05 Jul History of Daytona International Speedway – World Center of Racing
Daytona International Speedway is home of “The Great American Race”, the Daytona 500, which annually kicks off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The 480-acre motorsports complex holds the most diverse schedule of racing events worldwide. It is no surprise the Daytona International Speedway has earned the title “World Center of Racing”. In addition to being a key venue in the world of motorsports; hardly a week goes by when the grounds are not being used as a destination for a variety of activities, such as community events, social gatherings, car shows, and athletic games. Let’s take a look back at the history of this world class destination, to see just how it all began…
In 1953 William France Sr., founder of NASCAR, began designing and planning for the Daytona track. After receiving funds from Pepsi-Cola, General Motor’s designer Harley Earl, and a Texas oil millionaire, this multimillion dollar project for the construction of the 2.5-mile speedway broke ground on November 25, 1957. The Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959 with the capacity to hold 167,785 fans. The track lit up in 1998 after lights were installed around the course so NASCAR’s Coke Zero 400 race could run at night. Today, Daytona International Speedway is the third largest single lit outdoor sports complex.
France aimed to go above and beyond just a paved flat straightaway track design and wanted the track to have the highest banking possible to allow for higher speeds and provide the fans with a better view of the cars. To build this high banking, an unimaginable amount of dirt had to be dug out from the tracks infield. Because of the area’s high water table, the hole filled with water and formed what we now know as Lake Lloyd. The 29-acre Lake Lloyd has been put to good use, and has hosted powerboat racing in the past.
Daytona International Speedway features many track features that set it apart from the layouts of other race tracks. The 2.5-mile high-speed tri-oval is the primary layout of the track, and has 31° banking in the turns and 18° banking at the start/finish line. The track was repaved on July 15, 2010 due to the fact that the 2010 Daytona 500 race faced two long delays because of potholes in Turns 1 and 2.
The track also features infield road course layouts: a 3.81-mile course that is home to the sports car endurance race known as the Rolex 24 at Daytona; and a 2.95-mile course for motorcycles. In addition, the Daytona Flat Track is a quarter-mile karting and motorcycle course located outside Turns 1 and 2 in the West Lot, and opened in December 2009 just in-time for the World Karting Association KartWeek.
In 2004 the first major renovation of the track’s infield took place, to create the Spirit Fanzone, a new vehicle and pedestrian tunnel under turn 1, a new walkway along the shore of Lake Lloyd, along with 34 new buildings. After facing multiple challenges during the renovation period, such as three hurricanes which caused flooding, the project received a 2005 Award for Excellence from Design-Build Institute of America.
The 5-hour ENERGY® team knows that we can’t talk history without leaving you with a few record holding statistics! So here it goes: Dale Earnhardt holds the record for the most starts before winning, and the most times completing all 500 miles during the Daytona 500. While Richard Petty is the recorder holder for the most victories, and for the longest span between his first and last Daytona 500 victories (1964-81). Additionally, as of 2006 Mark Martin holds the track record on the 2.5-mile tri-oval with a race completion time of 1:42:18 and an average speed of 146.622mph.
Are you curious to learn more about the history of motorsports activity in the Daytona Beach area? Well, it’s your lucky day! Daytona International Speedway offers three separate tours: a 90-minute All-Access tour, a 30-minutes Speedway tour, and a unique VIP three-hour tour. 5-hour ENERGY® Racing is proud to compete at the Daytona International Speedway throughout the season, and look forward to our next race there!