The Daytona 500 is one of the true blue riband events in motorsport and a race that I have always wanted to attend. In February 2012 I had that opportunity and the race weekend lived up to all expectations.
The 2012 edition will forever be remembered as the first Daytona 500 to take place on the Monday following a lengthy rain delay on Sunday that made it impossible for even a single lap to be completed and by five o’clock there was little that could be done other than to halt proceedings until Monday.
It was amazing to see the reaction of fans, all of whom paid in excess of $100 for their tickets. None seemed annoyed at the thought of not seeing any racing. As long as they were able to have a few beers and a hotdog and enjoy the atmosphere of the Daytona International Speedway they were satisfied.
Once the race was rescheduled for Monday afternoon thousands of fans prayed for rain to continue in the early stages of the day so that the 500 could take place under the lights. They got their wish and when the green flag was waved at seven o’clock a huge crowd was on hand to see “The Great American Race” begin.
Even though Matt Kenseth would not win the race until the early hours of Tuesday, following a long red flag when Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a jet drier, the closing stages were action packed and the patient crowd were rewarded with an unforgettable race.
In 54 years the opening race of the NASCAR season has grown from being the domain of southern race fans into a world famous event that has helped to develop NASCAR into one of the world’s most popular race series. While the majority of Formula 1 fans still bemoan NASCAR for its “simplistic” technology the spectacle of seeing cars racing bumper to bumper at 200mph is one not to be underestimated or to be missed!