway opened in ‘59, but daring men have tested the limits of man and machine in Daytona Beach, Fla., for more than a century. A ticket to the Daytona 500 is more than a ticket to the world’s most important stock car race. Daytona 500 tickets are passports to history, tangible links to the pioneers in American automotive performance. When Sir Malcolm Campbell ran 276.82 mph in March ‘35, it marked the 15th time the world’s land speed record had been set on the Daytona Beach sands. And when the speed-record trials moved to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Daytona kept on racing. In ‘36, the precursor to today’s Daytona 500 was born on a course that went down 1.5 miles of highway, then turned and came the same distance back up the beach.
William H.G. France, a mechanic and racer who’d moved south from Washington, D.C., eventually took over the job of running the beach races on the second of two courses used for those events. In ‘47, he presided over a meeting at Daytona’s Streamline Hotel where NASCAR was born. A decade later, France began working on his showplace. Daytona International Speedway would be a race track like no one had ever seen - big and fast on scale that’s as grand today as it was when it was only France’s dream. Why are the turns at Daytona International Speedway banked at 31 degrees? Because when “Big Bill” France was building it, that’s as steep as he could make the turns and still keep the machines putting down the asphalt from tipping over.
When drivers gathered for the first Daytona 500, it was an eye-popping experience. Drivers were more accustomed to half-mile dirt tracks and saw the 1.366-mile paved track at Darlington as vast. A trip around Daytona International Speedway was 2.5 miles. From Turn 1, Turn 3 looked like it was in a different county. Bob Welborn ran 140.121 mph to win the pole for the first Daytona 500, and Lee Petty won in a photo finish over Johnny Beauchamp. It was at Daytona International Speedway where Junior Johnson discovered that if he tucked his car right behind another one, he could go faster than he could run by himself. And “drafting” became a part of the sport’s lexicon. It was at Daytona International Speedway where Cale Yarborough topped 200 mph on his first qualifying lap in ‘83 and then, as he went even faster on a second lap, his car took off and flew, turning upside down before crashing. Bill Elliott set the Daytona International Speedway track record in ‘87, running 210.364 mph, just before restrictor plates were introduced to the sport.
Fans who’ve been lucky enough to have tickets for the Daytona 500 over the years have witnessed some of NASCAR’s greatest moments - as well perhaps its most enduring tragedy. Richard Petty won seven Daytona 500s on his way to becoming “The King,” but lost it in ‘76 to rival David Pearson after they wrecked coming to the finish line and Pearson puttered across the finish line bumping his car along with his ignition. Many experts consider that Daytona 500 to be one of the greatest NASCAR races ever. In ‘98, in his 20th try, seven-time Cup series champion Dale Earnhardt finally won the Daytona 500. But three years later, on the final lap of the ‘01 Daytona 500, Earnhardt died in a Turn 4 crash in a moment that changed the sport forever.
In addition to the Daytona 500, the track hosts the Coke Zero 400 each July and annual motorcycle races that are the centerpiece of Daytona’s Bike Week.
Daytona International Speedway renovated its infield before the ‘05 Daytona 500 to add a “Fan Zone” that allows fans to buy tickets giving them one of the best up-close views of a NASCAR garage and other special amenities.