- Chris Green
Daytona International Speedway - Rolex 24 at Daytona
Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.71
Daytona International Speedway 1801 W International Speedway Blvd Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Daytona International Speedway website
Year Opened: 1959
24 Hours of Race Action
The historic Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is one of the most well-known sports car races in the world. An endurance battle that attracts the best manufacturers and drivers from around the world, this race is on any true race fan’s bucket list.
Aside from that, it should be on the bucket list for any sports fan in general. Unlike other historic and thrilling endurance races that are better suited for a more mature audience (looking at you, Sebring 12 Hours), the Rolex 24 is without a doubt one of the most family-friendly races around. Kids 12 and under are free, and there is plenty to see all race weekend long.
Food & Beverage 5
There is plenty to eat at Daytona in the paddock and beneath the grandstands in the main concourses. From drinks, coffee, and traditional stadium fare to more eclectic choices, the variety is impressive. During the 24 Hours, there are also a variety of places to get food throughout the infield for fans. From the various bars that pop up near the main displays to simple hot dog and arepa stands around the main walkways, you will never have any issues finding something to eat. Moreover, several food trucks also set up shop in the infield midway area, meaning you can get some unique food options on the go.
There’s nothing quite like being at a 24-hour endurance race; the feeling is electric as the race begins in the afternoon. As the sun sets, the lights come on and the look and feel of the race takes on another face – the smell of race fuel, the glow of the brakes in the cold night, the sound of engines roaring lap after lap.
The infield campfires grow more numerous and the party picks up only as the night darkens. As the morning creeps back, a sense of urgency creeps in as the end nears. And when the checkered flag falls, the celebration begins. Mix into that a weekend full of pre-race support events, practice sessions, and qualifying laps, and you have no shortage of on-track action to see.
The track itself is stunning as well. The updates to the main grandstand thanks to the Daytona Rising project a few years ago have made the seating outside the infield extremely comfortable for fans. Also, with main concourses that are easy to navigate and concessions stands all over, it feels more like a visit to a professional sports stadium for the Super Bowl than it does a car race.
Daytona is a party town for days gone past when tourists flocked to the beaches during the summer months. However, the sun isn’t always so warm in North Florida in January. Nonetheless, the beaches are still just a few miles away from the track. In addition, right across the street from the track sit numerous stores, malls, and restaurants. From Chipotle and Panera to Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, there are plenty of places to shop and eat during your stay.
The fans at the 24 Hours are like no others in racing – they are diehards who know the sport inside and out and are not afraid to show their allegiance to their favorite driver, team, or car manufacturer. They also know how to party like a few others, and they’re also among the most welcoming in the sport. Any one of the various campsites will have a campfire going, with a TV playing a broadcast of the race – you’re always welcome to pull up a chair and take in the atmosphere.
Parking at the 24 is plentiful. Not only are there on-site parking lots for various parking passes, but the track also hosts various off-site parking options for fans to use, as long as you’re willing to walk. For those who would rather take a ride, trams are also available to shuttle you in and out of the track from numerous parking lots, as well as to take you from one point to another at the track itself. You also can wander the facility as you wish, with any ticket granting you access to the stadium grandstand seating, as well as the infield viewing areas.
Return on Investment 5
The 24 Hours is a race to be added to any sports fan’s list of must-see events, let alone any race fan. Tickets for the race weekend can get up there in price for a full camping package, but when you consider the quality of the product on the track, the length of the actual race you’re seeing, and the history made every year at the event, it’s hard to argue value versus cost. Single-day ticket options are also available for fans who would rather sit in the main grandstand and watch the race for one day, or stay just for the main event with infield access.
The 24 Hours race is home to multiple days of racing action, including support races beyond the main event itself. In addition, most tickets get you into the garage and paddock area at Daytona, which features fantastic views of the track and the paddock from the rooftop patio decks. Fans can also get a look into the team preparations, thanks to the viewing windows in each garage bay.
Fans can also look forward to the autograph sessions throughout the weekend. By far the biggest is on Friday, when all the drivers line up in the garage area to greet fans. But the biggest plus that few other races offer is the fan walk before the race starts on Saturday; fans can get up close to the cars on pit road, wander the front stretch banking, relax on the grass, and have an up-front seat for driver introductions.
Many of the displays in the infield midway also feature giveaways or unique viewing locations, such as the Lexus lounge on top of their trailer.
Taking a trip to Daytona for the Rolex 24 Hours is a visit worth taking. Anyone who is a race fan should attend, and with Daytona’s recent seating upgrades, watching the race from either the infield or the main grandstands is more comfortable now than ever before.