|credit: NASCAR Media|
Another NASCAR season is upon us, and this year in Fast Facts, you’ll learn more about the fast tracks on the 2017 schedule for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series. First up: the “World Center of Racing,” Daytona International Speedway.
- Florida’s Daytona International Speedway, which opened in 1959, was built by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. along with architect Charles Moneypenny. 42,000 spectators witnessed the first Daytona 500, held on Feb. 22, 1959.
- In addition to the 2.5-mile tri-oval where NASCAR and ARCA races take place, there is a 3.56-mile road course (used for the Rolex 24 at Daytona), a 2.95-mile motorcycle road course, and a 0.25-mile dirt karting track. Lake Norman, found on the infield, has also hosted powerboat races in the past.
- The UNOH Fanzone, opened in 2004, features many ways for fans to get close to the action in the pits. The FanDeck, on top of the garages, allows fans to view track and garage activities, and they can also watch NASCAR tech inspections. The garages include windows and slots for autographs, and the area also features entertainment, food and beverages, and other interactive displays and activities.
- In 2016, the speedway finished the “Daytona Rising” project, putting $400 million into the speedway grounds to improve the fan experience. Among the projects: five expanded and redesigned entrances called “injectors,” which lead visitors to the escalators and elevators which will take them to three concourse levels. These three levels feature 11 social areas called “neighborhoods” along the frontstretch. The “neighborhoods,” each the size of a football field, feature dedicated bars, premium food options and charging stations. Concourse areas are covered and approximately 90 feet wide, with video monitors and free Wi-Fi throughout the concourses. Grandstand improvements include wider and more comfortable permanent seats, three times as many restrooms and twice as many concession stands as previously available.
- The 1979 Daytona 500 was the first live telecast of the race, and what a race it was: the last lap featured the famous fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie and Bobby Allison.
- The NASCAR Cup Series qualifying record was set by Bill Elliott in his No. 9 Ford in 1987 (210.364 mph). Elliott won three consecutive poles for the Daytona 500 from 1985-1987, and his son Chase has won the pole for the 500 in 2016 and 2017. The younger Elliott’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, is the first crew chief to win three consecutive poles (2015 with Jeff Gordon) since Chase’s uncle Ernie Elliott did it from 1985-1987.
- The late Dale Earnhardt raced for the Daytona 500 trophy 19 times before finally winning on his 20th attempt in 1998. That wasn’t his first victory at the track however – he won 34 total races at Daytona, including wins in the CanAm Duals, Advance Auto Parts Clash, Coke 400 and IROC series during his Hall of Fame career.