When it comes to his yearly trip to Daytona for Speedweeks, to say Evans spares no expense is a classic understatement. He drives the RV, tows a car, and pays nearly $1,000 for eight nights in the speedway's massive infield, in one of two plush RV areas the speedway built in recent years. When you pay for an infield RV spot, you are automatically charged for infield tickets to each event for the duration of your stay. That's a cost Evans simply eats, since he elects to go first class and buy four tickets to each race in the track's 2-year-old "Daytona Club" section (that's another $1,600 apiece, which covers the six main Stock car race dates). Tickets in the Daytona Club, located in the Winston Tower overlooking the start/finish line, include access to a huge, fully loaded hospitality tent behind the grandstands.
"When you want to go to a race and spend that amount of time, you want to be in a good spot," says Evans. "That's why I buy the Daytona Club. Now, it's expensive, don't get me wrong. You're paying for it. But of all the places we go, there's nothing close to what the Daytona Club offers."
When the race is over, and everyone begins the traditional traffic crawl, Evans is reminded of why his way of traveling is the only way to go.
"It's such a pleasure not to worry about traffic before or after a race. You don't have to worry about being in a hurry to get out. You just have a cookout, let the traffic go, and then go home."
When the sun goes down, the atmosphere in the reserved RV area inside the track is just that: reserved. And that suits a man who brings along the young family.
"When you're in those reserved areas, come 10 o'clock at night, it gets quiet, and it usually stays quiet until about 6:30 in the morning," says Evans. "It's a great family life, because most of those people have the same interest.
"I've got nothing but positives to say about it. As long as my sewer guy keeps coming along, I'm in good shape."
Whenever the public relations department at Daytona International Speedway wants to tout the benefits the track brings to the local economy, it would do well to use Jack Whitby as exhibit A.
Whitby is a retired car-dealership owner from Dover, Delaware, who attended his first Daytona 500 in 1961 and has missed just two since. Daytona became such a big part of his life that in the mid-'80s he officially made it a second home and bought a beachside condo. A few years ago, he bought a beachside house.
"I started coming down as just a race fan, and now I'm a property owner," says Whitby, who still owns a farm in Dover. Whitby's stays in Daytona have become a lot longer than his Speedweeks visits of years past. He now leaves for Florida shortly after New Years Day and doesn't return home until four to six months later.
Whitby has been around racing for many years. He was the pace car driver at Pocono and Dover for 19 years, and along with attending all the races at those two tracks, he has been an Indy 500 ticket holder for 40 years.
"I'm addicted," he says. "It's one of those bad habits that never goes away."
Whitby isn't the only addict. When February rolls around, he notices a few more faces around the dinner table. "We have so many people come in for the races, I rent a condo for the overflow," he says.
Whitby admits he has become a poster child for the benefits of a local racetrack. "I support the local economy pretty good," he says. "I make it up here (Dover), and take it down there and spend it. And not in a million years would
I have ever come to Daytona if not for the racetrack."
While so many are now part of NASCAR's RV pilgrimage, and a few others go so far as to actually buy a second home, most Speedweeks visitors still do it the old-fashioned way-a motel on the beach.