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Volume 20 No. 42
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Daytona refurb: An NFL stadium for racing

Expansive concourses, concession areas as large as football fields and more than 40 escalators ferrying people in and out of the facility are just a few of the fan-friendly improvements Daytona International Speedway wants to make in the future.

Track President Joie Chitwood III, who is leading an effort to renovate the facility in the coming years, last week showed the first interior images of how the remodeled facility would look.

The images offered the first glimpse of the escalators leading into the stadium’s five grand entrances, an open concourse where fans could see the racetrack for the first time, and 11 “neighborhoods” the size of football fields where fans could get concessions, interact and use wireless or Wi-Fi technology.

“If you’re going to claim to be the ‘World Center of Racing’ or the Super Bowl of the sport, there’s an expectation that comes with that — big, grand, the best,” Chitwood said. “This renovation gives us a chance to say that. It supports who we are and the claim we can make that we are important.”

Daytona already has secured approval for a

The renovations, which include grand entrances and an open concourse (shown in renderings), will help Daytona live up to expectations as the “Super Bowl of the sport,” said track President Joie Chitwood III.
Images: ROSSETTI (2)
zoning change that allows it to renovate the 53-year-old track. Chitwood and the architecture firm Rossetti, which is working on the project, are finalizing the redesign and hope to present it to the senior management and board of its parent company, International Speedway Corp., later this year for approval.

The cost of the renovation hasn’t been determined.

The new Daytona would look far more like a contemporary NFL stadium than a racetrack. A finished exterior will conceal the backside of the grandstands and reduce the number of entrances from 19 to five.

The main entrance will have a series of four escalators, stairs and elevators that deliver fans to a series of three main concourses. It also has a manicured entrance with towering glass and steel. It’s what Chitwood calls a front door that will make people say, “Wow.”

“This is what makes you pull off the side of the road and get out your camera to take a picture,” Chitwood said. “It takes on that professional stadium feel.”

Under the redesign, Daytona would add more aisles and, therefore, shorten the lengths of its rows from as many as 60 or 90 seats to 20 seats each. The three concourse levels would divide the grandstand and reduce the number of rows that fans have to walk to reach their seats, as well. Right now, many fans climb more than 40 rows to reach their seat, but the proposed renovation would reduce the maximum number of rows in the three concourse levels to 20.

By climbing down those 20 rows, fans would be able to reach one of 11 concession areas that Chitwood calls “a neighborhood.” The areas would be the size of a football field and include permanent concessions — a major improvement from the temporary concession stands that Daytona currently has — and space to eat and socialize with friends.

“This is everything together that a fan wants,” Chitwood said. “Get a refreshment, talk to friends, tweet, do whatever. This is a space where you can do that.”

The centerpiece of the renovated track would be the World Center of Racing, an open-air concourse in the middle of the grandstands that stretches for more than 150 yards. It’s there that Chitwood hopes first-time race attendees will enter the stadium.

To get there, they will pass a number of images and information that tell the history of the track. Then they will emerge onto the concourse to see the track for the first time.

“This is where I hope to hook you as a fan not just of the event but the sport,” Chitwood said. “It would be that main gathering area. A place to escalate up and see the track for the first time.”

Chitwood said he hopes to announce the track’s hospitality plans in the next two months. He shared the concourse renovation plans with sponsors last Thursday night. The track has held preliminary discussions with existing sponsors about becoming the presenting sponsor of one of the five entrances.

The final presentation won’t be made to ISC’s board until later this year, but Chitwood is hopeful that they will see what he sees when he looks at the track. After all, his father, who has been a Daytona season-ticket holder for 26 years, still has seats on a metal bench that hasn’t been changed in more than two decades.

“You would assume it would change, but that’s why we have to go down this path of redevelopment,” Chitwood said. “If we expect a sponsor, a customer, for presidents to come here, this property needs that kind of attention so that we can live up to that World Center of Racing name.”