Fans monitor weather, traffic before Daytona 500; Speedway president pitches overhaul plans



DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Daytona 500 is set for Sunday, and the big race has some fans worried about two things this weekend: weather and traffic.

The excitement has been building all week, but most fans told Channel 9 they're keeping a close eye on the weather as storms are expected to hit at some point in the day.

There are also several roads worth avoiding this weekend, including Interstate 95, but for getting to the race, there might not be a choice.

"We make our mind up before we leave," said fan Terry Bates. "We know it's going to be a crowd, and just take your time and work through it."

Troopers said the busiest roads will be International Speedway Boulevard, I-95 and Interstate 4.

Coming off I-4 from Orlando to Daytona Beach, troopers expect tens of thousands of cars on the roads and congestion all day Sunday.

In the meantime, the 500 comes on the heels of a major announcement from the Daytona International Speedway.

Leaders plan to build a brand-new facility that will feature a grand entrance and so-called neighborhoods with bars and themed restaurants. That plan that could become a reality as early as 2014.

 "So as you move through the property, the key is that you're impressed," said speedway president Joie Chitwood. "It's a massive property. We need a massive front door to make that case."

Before a computer-generated flyover of the track, Chitwood presented a sleek new speedway.

NASCAR owners and dignitaries watched as Chitwood made his pitch, describing an experience he believes future race fans will love.

"It's about being pulled off the road and saying, 'I have to take a picture with that. I want people to know where I was,'" said Chitwood.

The new speedway would include a grand entrance where fans can take it all in. Once inside, they'll have access to 11 neighborhoods with bars, themed restaurants and concessions.

"Any upgrade to the facility that puts it above and beyond what other sports have is just going to continue to showcase our sports commitment to providing the best fan experience you can get anywhere," said race car driver Brad Keselowski.

Chitwood also called on the state for tax incentives equal to that of other sports venues in Florida.

In return, the speedway will spend $250 million on the new complex.