DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Daytona 500 Speedweeks starts this week and in 2021, the races and events will look different because of the coronavirus pandemic but many hope it will still drive a boost for the local economy.
This year’s Daytona 500 won’t fill the stands with 101,000 people like normal. Race officials said the limited number of tickets are already sold out and masks and social distancing will be required.
“We’ll take guests’ temperatures as they enter the facility, we’ll give each guest a little hand sanitizer, we’ll have digital tickets,” said Chip Wile, President at Daytona International Speedway.
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Wile said there will be fewer workers, too. Normally, they bring in about 5,000 permanent and temporary employees for the 500 weekends.
“We won’t have that many this year, but we will have quite a few I mean we hire a ton of seasonal workers to help us with guest services and food and beverage systems and trams and golf carts and security,” he said.
Wile said this weekend has helped them re-engage with local businesses so they can reap the benefits, too.
“You’ll see a lot of the small, local businesses in town we provided them some assets for them to put out in their restaurants and bars to help promote the Daytona 500,” said Wile.
However, it’s not just Daytona Beach seeing a boost.
“Volusia County accommodations throughout see a bit of a bump from all the events at the speedway,” said Lori Campbell Baker, executive director at the Daytona Beach Area Visitors Bureau.
Baker said the 500 is the best free advertising and could help get visitors back in Volusia even in a pandemic.
“Sixty-one hours of national and international media coverage. We couldn’t pay for that if we tried,” she said.
News 6 also reached out to mayor Derrick Henry about mask enforcement this week. He said the city will not issue fines to those not wearing them.