By Michael Cervin
I must confess that I drive fast and I have several speeding tickets and inflated insurance premiums to prove it. But there are people who actually get paid to speed, you know, I mean for a living. This just seems inherently wrong to me…I guess because I’m not one of them.
The Daytona 500 is just such a place whereby scofflaws drive at excessive speeds in front of law enforcement and make more money in a day than I do in a decade. WTF? Oh well. At least the Daytona 500 is cool to visit and frankly if you’ve never been to an auto race, they are pretty intense with some very nice and, uh, interesting people.
43 of the top NASCAR racers duke it out and this race has been going on for over half a century. It all began on February 22, 1959 when a field of 59 cars took the green flag for the start of the, then, 200-lap race.
Nowadays the “The Great American Race,” hosts a sell out crowd and has the biggest total payout in prize money for any motorsports event in the United States, surpassing the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 – we’re talking about $18 million in total. But in addition to attending race day, you can also get way up close with two different tours.
The All-Access Tour lasts 90 minutes and takes you through areas including the Sprint Cup garages, the Daytona 500 Club, the Driver/Owner meeting room (where they divide up all that money), the Daytona Flat Track, and the Houston Lawing Press Box. There are photo opps on the tour including Gatorade Victory Lane (and no you don’t get free Gatorade), the start/finish line, and Turns 3 and 4. It’s a mere $22.
There’s also the half-hour Speedway Tour which takes you on an open-air tram through Daytona International Speedway’s garage area (oh the excitement of someone’s garage!), pit road, and the “world-famous” 31-degree high banks. The tour also makes stops at Pit Road and Gatorade Victory Lane (assuming no one is driving on them at the time). The cost is just $15. So we can immerse yourself in speed.
Daytona 500 Hotels
As you’ve probably guessed, this is a pretty major event and you’re gonna need to book ahead to get the best rates (or even a reservation). Check the DealAngel hotel results for Daytona Beach here.
The Daytona 500
1801 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL
Cost for the race: $32 – $195
After the race stick around to check out other Daytona activities. So you’re a fancy driver? Then check out the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Speedway, Lighthouse Point Park (for those not in a rush), any number of local golf courses, or the Museum of Arts & Sciences which also houses the largest collection of Cuban art outside of Cuba.