I’ll admit, when I first got news that the annual summer stop to the Daytona International Speedway was moving off it’s normal July date, I got mad. How dare they mess with another historic tradition again?
But, hearing NASCAR’s reasoning, how can I argue with them? More on this later.
See, in 1959, NASCAR originally wanted a 300 mile Indy Car race in July in Daytona. Unfortunately, due to fatalities during testing, the idea was scrapped. With such a short turnaround, the track and NASCAR worked together to add a second date to the sport on the newly constructed high banked 2.5-mile oval.
The race was born with a date on July 4 and tabbed the Firecracker 250. The race was slated to begin in the morning to beat the afternoon thunderstorms.
Due to popularity, the race was moved from 250 miles to 400 miles for 1963 on.
From 1959 to 1987, the race was always scheduled for July 4, regardless of the day of the week. Beginning in 1988, the race was moved to the first Saturday of July (that nearest to July 4). Going forward, the race would only be held on July 4 in years in which it fell on Saturday.
Then, in 1998, the race was moved permanently to a night race.
Now though, the race is moving to September in a switch with Indy. The Cup regular season will start in Daytona and now end in Daytona. I fully get that. I also get that giving the wildcard drivers one more shot to make the playoffs in the 26th and final race of the regular season is a viable option.
But, the big reasoning behind it is also for two factors – weather and lack of fans.
See, NASCAR was getting sick of dealing with the potential of rain outs. Anyone that has been to Florida in July knows that if you start any outdoor activity past 2 p.m. local time, you’re risking the status of it.
It seems like every year we dodge thunderstorms for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. One year, the race didn’t even end until 4 a.m. the next day. Well, when the fans aren’t showing up anymore like they used to, why bother?
After all, there was a reason as stated above to why the race started mid morning.
NASCAR cited that the race was no longer a sell out, so you spoke, they listened.