Consider them to be the fortunate few. While millions of people will be watching the Daytona 500 from their living rooms or neighborhood sports bars on February 19, 2006, the fortunate ones will be sitting in the massive grandstands. Those who are even more fortunate will be doing that after having experienced the racing action at one of the area short tracks.

For decades, the short-track racing scene in Florida has come to life early in the year. The construction of the massive 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway has played a role in the development of the short-track programs, but the track's existence could be the source of a love/hate relationship in some ways.

While the Daytona International Speedway events in late January and early February provide a drawing card, there are still thousands who descend to Florida for racing, yet never set foot on the property along International Speedway Boulevard. Their destinations are Samsula, Barberville, Tampa, and other places in the past such as Palatka and Ocala. Those people are there for the exciting short-track racing. A look at the grandstands, campgrounds, and parking lots at those tracks will bear that out.

Florida becomes the showcase for nearly all forms of oval track racing, with cars coming from all over the country. Daytona is not the only place where you'll find drivers who hail from the Pacific Northwest or New England. You'll find them at New Smyrna Speedway, East Bay Raceway Park, and Volusia Speedway Park in great numbers.

Daytona International Speedway
Schedule of Events
Jan. 28 Start of 44th Annual Rolex 24
Jan. 29 Finish of 44th Annual Rolex 24
Feb. 11 28th Annual Budweiser Shootout (defending champion Jimmie Johnson)
Feb. 11 ARCA RE/MAX 200 (defending champion Bobby Gerhart)
Feb. 12 Bud pole qualifying for the Daytona 500
Feb. 16 Gatorade Duel at Daytona (defending champions Michael Waltrip, Tony Stewart)
Feb. 17 7th Annual Daytona 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck race (defending champion Bobby Hamilton)
Feb. 17 Round 1 of the Crown Royal IROC Series (defending
champion Mark Martin)
Feb. 18

48th Annual Hershey’s Kissables 300 NASCAR Busch Series race (defending
champion Tony Stewart)
Feb. 19 48th Annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (defending champion Jeff Gordon)
East Bay Raceway ParkSchedule of Events
Jan.26-28 360Sprints
Jan. 29 Vintage Race Cars
Jan.30-31 Non-WingSprints
Feb. 1 Non-Wing Sprints
Feb. 2-4 Open Competition 410 Sprints
Feb. 6-11 Lucas Oil Late Models
Feb. 12-14 Team USA Modified Lites
Feb.15 Modifieds