Turfcare for Daytona
Making sure that the grass is green in the infield adds to the appeal of this iconic destination. For the season and for the Daytona 500 in late February, the team at Daytona starts preparation during the second week of November with an aeration and a verticut. During the week of Thanksgiving, they overseed on top of the celebration Bermuda. About 10 days pass and they then use fertilizer and fungicide.
The team prepares the field similarly at the end of March/first of April for the Coca-Cola 400, the big race they host in July. In order to prep the rest of the field once the grass has grown, it’s then a matter of scouting for disease since rye grass is susceptible to a lot of diseases.
After that, it’s basically mowing and checking on the growth frequently. In the infield, the grass is a combination of Bermuda and two varieties of ryegrass. To repair the turf quickly after traffic from a race, we do grow sod in the back that is over seeded with the same types of grasses.
Every year, there is a different pattern in the tri-oval. The patterns come from suggested designs. The Daytona team comes up with a narrowed list and posts them on social media where fans pick from the top three and then choose their favorite design. Once they decide how to do it, they take the winning design and then plot it out on the “football field.” They lay it out with paint and then spot seed to help it grow in a pattern. It takes about a month and a half to get ready for the Rolex 24 race in late January. The grass types that make up that color include a perennial dark color and annual rye as well as Celebration Bermuda grass.
According to Jason Griffeth, Grounds Supervisor, “Caring for the trioval grass is an intricate process.” “First, we start digging and hauling dirt on the field to create two of the most challenging motorcycle dirt courses on the respective circuits - the Daytona Supercross, part of the Monster Energy Supercross Series and the Daytona TT, part of American Flat Track’s national series. Those soil mixes aren’t particularly good for growing grass, so the fact that he gets Bermuda sprigs spread in March to fully root and spread by July, then beautiful again for the rye-grass two-tone overseed for Speedweeks is pretty much an annual miracle.”
“There is a real respect for the field by the racers. The drivers don’t do any burnouts on the turf. That’s only reserved for the Daytona 500 champion,” added Griffeth.
“TruGreen is proud to partner with the International Speedway Corporation for many reasons including that we’ve been entrusted to care for the iconic and beloved turf that’s seen by millions of fans,” said Brent Armstrong, vice president of commercial sales at TruGreen. “Every year, races such as the DAYTONA 500® not only signal the first signs of spring, but also bring Americans out to enjoy time outside with friends, family and a few of their favorite athletes. This partnership fits right into our ongoing mission to help more families live life outside while also being a part of a great American tradition.”
Andrew Gurtis, senior vice president of operations at Daytona International Speedway shares how he and his team prepare for the season, Daytona 500, and the more than 500,000 visitors who watch the race live as well as on television.
Partnering with TruGreen
When we look at the turf and not the track on the Daytona International Speedway stadium grounds, we want it to look as green as possible. Beautiful green grass entices people to visit, especially in the north where you might have snow in February.
When we first started talking about the relationship with TruGreen, they became an extension of our team. We like partners who understand the appeal of the relationship and then the benefits that come with that.
TruGreen is part of our team. They are an outside company but the way they work around our schedules, especially with the track being used all the time between races and weather, has been very helpful because they have to provide us service frequently with short notice. The quality of work, applicators, and techs has been good. It’s important to us because we need to know that it’s going to be done correctly.
TruGreen provides veg control along the miles of fence line and the infield. They fertilize and fungicide the front of the stadium where people enter. They also treat behind pit road, the UNOH Fanzone, in front of the Chevrolet Experience, and quite a few high visibility areas. The main track property is 500 acres and less than half of that is turf.
TruGreen helps us achieve our goals and make our job easier by being a good partner because they offer a soup-to-nuts service. They treat not only miles of fence line but also iconic areas like the “football field,” the Trioval, the front-stretch midway, the UNOH Fanzone, and also the outside banks of St. Augustine grass. They help keep all of the stadium grounds treated. They are responsive when the grounds team sees or has a problem. Our ground supervisor has a professional source to fix any issues. They are proactive in recommending fungicides and treatments.