For the first time ever, the Daytona 500 will have limited attendance. On Wednesday, the track announced that the 63rd annual event will play host to a limited number of fans, but The Great American Race will – as it has since 1959 – continue the tradition of the biggest event in all of motorsports, delivering the pageantry, excitement and drama like nowhere else in the world.
The reduced venue capacity for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series opener, set for Sunday Feb. 14, as well as all events part of DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth (Feb. 9-14), is due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and is in accordance with enhanced safety protocols and procedures to provide a safe environment for guests, NASCAR competitors, employees and the local community.
“The DAYTONA 500 is one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports, and fans from all over the world converge in Daytona Beach to be a part of motorsport’s biggest day,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. “While we won’t be able to have a capacity crowd here in February, we are excited that we can host the DAYTONA 500 with those in attendance, as well as for the millions who will tune in live on FOX.
“The Great American Race will once again have the aura and atmosphere that fans have come to know and love. From the pageantry of our pre-race festivities to the rumble of 40 engines roaring around the high banks, it’s the biggest stage in motorsports.”
While saying that, some fans may wonder why make this announcement now? Couldn’t a vaccine alter the course of this decision? Couldn’t things change for the better over the course of the next two months?
In theory, you could answer yes to both questions. But, you also have to ask the other questions like, what happens if a vaccine isn’t widely available between now and February? What happens if COVID doesn’t get any better?
This allows fans to plan now rather than get blindsided later.
See, the Daytona 500 is a widely traveled event for race fans. Thousands of fans travel to the Sunshine State to witness history each February. When they’re in Florida, they need lodging. One problem for this is, a lot of places in Daytona don’t offer refunds if you can’t go. You pay now and if you can’t make it, sorry about ya.
We’ve been running into these problems on our end in the sense that we’ve booked rooms and can’t get our money back if we don’t go. Why put fellow race fans in a long predicament for this situation when they can know now whether they can go to the race in person or not?
Speaking of which, you may wonder if you can go or not anyways.
If you have a ticket already purchased and you want to go, good news is that it looks like that you can. This form from the Daytona International Speedway states that you don’t have to do anything right now if you want to go.
If you have a ticket already purchased and you don’t want to go, you can opt out via this form.
If you do want to opt out, you just have to do so by Dec. 11.
The Speedway then will tabulate among the ticket holders who want to go or not and separate the two. For the pile that want to go, they’ll seat you as close as they can to your tickets that you did purchase already. Most will likely be moved in some way, but at least you will be admitted through the gates and near your purchased seats. This process will be done by early January.
Then, whatever tickets are left, can likely go on sale to the general public if there are any left. While DIS didn’t announce a capacity limit, they have to have a number in mind. The grandstands hold 101,500 fans. Is it half? That would be 50,750 next February? Is that too much in one place on one setting?
Is it a quarter then? That would be 25,375.
10k attended the road course races there on Aug. 16. 20k were allowed for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 two weeks later. That’s why at the very least I can see 20-25k coming in February.
That’s why you can’t, as of now, buy tickets to next year’s Daytona 500 on this moment in order for them to see among those that did purchase a ticket that they get seated with priority and then they can see what’s left.
Also, all guests will be screened before entering the facility and will be required to wear face coverings while maintaining six feet social distancing throughout their visit.
In terms of infield access, there won’t be any other than folks that are camping. Fans won’t have access to the garage or pits or likely even a Fan Zone either.