“ We needed to make sure our fans were cool and comfortable while they watch some of the best motorsports racing in the world. Big Ass Fans are the best in the business and are known around the world, so it was a natural fit. Chip Wile, President, Daytona International Speedway
The Daytona Rising project set out to put the fan experience first. With all-new open-air concourses, Daytona knew it would need massive air movement to keep fans comfortable.
Daytona International Speedway installed 40 Big Ass Fans, including Powerfoil X and Isis fans in concourses, hallways and the renovation’s signature “neighborhoods.”
The fans keep NASCAR devotees cool during even the hottest races, and the industrial styling of Big Ass Fans completes the aesthetic of the steel-heavy renovation.
For more than half a century, Daytona International Speedway has been the epicenter for American motorsports and NASCAR. Despite continued excellence on the track, the off-the-track amenities increasingly failed to meet modern standards. Over a multiyear renovation, Daytona doubled down on the fan experience and installed Big Ass Fans to keep people cool.
Wide, densely-packed sand has made Daytona Beach a haven for automobile racing for more than a century. Following a popularity boom after the end of the Second World War, Bill France Sr. founded NASCAR as an organizing body for races run on the beach. However, by the early 1950s the sport had outgrown the beach. Seeking to build a track that provided a better racegoing experience for fans, France built Daytona International Speedway in 1959.
At the time, the track’s banked turns, sweeping grandstand and tri-oval shape represented the pinnacle of the fan experience at motorsports events, permitting spectators to see action along the entire track. However, in the next 50 years, Daytona received only limited upgrades, despite the proliferation of concourses, suites and amenities in other sports venues nationwide.
Andrew Booth, director of public relations for Daytona International Speedway, said, “We had no concourses, no escalators, and only four elevators. When you arrived at Daytona, you essentially walked up the stairs and went straight to your seat.”
Just as Bill France Sr. had done 50 years before, Daytona leadership set out to transform the fan experience, leading to the beginning of the multi-year Daytona Rising project. “We’re the world center of racing,” explained Daytona President Chip Wile. “It was our goal to set the gold standard in fan experience at motorsports events.”
As part of the renovation project, Daytona replaced all 101,500 seats on the front-stretch of the track. The project’s focus, however, centered squarely on the track’s all-new amenities, which are grouped into 11 “neighborhoods,” while 90-foot-wide concourses offer ample space for racing fans to gather. Even with such a large space, the Florida heat made cooling the area a necessity.
“When it rains, everyone piles into these social areas,” said Project Manager John Mazjun, so Daytona needed enough airflow to accommodate more than 100,000 people. Since conditioning the open-air concourses was not an option, Daytona looked at fans. According to Mazjun, “One of our aviation facilities had done nothing but rave about their Big Ass Fan for years. We thought they’d be perfect for the concourses.”
Once Mazjun reached out to Big Ass Fans, the process was painless. Mazjun sent blueprints for the concourses; Big Ass Fans’ design team took care of the rest, crafting a layout that maximizes airflow while staying in budget. The support stayed top-notch even through installation, according to Mazjun. “A few of the fans were damaged during shipping. It wasn’t Big Ass Fans’ fault, but I called them and they had replacements overnighted to us within an hour. It’s one of the best working relationships I’ve ever had.”
All told, Daytona installed 40 Big Ass Fans — including Powerfoil X and Isis — throughout its new concourses. The fans are integrated into the speedway’s automation system, allowing for a single point-of-control for fans, lights and HVAC systems. Feedback from both racing fans and employees has been overwhelmingly positive. Mazjun said that the Big Ass Fans are often singled out by event attendees as one of their favorite changes on surveys the track sends out. Likewise, track president Wile said that the fans have improved the working environment for staff during long race-day shifts.
After three years of work, Daytona Rising has gone above and beyond a simple renovation; it has elevated the ideal of what the Daytona experience should be. “Our fans tell us that we’ve changed how they view going to an event,” said Wile. “From the escalators and elevators to the Big Ass Fans, it’s a complete reimagining of the Daytona experience. And Big Ass Fans is certainly a big part of that.”