This Valentine’s Day, the Daytona 500 has more riding on the line than prize money.
Health screenings, temperature checks and face masks will all be part of the race, in what could be a model for future sporting events.
“It’s going to be the largest sporting event that happens in the United States since COVID hit,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. “We’re abiding by every state and federal regulation to ensure the safety of our fans.”
In its 63rd year, the event will be limited to around 30,000 spectators — only 30% of the massive Florida venue’s 101,500 person capacity.
The pandemic presents one obstacle, but competitive stakes are high as well.
- Denny Hamlin could be the first driver to win three consecutive Daytona 500s.
- Matt DiBenedetto is looking to give the Wood Brothers their sixth Daytona win.
- Bubba Wallace will drive in the first points race for Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing.
Music star Pitbull will serve as the race’s Grand Marshal after being announced as an ownership partner in Trackhouse Racing Team, which is making its debut at the event.
While race purses for the event are private, last year’s prize money set a record at $23.6 million, with Hamlin collecting roughly $2.06 million.