Updated:DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Biketoberfest has started and the thundering roar of motorcycles could be heard Thursday afternoon across Daytona Beach.
EVENT INFO: 18th Annual Biketoberfest
Volusia County businesses are hoping to cash in on the event. Organizers are hoping for at least 100,000 people over the next few days.
The Daytona International Speedway was an empty area when WFTV was there Wednesday, but it was packed by Thursday afternoon.
The crowds have been estimated at about 125,000 people the last few years and organizers are shooting for that again. The event is about one-third the size of bike week in the spring.
It was created 18 years ago specifically to give the area a tourism boost at the end of the summer season and before racing returns in January.
Biketoberfest hit as Daytona Beach was seeing a small tourism resurgence. Hotel occupancy was up again in August and airport traffic was up nearly 50 percent in September.
Also, a new music festival and new air show brought tourists in during September and October.
However, Biketoberfest is missing something this year. There won't be any racing or riding at the speedway because the track is being repaved.
But it was also closed in 2004 for construction and didn't negatively affect the event. People WFTV talked to who came from out of state said they're not too disappointed with the track closure this year.
"I'll let it go this time since they're repaving. Most of the time we go to the races but since repaving I can let that go for a year," said a visitor.
The speedway is offering tours of the track at $15 a person, and letting people into the Daytona 500 experience free.
WFTV drove around the area and found usual bike hot spots in Port Orange, South Daytona, Main Street, and Ormond Beach, packed with bikers.