Daytona International Speedway is the home of the famed NASCAR Daytona 500. It is a 2.5 mile superspeedway with a 3.56 mile road course in the infield. There are 6 turns in the infield section and the majority of the speedway is used. A high speed chicane is located in the back straight approaching NASCAR 3 to keep the speeds down. The speeds will still be higher than most SCCA racers have normally seen.
Portions of this page were contributed by Mike "Doc" Cobine. The Hot Lap was contributed by Chris Ingle.
Last Updated: 2006-12-27
|TrackTapes.com has in-car video of this (and many other) tracks|
The first races at Daytona were the beach races organized by Bill France Sr. immediately after World War II; one leg of the race was on the beach, and the other on a paved road parallel to the beach. The big oval at Daytona was built after it became clear that it was no longer reasonable to continue the beach races. The track opened on February 1st, 1959. The first version(s) of the road course opened on April 5th, 1959. There were 1.6, 3.1 and 3.81 mile variations of this course. The modern 3.56 mile course entered service on July 3rd, 1984.
The track was used once shortly after opening for a USAC-sanctioned IndyCar race, on April 9th, 1959. In 1961, the back straight was used for a time as a 1/4 mile dragstrip.
|Allan E. Brown, The History of America's Speedways: Past & Present. Comstock Park, Michigan: Brown, 2003 , ISBN 0931105617 , pp. 194. Order from National Speedway Directory|
Daytona International Speedway
1801 W International Speedway Blvd
Daytona Beach, FL 32114-1215
904-947-6791 (Administration Fax)
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Daytona is one of the easier tracks to find, mainly due to its fame. Everyone in town knows how to find it.
Take I95 south to Daytona Beach. Exit east on US 92. there are Speedway signs on the interstate. If you get to I4, turn around and go back.
Take US92 about 1 mile and the speedway will cover all of the right side. Continue to the east eand of the speedway to the main entrance and turn right into the main entrance. On the left is a small white building with lots of windows. This is registration.
Take I95 north past I4 to the first exit, US92. Exit east and go about a mile. The speedway will cover all of the right side. Continue to the east eand of the speedway to the main entrance and turn right into the main entrance. On the left is a small white building with lots of windows. This is registration.
Take I4 to I95 north to the first exit, US92. Exit east and go about a mile. The speedway will cover all of the right side. Continue to the east eand of the speedway to the main entrance and turn right into the main entrance. On the left is a small white building with lots of windows. This is registration.
Hot Lap of the Daytona Road Course courtesy of Chris W. Ingle, 2003 Southeast Division T1 National Champion, #7 T1 Corvette Z06. Track Tapes has a video of laps of this track as driven by Chris including an SCCA National win and 1 good crash into the wall!
First and foremost, DIS is a relatively dangerous track. Speaking from experience, the walls are very hard and do not give if/when you hit them. There is guard railing around the entire (very slippery) infield and not a whole lot of runoff room if you make a mistake. This is without a doubt, the fastest top speed track in the southeast and will test your bravery as you enter the bankings at well over 150 mph.
The amenities of Daytona are what youíd expect from a track that hosts some of the best racing in motor sports -- professional garages, large paved paddock area, permanent admin buildings, great viewing/vantage spots, etc.)
Overall, DIS uses nearly the whole oval and adds a simple, flat, slippery infield section with a few twists to connect the two major bankings.
It helps to have a neutral car here. A car that oversteers here is primed for an accident/spin. The infield gets slicker as the week goes on so keeping the rear tires 'underí the car is essential or youíll be dirt tracking around every corner within a lap or two. Itís an easy track to learn but very hard to master. Itís also a good idea to use THINNER tires than you normally would, especially on the front. This is due to the ultra-high speeds and rolling resistance (air and friction) of wider tires. If you normally run 315s on the front, try using the 275s.
All shift points and approximate speeds are relative to my T1 prepared 2001 Corvette Z06. Leaving the pits, stay to the left as cars will be coming off the NASCAR portion on to the infield. There is a 'mergeí area with Armco so itís fairly safe and uneventful. As you accelerate past turn 2, you should be on the left side of the track approaching 3, which is a 180 deg right-hand turn with many surface changes. Heel-toe downshift to 3d. This braking zone is very deceptive due to the slick surface. Aim for a very late apex and control the oversteer. The first few laps may not be too bad, but as the track heats up and carís slide around on it, it becomes diabolical to keep from lighting up the rear tires. Remember to track all the way out.
After exiting 3, you should still be in 3d gear accelerating toward the very fast left hand kink (turn 4). Shift to 4th before entering the kink. Thankfully this corner grips pretty well, but it takes a few laps to get that into your head. It pays to be on a nice steady throttle thru here, nail the apex curbing and use all of the track.
After the kink, get back to the left and heel-toe to 3d to set up for turn 5, which is yet another long 180 degree right-hand turn. Again, the braking zone is deceptively long. Late apex this and control the oversteer again. Itís very easy to drop the rear wheel off in the dirt at the exit if youíre not careful. Accelerate hard to the last infield corner (turn 6) and set up on the right side of the track.
This corner is one of the most important corners on the track because it leads to one of the longest straight-aways. You can turn in earlier than you think here. Itís not quite like the other corners because you have so much room on the exit (essentially the NASCAR track) which has a lot more grip. Nail the first apex, but donít be concerned about hitting the 2d apex on the left. Just unwind the wheel and put as much power down as possible and get to the concrete surface as soon as possible. USE ALL OF THE TRACK AT THE EXIT.
Wind the car up thru 4th and 5th well over 150 mph as high as you dare. Check your gauges and relax. Remember to keep your head and eyes way, way up because at these speeds, objects come up on you very fast. Keeping your eyes up lessens the sensation of speed too. The first 'objectí youíll come to is the chicane installed years ago to scrub some of the speed off the really high horse power cars. Line up on the right side of the track close to the wall. Brake as late as you dare, heel-toe downshift to 4th and try to straighten out the first curve (turn 7) of the chicane as much as possible. Use the curbing as much as your suspension will allow and be on a smooth throttle upon turn-in.
Accelerate down the small chicane straight, lift throttle just a bit if needed to set up for the last part of the chicane (turn 8). They have greatly improved the curbing here and somewhat straightened out the last curve. This is largely due to the fact that several people, including me, managed to nail the outside concrete wall (with no padding) because the curve was too sharp and too dusty.
Accelerate out of the last turn using all of the curbing but DO NOT drop a wheel off the track because that just brings more dirt onto the track and sets the drivers behind you up for disaster. Shift to 5th on the banking and keep your foot in it as long as you dare.
The next part is one of the hardest areas on the track -- setting up for turn 1. Wait as long as you can under power to get pointed toward turn 1 because youíll be moving over 160 mph and you need to be as straight as possible to get maximum braking -- youíll need it! Point the nose of the car on the right side of the entrance of turn 1 and nail those brakes. Heel toe 5-4-3 and trail brake the corner. Aim for a late apex and look up.
If something happens and you donít have all the brakes you need to stop, donít push a bad situation. Use the runoff area (on the NASCAR track), punt a few cones and come to a stop and watch the corner workers for further direction.
The exit of turn 1 is actually the start of turn 2 and the semi-chicane. Donít try to fit 2 cars thru there unless you have lots of money to fix the scrapes on the side of your shiny car. It can be done, but it is tight. Youíre back where you started remembering to take into account the long braking zone for turn 3.
Again, the hardest part about Daytona is the slick infield. It is very easy to vaporize the rear tires. Minimize the heat in the rear tires and they will last the whole race long. If you try to spin them and get lots of power-on oversteer, youíll fall way back in the pack by the race end. Enjoy!
Chris W. Ingle www.tracktapes.com
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