Daytona–The First Motorsports Stadium

Daytona
View from the first level finish line stadium area at the Speedway. photo by Corrina Lawson

When I last visited the Daytona International Speedway, it was very much a work in progress, part of a $400 million privately funded project, called Daytona Rising, that promised a modern experience for both die-hard and casual fans of NASCAR.

When I walked the new Motorsports Stadium this week, it took two days to take all of it in. What impressed me most was the absolute attention to detail. This project not only had to be perfect from a construction standpoint, it had to account for supplying Wifi to up to 100,000 attendees, not to mention the 2,000 networks for the stadium, race personnel, and media. Plus, new seating, new luxury boxes, new parking, new, well, everything.

The finish line for Daytona Speedway is carried through to the new stadium, level 1.
The finish line for Daytona Speedway is carried through to the new stadium, level 1.
Daytona
See how the stadium curves? It’s 9/10 of a mile long.

All the big stuff works, as it should, but it’s the finishes touches that impressed me. The entrance to the stadium is now dominated by five injectors (gates). The center is reserved for the speedway itself. Corporate sponsors Sunoco, Toyota, Chevrolet, and Florida Hospital took on the others. This wasn’t just a matter of putting up some signage all over the place with the corporate logo. Each corporate sponsor took on the challenge to make it as interactive and as fun as possible but unique to their brand. However, I have a soft spot for Toyota, because they put together this awesome (though short) test track on site.

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Daytona Speedway
The Sunoco Injector. The flag will wave in the wind. photo by Corrina Lawson

Sunoco is well-known for sponsoring the checkered flag. They’ve set up a 180-photo experience where fans can wave their own flags and have the gif sent to their emails. Also displayed are monster-size replicas of their fuel cans looking down on fans, each with something inside.

Daytona Speedway Sunoco
This ceiling fixture displays the gifs from the 180 degree flag waving experience. Photo by Corrina Lawson
Toyota Injector Entrance, photo by Corrina Lawson
Toyota Injector Entrance, photo by Corrina Lawson

Toyota prominently places Kyle Busch’s car at their entrance, especially timely given he was last year’s champion.

The Space Shuttle Display. One Toyota Tundra towed it through Los Angeles. The back-up vehicle is at the stadium. photo by Corrina Lawson
The Space Shuttle Display. One Toyota Tundra towed it through Los Angeles. The back-up vehicle is at the stadium. photo by Corrina Lawson

This was my favorite of Toyota’s displays. One of their Tundras towed the Space Shuttle Endeavor to the California Science Museum. A nice way to advertise the power of their most popular truck.

An interactive screen detailing Toyota plants in the U.S. and some of the workers. photo by Corrina Lawson
An interactive screen detailing Toyota plants in the U.S. and some of the workers. photo by Corrina Lawson

Toyota, I think, has a chip on their shoulder about being seen as a foreign brand. Hence, this board showcasing all their U.S. plants and some of their workers.

Actual pick-up truck benches at the Toyota Roadhouse. photo by Corrina Lawson
Actual pick-up truck benches at the Toyota Roadhouse. photo by Corrina Lawson

This was just a nice extra touch–that attention to detail, in their dining area.

Chevrolet fan injector at the Daytona Motorsports Stadium, photo by Corrina Lawson
Chevrolet fan injector at the Daytona Motorsports Stadium, photo by Corrina Lawson

Chevrolet was interesting, as it took an old school approach. Answer a survey, and you’ll receive a t-shirt. But they’re also in the midst of adding one big extra for those who order a new Chevrolet vehicle from one of their dealerships: the chance to pick it up at Daytona International Speedway and drive it around the track a few times. (Pace car provided.) The feature isn’t in place as yet but should be by next year.

The Creation Interactive display, Florida Hospital Pavilion, photo by Corrina Lawson
The Creation Interactive display, Florida Hospital Pavilion, photo by Corrina Lawson

When I saw Florida Hospital was one of the sponsors, I wondered how it would fit in. Their creativity won me over, as they clearly focused their area on preventative health. This is a small walk-through area which has several interactive screens, including one that will create an ID card for you.

Daytona Speedway, Florida Hospital
This LED display changes seasons every six minutes and also shows the starry night sky. photo by Corrina Lawson

This changing diplays makes their area of the first level absolutely stunning from a visual standpoint.

The rest area on the first level of the Florida Injector. That's artificial turf. photo by Corrina Lawson
The rest area on the first level of the Florida Injector. That’s artificial turf. photo by Corrina Lawson

I imagine this will be a popular resting area.

And now we get to the goodies for those with the dollars to pay for luxury.

Daytona
The Rolex Lounge at Daytona Motorsports Stadium. You need more than a Grandstand tickets to get in here. photo by Corrina Lawson

This will cost you thousands to get in but once you do, the food and drink are free. Hah. But, most of all, there are options to sit outside, inside, or in the grandstand, depending on preference.

Daytona Speedway.
The chandelier at the Rolex Lounge. Those are all the International Speedway Association racetracks.

The chandelier is a lovely feature. Not sure if you can see that the Daytona Speedway track is in green. Again, this is the attention to detail I noticed.

Daytona Speedway
The higher up you are, the better the view of the whole track. Photo by Corrina Lawson

Every stadium in Florida can fit inside the speedway infield, which makes the higher view more desirable because all the action on the track is visible.

The Florida Energy solar panels on the main entrance area. photo by Corrina Lawson
The Florida Energy solar panels on the main entrance area. photo by Corrina Lawson

Florida Power and Light installed this solar grid outside the stadium gates. All the energy goes into the main grid unless it’s being used by the Stadium. Bonus, it will provide shade from the sun from baked attendees.

Loose closely and you can see the Daytona One Project has already broken ground. photo by Corrina Lawson
Loose closely and you can see the Daytona One Project has already broken ground. photo by Corrina Lawson

They’re not finished yet. Across the street from the speedway is a development, called One Daytona. Plans include the largest Bass Pro Shop ever, complete with lake, plus IMAX movie theater, stores, etc. A playground is also planned.

How will all this work on their biggest day of the year, the Daytona 500 this afternoon? I can’t wait to see. I’m a stadium junkie, but mostly it’s been baseball stadiums, with a few NFL stadiums tossed in. One difference with this event? I’m bringing my earplugs.

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Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.