Richard Petty Driving Experience

Visit Daytona’s famous speedway year round for insiders’ tours and racing thrills

Daytona is often synonymous with NASCAR, as automobile racing in the area dates back to 1903 when two men were debating who had the fastest horseless carriage and decided to test it out on what is now known as the “World’s Most Famous Beach.”

Coke Zero 400

By 1935, Daytona became known as the “Birthplace of Speed” and the sport evolved to stock car racing on a track comprised of a 1.5 mile stretch of hard, wide sand combined with another 1.5 miles of paved road with curved sand banks in between. In 1947, a local mechanic and stock car racer named Bill France gave up racing to focus on promoting the sport in the area and subsequently founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).

Since the opening of the Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in 1959, the Daytona 500 has become equivalent to the Super Bowl or the World Series for racing fans. Events can bring more than 160,000 spectators to this racing complex which hosts motorcycle and Go Kart events in addition to several sports car races throughout the year. The track even boasts 29-acre Lake Lloyd where bass fishing tournaments and powerboat racing events are held.

Speedway Tours

Even when there’s not a big event scheduled, race fans flock to the speedway for an up close and personal look at where racing history began, and continues to be made year after year. The speedway offers three different options for tours on days when race events aren’t held. For a quick overview, the 30 minute Speedway Tour takes visitors on a ride through the infield and along Pit Road past the NASCAR garages. The All Access Tour gets behind the scenes for an hour and a half of history from the infield as well as the press box. For the full experience, the three-hour VIP tour takes you even deeper into the speedway with a trip around the track, a chance to explore the Speedway Corporation Archives and more.

While the VIP tour may be perfect for die-hard NASCAR fans, the All Access tour is fascinating for anyone who loves the sport or who is new to the sport, the price is affordable and the length of the tour is not too overwhelming. The tour begins with an overview of the infield as the open-air trolley

moves toward the Drivers’ Meeting Room and the Sprint Fan Zone. Inside the Fan Zone, the NASCAR Spring Cup garages can be viewed as well as the Tech Inspection station. Visitors on the tour can have their photo taken on the famous Gatorade Victory Lane stage before heading up to the seventh-story Houston Lawing Press Box for a birds-eye view of the track and additional history and information. The tour concludes with a short video and a close-up look at the most recent winning Daytona 500 car.

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Richard Petty Driving Experience

After seeing the track up close and learning the history of the speedway, you may feel as if the need for speed has overcome you. Perhaps you want to feel what it’s like to cruise around the track at more than 170 miles per hour, taking the turns with dramatic 31-degree banks. With the Richard Petty Driving Experience, you can do just that.

While the wait for the Ride-Along Experience can be a long one, you’ll get to watch others go through the see-saw of emotions from excitement to a little bit – or maybe a lot – of nervousness before the ride, to pure giddy adrenaline once they’re done. The riders range from NASCAR fans to foreign tourists, with those as young as 14 almost as excited as a few octogenarians waiting for their turn. All of them are equally thrilled once they’ve completed the ride.

You can also get a glimpse at the safety precautions taken during the day to ensure the cars are ready for anything. Every few laps, the pit crew checks the engine as well as the tire wear, and tires are changed as needed, usually several times a day. Gas tanks are refueled about six times a day on busy riding days.

When your wait is over and you’re secured in the fireproof full-body racing suit and an awkwardly large helmet, the track staff will help you climb in through the race car’s passenger window feet first. They help buckle you in and leave you in the capable hands of one of the several drivers who provide the rides throughout the day.

At this point, you may already be a little giddy, or a little nervous. Your mouth may be a little dry, and you might find yourself clutching the safety belt secured over your chest. But there’s no turning back now. If you happen to be a woman, you might try to channel Danica Patrick, who just this year became the highest placing female driver in the history of the Daytona 500. Sure, she’s been racing since she was a teenager, but her success in a sport hugely dominated by men is a strong inspiration for women who want to face a challenge head on. So take a deep breath and hang on. You’re off!

The first curve of the three-lap ride may be the most thrilling part of the experience – or the most terrifying, depending on who you ask. The next few minutes in that box of steel on wheels are surely some of the most adrenaline-pumping moments you’ve experienced. The noise of the engine, the sheer speed and the thrill of being on the famous track send your heart racing nearly as fast as you are. It’s over almost too quickly, but by the time your driver has safely deposited you back at the Pit, you’ll be pumped up and ready for another round.

Once your knees are steady again, head over to the ticket booth where they’ll have your photo in the car on a commemorative plaque as well as a video on a memory stick that can be purchased so that you can prove to the world – or just to yourself and a few close friends – that you got a firsthand taste of Daytona racing.

Contact
1801 W. International Speedway Blvd.
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
(877) 306-RACE(7223)
www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com
Hours
Tour schedules are based on race schedule, track rental, testing and weather conditions.
Visit the Tour Calendar for current information.
 
*Photos courtesy of the Daytona International Speedway and the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

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