By Julie Landry Laviolette
Heart racing. Check.
Momentum building. Check.
Expectations accelerating. Check.
And the cars haven’t even left the starting line, motor racing fans. That’s because the massive overhaul of the Daytona International Speedway will blow your mind.
Home to NASCAR racing and the DAYTONA 500, the 500-acre complex has served motorsports fans for more than 50 years. Opened in 1959, the speedway has attracted racing fans from around the world to witness the skills of racing greats from Richard Petty to Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Now the $400 million DAYTONA Rising project has upgraded the complex to a new level, with luxury suites, roomier seats, and cooler spots to chill out and re-fuel.
Coming soon across from the speedway, phase one of the ONE DAYTONA project is scheduled to open in 2017 to give racing die-hards an entertainment, shopping and dining pit stop between events in Daytona.
Daytona Speedway Improvements and Facilities:
- Posh premium suites. Watch the race in style from 60 new luxury suites with jaw-dropping views, private bars and gourmet concessions. Sit on the patio or relax in a plush, climate-controlled lounge and catch the action on flat-screen TVs.
- Comfier seating. Unwind in one of the 101,500 wider stadium seats along the nearly mile-long frontstretch. With chair backs, cup holders in the arm rests and more leg room, you can catch the action in comfort.
- Speedier access. Use one of the five sleek new entranceways called “injectors” to get to where you’re going faster. The speedway’s 40 escalators (the most of any outdoor sports stadium) and 17 elevators on three concourse levels are designed to be fan friendly. “This is an improvement over the three or four elevators and the rows of stairs previously used to navigate the speedway,” said Andrew Booth, a spokesman for the Daytona International Speedway. “The most any fan will have to walk or climb will be 20 rows.”
- A neighborhood welcome. Hang out with your buddies at one the 11 football field-sized common areas called “neighborhoods.” It’s the place to grab some chow, pick up a drink or a souvenir, all while keeping tabs on the action through large-screen monitors. While you’re out and about, check out the “World Center of Racing” neighborhood, which honors the speedway’s history and celebrates special moments in 50 years of racing.
- No more aching calves. Say goodbye to the ground-floor concession area, which has been converted to a service level. Now all the eats and drinks can be found in the 11 “neighborhoods” (see above), throughout the speedway. There’s no more hoofing it down from the highest seating levels to get a cold one.
- Free entry for your coolers. Pack up your favorite snacks and drinks and bring them with you to the speedway. Now how sweet is that? “Fan feedback was very clear” on this issue, Booth said. “We will still allow our fans to bring coolers with their own beverages and food, and we’re the only professional sport to do that.”
- More places to, um, go. The speedway has doubled its number of restrooms (and the crowds cheered!)
- A better view. Check out the sweeping views from the stadium’s wings, which have been raised from 70 to 140 feet high. “You will have a much higher viewpoint with a greater sightline for a better view of all the action,” Booth said.
- More hot spots to post your selfies to Facebook and Instagram. There are more Wi-Fi hot spots and better connectivity, so share your best shots on social media and make your friends back home jealous.
- Free parking. Bring in your own hot rod. Parking is still free.
- More fun right around the corner. Coming soon: Phase one of ONE DAYTONA will bring about 300,000square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment footsteps from the speedway and include big names like Bass Pro Shops, Cobb Theatres and an exclusive Marriott Autograph Collection hotel.
The Daytona International Speedway is a year-round destination. Besides the major motorsporting events, the speedway is active 250 days of the year, with go-karting, private car club and RV rallies, music festivals and other activities. Tours of the speedway run daily, except for Christmas.
If you go…
Daytona International Speedway
1801 W. International Speedway Boulevard
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
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