Speedway Repaving May Not Draw More Races


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - WFTV learned a repaving project at Daytona Beach's biggest landmark won't immediately draw any new races to town.

In February, a giant pothole opened up on the Daytona International Speedway during the Daytona 500. The speedway will be repaved and the project should be done by January 2010.

A lot of fans thought getting the work done, smoothing things out, might encourage Indy cars to come stage a race there, since they run just an inch or so above the ground. Indy cars made test runs at Daytona International Speedway in 2006 and 2007 and talk swirled in 2008 about adding an event to the World Center of Racing.

"We have motorcycles, go-carts, sports cars, and certainly we can't call ourselves the World Center of Racing and not at least talk to the IRL [Indy Racing League]," Speedway President Robin Braig said.

Braig said Monday his phone lines are open if Indianapolis is interested. But in a statement to WFTV, the IRL said: "We have ongoing dialog with International Speedway Corporation about potentially adding its venues to our schedule in the future. However, the repaving of the track would not influence our decision to race there."

Even if it doesn't bring the IRL, the speedway decided it had to repave now to prevent a repeat of the embarrassing pothole delay during 2010's Daytona 500.

"For our fans, and everybody watching on television, we just could not risk it, it's just not worth the risk," Braig said.

The original pavement, put down in 1958, is still there, Braig said, covered over by asphalt put down in 1978.

The speedway has no concerns over the Coke 400, set to run the first week of July. Engineers have been training for pavement patches in all types of weather conditions to be prepared for anything during the July race.

The chunks of the old track that will be mailed to people who renew their Daytona 500 tickets is not just a sales incentive, Braig said Monday, it's also sort of a "we're sorry" for what they had to sit through in February.