Daytona International Speedway is a race track in Daytona Beach, Florida, United States. Since opening in 1959, it has been the home of the Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in NASCAR as well as its season opening event. In addition to NASCAR, the track also hosts races of ARCA, AMA Superbike, IMSA, SCCA, and Motocross. The track features multiple layouts including the primary 2.5-mile high-speed tri-oval, a 3.56-mile sports car course, a 2.95-mile motorcycle course, and a 1,320-foot karting and motorcycle flat-track. The track’s 180-acre infield includes the 29-acre Lake Lloyd, which has hosted powerboat racing. The speedway is operated by International Speedway Corporation pursuant to a lease with the City of Daytona Beach on the property that runs until 2054.
Construction: NASCAR founder William France Sr. began planning for the track in 1953 as a way to promote the series, which at the time was racing on the Daytona Beach Road Course. France met with Daytona Beach engineer Charles Moneypenny to discuss his plans for the speedway. He wanted the track to have the highest banking possible to allow the cars to reach high speeds and to give fans a better view of the cars on track. Moneypenny traveled to Detroit, Michigan to visit the Ford Proving Grounds which had a high-speed test track with banked corners.
The city commission agreed to lease the 447-acre parcel of land adjacent to Daytona Beach Municipal Airport to France’s corporation for $10,000 a year over a 50-year period. France then began working on building funding for the project and found support from a Texas oil millionaire, Clint Murchison, Sr. Murchison lent France $600,000 along with the construction equipment necessary to build the track.
o build the high banking, crews had to excavate over a million square yards of soil from the track’s infield. Because of the high water table in the area, the excavated hole filled with water to form what is now known as Lake Lloyd, named after Joseph Sax Lloyd, one of the original six members of the Daytona Beach Speedway Authority.
Daytona’s tri-oval is 2.5 miles long with 31° banking in the turns and 18° banking at the start/finish line. The front straight is 3,800 feet long and the back straight is 3,000 feet long. The tri-oval shape was revolutionary at the time as it greatly improved sight lines for fans. It is one of the two tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit that uses restrictor plates to slow the cars down due to the high speeds, the other being Talladega Superspeedway.
On July 15, 2010, repaving of the track began. This came almost a year earlier than planned due to the track coming apart during the 2010 Daytona 500. The project used an estimated 50,000 tons of asphalt to repave 1.4 million square feet including the racing surface, apron, skid pads and pit road. Because of good weather, the project was completed ahead of schedule.
The 3.81-mile road course was built in 1959 and first hosted a three-hour sports car race called the Daytona Continental in 1962. The race length became 2,000 km in 1964, and in 1966 was extended to a 24-hour endurance race known as the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It was shortened again to six hours in 1972 and the 1974 rendition of the race was cancelled entirely. In 1973, a sharp chicane was added at the end of the backstretch, approaching oval turn three.
In 1984 and 1985, the layout was modified, re-profiling road course turns 1 and 2, and moving what is now turn 3 closer to its preceding turns. In addition, the chicane on the backstretch was modified. A new entry leg was constructed approximately 400 feet earlier, resulting in a longer, three-legged, bus stop shape. Cars would now enter in the first leg, bypass the second leg, and exit out of the existing third leg. Passing would now be possible inside the longer chicane. The construction resulted in a final length of 3.56 miles for the complete road course.
In 2005, a second infield road course configuration was constructed, primarily for motorcycles. Due to fears of tire wear on the banked oval sections, oval turns 1 and 2 were bypassed giving the new course a length of 2.95 miles. The Daytona SportBike that runs the Daytona 200 however, uses the main road course except for the motorcycle Pedro Rodríguez Hairpin.
During Daytona Beach Bike Week, a supercross track is built between pit road and the tri-oval section of the track. Historically the track has used more sand than dirt, providing unique challenges to riders. The 2008–2013 track configurations were designed by former champion, Ricky Carmichael.
Daytona Flat Track and Infield Kart Track
Popular dirt-track races in karting and flat-track motorcycle racing had been held at Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium but in 2009, the city announced the stadium was replacing its entire surface with FieldTurf, and thereby eliminating the flat-track racing at the stadium. To continue racing, speedway officials built the Daytona Flat Track, a new quarter-mile dirt track outside of turns 1 & 2 of the main superspeedway. It seats 5,000 in temporary grandstands and opened in December 2009 for WKA KartWeek. From 2010 to 2016, it also hosted the AMA Grand National Championship, before it was moved in 2017 to the tri-oval section and became a TT course.
In February 2012, it was announced that a 0.4-mile short track would be constructed along the backstretch of the Speedway’s main course, for NASCAR’s lower-tier series to compete at during Speed weeks called the UNOH Battle at the Beach, which is similar to the Toyota All-Star Showdown, formerly held at Irwindale Speedway. The first races were held on that track in February 2013. The track was shortened to 1,980-foot oval in 2014 by shorter straightaways. The future of racing at the short track is unknown after 2015 with the grandstands on the back straightaway being demolished as a part of the Daytona Rising project.
In the fall of 1959, the track hosted several high school football games for the Father Lopez Green Wave in their first year of their football program. The track hosted four college football games featuring the Daytona-based Bethune–Cookman Wildcats in 1974 and 1975. In early 2014 track president Joie Chitwood expressed a desire to bring football back to the track.
UNOH Fanzone: The UNOH Fanzone is an access package similar to pit passes for fans to get closer to drivers and race teams. The fanzone was built in 2004 as part of a renovation of the track’s infield. Fans are able to walk on top of the garages, known as the fandeck, and view track and garage activity. Fans can also view race teams working in the garage, including NASCAR technical inspection, through windows. The garage windows also include slots for fans to hand merchandise to drivers for autographs.
The 2004 renovation of the infield, headed by design firm HNTB, was the first major renovation of the infield in the history of the track. In addition to the fanzone, a new vehicle and pedestrian tunnel was built under turn 1. The tunnel posed a challenge to engineers because it was to be built under the water table. Another challenge came during construction when three named hurricanes passed by the track, flooding much of the excavation work.
Budweiser Party Porch: The Budweiser Party Porch was a 46-foot-high porch located along the backstretch of the track. It was built on top of a portion of the backstretch grandstands and includes a 277-foot-wide, 33-foot-tall sign, the largest sign in motorsports. The porch featured tables, food and drinks, offering fans a fun-filled atmosphere that breaks fans away from the confines of grandstand seating without sacrificing on the view. Below the porch was an interactive fan zone featuring amusement rides, a go-kart track, show cars and merchandise trailers. After the 2015 racing season, the Party Porch was torn down with the backstretch grandstands as part of the DAYTONA Rising project.