Daytona may need image change with Toyota deal

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Artist concept sketches of the Toyota fan injector that will be built at Daytona.

Artist concept sketches of the Toyota fan injector that will be built at Daytona.

The Daytona 500 is called “The Great American Race” but that may have to change as companies like Japanese automaker Toyota buy into the Florida speedway’s new “Daytona Rising” redo. Track officials describe the $400 million project a “reimagining of an American icon.”

In terms that you and I understand, what they’re doing is changing the track into a modernistic, multi-level shopping mall through which fans will pass (and buy stuff) while entering Daytona.

These elaborate fan passageways will offer everything from plugs to protect your hearing to car stores where you can purchase a Toyota. Can’t you just see a race fan telling his wife, “Honey, I’m going to take a break and go buy some popcorn and a Land Cruiser!” The entrances are officially called “fan injectors” and Toyota is taking the first one. There will be five all together.

Now, I wish Daytona the best of luck with its plan. I’ve been to a few superspeedways and the mob scenes to get in, get around and buy stuff are no fun. If fan injectors are going to make things better, I’m all for it. And I don’t begrudge Toyota for stepping up and buying in first. As we all heard sometime last year, Toyota became the 500 Pound Gorilla in the car business. They didn’t get there sitting on their duff. They did the right things, delivered the right products and got Americans to plunk down U.S. dollars for good value.

What is sad is the fact that Ford or Chevy or Chrysler didn’t beat Toyota to the punch on signing up for the Daytona redo. The message in all this is that the American car companies are no longer leading the way to the future of the industry, the country or anything else. And they probably never will get back to the point where they are the leaders.

The Toyota Camry is making inroads in NASCAR racing.

The Toyota Camry is making inroads in NASCAR racing.

Well, enough commentary. At least Daytona is American and leading the way. At the Chicago Auto Show ( Daytona CEO Lesa France Kennedy and speedway president Joie Chitwood III pointed out that DAYTONA Rising: Reimagining an American Icon is expected to create 6,300 jobs, $300 million in labor income and over $80 million in tax revenue. It is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona and DAYTONA 500.

Racing fans can follow the progress of the DAYTONA Rising by visiting Also, fans can see the construction project up close by taking one of the daily tours available at the Speedway on non-event days throughout the year.

Visit or the Speedway Ticket and Tours Building for more information.

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