Daytona International Speedway is best known for being the site of the Daytona 500, the highlight of the year for many NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) fans. While the track was founded by and built by NASCAR founder William France, Sr., the site today hosts many other events as well.
In February of 1959 the racetrack opened for the very first time. Even though NASCAR has been founded only 12 years earlier, the opening race drew a crowd of over 40,000 spectators. The most famous race is held in February each year and that 1959 race is considered the first Daytona 500.
The race consists of 200 laps with a total driving distance of 500 miles. More than 150,000 fans crowd the track each February to root for their favorite driver and enjoy the warm Florida weather in the middle of winter . In addition to those attending the race, millions more are watching the race each year on television.
The race, dubbed "The Great American Race'' has the biggest payout of any motorsport event in the country. The total payouts for the 2007 race was an astonishing $18 million. That's even more impressive when compared to the payout of the first Daytona 500 which was just under $68,000 .
While those who are not fans of motorsports might think that the Daytona 500 is the only event that takes place at the track, there are actually many others. The speedway, including the 2.5 mile track, hosts motorcycle racing, car shows, go-kart events and even boat racing which takes place on the 29-acre Lake Lloyd which sits on the infield of the speedway .
The speedway is so hugely popular that a tourist attraction, called the Daytona 500 Experience, opened in 1996. The attraction, which is located a short distance from the speedway, allows fans to experience many attractions related to the sport. They include learning about the history of the event, seeing some of the winning cars, riding a motion simulator to learn what it's like inside a racecar and seeing how fast they can change a tire in the pit stop attraction .
The Daytona International Speedway in Florida is busy all year round. A visit to Florida by any fan of motorsports wouldn't be complete without a visit to Daytona, the city where NASCAR was born.