I've lived in the Daytona Beach area for around 14.5 years now. While the area is known for the racing that takes place we had never went to any of the races. This is because the ticket prices seemed too much of a gamble. I didn't have interest in putting out money to see it in person when it seemed so boring on television. However, two days before the 2021 Daytona 500, one of my husband's customers (he owns Wave Window Washing) offered him four free tickets to take his family to the race. He jumped at the opportunity so that we could all check it out.
Getting in and out of the speedway was much smoother than we had anticipated. Of course, this could be because due to the pandemic the crowd was a third of what it usually is for this event. But we easily found paid parking and walked over to the speedway. I have toured the stadium before and had been there during the times that my husband has run in the Daytona Beach Half Marathon, but I noticed on this trip that it was really nice. The speedway is very clean, both in the stadium, bathrooms, and common areas. I'm sure they took extra cleaning measures due to the pandemic and it was noticeable. Our seats were in the lower area in section 177.
I loved the pre-race show that took place. Luke Combs performed, Pitbull was the grand marshall, and the jets going overhead were awesome All of that was great! Then the race started. Wow! I was blown away at how much more exciting it was to be in person with those racing cars. It was awesome! I loved the sound, how fast they were, and I was amazed at how close together they are driving at such high speeds. Much to all of our surprise, all four of us thought it was really cool.
Then the rain moved in.
Everyone had to leave the stands, because there was a storm with lightning. We sat around for 2.5 hours trying to wait out the storm, and decided to head home. The good news it that living just 15 minutes from the track we figured we could watch the TV to see when/if it would start back up again that night. Once they announced it would be starting back up we headed over there. There was a 5.5 hour weather delay, but we ended up seeing the whole Daytona 500 race, getting home at 1 am.
I love that you are allowed to take food and drinks into the speedway. We took a small soft sided cooler with drinks and a few snacks. We still ended up spending $30 on buying food, but it helped make it more affordable not having to buy drinks. We also took rain ponchos in case it rained, and we did end up using them when we decided to head home and it was still pouring.
It was our first in-person Daytona 500 and racing experience, but I doubt it will be our last. It was so much better in person than on TV. It was actually really exciting! Check out my video below of the final lap (you can see the orange glow in the background from that bad accident that took place).