This is what makes Daytona Daytona. NASCAR was born here. It was conceived on the hard-packed sand that once served as a racetrack and delivered by “Big Bill” France, a stock car driver and shrewd businessman who united the drivers and formed NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing). The France family still controls NASCAR; its current CEO is Big Bill’s grandson, Brian France. Daytona had been the scene of racing and land speed record attempts since the 1920s, but France organized the activity into a sport with a governing body, rules and—eventually—multi-million dollar sponsorships. France built the Daytona International Speedway in 1959. Since then, it has become one of the shrines of racing and host to two of the most important stock car races, the Daytona 500 (in February) and the Coke Zero 400 (July 4 weekend). It also hosts two Rolex Grand Am events and other races throughout the year. The complex is enormous—nearly a square mile—and can hold more than 147,000 fans. Its layout is unique; fans actually park and camp in the interior of the track, with the cars whizzing around them 360 degrees. The six major race weekends are festivals, with families driving from all over the U.S. to camp out and see the spectacle. In addition to auto racing, the track is the site of major motorcycle races. Even if the cars aren’t running, people flock to the track to visit the Daytona Experience—a multimedia museum with an IMAX theater showing “NASCAR 3D,” exhibits of winning cars, historic artifacts, racing simulators, a tour of the track and facilities and more. If the “more” they want includes actually burning some rubber, there’s the Richard Petty Driving Experience that lets fans drive an actual NASCAR racecar on the track at high speed.
Sports and the Outdoors