Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood announced plans for a major renovation to the home of the Daytona 500 Tuesday during the Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte. Although the project remains in the planning stages, Chitwood said the objectives are to improve the fan experience at the iconic venue.
“From the standpoint of what we have at our facility. … you've got an experience that is rich on history and heritage but isn't quite there when it comes to what fans expect in terms of amenities, points of sale, all those elements,'' Chitwood said. “The Daytona 500 will always be the biggest event on the NASCAR schedule. It is our Super Bowl. We have to make sure as we talk about the vision of the ‘World Center of Racing' that all of those elements that the fans enjoy live up to that. And this is our attempt to do that.”
Chitwood said DIS officials have been getting the necessary local government zoning approvals from Volusia County and city of Daytona Beach over the past few months. “We've enlisted Rossetti Architects out of Michigan to partner with us as we consider what this redevelopment might mean. Rossetti Architects has over 40 years in the sports and entertainment architecture including projects at Ford Field [home of the NFL's Detroit Lions] and the USTA Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. With them we've been able to create a new grand vision, and so today for the first time I unveil some creative as it relates to what we consider the new vision for Daytona International Speedway. As you look at this image, you can see the massive structure and feel to it – grand entrance statements and architectural skin, very reminiscent of professional sport that you see nowadays."
He added, however, that the architects have been keen to maintain the traditional look and feel of the Speedway.
"The beauty of our facility is that the start-finish line, the angle of that banking there, the angle of banking in the turns, those turns themselves; are the same track, the same location, the same dimensions that Lee Petty ran the first race and won,'' Chitwood said. “That Dale Earnhardt won on, that Dale Earnhardt Jr. won on.
“We might have changed the asphalt but that's no different than changing the sod on a football field. In our sport, we don't tear down and rebuild in a new location and so we can work on the amenities that our fans enjoy. But that start-finish line is the same start-finish line that the original winner of the Daytona 500 crossed. That gives us a unique ability to continue the heritage of Daytona while we work on the amenities around it.''
Chitwood declined to discuss specifics of the project, although he expected to have more information to disclose prior to next month's Daytona 500.
“As it relates to how many seats are there, how many restrooms are there, when it gets to that point, we'll have another session when we can get into detail,'' Chitwood said. “This is the start, the big vision. If we're going to host the Daytona 500 every year, it's our biggest event, we have to make sure we're living up to that expectation.''