• NASCAR is buying International Speedway for $2 billion

    By: Kelly Healey


    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - NASCAR is buying International Speedway in a $2 billion deal, calling it a merger.

    The stock car series said it is "pleased with the progress" the "merger agreement" represents. NASCAR pledged to grow the sport and deliver great racing to its fans.

    NASCAR has struggled with declining attendance and TV viewership in recent years. It has made several changes to the racing in hopes of drawing new fans.

    International Speedway Corp. runs a dozen tracks across the country, from Watkins Glen in New York to Daytona in Florida, Talladega in Alabama and Auto Club Speedway in California. It is one of two major companies that host NASCAR races along with Speedway Motorsports Inc.

    The companies said Wednesday that deal is expected to close this year.

    Here are some interesting facts about the Daytona International Speedway, according to NASCAR.com:


    • Daytona Beach is the birthplace of NASCAR. On Dec. 14, 1947, Bill France Sr. led a group meeting at the Streamline Hotel, and NASCAR was incorporated the following year.


    • Before the speedway was built, racing was conducted on the actual sands of Daytona Beach.


    • France Sr. gambled nearly everything he owned in building the facility that is known as the "World Center of Racing."


    • The inaugural Daytona 500 was held in February 1959, with reserved seat tickets costing $8 each.


    • In February 1959, Lee Petty, driver of the No. 42 Oldsmobile, was the first Daytona 500 race winner. It took NASCAR founder France Sr. three days to declare the winner.


    • In 1997, Jeff Gordon, then age 25, became the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500. That mark is now held by 2011 winner, Trevor Bayne.


    • Jan. 27, 2016 marks the debut of Daytona International Speedway's $400 million 're-imagining' efforts -- a high-tech, first-class motor racing facility unlike anything else in the sport.


    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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