DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s a case of “Gentlemen, stall your engines” in the racing capital of the Sunshine State as a once-popular NASCAR tourist attraction is closing down due to the persistently sluggish economy.
The Daytona 500 Experience, which according to its website “has been delivering magical motorsports memories to both hard-core race fans and casual observers through hands-on activities, challenging thrills and one-of-a-kind sights,” will be closing Nov. 8, laying off an unspecified number of workers.
The Daytona 500 Experience website is still up and running, as the company plans to shut down operations Nov. 8.
The attraction’s parent company, International Speedway Corporation, has laid off 40 employees from its Daytona Beach headquarters since August.
“This is a challenging economic environment right now and we’re seeing attendance challenges, not just at racetracks, but at our attraction as well,” Daytona track president Joie Chitwood III told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Regarding the layoffs, he said, “It’s something you never want to do. You don’t want to have those conversations. If you sit in this chair, it’s something you have to do.”
A 3D IMAX theater at the attraction is also closing, all part of ISC’s plan to slice expenses across the board. The company runs 13 major car-racing operations in North America, as well as the food-service and souvenir provider Americrown and the Motor Racing Network.
Chitwood hopes the closure of the Experience is the last cost-cutting measure at the speedway.
“I hope we are done,” he told the paper. “We want to focus on innovative ideas and new ways to entertain our customers and more reasons to come out to Daytona.
“Dealing with things like this, it’s tough to keep morale where it needs to be. This is the part of the business you don’t want to spend your time on, because it truly is challenging.”