HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- With less than 100 days remaining until the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23, 2014, Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood came to South Florida this weekend to give an update on the track's $400 million "Daytona Rising" remodel.
The massive construction project on the speedway's frontstretch grandstands -- termed the "re-imagining of an American icon" -- is in full go-mode. Chitwood reported that 65 million pounds of concrete foundation has already been poured in the five months since work began.
Most pressing for the Daytona staff is managing the 2014 Daytona Speedweeks events while in the midst of massive and ongoing construction. There will be new temporary fan entrances, but the seating will not be affected or modified for the 2014 races.
The question of possibly moving Daytona race dates during the project's final phase of construction in 2015 came up again. Chitwood downplayed the chances but reiterated he supports whatever NASCAR deems best for fans.
"Our fans are going to be blown away by the magnitude of replacing the frontstretch grandstands,'' Chitwood said Saturday. "And the speed with what we've got the concrete in the ground is amazing.
"This reinforces why it's two-and-a-half years to get there (complete the project) because of windows when we can't do construction on the property.
"I'm not sure anyone's been able to build a venue and operate at the same time for two years.''
Chitwood said although the Florida legislature initially declined to provide state help on the funding, the track will launch a new push for legislative help for the next session in spring of 2014.
He said the speedway has already secured greater leadership-level sponsors on a proposed bill and has scaled back its request to $2 million annually over 30 years.
"We've not given up on that,'' Chitwood said. "We think the investment we're making and how other sports teams are treated in Florida, I think we deserve some fair treatment, and we're going to go back to that."
The project, designed to transform NASCAR's legendary 50-year old facility into a modern "motorsports stadium" will not only have a drastically new fa�ade, it will boast amenities such as new seating (wider, with more leg room) and include twice as many restrooms, three times as many concession stands, 1600 video screens and complete Wi-Fi access.
"Wait until people see this,'' Chitwood said with a wide grin. "This is a big deal. And we're excited with the plan we have in place.''
FULL SERIES COVERAGE
- Joie Chitwood
- Daytona 500