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Daytona’s International Speedway is the place to go for car enthusiasts. It breathes the life and soul of car racing and is kind of where it all began. Outrunning the cops on moonshine powered cars down Daytona Beach gave one man an idea. So what do you think to the new NASCAR circuit?
The history of Daytona International Speedway
So in 1959, Daytona experienced its grand opening and has come a long way since then. William France, Sr’s genius idea to bank the circuit allowed cars to reach higher speeds and can now easily top 200mph+.
My trip there recently was really something else. Daytona has had a face lift.
The new NASCAR circuit has really upped its game
In 2013, Daytona launched a project called Daytona Rising, a $400 million renovation project that saw the whole place redesigned for a larger capacity. There are now 101,000 seats that are wider, comfier and get two cup holders each – yes, two. 101,000 isn’t really mind-boggling, but with the knowledge that the Speedway can accommodate around 250,000, it’s pretty hard to picture.
With enough fiber optics to reach the North Pole and 1,400 TV screens dotted around the stands, you will never miss a single second of the action and can join in with the live debates and hashtags online.
From the outside, the site is pretty remarkable. There are brand new entry gates, each with their own sponsor: Sunoco, Chevrolet, Toyota and Florida Hospital. Each has customized their entryway, with Toyota having their latest models on show.
Going behind the scenes
The All-Access Tour begins with a trip to the inside of the track where you’re escorted round the camp sites, garages and conference room. This isn’t a small journey, and consumes a good fifteen minutes of the tour time in just getting there with the consistent commentator providing facts and statistics along the way.
Once you’ve reached the conference room, it’s your first chance to sit down and have a break. They play the official Drivers’ Rules video to you and if you can keep up then well done. Once the lights came back on and I looked around the room, it was clear that most people had gotten lost along the way. It’s a quick fire breakdown of all the racing rules, including the speeds necessary to overcome the curves and the minimum and maximum speed limits for pits, as well as the rules of what to do when an accident occurs – and there’s just a few of them.
Where the tour took us
After experiencing the drivers’ conference, there’s an opportunity for some official photos before heading back to the main stands on the other side of the track for a great view of the new NASCAR circuit. Although there was no racing that day, that doesn’t mean to say the circuit stands empty. The Richard Petty driving experience was in full swing with cars reaching just over 160 mph as they whizzed past, snapping a quick picture was practically impossible.
Once back on the other side, we’re given a brief tour through some of the stands and begin to realize the sheer size of the place – literally huge. The place is a mile long. And the sheer number of people it could hold was mind-blowing.
The end of the tour is nigh and so we’re taken back to the main building through the mini museum dedicated to this year’s winner. Still covered in confetti, Denny Hamlin’s car stood proudly on the podium.