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Gear up for the Daytona 500

NASCAR fans around the world flock to the renowned Daytona International Speedway every year on the last Sunday of February for the Dayton 500. This exhilarating event is the most prestigious of all four of the restrictor plate motor races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and some 10 million viewers tune in annually from their homes to watch cars whiz around the track. If you're thinking about attending the next Daytona 500, start planning well in advance - book your Daytona Beach car rental and hotel room early, because accommodations and tickets sell out fast.

History of the Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 had its first official installment in 1959 - the opening year of the Daytona International Speedway. But its history is actually goes much deeper to 1903, when a group of racing fans decided that Florida's Ormond Beach, with its densely packed sand, would be an ideal place to see just how fast a race car could go. This sparked the tradition of beach racing in the Daytona area. A few decades later, mechanic "Big Bill" France moved to Daytona and began transforming the sport, eventually announcing his plans to build the Daytona Beach Motor Speedway. This track would later become home to the first official Daytona 500 and be renamed to the Daytona International Speedway. In the race's past, it has seen famed drivers such as Sterling Marlin, Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Bill Elliot cross the checkered line and go on to NASCAR fame.

About the race

Known as the "Great American Race" and the "Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing," this competition is one of the most be beloved among all motor car relays. It spans 500 miles made up of 200 laps, and it's a restrictor plate race, which means a device is installed in the engine's intake that restricts top performance so each driver gets a fair shot at crossing the line first as well as to ensure safety on the track. While the number of championship points are the same among all four parts of the Sprint Cup, the winner of the Daytona 500 receives the largest purse on the NASCAR calendar - the highest winnings so far totaling more than $1.5 million went to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2014.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators fill the stands each year, bringing an immense energy to the stadium as they cheer for their favorite racers. Due to the high volume of traffic on this day, it may be difficult to find a parking spot in the Speedway lot; however, many surrounding establishments, such as the mall across the street and nearby lots, offer paid parking. If you're going to be drinking during the event, it may be best to leave your Florida car rental at the hotel and opt to take a shuttle or taxi to the race course.

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