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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

Daytona International Speedway - Roar Before the 24

Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Daytona International Speedway 1801 W International Speedway Blvd Daytona Beach, FL 32114

Year Opened: 1959

Capacity: 167.785


Roar Before the 24

A week before the historic Rolex 24, Daytona International Speedway is already buzzing with race action. An event that used to be held three weeks before the current date, the Roar Before the 24 has now become part of the fabric that makes up IMSA’s return to racing in January.

Featuring three different racing series, this even is mostly a three-day test session for those in the IMSA WeatherTech Series and Michelin Pilot Challenge. However, for the VP Challenge series, this weekend features two races in their season kick-off. With stellar weather in January, this seaside raceway showcases why race fans flock to Florida in the winter. No doubt, this is becoming a must-see event right in line with the Rolex 24 for diehard fans. Kids 12 and under are free, and there is plenty to see all race weekend long.


Food & Beverage   3

During the Roar, there aren’t as many food trucks and pop-up bars to see as you have during the Rolex 24. The main stop is the paddock cafe, featuring chicken tenders and fries ($15), cheeseburgers and fries ($15), hot dogs ($6), corn dogs ($7), nachos ($7), beer ($9-$11), soda ($5.50), and various other snacks. The main grandstands are closed off for this weekend to fans, limiting the food options.


Atmosphere   4

The Roar features a lot of the things you’ll find at the Rolex 24, just on a smaller scale. The infield campfires grow more numerous and the party picks up only as the night darkens, just like at the 24.

There are night practice sessions, and two races for the VP Challenge series. Fans are invited on a pre-race grid walk before the VP race on Saturday, and victory lane is also open to fans for those races. The track itself is stunning as well. The are numerous grandstands in the infield for fans to watch the action from, and the track invites local Boy Scouts troops to come camp for the weekend in the infield during the Roar.

Neighborhood   4

Daytona is a party town from days gone past when tourists flocked to the beaches during the summer months. However, the sun isn’t always so warm in North Florida in January. Nonetheless, the beaches are still just a few miles away from the track. In addition, right across the street from the track sit numerous stores, malls, and restaurants – from Chipotle and Panera to Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, there are plenty of places to shop and eat during your stay. The most popular spot is now One Daytona, a shopping and dining district that features the likes of PF Chang’s, 4 Rivers BBQ, and even the Daytona Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel.


Fans   4

The fans at the Roar are like no others in racing – they are diehards who know the sport inside and out and are not afraid to show their allegiance to their favorite driver, team, or car manufacturer. They also know how to party like few others, and among the most welcoming in the sport. Any one of the various campsites will have a campfire going with a TV playing a broadcast of the race – you’re always welcome to pull up a chair and take in the atmosphere.

During the Roar many of the fans are kids, as the track invites countless Boy Scouts troops from the area to come and camp at the track during the weekend.


Access   5

Parking at the Roar is plentiful. Not only are there on-site parking lots for various parking passes, but the track also hosts various off-site parking options for fans to use, as long as you’re willing to walk. For those who would rather take a ride, trams are also available to shuttle you in and out of the track from numerous parking lots, as well as take you from one point to another at the track itself. You also can wander the facility as you wish, with any ticket granting you access to the various infield grandstand seating areas.

On top of that, Daytona International Airport is literally across the street from the track, and hotels in the area are numerous, including the Daytona Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel, a Hilton Garden Inn, and others.


Return on Investment   5

The Roar is a race to be added to any sports fan’s list of must-see events, especially if you are a diehard sportscar fan. Tickets for the roar start at $30 and go up from there, with various options for multi-day access and infield parking and camping available. Kids 12 and under are free of charge, which makes this a no-brainer for families as well.

Extras   3

All tickets get you into the garage and paddock area at Daytona, which features fantastic views of the track and the paddock from the rooftop patio decks. Fans can also get a look into the team preparations, thanks to the viewing windows in each garage bay.

In addition, fans can look forward to the autograph sessions throughout the weekend, but the biggest plus that few other races offer is the fan walk before the race starts on Saturday; fans can get up close to the cars on pit road, and have an up-front seat for driver introductions.


Final Thoughts

Taking a trip to Daytona for the Roar Before the 24 is a visit worth taking. Anyone who is a race fan should attend, and with Daytona’s famed high banks, the action is non-stop. The sounds of sportscars fills the air all day and night for three days, ramping up the excitement for the Rolex 24 the following weekend.

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