Speedweeks roars into Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.,None —

The NBA All-Star game next weekend will be a very big deal for Orlando, but at the same time, at the other end of Interstate 4, Speedweeks will be roaring in Daytona.

The annual event kicked off Friday, and ticket sales are up over last year. And organizers said they're not worried that the All-Star Weekend will cost them business.

A spokesperson with the Daytona International Speedway said they're two different events with two different kinds of fans. In fact, they said this Daytona 500 is turning out to be bigger than last year's.

Speedweeks 2012 started on the sand, where racing itself began in Daytona Beach more than 100 years ago. Last year's Daytona 500 champ, Trevor Bayne, did the honors, bringing the green flag from the beach to the speedway.

"This is just an unbelievable feeling, being on the beach where it all started," Bayne said.

This year, speedway officials expect a full house, with almost all of its 140,000 seats filled for the Daytona 500 next Sunday.

"We're actually a little bit ahead, heading into the events and when you think about, we'll attract 70 percent of our crowd from out of state,"  a Daytona 500 representative said.

Fans like Dile and Gemma Rainer are definitely in that percentile. They took a 10-hour flight from England to attend.

"We came last year for the first, that was our first 500 and just got hooked and went back again," Dile Rainer said.

Although they come back, fans are looking for better deals. Over the past three years, the average daily rate for a hotel room has dropped, but occupancy is still close to 90 percent.

Even with All-Star basketball happening on the same weekend in Central Florida, race fans would rather be here.

WFTV asked fans if there is a comparison for them between All-Star Weekend and Speedweeks.

"Not for me at all. Basketball I don't enjoy. Racing for me all the way," Gemma Rainer said.

"I can watch that on TV. I'd rather come here live," a fan said.