The crowning jewel in the NASCAR crown, the Daytona 500 is a race that all car racing enthusiasts should experience at least once in their lives. Held in February in Daytona Beach, the Daytona 500 race caps off the Daytona Speedweeks, and it does so in style. Since the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959, no stock car race has received so much attention, which is why Daytona Beach dubs itself the "World Center of Racing." Like the 43 cars that take place in the race itself, the Daytona 500 tickets go fast. You'll also do well to book your hotel room or vacation rental in advance, as they fill up fast once the big day approaches.
Also known as "The Great American Race," the Daytona 500 is not only NASCAR's biggest event, but its richest as well. A hefty paycheck awaits the winner of this annual race, as does plenty of prestige. No driver has won the Daytona 500 race on more occasions than Richard Petty, who did so an impressive seven times. Interestingly enough, it was Richard Petty's father, Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. The winner's prize for that first Daytona 500 race was a mere $19,050, which pales in comparison to the more than 1 million dollars that today's winners take home.
Year in and year out, the Daytona International Speedway serves as the venue for the Daytona 500 race. The track at the Daytona International Speedway is 2.5 miles long, and the Daytona 500 racers go around it 200 times, weather permitting. Should it rain, the race can be ended early. Sometimes, the race can also include extra laps, thanks to a special finishing rule that negates finishing while racers are under a restrictive yellow caution flag. As NASCAR racing has grown in popularity over the years, so too has the Daytona 500 race, which sees higher television ratings than any other auto race during the year. The TV ratings have a lot to do with the race's other moniker, which is the "Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing." While watching the race on television is exciting enough, it doesn't compare to seeing it live. That's part of the reason why the Daytona 500 tickets sell out fast.
Should you be interested in going to the Daytona 500, one of the first things that you'll want to do is get your tickets. The Daytona 500 tickets are relatively pricey, thanks to the prestige of the race, and they can get even more expensive when you add on things like pit passes and garage tours. Multiple day tickets can be purchased for all the special side events leading up to the race, including the Nationwide Series race that is held the day before the Daytona 500. Special Daytona 500 packages are available for those who are planning on experiencing this dynamic event, and in addition to including racing tickets, they can also include things like your hotel accommodations, roundtrip transportation between the hotel and the racetrack, admission to the Daytona 500 Experience, which was formerly known as Daytona USA, and a pit and road tour.
While some of the Daytona 500 packages will have you staying at one of the Daytona Beach hotels, others will see you taking up temporary residence at one of the Orlando hotels. The advantage to staying at one of the Orlando hotels is that you will be closer to theme parks like Disney World and Sea World. Daytona Beach has some great attractions of its own, and you'll have miles of beaches at your disposal when you base yourself here instead. The drive from Orlando to Daytona Beach shouldn't take you more than an hour, so you'll still be close to the Daytona International Speedway when staying at one of the Orlando hotels. As a side note, if you can't make the Daytona 500, you might look to plan your Daytona Beach vacation around some of the other yearly races, such as the Coke Zero 400, which takes place on Independence Day. There's also the Speedweeks races to consider as well.