In the announcement on Tuesday afternoon by Speedway President Joey Chitwood that they are proposing a face lift for the 53-year old Daytona International Speedway which was built in the late 1950′s, I didn’t see anything in the proposal regarding the back stretch. The back stretch seating which is called the Super Stretch, has been pretty much deserted since the sport has seen its current decline in attendance.
I remember attending the 1998 Pepsi 400, which was the first night race, and was run in October due to the forest fires that plagued Daytona and Volusia county that summer. I had seats on the back stretch because they were the only seats available, and I felt lucky to get them. The back stretch can only be gotten to by either parking in a dirt lot that is next to the Daytona International Airport, or ride the the little Disney-style bus around.
The problem with parking and attending the race on the back stretch is that all of the action, Souviner Haulers, and fan-friendly venues are all located at the front of the track. I was surprised that this part of the venue was not addressed in the press conference, and I’m not sure they know what to do with it.
The track definitely needs a face-lift. The seating is old, the restrooms are from the 50′s and the vending is old. A modernization is needed for NASCAR‘s Super Bowl track.
The other problem that needs attention at the speedway is parking. There are at the most parking for 2000 fans close to the front, and most of those spots are reserved for VIP’s. Of course, you want to park in the back, and walk. The other option is parking in the Mall lots, or somebody’s yard where the closer to the track you park, the more you will pay. You know how free enterprise works.
It’s nice that they are proposing more crossovers that get you across US 92 which runs in front of the speedway. US 92 is 6-7 lanes in each direction, and unless you want to take a chance of getting run over, have to make the hike to the one cross over that is available. This will help fans get from where ever they had to park, across a very busy street. There are usually police officers at some of the intersections, but you will wait 10-15 minutes for them to stop traffic, and get you across safely.
Yes, The Daytona International Speedway needs some upgrades that would bring it into the 21st century, and on a par with other NASCAR venues around the country. I’m still not sure what they are going to do with the back stretch, but maybe the racing will be improved enough by the new Gen 6 Stock Cars that the fans who used to sit there will return. Someone said that in a movie once..“If you build it, they will come”
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