Race Week in Daytona Beach, Florida is more commonly known as Speedweeks. This series of racing events takes place during January and February at the Daytona International Speedway, and concludes with the poplar Daytona 500. Nearby tracks at the Volusia County Speedway and New Smyrna Speedway also hold special events during this time. Speedweeks informally kicks off in early January with off-season testing at Daytona.. Generally, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series conduct annual preseason tests at this time. Also in early January, the Grand Am series conducts a test session on the Daytona speedway, in preparation for the Rolex 24 (see more about this race below.)

The first major event of Race Week, or Speedweeks, is the Rolex 24, usually held the final weekend of January. This week was specifically chosen so as not to coincide with the Super Bowl. The Rolex 24 is also known as The 24 Hours of Daytona. It’s a 24-hour sports car endurance race, run on a 3.56-mile combined road course, utilizing portions of the NASCAR tri-oval and an infield road course. 24 Hours of Daytona is the first major automobile race of the year in the entire United States.

There is a break between the Rolex 24 and the Daytona 500. During this time, officials clean the track and make final preparations for the arrival of the stock cars. The highlight of Speedweeks are the nine days leading up to and including the Daytona 500. Sometimes called the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing,” the Daytona 500 is highly regarded as the most prestigious race and carries the largest purse. It’s generally held in February, and draws the highest television ratings for any race in the U.S., including the Indianapolis 500. The Daytona 500 is the direct successor of the shorter races held on Daytona Beach in the early days dating to the 1930s. Early events featured a 200-mile race with stock cars, until the Daytona International Speedway was built and the race held there in 1959. By 1961, it was referred to as the “Daytona 500,” and Speedweeks was well on its way to becoming one of the biggest tourist attractions for the Daytona Beach area.


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