Daytona 500 celebrating 60 years of racing

By Spectrum News Staff,
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 12:04 PM EST

Racing fans will be in for a treat this year as one of the prestigious racing events, the Daytona 500, will be celebrating 60 years of racing.

On Monday, Feb. 12, Academy Award winner Charlize Theron was named Honorary Starter.

"Charlize Theron is the latest in a long line of accomplished entertainers, athletes, U.S. military members and others to serve as the Honorary Starter for the DAYTONA 500," said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. "We are thrilled to have her as our guest at 'The Great American Race' and we are certain race fans will feel the same way."

Theron, who has an upcoming movie "Gringo" coming out in theaters March 9, is not the only celebrity joining the race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be returning to the Daytona 500, but not as a driver. The son of the legendary driver, Dale Earnhardt, will be the grand marshal of "the Great American Race" on Sunday, Feb. 18.

Danica Patrick will being drive for Premium Motorsports in the Daytona 500, her final NASCAR race. She also plans to race in the Indianapolis 500 in May.

Her former crew chief, Tony Eury Jr., will return to Patrick's pit box for her finale.

"I keep saying, 'I couldn't have written a better story about how this would all fall into place,' Going with the flow is working out beautifully,'' said Patrick. "I'll be back in GoDaddy green, driving the No. 7 Chevrolet with Tony Jr. in my ear again. It all makes my last NASCAR race just that much sweeter.''

Patrick and so many others will be testing their skills and speed as they race around the famous 2.5-mile track to the sounds of roaring fans and screaming engines.

The national anthem will be played by the Navy Band Southeast. The group previously played the national anthem at the Coca-Cola 400 in 2015 and 2017. Navy Band Southeast was formed in 1995 and is one of 11 official U.S. Navy bands.

But before you go, here are a few things that might come in handy:

And with Speedweeks driving a lot of traffic to Volusia County, Votran riders should expect delays and other interruptions.

"Detours will be in effect Thursday, Feb. 15, through Sunday, Feb. 18. Detours may change without notice when traffic becomes congested, rerouting buses to secondary roads," Kate Sark of Votran stated in a news release. 

Votran advises its riders to learn more about possible congestion, detours and updates here.

The Daytona Beach Police Department has released the following Speed Week Road Closure information:

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 (Daytona 500)

Before the Race:

US-92: Eastbound vehicles on US-92 from Deland, I-4 and I-95 that are NOT going to the speedway are encouraged use Beville Road or L.P.G.A. Boulevard.

I-4: It is urged that vehicles coming in on I-4 proceed east on Beville Road (SR- 400 marked “To South Daytona”), then north on Clyde Morris to Petty Boulevard and west on Petty Boulevard to speedway parking areas. Traffic may also be directed to parking lots on the west end of the speedway via Williamson Boulevard from Beville Road.

Williamson Boulevard: Williamson Boulevard between Beville Road and West International Boulevard may be restricted and will have heavy congestion.

Thames Road: Thames Road will be restricted to event and Volusia Square Mall traffic only.

Flea Market: Those wishing to access the Flea Market should utilize State Road 415, (Tomoka Farms Road), from either Speedway Boulevard or from the south.

After the Race:

Bill France Boulevard: Bill France Boulevard may be ONE-WAY NORTH from West International Speedway Boulevard to the Mason Avenue intersection. Access on Bill France Boulevard from Mason Avenue to Clyde Morris Boulevard will be restricted.

Volusia Mall Parking: Volusia Mall traffic may exit north to Mason Avenue via Bill France Boulevard, which may be ONE-WAY NORTH to Mason Avenue, where traffic may proceed east or west on Mason Avenue. Mall traffic may also exit via the main entrance/exit at US 92. This exiting traffic will be sent east on US 92 and can proceed east to the beachside, or turn north or south at Clyde Morris Blvd, Nova Road or Ridgewood Avenue to access the Interstate system.

Jimmy Ann Drive: Jimmy Ann Drive will be normal two way traffic.

Dunn Avenue: Dunn Avenue will be restricted to local traffic only between Clyde Morris and Williamson boulevards.

Clyde Morris Boulevard: Southbound Clyde Morris Boulevard will be restricted at LPGA Boulevard. Northbound Clyde Morris Boulevard will be restricted at Jimmy Ann Drive. Northbound Clyde Morris Boulevard will be forced south (left) on Bill France.

Airport Parking: Race fans using Airport property for parking should exit east, via Richard Petty Boulevard and then south on Clyde Morris Boulevard to Dunlawton for easy access to the interstates.

Richard Petty Boulevard: Petty Boulevard may be ONE-WAY EAST to the Clyde Morris intersection.

Race fans exiting Petty Boulevard must turn right onto Clyde Morris Boulevard. Central and South Central Florida traffic will be encouraged to continue south on Clyde Morris Boulevard to Dunlawton Avenue. Traffic will turn right on Dunlawton Avenue to access I-95, north to I-4 or south to the Bee-Line.

Williamson Boulevard: Access to I-95, I-75, I-4 and US-1 (north) can be reached via Williamson Boulevard to Beville Rd, L.P.G.A. or S.R. 40. There will be no access to Williamson Boulevard southbound from West International Speedway Boulevard. Williamson Boulevard will be one-way southbound from Gate 40 to Beville Road.

Fentress Boulevard: Fentress Boulevard will be normal two-way traffic between Bayless and Mason Avenue. Access to Fentress Boulevard from Speedway Boulevard and Mason Avenue will be restricted to business traffic only.

Thames Road: All traffic exiting the Volusia Square Mall will be sent south on Thames to Williamson, where it will be directed south to access the Interstate System.

L.P.G.A. Boulevard: Traffic eastbound on L.P.G.A. Boulevard from Speedway Boulevard will experience lengthy delays beyond Champions Drive.

US-92: Westbound traffic on West International Speedway Boulevard desiring to go west should utilize Beville Road to avoid heavy traffic in the vicinity of the speedway.

I-95: It may be necessary to restrict northbound traffic from exiting at L.P.G.A. and SR-40 from I-95. Motorists will be allowed to exit at the next exit, which is US-1 at National Gardens. Traffic wishing to go to Daytona Beach should utilize US-1 southbound.

Traffic wishing to go to A1A should take US-1 to SR-40 in Ormond Beach, and go east over the Granada Bridge to A1A. Motorists wishing to travel west on SR-40 can exit at US-1 and re-enter I-95 and travel south to SR-40.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.