NASCAR: Insiders’ guide to the Daytona 500 – 7 things you need to know

Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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Daytona 500, NASCAR
Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Daytona 500 guide: No. 2 – Tickets

Daytona 500 race tickets start becoming available in June, but in the meantime, you can register with the speedway website and get on their email list. They will notify you when tickets are available, and they may also have early-bird specials.

There is an interactive seating chart, which gives you 3D views from your seat. If you are new to NASCAR, the higher the seat the better. Of course, the price goes up as you go higher up in each section.

I always enjoy a section with the “pit-out” view, as you can see all of the pit-stops and races off pit road as well as good views of turns one and two.

You’ll have to stretch your neck a little to see the start-finish line, but to me, this area is a bargain, even if it means not having the start-finish line right in front of you. It’s really a non-issue, because there are several big-screen video screens so you don’t miss anything out of your view.

Insider tips: I would also recommend attending all of the races from Thursday to Sunday. It really makes for a complete experience. If you arrive early enough during race week, you can catch one (or all) of the races at nearby New Smyrna Speedway, where they run World Series of Asphalt races over several days.

Daytona 500 guide: No. 3 – Parking

One of the lesser known facts about Daytona International Speedway, to those who haven’t been there anyway, is that parking is completely free!

They have perfected a system featuring a gigantic open field for parking a few miles from the track, and they contract literally every school bus from surrounding counties to ferry people back and forth, before and after the race. It is an approximately 15-minute ride to the track and back. There is a catch, though: the lines to get back to the parking area can be very long after the race.

Another option is parking near the track itself. There are large shopping areas within walking distance of the speedway, and many of these are closed on race day to sell parking for the race. Of course, this will not be free, but you can get out much quicker if time is an issue.