Daytona has been the home of racing for hundreds of years. As far back as 1903, horse carriages were raced on the beach and in 1935 the land speed record was broken on the beach by in the Bluebird. From 1936 Daytona beach hosted regular stock car races. The course along the beach and back down the road was almost perfect except that the sea covered the course when the tide was in so Daytona Speedway was first built, where it is, ready for its first race on February 2nd 1959 and 41 thousand fans turned up!
We had the fortune of being guests of Daytona Speedway this morning for a 90 minute tour of the ground. The tour was incredibly informative and we learnt a lot about the venue as we travelled round in tram number 20, occasionally getting off to look around places with our tour guide.
We drove past the stadium on the outside and then into the massive area that is Daytona Speedway. The track itself has a perimeter of two and a half miles.
We drove to see Gatorade Victory Lane where the race winners have their presentation and pictures taken after the race. We got off the tram and were able to have our pictures taken in front of the stage. From here we could see the massive stadium and were also close to pit road.
The day we visited, there were cars zooming round the track and it was really impressive to hear the roar as they sped past us.
We drove past Lloyd lake, a huge man made lake in the middle of the speedway. This was originally dug out to get the materials to create the banks on the race track. The hole was then made into a lake. It is now used for fishing tournaments.
We saw the Yellow garages used for the monster energy cup and made our way to our next stop, the Fan Zone.
The Fan Zone is an area accessible by wristband on race days. The main perk of this area is the windows into the garages used on race days so fans can see the cars being prepared for the races. The windows have glassless slits where fans can pass items to the drivers for autographs. There is also a fan deck to watch the race from the other side of the track to the stadium. Trams run back and forth to the fan zone on race days.
Next we went to visit the Media center deadline room, a big versatile room where members of the media are assigned seats and can hook up their laptops etc. There is an interview area at one end where drivers and celebrities are brought to sit on the stage and answer questions and an area at the other end which can be used as a backdrop for TV reporters. We watched a video about what goes on in the media room and had the opportunity to have our picture taken on the interview stage.
We then boarded the tram again to drive to the stadium. We drove past the infield care center, a hospital where drivers must go if they have any kind of accident to be checked over before they can race again.
Outside the stadium we drove past some of the entrances. Each entrance is sponsored by different companies and marketing privileges go with sponsorship so the companies can decorate the entrances however they like. This makes them pretty impressive to look at.
We got off the tram and entered the stadium up an escalator. We followed our guide out into the tiered seating. The view was impressive! We could even see planes landing at the nearby airport, often used by racing drivers when they leave the speedway. We were told about the track and how it has been repaved twice since 1969 and how the speed is now capped for races as cars had started taking off on some corners and it was deemed dangerous.
We watched some cars racing past and got a real feel for how big the stadium really is, seating over a hundred thousand. The best seats are black and white and the rest are multicoloured, designed to give the illusion of a full stadium on TV. However this is never necessary as the stadium has always been sold out on race days.
When the tour was over, we were dropped at the Hall of Fame to look round at our leisure. This museum houses the last winning car, untouched from its winning race and complete with confetti! We were able to have our picture taken with this car if we wanted.
There is also a lot of motoring memorabilia to look at from across the years, including the iconic Bluebird which broke the land speed record on Daytona beach. The museum is well done, looks impressive and is interesting to look around.
There is a large gift shop at the exit to the hall of fame where you can buy many themed souvenirs. You can also purchase any pictures you had taken of your group on the tour.
We had a really good time at Daytona Speedway. I was most impressed with the sheer size of it. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and interesting and we learnt a lot about the place. I would definitely recommend this tour to racing fans but it was equally good for those of us that knew little of Daytona Speedway before our visit.
Taking a tour of Daytona Speedway with an autistic child?
If your child is interested in cars or racing then this is a great tour.
The tram has bench seats, no seat belts and chains across gaps for entry and exit.
There is a need to stay with the tour group but within an area so if you need to keep your child a little away from everyone you can.
The tour isn’t too busy with only two carriages on the tram.
Photo opportunities have queues but these are not too long and it is possible to not queue and just wait until last.
If there are cars on the track, they are loud!
The stadium didn’t seem busy because, even with various tours, it is so large you rarely see anyone other than your group.
When you go into places such as the Media Center, if your child doesn’t want to be in the room, you are free to wait outside or pop in and out.
The hall of fame museum has dimmed lights and is quiet and cool.
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