For NASCAR fans, it's almost time to embark on the annual pilgrimage to the Daytona International Speedway and witness the sport's premiere event, the Daytona 500 on Feb. 21st. The prospect of 43 cars ripping around the 2.5 mile track at 200 mph is just too enticing to pass up, don't you think?
But, if you're a newbie to the southward trek you might want to heed a few tips about how to best prepare for the race.
The best tip is to be prepared for the unpredictable Florida "winter". Like a box of chocolates, with Florida weather, you never know what you're going to get. Average highs for February are in the low to mid 70s. But, since by the end of February spring is already setting in, it's not uncommon for temperatures to stretch up into the 80s. Alternately, since there are still low temperatures up north, it's also not uncommon for a cold snap to swing through and push those thermometers down to the 60s or even 50s.
And did we mention the possibility of rain? The Speedway is precipitously close to the coast and rain can pop up unexpectedly. Cold fronts might push a line of showers through giving you a few days heads up, but there are no guarantees. It can rain with little to no warning.
All of that adds up to putting on your Boy Scout hat and coming prepared. Florida weather is historically impossible to predict more than a few days ahead, so you want to pack for warm, cold and wet weather. By the morning of the race, you can trust the weather forecast and dress appropriately.
Also note that even if the temperatures are low and the sun is out that you risk sunburn. Pack some sunscreen. If your nose, cheeks and ears are exposed to the sun, cover them with sunscreen. Oh, and speaking of your ears...
Earplugs are a wise investment. The race can get very loud. All of those roaring engines can top 130 dB, which is louder than your ears should be exposed to for more than fifteen minutes. And if you've chosen to watch the race from the stands, know that they are bench style, stadium seats. A seat cushion will make your behind forever grateful to you.
Those are the basics that will help make the race an enjoyable experience. There are add-ons you could bring -- like a radio scanner to eavesdrop on the race crews or tailgate equipment for feasts before and/or after the race -- but, those are not necessities for enjoying the spectacle of experiencing race day in person.