The Daytona 500 is the Official start of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Season. Watching the Daytona 500 at home with your buddies is a blast but and for any true race fan attending this race is the dream of a lifetime, nothing gets your adrenalin flowing like hearing the engines roaring live in person.
So you have purchased your tickets and completed all the prep work, booked your flight and hotel and your seats are waiting for you at the Daytona International Speedway. But wait, to truly experience the Daytona 500 you need to take in the culture, the food, and the activities that engulf this event for the week prior. For most of us unable to attend the Champion’s Suite with Bobby Allison, don’t despair. Much fun can still be had with a little bit of research, which we hope to get you started with here.
So you have arrived and checked into the Hotel, what to do first, well lets put one big check mark on our to do list and head to Daytona Beach right away. Daytona Beach is an experience itself offering a unique opportunity that is a definite no no on most public Beaches. For instance, you are allowed to drive right on the beach. This isn’t the raceway however, so let’s keep the speeds down and try to avoid the nesting Sea Turtles. While strolling along the beach you will find Nostalgic arcades, go-karts, thrill rides, restaurants, souvenir shops, the Clocktower and the Speeding Through Time exhibit. Other exhibits will also find are the historic open-air Bandshell, Main Street Pier and Oceanfront Park, Yes the Beach is a definite must see.
While spending time in Daytona you will eventually find yourself feeling hungry, and Daytona offers a wide variety of restaurants, but as a race fan there is definitely a must see, the “Racings North Turn Bar & Grill”. This historic landmark is located on the exact spot where racing history began in Daytona. USA racing history lives and breaths in the walls of the “North Turn”. This unique place provides you with an extensive photo collection detailing Daytona history. While sitting at the North Turn you may find your self sitting next to a racing super star as its not uncommon for past and present stock car drivers to stop into the North Turn for a drink at it’s bar.
We have done the beach, gotten our bellies full, now let’s make sure you get your testosterone flowing before race day by checking out Ocean Center on February 14th. What better way to spend Valentines with your sweetie than “Rumble in Race Town” Extreme Cage Fighting. This mixed martial arts event will set you back $30-$100. Be sure to really fit in by getting your tattoo before the event at one of the many tattoo parlors in town.
Lets not kid ourselves, the Beach is fun, food is great, seeing some one get their teeth kicked out is OK, but you are in Daytona for some Racing action. You may not be fortunate enough to drive a stock car for a living, but you are still pretty good at getting the family car up to a pretty good MPH on the local freeway. While in Daytona let’s put some of that racing knowledge to use. To get your own small scale racing experience visit the Atlantic Race Park. Here you can race hairpin turns in single or double go-karts. Another option is Go-Kart City with replica stock car-like go-karts. Video game arcade, miniature golf, batting cages.
The Sun has set on the beach and you are ready for the party scene, the Daytona after party starts at the wave of the checkered flag. For $40 you get attraction admission, Hors d’oeuvres and complimentary beverages, cash bar, entertainment and complimentary shuttle service to Daytona International Speedway parking areas. Keep the party going with Champion’s Breakfast, which is scheduled for Monday morning, Feb. 16, costs $40 and includes admission into the historic Daytona 500 car induction festivities, buffet breakfast, commemorative ticket and special gift. A combination ticket that includes both parties is available for $75.
Now its close to race time, and this tip may seem obvious but its definitely worth noting, make sure you check out the Daytona International speedway itself. Featuring daily tours of the racetrack (on none race days). The International speedway also host some hands on attractions, allowing you to participate in a simulated Pit Stop, Broadcast a race, or ride out the race in an motion simulator. You can also sit and enjoy the IMAS presentation of “Feel the Thunder”. The International speedway also displays the current winning Daytona 500 car in the same condition it is in as it crossed the finish line.
While not a complete list of events surrounding the Daytona 500, we hope our advice will give you a good starting point to enjoy your Dream of a lifetime. We hope you enjoy your Daytona experience.