Each year for the past 54 years this event has been lighting up the night.
Part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the weekend features 400- and 250-mile races, a pre-race practice day event, a concert, fireworks and all the racing tradition you've come to expect from Daytona Beach.
Need for Speed
The history of Daytona Beach’s speed-dependence began with the invention of the car and the winter sojourns of industrial-era millionaires. Back in the early 1900s, automaker Ransom Olds was among racers who made a track out of the hard-packed sands of Daytona Beach. In the 1920s, racers topped speeds of 275 mph down the beach. In a Daytona Beach hotel, NASCAR hatched in 1947.
Still known for its drive-on beaches and the famed Boardwalk that parallels them, Daytona Beach moved its car-racing to the now world-famous Daytona International Speedway complex in 1959. The same year, it became home to the annual Daytona 500. The track later began doing speedway tours, and its status as a tourist attraction hit high gear with the opening of the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Land of the Speed, Race of the Brave
The mid-summer, 400-mile race, now known as the Coke Zero 400, began with the opening of the new speedway. To buffer the heat of a Florida summer, organizers decided to hold the event on the lighted track at night. Now, the Coke Zero 400 Weekend Powered by Coca-Cola has evolved into an Independence Day motorsport-madness weekend full of racing, music and Daytona Beach hospitality.
It all revs up starting Thursday, July 5, with Practice Day, which gives fans an opportunity to preview the cars and NASCAR drivers who will bring excitement to the tri-oval in days to come. The following evening the competition begins with the Subway Jalapeno 250. It's just as hot as it sounds, with Nationwide Series drivers facing off against Sprint Cup Series drivers.
The big race begins Saturday, July 6, at 7:30 p.m., but the action kicks in way before. Sprint FANZONE ticket holders can take advantage of perks throughout the day, including live bands and Driver Q&A stagings. The Grammy award-winning band Train headlines the musical lineup this year. Kids, who are admitted free with adults to the FANZONE, will get a kick out of signing the start/finish line, talking to the drivers and having their pictures taken with flashy-looking show cars.
Red, White & Boom
Speaking of flashy, hang on for the grand finale: a fireworks show that puts the ultimate sparkle into a night of bright lights and roaring engines. In addition to celebrating the end of the 54th annual Coke Zero 400 weekend, this year the show marks the culmination of a special red, white, and blue “NASCAR Unites – An American Salute” initiative that kicked off in May with specially painted race cars. There's no better way to celebrate our nation’s birthday and the all-American sport of auto-racing.
This article was brought to you by Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. To plan your trip to Daytona Beach, visit www.daytonabeach.com.