DAYTONA, Fla.,None - Speedweeks officially kicked off at the Daytona International Speedway Thursday morning and it's the first one since the track was repaved.
For the second year in a row, Speedweeks has a mayor. Paul Strole is a lucky college student from St. Augustine. He joined the president of the speedway Thursday to wave the green flag and get the event started right.
Speedway officials have been working on the track for almost a year, after an embarrassing pothole opened up during the Daytona 500 in 2010. They're hoping to put that behind them as the Rolex 24 is scheduled as the first actual race on the new surface on Saturday.
Local businesses said they're hoping to make big increases in revenue over last year, when fans left the Daytona 500 in anger over the 2-hour delay created by the crumbling asphalt.
"I think this year with the track being repaved, I think business will definitely be up. More people will come and hopefully with weather permitting we'll be okay," said Greg Kowalski of Gator's Bar-B-Q and Wings.
Last year, bitter cold hampered the turnout for Speedweeks and Bike Week. Many businesses are looking to rebound. They hope the new track is the catalyst to turn things around.