Toyota becomes first Daytona Rising partner
February 06, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Steel and concrete construction on the $400 million Daytona Rising redevelopment project at Daytona International Speedway began seven months ago, but on Thursday an equally significant element of the foundation was laid.
International Speedway Corporation announced that Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. will be the first founding partner of the massive Daytona redesign, signing an 11-year deal beginning in 2015 that will give Toyota naming rights at one of the track's five "fan injector" grand entrances as well as a prime presence in the facility's central "World Center of Racing" zone that will overlook the iconic start/finish line when construction is completed in January 2016.
Toyota will also have branding rights to a "neighborhood" or fan-gathering area near the entry injector and will serve as the official partner of the Daytona 500 with pace car rights beginning in 2015.
The new high-tech, fan-first project is being called a reimagining of NASCAR's most famous venue with a fresh approach and devotion to fan amenities along the nearly mile-long frontstretch grandstands. That means Wi-Fi, larger and more comfortable seating, escalators, twice the number of restrooms and large concourses with all the bells and whistles fans expect of a modern, major sports facility.
"For us, it's all about leveraging Daytona," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III told NASCAR.com Thursday from the Chicago Auto Show, where the announcement was made. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to re-make fan experience. So you want to partner with great companies that believe in the same thing.
"We've seen that with Toyota and their involvement in NASCAR, how creative they are and how they are invested in the sport. We couldn't be more pleased to have a partner that believes in the same things we do."
Likewise, ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy said Toyota was a natural fit for this venture.
"When we started drafting the designs of Daytona Rising, we envisioned partnering with equally forward-thinking organizations like Toyota to bring forth the very best experience for our fans and guests."
Chitwood said the track intends to find corporate sponsors for the remaining four "fan injector" structures and for the other nine "neighborhoods," which are all the size of a football field and will serve as a gathering spot where fans can buy souvenirs, eat at restaurants and bars and never miss the race action because of dozens of video screens located throughout the concourse.
The "World Center of Racing" zone is essentially a centralized mega-neighborhood -- the size of two football fields -- that will provide a place for fans to socialize, eat, drink and enjoy displays of historic Daytona memorabilia.
Chitwood said the founding partners, such as Toyota, are not contributing toward the project's $400 million price tag, but rather are customizing their own space with "innovative ways to showcase their brand."
"The goal for us is to have partners participate and create their own unique hospitality opportunities," Chitwood said. "The partnership is separate from our construction budget. But it's nice to have partners who want to be invested and own a part of Daytona."
He said the company is already speaking with several other potential partners and hopes to make more formal announcements in the not-so-distant future.
"I'm excited because here we are two years before the project is ready, and already we have a founding partner who is taking ownership of one of the injectors," Chitwood said. "We feel really good about who we're talking to and what's next, and like the idea they can work on the plan and design and customers will benefit."
The above images are an artist's rendering of what Toyota's presence could look like at Daytona International Speedway.