Company gets naming rights for a 'fan injector.'
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – "It won't be the prettiest Daytona International Speedway," said Speedway President Joie Chitwood III, "but we hope fans will consider it a bump in the road on the way to where we're going."
And where they are going is the DAYTONA Rising project, a massive renovation of the track, which opened in 1959. The makeover alone will cost about $400 million -- roughly the total cost of building Circuit of the Americas, the only Formula 1 track in the U.S.
How will they pay for it? One way is sponsorship, as suggested today at a press conference that drew NASCAR luminaries like Lesa France Kennedy and Jim France, was well as Alan Batey, president of GM North America, and Jim Campbell, head of Chevrolet motorpsorts. The occasion was the announcement that Chevrolet is will become a "founding partner" in DAYTONA Rising.
Beginning in 2016, the multi-year agreement will provide Chevrolet with naming rights for one of five "fan injectors," which is the point of entry for the fans, and includes escalators and elevators and elevated display and sales areas.
The massive new entry will include over 20,000 square feet of Chevrolet new vehicle displays and a "fan engagement experience" that vertically spans four concourse levels. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Toyota and Florida Hospital have naming rights for two of the five injectors, leaving two available.
“Chevrolet has been an integral part of the ISC family for many years and we look forward to continuing our strong relationship,” said France Kennedy, ISC Chief Executive Officer. “As part of their activation at DAYTONA Rising and other ISC facilities, Chevrolet will represent its iconic automotive brand through interactive experiences with fans.”
Chevrolet will also have branding rights for one of the “neighborhoods” located near its injector. Each football field-sized neighborhood will be located throughout the new front stretch and feature retail and dining areas, as well as dozens of video screens.
Additionally, Chevrolet will serve as an official partner of “The Great American Race,” the DAYTONA 500, and receive official pace car rights in select years. “Chevrolet’s commitment to racing originated more than a century ago with Louis Chevrolet and remains strong today as we solidify our presence at ‘The World Center of Racing’ by partnering with International Speedway Corporation, Daytona International Speedway and the DAYTONA Rising project,” said Alan Batey. “We look forward to enhancing the experience for race fans here in Daytona with the new Chevrolet injector entrance and neighborhood.”
When the DAYTONA Rising project is complete, as it will be by the 2016 Daytona 500, more than 100,000 new seats will stretch from near the end of turn 4 to the beginning of turn 1. For this weekend's NASCAR Xfinity and Sprint Cup races, just over 50,000 of the new seats will be at the turn 1 and turn 4 ends of the grandstand -- the area in the middle, on both sides of the start-finish line, are under construction and no one will be seated there.
The suites and press box have been removed from the top of the grandstand -- the track has built a temporary elevated structure for NBC TV broadcasters, but all other media will have to watch the race on TVs.
So long, Superstretch seats
After this weekend, the "Superstretch" grandstands on the back straight will be dismantled. The end result will be a substantial reduction in total seating capacity, but, Chitwood said, a far more comfortable and entertaining fan experience for customers after the first of the year.
Chitwood also said that the track has made multiple safety improvements in the wake of Kyle Busch's serious leg injuries there during a crash in the Xfinity race in February, where his car struck a part of the infield wall that was not protected by SAFER barriers. "We've done a lot of work on the track since then -- both outside, and inside."