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Everything You Need to Know About The Daytona 500: Ultimate Guide to the Great American Race

Daytona Beach, or simply Daytona, is known around the world for its racing roots. The city is the home of NASCAR, The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, and hosts one of the largest motorsports events in the world which is also the biggest NASCAR race: the Daytona 500, aka the “Great American Race.” 🇺🇲

This is one of Florida’s premier events, and it goes beyond the main stock car race itself, transforming into a full motorsports race weekend.

Trust us: TV doesn’t quite capture the full speed and excitement of the entire event. Watching those cars tear around the track is something you must experience in person at least once in a lifetime, even if you’re not a die-hard car enthusiast. The sights, sounds, and even the smell of burning rubber on the asphalt create a one-of-a-kind experience you never forget.

That’s why this blog is here to provide you with all the details you need to know about the incredible Daytona 500.

Let’s dive right in!

What is NASCAR’s Daytona 500?

This prestigious 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series season opener is a yearly spectacle held each February at the Daytona International Speedway.

Professional racers navigate 200 laps in a demanding test of speed and endurance that takes approximately 3.5 hours to complete.

Roughly 200,000 fans from all over the world flock to the city every year in early February to cheer and soak in the vibes as much as they can – and there’s an additional 9 million viewers that tune in on TV.

And it’s not just about the race. A major part of the NASCAR culture revolves around the festivals. Visitors get to experience countless activities happening throughout the weekend, both on and off the track.

Daytona 500

What other activities happen at the Daytona 500? 

It’s not just about showing up and watching the race. Partying is a massive part of NASCAR culture! The entertainment kicks off before the race even begins and keeps going strong afterward.

Throughout the weekend, you’ll find countless live entertainment and other exciting events happening. The atmosphere is as warm and welcoming as it gets: locals absolutely love meeting folks from all around the world during this time, so get ready for some endless motorsports chats!

Aside from the main event, there are other races happening over the weekend, and, just like most sporting events, there are pre-race and post-race celebrations, some especially for the race winners.

What’s the date of the Daytona 500 in 2024?

In 2024, the main race is scheduled for Sunday, February 18, 2024, but, as we said, the entire weekend is jam-packed with action and activities, so you might want to keep a few extra days open.

Check the full Daytona 500 schedule on their official website.

How to buy tickets for the Daytona 500?

Wondering how to secure your Daytona 500 tickets? The best way to do so is through their official website. Seats at the event are assigned, including some in bleacher sections.

The website also lists multi-day ticket options available for the other races taking place over the weekend. There are special pricing for children and family ticket packages, something that makes things easier for you.

Handy advice: if you plan to attend the race and want to sit together, make sure you buy your tickets as a group. 👍

A word of caution: be aware that there will be various outside ticket sellers. Although most are legit, occasional scammers may be lurking. To stay on the safe side, it’s advisable to buy tickets from the Speedway or a reputable reseller.

What is the Daytona 500 UNOH Fanzone?

This is where die-hard fans can get really close to the action!

The UNOH Fanzone, named after the University of Northwestern Ohio, is an amazing add-on experience, a spot where fans meet their racing heroes, and legends of the past, and get to see some seriously fast cars up close. 

You’ll also find all sorts of cool stuff there, like games and bouncy castles for the little ones, trailers selling gear, and (sometimes) even freebies that’ll make you smile.

Kids 12 or under get in for free, but you’ll still need your daily Daytona 500 ticket. Also, if you’ve got little ones in that age group, make sure there’s an adult with them, and that adult has to buy a ticket for the UNOH Fanzone.

For more details, go here.

Is there live music and entertainment at the Daytona 500?

The Daytona 500 is known for being a grand celebration, and, naturally, live music is a big part of it. 

Many NASCAR races feature fan concerts during the race weekend, adding an extra layer of excitement to the thrill. 

The pre-race show at the Daytona 500 is a much-beloved tradition, but to enjoy it fully, you’ll need UNOH Fanzone access. The pass leads you to the front rows, where outstanding musical artists perform and create an even more electrifying atmosphere for the fans in this exclusive area.

What are some of the top activities apart from watching the NASCAR races?

Want to make the most of your time at the Daytona 500? Here are some ideas: 

  • Soak in the vibes: we recommend you get there early so you can explore all the great vendor booths. There’s a buzz of activity at the track all day long, and you won’t want to miss out.
  • Take a tour: many NASCAR tracks offer tours that are a real treat for race fans of all ages. So, when you’re at your chosen NASCAR race, be sure to ask about the tours they’ve got available both at and near the racetrack.
  • Go shopping: there are spots where you can buy all kinds of cool stuff to keep the race day memories alive.

What should I bring to the Daytona 500?

If you’ve never been to a NASCAR race before, you can think of it as a big stadium gig and plan accordingly.

Here are some must-haves for your survival kit

  • Sunscreen: you’ll definitely want to pack sunscreen. Even if the sky’s a bit cloudy, you can get an unwanted sunburn surprise.
  • Ear plugs: brace yourself because those cars are LOUD! We’re talking noise levels that can rival a rock concert. If you’ve got kids with you, earplugs are your best friends.
  • Sunglasses: don’t forget your shades to protect your eyes from that Florida sun.
  • Binoculars: do you want to get a closer look at all the high-speed action without having to pay for VIP tickets? Throw some binoculars into your gear.
  • Extra layers: you might want to think of layers for your race day outfit. It can start off warm and sunny, but when the race goes into the night, it can get downright chilly or even wet.

Don’t go saying we didn’t give you fair warning! 😜

Is the Daytona 500 good for kids?

By now you’ve noticed that the Daytona 500 is an awesome event. But hey, is it kid-friendly?

You better believe it is! Daytona is about thrilling times as much as it’s about great family-friendly times.

Kids are usually in heaven getting up close with the cars and racers. 

Often, before the race kicks off, drivers will swing by the grandstands or maybe stroll from their motorhomes to the garages. They’re pretty cool about stopping to sign kids’ autographs.

At the Fanzone, there’s also plenty going on that’s perfect for the little aspiring racers, from interactive games to bouncy castles, and lots of snacks. The latter are all great for both the little ones and their parents, too.

Where should I stay in Daytona Beach during the Daytona 500?

After a day filled with high-octane excitement, a restful night’s sleep becomes a necessity. However, given that this event is akin to the local Super Bowl, hotels in the area are often fully booked and charge premium rates, not to mention requiring a minimum stay of 3 or 4 days.

A popular alternative for lodging in Daytona during the race and other events is to opt for a vacation rental. This allows you to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere and enjoy your desired level of privacy.

Daytona offers a variety of beachfront vacation properties, vacation condos, and charming rental homes near Daytona 500.

You can browse through the finest short-term rentals in Daytona Beach on our booking page. We certainly have all your accommodation needs covered!

The ultimate Daytona 500 guide

Daytona is the ultimate US hotspot for motorsports, and the Daytona 500 is just one of the big deals on the calendar. 

The city hosts some other seriously major events too, like the NASCAR Coke Zero Sugar 400 race in August, Bike Week in early March, Biketoberfest revving things up in late October, and the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race happening in January.

No matter when you come, you’ll find something cool going on. Plus, you can always soak up that Florida sunshine while you’re here.

We can’t wait to have you join us for any (or all) of these happenings! 😎

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