The 54th running of the Daytona 500 takes place Sunday, and if you’re heading to Daytona Beach for the fun-filled, action-packed weekend, here are four things to get you ready for all the race action.
1) PLENTY TO DO
If you’re hanging around the Daytona Beach for an extended period of time, there is much to see and do outside of Daytona International Speedway. The Main Street Pier in Daytona Beach is the longest pier on the east coast offering breathtaking views from the observation tower and plenty of fishing. For more views, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station is about a 15-minute drive south of Daytona Beach. In addition to the lighthouse tower and museum, this 52-acre park is great for picnics, swimming and fishing. Flagler Beach and Ormond Beach are great places to soak up the sun or to get in a round of golf. And when the sun goes down, there are plenty of places to the party. Many of the great bars are listed here at Daytona Beach Bars.com.
2) TAKE THE TOUR
Daytona International Speedway, dubbed the “World Center of Racing,” is full of NASCAR history. There are two tours that make the experience even better for big-time race fans. The basic Speedway Tour ($15 for Adults, $10 for Children) lasts 30 minutes, taking you from the high banks of the starting line to victory lane. But for seven dollars more, you can get a 90-minute All-Access Tour bringing you into the garages, drivers meeting room and the Press Box. These are tremendous photo opportunities, and if you’r tugging along the little ones, children five and under are free.
The Sprint FANZONE is where racing enthusiasts get access to the NASCAR garage and inspection bays while teams are preparing for the big race. Pre-race ceremonies, exclusive racing merchandise and driver fan forums keep you connected with other gearheads. FANZONE members also are eligible for the Pre-Race Pass to get access to the historic speedway right before the race begins. You’ll witness the racers stage their cars on the pit road and set up the stalls for the pit stops. You’ll be up close for the driver introductions and the photo opportunities are endless. This year’s pre-race concert will be performed by Lenny Kravitz, and wrestler John Cena will be starting the race by waving the green flag. For more information, connect to the Sprint FANZONE home page.
One of the many outstanding aspects of attending the Daytona 500 is the ability to be bring your own food and beverages into the stands. Starting with last year’s race, Daytona permits soft coolers up to 14 x 14 x 14 inches. These coolers can typically hold a case of beverage cans. Fans can also bring a backpack up to 17 inches in length to carry binoculars, headsets, cameras and scanners. Just be sure to leave the hard coolers and glass containers in your car.