Formerly known as Daytona USA, The Daytona 500 Experience, is a motorsport museum and attraction located at Daytona International Speedway. This museum focuses on exhibits that are associated with NASCAR. It also includes exhibits associated with the 24 Hours of Daytona, Daytona 200 motorcycle race, and Daytona Beach & Road Course.
Daytona 500 Experience opened in 1996 and in 2005 it was one of the finalists that hosted the NASCAR Hall of Fame. However, in 2010 the International Speedway Corporation announced that it would be closed for the public due to high operating costs, low attendance, and losing the hall of fame bid. It was shut down for four years and in 2014 it was announced that it would relocate its site. The newly refurbished and expanded museum was open to the public in the year 2017.
About Daytona 500 Experience
It is one of the nosiest museums on earth. With a battalion of TV monitors, it continuously blasts either gushing music, howling engines, stock car drivers spouting, or howling engines. Screechings and rumblings from the IMAX ground, NASCAR-theme video arcade, and motion simulator rides fill the museums. The vast hall is lined with vaulted ceilings and a cement floor. The hall is kept dark, so TV display is easily visible.
Exhibits included in the Daytona 500 Experience
60,000 sq. ft include multiple exhibit areas, interactive displays, and stimulators. Some of the exhibits are:
- The Coca-cola IMAX theatre: This theatre is home to NASCAR 3D. It showcases a #D featured film “The IMAX experience”. This film was released in 2004. During special occasions, this theatre also showcases other movies, such as Dale (a movie about the life of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt).
- Dream Laps: It is a motion simulator of Iwerks where the fans have to abide by the events of a NASCAR race day.
- Acceleration Alley: It is a Full Motion Racing Simulator. You can sit in 80%-scale models of NASCAR stock cars where you can race against other fans and AI computer competitors.
- Goodyear Heritage Museum: This highlights people who raced at Daytona Beach, including the racers during the Speedway of Daytona International, land speed record holders, and stockcars racing at the Daytona Beach Road Course.
- Chevy Pit-stop challenge: Here you can test your skills as a member of the Pit crew. It is renowned as a 16-seconds challenge. You get a chance to compete with Daytona 500 Experience’s own Pit Crew.
- The Champion’s Walk of Fame: These concrete Hollywood-esque walk pays homage to winners of the Daytona 500 since it opened. There are displays of statues of NASCAR founder Bill France, NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his wife Anne. It also displays the Harley J. Earl Trophy and NASCAR championship trophy.
A few other attractions include:
- Richard Petty Driving Experience: It provides you with real-life racing thrills, allowing you to ride shotgun in a 2-seat NASCAR-style race car. There will be a professional instructor to help you with everything.
- The NASCAR car of tomorrow: It allows the inside experience of Daytona 500.
- Speedway tour: It showcases behind the scenes of the “World Center of Racing”. It happens on a tram which is open-air and which takes you through the Garage area of Daytona International Speedway, through the popular high banks of 31 degrees, and through pit road.
- 4th road grill: Here you can quench your thirst with Pepsi or treat yourself an Americrown’s on-site grill.
- The gift shop: This gift shop is loaded with all the Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR gear, and Daytona 500 Experience, one can ever want. Since 1997, the car winning the Daytona 500 gets displayed at the Daytona 500 Experience for twelve months. This highlight of the museum is controversial as well as a popular display.