For the past three years, the organizers at the Daytona 500 have let fans pick from three different field designs that the grounds team have decided on. It is a great feature to let fans have the choice on what they want part of the track to look like. If you decide to vote you can win a pair of free tickets to the Daytona 500 by entering the contest that goes along with the voting. The grounds crew has to plant the seed for the design at the beginning of November so that is why Daytona International Speedway has the vote in the month of October. The voting ends on October 31st at 5 PM EST so make sure that your voice is heard before then!
The voting is already neck and neck according to the Daytona International Speedway Reddit account DISupdates, “Don’t be so sure. The voting is actually quite close.” Your vote could make the difference between your favorite design and one that you hate becoming reality on February 19th of next year. The voting adds an extra layer of customization to the event and lets fans interact with the track in a way they never could before.
The start of the extensive designs of the oval at the Daytona 500 began way back in 2000 when during the running of the Rolex 24, one of the cars spun off of the track and destroyed a big portion of the turf. This was the beginning of the year and the turf crew had to act fast so that they could repair the grass in time for the rest of the year’s events.
“Our groundskeeper at the time, Sam Newpher, had thrown down some seed that he still had in the barn and it came up and it was a different color,” Gurtis recalled. “If we had down annual rye, this was perennial rye, and with that we got two tones and knew at that point that we could do a two-tone pattern.” Andrew Gurtis is now the VP of operations at Daytona International Speedway.
Ever since that day, the crew realized that they could be a lot more creative with their designs and then it became a challenge to create the most innovative and eye-catching designs each and every year. The crew works incredibly hard throughout the year to make sure that they are prepared and ready for the big racing events that take place throughout the year at Daytona International Speedway.
The Daytona 500 takes great pride in their presentation of the Oval design and their crew works year-round to make sure that the grass is in prime condition come February. Daytona International Speedway partners with TruGreen to implement a lot of their field designs and they also work with Missouri Turf and Paint to implement many of the logos on the forefront of the grass.
There is a lot of timing and coordination that goes into making sure that the turf is in pristine condition when the racing season begins in January and they have their first big racing event. The team has to aerate the field usually in the second week of November and then fertilizer and fungicide treatment are applied typically two weeks after the field is aerated.
“There’s an enormous amount of effort that goes into executing the creativity, and that’s where Jason and the Ops team at Daytona really are the best in the business,” Gurtis says. “That shows up if you get down close on the ball field, you can see the care. That doesn’t just happen — not only the level of detail, but then the color behind it. The color enhances how it shows up on television, the color enhances how it shows up in still photography, and it’s an amazing job that they’ve done executing on the creativity. It doesn’t just happen.”
Next time you are watching any sporting event with a turf field, baseball, NASCAR, football, even horse racing, pay special attention to the incredible turf designs that are created by these hard working teams all across the United States and the world. Make your voice known this October so that you can see your favorite design come to life for the 2019 Daytona 500.