It's "all in" for Daytona International Speedway's $400 million renovation.
More than half a million racing fans were in Florida's Daytona Beach region this past week to party and attend Budweiser Speedweeks, a series of NASCAR races culminating in Sunday's soggy season-opening Daytona 500—billed as the "Great American Race."
Nothing short of a domed stadium would have avoided Sunday's six-hour rain delay or the tornado warning that caused the mid-race evacuation of the grandstands, but in the future, fans will at least have more places to take refuge.
Now that NASCAR's biggest and most prestigious race is over, work can resume on the major renovation underway at the sport's most recognizable venue—the Daytona International Speedway, which opened in 1959.
"In the sports world, you're seeing massive investment in infrastructure, specifically new football, baseball and basketball venues," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood told CNBC. "And if you've been to a new arena and then come to a property like ours that's more than 50 years old, there's a stark difference."
"We decided we'd have to make improvements," said Chitwood. "And instead of Band-aiding this or that, we decided to go all in."
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The $400 million, 2½-year project should be finished in 2016.
DAYTONA Rising, as the upgrade project is called, includes the rebuilding of the front stretch of the grandstand, which seats more than 100,000 and runs for nearly a mile along the 2.5-mile tri-oval track.