Saturday morning at breakfast, as Mike and I were trying to figure out what to do for the day, he suggested we drive to Daytona to see the ARCA race that afternoon. The track is only about two hours from us, and with the race starting at 4:00, we figured we’d be home by around 9:00. (Spoiler alert: we didn’t get home until after 10:00)
For those who don’t know, ARCA is NASCAR‘s version of freshman football. The Xfinity Series is junior varsity football, and the Monster Energy Series is varsity football. The ARCA race at Daytona is also the first race of the year, kicking off the 2020 NASCAR season.
Last year, we took our son to some of the races for his birthday. Click here to read all about our adventures.
We arrived at the track around 11:30 and could already hear the roar of the engines as drivers were taking their scheduled practice laps designed to fine tune their machines to get them ready for Pole Qualifying Sunday afternoon. Throughout the day, we could see either the ARCA cars or Monster Energy cars on the track. For the Saturday ticket price of only $25/general admission, we were able to watch practice, the ARCA race, and have access to the Fanzone (the infield)! This was definitely a deal!
Since I took so many pictures, I figured the best way to tell you about our day was just by showing you the sights, and sounds, of a day at Daytona!
While there is plenty of camping available for spectators, this lot is reserved for the drivers of the Monster Energy Series. There is even a golf cart parking area, pictured on the right, to get the drivers wherever they need to be around the track. Every site is equipped with water, electric, and sewer hookups. Also, I took this photo through the bars of a wrought-iron six-feet fence! You have to know someone to get in here.
The garage area has a large patio on top of the building, where fans can get a birdseye view of everything.
It takes more than the driver and crew chief to win a race. Here’s a gas man filling the tank, and a jack man carrying his equipment of choice (a car jack) like it’s a small suitcase! The gas can cart was just cute!
Here’s a great pic of how much equipment it takes to keep these cars going. The black tarps are covering large tool boxes that will be pushed out to the trackside pit area. In the event of a problem during the race, everything is right there. On top of the carhauler, computer screens tell the crew chief how the car is running on the track. The tires are neatly lined up and ready to be rolled out, four at a time, on the large dolly at the right. And there is the cute #24 gas cart, flames and all!
The garage area can be a very busy place when they get the call that the track is about to open for practice. This is the best time to be on top of the garage! Not only do you see the cars going out, you see the drivers walking to their cars first! And as you can see, there is always someone handing them something to autograph. (Click on each picture to see who the driver is.)
You have to be careful at all times, because you never know when someone is driving, or pushing, a car around the garage area!
And if you’re really paying attention you can see Jack Rousch, car owner, talking to Jimmy Fennig, a long-time crew chief, or Larry McReynolds, from Fox.
After all the fun in the Fanzone, we headed over to find our seats for the race. Since it was general admission, we chose to site in prime seats near the start/finish line directly across from the Winner’s Circle. We were able to see all of the prerace festivities had a great view of the finish!
Of course, driving into the Winners Circle is where every race car driver dreams of going! Congratulations to Michael Self! We enjoyed watching you race!
Turn up the volume and watch the start of the ARCA race! With many of the drivers racing at Daytona for the first time, this first lap result was not surprising!
We highly recommend attending any of the races at Daytona! You won’t be disappointed!
Jennifer Skinnell is the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series on Amazon. For all the details, click here