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The Daytona 500 is one of the biggest events in Florida, along with the Rolling Loud festival.
I've been to multiple NASCAR races. While I don't consider myself a hardcore fan, it's still an incredible experience. So if you have a chance to see this popular race, go!
Here's all you need to know about the Daytona 500, including what it is, why you should go, how to get tickets, and how to prepare for race day.
What is the Daytona 500?
The Daytona 500 is one of the biggest NASCAR races of the year. It's the first race in the Cup Series, the highest tier of auto racing in the United States. It's a 500-mile-long race at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Professional drivers take 200 laps around the track as thousands of spectators cheer them on, and another 9 million watch on TV.
If you aren't a NASCAR fan or even a car person, you may ask yourself why you would want to watch cars drive in circles. Great question! While you may cringe at the idea, I promise that seeing the cars roaring their engines around the track is really cool!
You don't just show up and watch the race. One of the biggest parts of the NASCAR culture is partying! There's a ton of live entertainment and other events happening throughout the weekend. Plus, if you're from the north, where February is cold and snowy, then any excuse to take a trip to Florida is a good one.
You can also camp or tailgate at the track, which is a lot of fun and a great way to meet some fun people. I guarantee you won't be the only person at the Daytona 500 who's there to party and socialize and couldn't care less about the actual race.
So grab a group of friends, pack a cooler, and get ready for a fun but loud weekend at the Daytona 500!
How do I get tickets to the Daytona 500?
You can get tickets to the Daytona 500 on the official website. Seats for the race are assigned, despite some of the seats being in bleachers. If you're going to the race with friends, make sure you all buy tickets as a group if you want to sit together.
There are other races taking place over the weekend apart from the main event on Sunday. You'll have to buy a multi-day ticket to watch any of these extra events.
You can also buy tickets to the UNOH Fanzone, which gives you pre-race access to a VIP area. These tickets include:
- A pre-race show
- VIP appearances
- A chance to see the cars in the garages up close
- A close-up view of the driver introductions
What should I bring to the Daytona 500?
If you've never been to a NASCAR race before, don't fret! It's pretty similar to most big stadium events in terms of what you need to know and bring.
Here are the most important things you should bring to the Daytona 500:
- Your tickets
- Ear plugs - the cars are LOUD
- A jacket
- Binoculars for a closer look
- Snacks, but they must be sealed
- A reusable water bottle - try a Nalgene or Hydro Flask
- Drinks - no glass, but alcohol is allowed
- Ice and a cooler - maximum size is 14x14x14
To clarify, you can bring your own food and drinks to the Daytona 500, which isn't allowed at most other sporting events and concerts. Being able to do this is a lifesaver if you're a budget traveler like me and want to avoid spending absurd amounts on just one drink.
Where should I stay for the Daytona 500?
The most popular option for accommodation at Daytona is camping at Daytona International Speedway. You can bring an RV or camper and hook it up to an electrical point at the campsite. If you're like me and don't have an RV, then bring a tent. Or, camp out of your car or van! Anything goes, as long as you book a campsite before they're sold out.
If you're more of a glamper or anything less than an actual bed is a no-go, you can stay at a hotel or rent a house near the racetrack in Daytona. If you're planning to explore the beaches and bars in Daytona Beach, staying off the track is best.
But if you want the full Daytona 500 experience and want to spend the weekend meeting some race fans, you should absolutely camp at the track. No matter what happens, I promise it will be an experience you will never forget!
FAQS about the Daytona 500
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Daytona 500!
When is the Daytona 500?
The next Daytona 500 race is on February 19, 2023. The race takes place in February every year, usually after the Superbowl.
Can I bring my own food and drinks to the Daytona 500?
You can bring your own food and drinks as well as alcohol. You just cannot drink beverages that come in glasses, and the food must be sealed.
What time does the Daytona 500 start?
The 2023 Daytona 500 starts around 2:30 Eastern time, which is local Daytona Beach time.
Who won the Daytona 500?
The 2022 Daytona 500 winner was Austin Cindric. The next Daytona 500 winner will be crowned on February 19, 2023.
How many laps is the Daytona 500?
The Daytona 500 is 200 laps around the track at the Daytona International Speedway. This is equivalent to 500 miles, hence the name of the race.
Start your engines!
The Daytona 500 is a fun event to attend whether you're a racing fan or not! It's an excellent opportunity to travel with friends and plan a trip using Pilot.