Do Daytona 6 Different Ways

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Dec 25, 2015 | Posted in Features | Never miss an article

The Rolex 24 At Daytona is more than a race:
It’s an event of mammoth proportions.
It’s the first race on the international endurance calendar.
It’s one of the competitions that all drivers hope to win.
It’s a gathering steeped in tradition.
It’s a contest that pushes human spirit to the brink.
It’s nearly a week of nonstop action both on and off the track.
Trying to take it all in? Here are a few potential schedules for you to follow.

Do Daytona Like a Local

You already have the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on your calendar, right? This preseason test session for both the Tudor and Continental Tire Challenge teams features 90 percent of the cars and drivers, but 10 percent of the crowds.
Details: This year’s Roar Before the Rolex takes place January 8-10.

Plan on spending the evening of Thursday, January 28, at the track. Why? Night practice for the Tudor cars. Enjoy blazing headlights and popping flames without battling the masses.
Details: Practice sessions start that morning, but it’s the evening run group that you don’t want to miss. Be there by 6 p.m. to catch it.

Know where you can find us when no one’s looking? Down the street from the track at LKQ, our local self-serve salvage yard.
Details: Daytona Beach’s LKQ can be found at 3157 W. International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach. Bring a few bucks for admission.

Play hooky on Friday and watch the BMW Performance 200 for the Continental Tire Challenge cars–great racing yet easily manageable crowds. These cars will be gone by Saturday morning, too, as their rigs must vacate the premises by Friday evening.
Details: The cars first take to the track on Thursday, January 28, with their feature race starting Friday at 1:45 p.m.

Do Daytona Like a Tourist

The GRM staff will be at the track starting Thursday, but if you’re in town earlier that week, why not stop by Grassroots Motorsports World HQ? The gift shop is always open.
Details: Our office can be found at 915 Ridgewood Ave. in Holly Hill, and we’re here 9 to 5.

Before or after the race weekend, take in some local attractions. Disney and Universal Studios get most of the attention, but those who enjoy thrust may want to drive an hour south of Daytona Beach to take in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. There’s a SpaceX Dragon CRS-8 launch scheduled for January.
Details: Find full visitor info at

Quick, name a Porsche dealership that’s synonymous with racing. That’s right, Brumos. This famed institution can be found a little more than an hour north of Daytona Beach.
Details: They’re located at 10100 Atlantic Blvd. in Jacksonville.

Less than 2 hours west of Daytona Beach you’ll find Ocala, home of drag racing pioneer Don Garlits. The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing and International Hall of Fame contains nearly 300 cars–hotrods, dragsters and more–plus a huge collection of vintage speed parts.
Details: The museum can be found at 13700 SW 16th Ave. in Ocala, while private tours with Garlits can be arranged. To schedule one, call (877) 271-3278 and ask for Marlene.

Do Daytona Like a Night Owl

For an overhead view of the entire facility, plan a ride on the Ferris wheel. It doesn’t operate all night, though, so get there right around sunset for a simply breathtaking view.
Details: Look toward the infield’s Lake Lloyd and you’ll see the wheel.

Our midnight paddock tours are such a tradition that Tommy Kendall mentioned them during last year’s TV coverage. Last year’s tour went a full two hours. Can you stay awake until the end?
Details: To participate, just join GRM and Mazda in our infield compound at midnight. Once again, our home base will be adjacent to Lake Lloyd–look for the big top.

The racers get most of the glory, but they’re supported by a team of tireless workers–including those mounting and balancing countless sets of Continental race tires 24/7.
Details: The Continental compound can be found at the west end of the paddock, and it operates at full steam all weekend, even at 3 in the morning.

Long after midnight, there’s something almost soothing about hanging on the fence and watching the cars go by.
Details: Our favorite spot is the entrance to the International Horseshoe. It’s a great place to watch plenty of passing, and at the witching hour you can have it all to yourself.

Think you can make it all night? Sunrise will be right around 7:13 that Sunday morning. If you need to catch some shut-eye, move your car to a quiet place. Don’t be surprised when the full-course cautions wake you.
Details: NASCAR Turns 3 and 4 point toward the east, which is where sunrise usually occurs.

Do Daytona Like a Mazda Fan

Once a month the Orlando Roadsters meet to eat dinner and discuss their favorite car, the Mazda Miata. You can find the club on Facebook, too.
Details: Their January event is scheduled for Monday, January 25, location TBD.

Our Friday paddock tour will again visit Mazda’s prototype team. See the cars, walk through their garage, and meet the team. Wear comfy shoes.
Details: We leave the GRM compound on Friday, January 29, around 10 a.m.–we’ll post the exact time that weekend once we firm up all of our tour stops.

Want to wish your favorite drivers good luck before their big race–including those driving Mazdas? IMSA hosts fan walks for both the Tudor and Continental series–walk the grid, meet drivers and see the cars.
Details: You don’t need a special credential to participate; just be near pit lane about 90 minutes before the green flag.

The Friday of the big race weekend, GRM and Mazda will host an informal dinner at Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, a Tex-Mex restaurant conveniently located across the street from the track. Place your order at the counter and then join us in the back room.
Details: The dinner takes place on Friday, January 29, starting at 6 p.m. The address is 1802 W. International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach, and there’s a ton of parking.

Do Daytona Like a History Buff

Long before there was NASCAR, there was Ormond Beach. The town’s hard-packed sands hosted land-speed racing for almost a decade starting in 1902.
Details: Andy Romano Beachfront Park, located at 839 S. Atlantic Ave. in Ormond Beach, offers easy beach access plus free parking, bathrooms, shade and even space to grill.

The turn-of-the-century beach racers would often set up camp at the Ormond Garage. The building burned down in 1976, but the site is remembered with a historic marker.
Details: The marker can be found in front of the SunTrust bank located at 113 E. Granada Blvd. in Ormond Beach.

Just before and after World War II, the local sands also hosted oval track racing. The north turn of the original beach oval track is now marked by a restaurant aptly named Racing’s North Turn. The coordinates for the south turn are 29.084705°N 80.925566°W.
Details: Racing’s North Turn can be found at 4511 S. Atlantic Ave. in Ponce Inlet.

As legend has it, NASCAR was conceived at the Ebony Bar in Daytona Beach’s Streamline Hotel back in 1947. The place has since fallen on hard times and is currently closed while being renovated into a boutique hotel.
Details: The Streamline is located at 140 S. Atlantic Ave. in Daytona Beach.

Smokey Yunick and his famed garage are no more, but you can still visit the overgrown field that once held Smokey’s Best Damn Garage in Town. If you listen closely, you might just hear an engine rev. Details: Head to 241 Riverside Drive in Holly Hill; the field just south of the high-rise contained the garage.

Do Daytona Like a GRM Staff Member

Sometimes you need a quiet place to eat–somewhere away from the crowds. Just down the street from our office you can find Mestizas Restaurant, a quiet Mexican restaurant that doubles as our unofficial commissary. Our favorite guitar shop, Guitar Attic, is right next door.
Details: Mestizas is located at 1676 Ridgewood Ave. in Holly Hill, and there’s more parking around back.

Across the street from the Speedway and just slightly east–right in the Kmart shopping plaza–you’ll find GRM’s favorite Chinese buffet. Their fried chicken is excellent.
Details: Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet’s address is 1320 W. International Blvd. in Daytona Beach.

We’ve been testing cars at Florida International Rally & Motorsports Park for years, and their schedule offers open track days, rally instruction, offroad schools and more. The facility is located about an hour and 45 minutes north of Daytona Beach.
Details: Check out for all the info.

The Porsche Club of America mans a giant infield car corral for their members, and as fans of the club–and the cars–we always make a stop during the Rolex weekend. Their area has a great view of the Kink, too.
Details: Walk toward the Kink, also known as the road course’s Turn 4, and you’ll find them.

We like to warm up before a big event, and fortunately our local slot car track contains a scale version of Daytona International Speedway, including the infield road course.
Details: The Race Place is located at 1105 Cave Avenue, Suite D, in Holly Hill. They’re open Saturday until 2 p.m. as well as Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

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TRoglodyte SuperDork
12/16/15 6:24 p.m.

Thanks for this, making an itinerary now.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/31/15 11:20 a.m.

Cool. See you in January.

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