Accessible Daytona 500!
You would be hard-pressed to a find a more well-known or iconic American racetrack than Daytona International Speedway (DIS) in Daytona, Florida. Home to the world famous Daytona 500 since 1959, DIS is a massive, sprawling facility. The track itself is two and a half miles long, with acres of parking, activities and transportation inside & outside. There always seems to be excitement in the air there with the sound of roaring engines, fly-overs, throngs of happy race fans, and all of the racing events that go along with thrilling racing on-track during Speed Weeks at Daytona.
An estimated 250,000 fans attend the Daytona 500 each year. Wow! When you consider the size and scope of such an event, accessibility certainly seems like it might be a challenge, but I could not have been more impressed with DIS in this regard.
They’ve thought of every detail throughout the facility. There is ample accessible parking and plenty of transportation options to access the grandstands and infield area. A variety of trams, golf carts, buses and vans assist race fans and their personal mobility vehicles into the speedway. Additionally, the staff has been trained how to assist visitors with special needs and are friendly & helpful. There is a special number guests may text to get guest services assistance wherever they are on the grounds. You can find lots of useful accessibility information about DIS here: www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Visitor-Center/ADA-Info.aspx
My one suggestion in terms of accessibility would be that DIS provide scooter rental at the track for guests who do not always use one. I am mobility challenged, which to me means I can walk some, but cannot walk a great distance, and cannot stand for long periods of time. I am transitioning to using a scooter on a more regular basis.
This year my activities were in the infield at DIS, which contains the garages and pit road where you can see all of the race cars running practice laps and being worked on up close and personal. If you have a pit pass you can even watch the races from the pits! There is a media center, infield care center, fan zone, hospitality area and some infield seating. There is also a huge food court with seating, band performance stage, various exhibits and souvenir building.
I was a little concerned about navigating this large facility, but all of the transportation DIS provides made me comfortable with everything, and there were plenty of places to sit & rest as needed. I interviewed several race fans at DIS who were using a variety of wheelchairs, scooters and other assistive devices, and asked about their experiences. Everyone told me that they had no trouble maneuvering around the speedway, and were all having a great time.
I would encourage anyone who is a racing fan, or just wants to experience the atmosphere of all of the action at Daytona…don’t hesitate because of mobility challenges….just GO! You’ll be glad you did!