The first visit to the all new Daytona International Stadium is a huge success. The more open areas, the wider seats, the better video boards, the ease of travel to your seats are all huge improvements. When we first came to Daytona in 2000 one of the experiences everyone must encounter is walking up to the fence and feel the rush of wind as the pack of cars came by on the track. Of course the last few years we have seen some terrible wrecks, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon into the catch fence spewing parts into the crowd are two of those instances. Fan safety is paramount in this world we live in.
Look at the local scene and what has been accomplished over the years to fan and crew safety. Three events happened at Lakeside Speedway that necessitated safety changes. The first event was having a sprint car fly through the catch fence in turn 3 past the former pit grandstands. The pit grandstands were moved to their current location. The second was closing off the gate through the fence under the flagman, why, you may ask because the gate allowed a little boy to sit on the wall as the cars were racing. Thank goodness for the race fan who saw and grabbed the child just moments before a car hit the wall in that area. The third event happened as a pit crewman ran across in front of the racecars as they were being sent onto the track. The pit crewman was injured in this event and sent to the hospital. The next year Mike Johnson installed the concrete barriers so people would have a somewhat protected walk way and thus reduce the chances of this occurring again.
Now if we just get some new racing on the track, no wonder the owners have to go to a charter system, their drivers are tearing up race cars like little kids tear through toys. Patience on the race track goes along ways towards first finishing the race.
But back to the stadium and again let’s bring it closer to home. Does anyone remember what tracks were called in the 1960s? Stadiums, Riverside Stadium, Lakeside Stadium, look online and you can find pictures of former programs listing these as the names of two prominent racetracks in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Somewhere along the line speedway became the more prominent word.
Like a stadium, Arrowhead Stadium comes to mind, there are plenty of things to do besides just watch the sport occurring on the track at Daytona. WiFi is available in the concourse area, grab a seat, yes there are seats on the concourse levels, and text, and do all the modern things you do with your mobile telephone these days. Grab a seat and watch the video boards, they are located in various places along the concourses. Food and drink are more accessible, restrooms are modernized, in particular men are no longer utilizing a trough, and this was interesting the men’s lines were usually longer than the women’s lines.
Finally, our sport is one that has always been plagued by weather, we have experienced tornado warnings while trying to stay dry at Daytona, now the concourses are designed to keep us dry and for all the 100,000 to have a place for shelter from the elements. Great job Daytona, the improvements were needed and much enjoyed!