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Daytona International Speedway is a race track in Daytona Beachmarker, Floridamarker, United Statesmarker. Since opening in 1959, it has been the home to the biggest and greatest race in all of NASCAR, "The Great American Race", the Daytona 500. Today the facility has a seating capacity of almost 168,000 spectators. It hosts races of motor vehicles of various kinds, including go-karts, motorcycles (on and off road), sports cars, modified pickup trucks, and stock car. The track features multiple layouts including a high speed tri-oval, a sports car course, and a motorcycle course, with a new karting and flat-track motorcycle racing circuit scheduled to open in December 2009. The track's infield includes the Lake Lloyd, which has hosted powerboat racing. The facility is also used for an annual spring car show and swap meet, and a Thanksgiving street rod meet, some of the largest of their kind, and various races around the track, as there have been three different layouts. In 2008, the city of Daytona Beach ran its first half marathon, utilizing the track as the start and finish line, around the Daytona 500 Experiencemarker, and Bethune-Cookman University.

Daytona's warm climate lends itself to hosting the unofficial start of the racing year with Speedweeks and the 24 Hours of Daytona race in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Then the racing begins for the Sprint Cup Series with the Budweiser Shootout and the Gatorade Duel. The ARCA RE/MAX Series Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 is held the same day as the Budweiser Shootout, a few hours prior to the Shootout. The Camping World Truck Series begins with the NextEra Energy Resources 250. The Nationwide Series begins with the Camping World 300 and then it is back to the Sprint Cup in "The Great American Race", the Daytona 500. The Sprint Cup Series also features the Coke Zero 400 in July at Daytona. It also contains an attraction called the Daytona 500 Experiencemarker. The winning car from the Daytona 500 is placed inside the attraction building each year.

Course history

Construction

NASCAR was founded by William France Sr. and a small group of fellow race promoters at Daytona Beach, Floridamarker in 1947. The original premiere event in the series was held at the Daytona Beach Road Course. France began planning a new track for the premiere event in his fledgling series in 1953. On August 16, 1954 he signed a contract with city officials to create this new track that would become famous as the Daytona International SuperSpeedway. Ground was broken on November 25th, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track, and the large hole in the infield filled with water from the high water table and is now known as Lake Lloyd. France wanted fans to have an optimal view of the cars traveling through the turns, so had the banking constructed as steeply as possible (31-degrees being the steepest grade asphalt could be laid with 1950's technology).

The track was almost not complete for that first race date, however. In 1958, needing more money to meet his goal, France traveled to Atlanta to meet with the Coca-Cola company to hopefully get funding to complete construction. Coca-Cola officials told him he would never finish it on time and refused to fund it. France then went to the Pepsi-Cola company, then headquartered in North Carolinamarker, and they cut him a check on the spot. Because of this Pepsi, and not Coca-Cola, would come to be sold at all NASCAR Tracks that the France family owned, until 2008, when Pepsico changed its focus to mainly sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports. Coca-Cola has sided with most independent tracks, and rival Speedway Motorsports most notably, but there is an International Speedway Corporation transition with Coca-Cola that started with the 2008 Daytona 500 and continues with most ISC tracks, as Coca-Cola and NASCAR signed an official product deal starting in 1998, and was renewed until 2017. The new ten-year deal that started in 2008 will also phase in Coca-Cola pouring rights to most ISC tracks.

The speedway opened on February 22, 1959 to a crowd of 41,000 people. When the track opened it was the fastest race track to ever host a stock car race, before Talladega Superspeedwaymarker opened 10 years later. There was no wall between the track and Lake Lloyd. Driver Tom Pistone became famous for keeping a life jacket and oxygen tank in his car because he could not swim and feared crashing into the lake.

Tri-oval

Daytona's tri-oval measures 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) long with 31° banking in the turns and 18° banking at the start/finish line. The front straightaway is long and the back straightaway (or "superstretch") is long. The tri-oval shape, was revolutionary at the time as it greatly improved sight lines. The shape was also necessary to fit the track onto the land that Bill France Sr. could afford.

The Daytona 500, the most important race for NASCAR's premier series, is held annually at Daytona International SuperSpeedway. It is a 200-lap, 500 mile (805 km) stock car race. The list of Daytona 500 winners dates back to the inaugural race in 1959, and includes Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip, and Dale Earnhardt.
Map of the speedway
NASCAR, the premier stock car organization in the United Statesmarker, holds some of its most important races on this track. These include competitions in its Camping World Truck Series (where pickup trucks are raced), Nationwide Series (the stock car junior league), and Sprint Cup Series.

Lights were installed in 1998 so that the Pepsi 400 could be held at night. Musco Lighting was responsible for this event; and was officially known as "The World's Largest Single Lighted Outdoor Sports Facility" before being surpassed by Losail International Circuitmarker. However, the race was delayed until October that year due to thick smoke from wildfires that summer.

It is one of the two tracks on the Sprint Cup Series circuit that uses restrictor plates to slow the cars down due to the high speeds, the other being Talladega Superspeedwaymarker. However, there are some differences in the racing at the two tracks, as Daytona is narrower and more handling-oriented than Talladega, which allows the huge packs to break up somewhat on long runs, which makes "the Big One" that plate tracks are famous for less frequent and usually on a start or restart, as opposed to Talladega, where such huge wrecks occurs in almost every race in almost any situation.

Over the years, the track asphalt has worn. During Sprint Cup testing in January 2008 and during the Budweiser Shootout in 2009, drivers complained about the grip of the track and the cracks and bumps on the surface. Having not been repaved since 1978, Daytona International SuperSpeedway is expected to be repaved by 2013.

Road courses

Map of the 24-hour road course configuration
The road course was built in 1962 to host a three-hour sports car race called the Daytona Continental. Eventually the race was extended to a 24-hour endurance race known as the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. While the more famous 24 Hours of Le Mansmarker is held near the summer solstice, Daytona's endurance race is held in winter (meaning that more of the race is run at night). The track's lighting system is limited to 20% of its maximum output for the race to keep cars dependent on their headlights.

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. The course is also used for IndyCar testing.

Supercross

As part of 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 and 2009 tracks are designed by former champion, Ricky Carmichael.

Indy Racing League

An Indycar tests at Daytona
On September 26 and 27, 2006, the IRL held a compatibility test on the 10-turn, modified road course, and the 12-turn motorcycle road course (the IRL also uses the motorcycle layout at Infineon Racewaymarker for safety) with 5 drivers. The drivers who tested at the track were Vitor Meira, 2006 Indy 500marker Champion Sam Hornish Jr., Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, and 2005 Indy 500marker and IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon. This marked the first time since 1959 that IndyCars and the first time since 1984 that open wheel cars have taken to the track at Daytona.

On January 31-February 1, 2007, the Indy Racing League returned for a full test involving 17 cars. No official announcements were made, but the series was reportedly considering the ultimate goal of having a race in the future.[51305] No official plans for a race have since been made. In 2009 DIS President Robin Braig stated that a race may happen after the Daytona track is repaved in the future as the current bumpy state of the track causes safety problems for the low-slung IndyCars. [51306].

Dirt 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 effective immediately.

To alleviate the problem, Speedway officials in September 2009 began construction of a new quarter-mile dirt track on the outside of Turns 1 and 2 to replace the Municipal Stadium track. It will seat 5,000 in temporary grandstands and is slated to open in December 2009 for WKA KartWeek. [51307] [51308]

Deaths at the speedway

Many notable drivers and participants, including Dale Earnhardt, have been fatally injured during auto, motorcycle, and powerboat racing events at the Daytona International SuperSpeedway. These deaths have been the focus of widespread media attention and many safety studies, leading to the development of more effective racing seats, seatbelts, helmet restraint systems, energy-absorbing walls, and other safety-related gear.

Records

Record Year Date Driver Car Make Time Average Speed
(mph)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Qualifying 1987 February 9 Bill Elliott Ford 42.783 210.364
Race (500 miles) 1980 February 17 Buddy Baker Oldsmobile 2:48:55 177.602
Race (400 miles) 1980 July 4 Bobby Allison Oldsmobile 2:18:21 173.473
Race (250 miles) 1961 July 4 David Pearson Pontiac 1:37:13 154.294
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Qualifying 1987   Tommy Houston Buick 46.299 194.389
Race (300 miles) 1985 February 16 Geoff Bodine Pontiac 1:54:33 157.137
Race (250 miles) 2003 July 4 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 1:37:35 153.715
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Qualifying 2000   Joe Ruttman Dodge 47.984 187.563
Race (250 miles) 2006 February 17 Mark Martin Ford 1:42:18 146.622






Photos

Image:Daytona-International-Speedway-June-30-2005-Night.jpg|Main Entrance at nightImage:NASCAR practice.jpg|Cars practicing in 2004Image:Brumos-Porsche-250-Caution.jpg|FlagstandImage:Brumos-Porsche-250-StartCaution.jpg|Paul Revere 250 by Brumos restartImage:Daytona-International-Speedway-July-1-2005.jpg|GrandstandImage:Pepsi-400-2005-Raceby.jpg|View from the backstretch at nightImage:Enduros.jpg|Endurance kart race

References

  1. Pennet.com"A Need for Speed" Retrieved February 12, 2009
  2. Topcentre.com "About the Daytona Daytona 500" Retrieved February 12, 2009
  3. SPEEDtv.com "DESPAIN: Building the Daytona 500" Retrieved February 12, 2009
  4. Musco.com
  5. Sports Car Digest "Race Profile-24 Hours of Daytona" Retrieved February 12, 2009
  6. [1] Article on road course
  7. Daytona International SuperSpeedway "Ricky Carmichael Designs Daytona Supercross By Honda Course For Second Straight Year" Retrieved February 12, 2009
  8. Daytona: From the Birth of Speed to the Death of the Man in Black. Hinton, Ed. Warner Books, 2001. ISBN 0-446-52677-0.


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