A Vision Spanning Generations
“Galvanized steel is a very economical way of protecting steel that is used externally. It prevents deterioration of the structure due to rust, and reduces maintenance concerns. It’s the perfect solution to structural steel framing that is exposed to the elements.”
Jim Bannon, Project Director for Daytona Rising
Construction began on a new 2.5 mile “tri-oval” track just a few miles from the beach in 1957. Due to the corrosive nature of south Florida’s tropical marine environment, France and his design partner, Charles Moneypenny, chose galvanized steel with which to build Daytona International Speedway’s original three-section, 40,000-seat grandstand.
The project’s superstructure, bleacher-style seating, fencing and safety barriers were fabricated by Reeves Southeastern Corporation. Reeves also owned Southeastern Galvanizing, which was selected for the zinc application work, due in part to the fact that their large hot-dip kettles could accommodate the long sections of bleacher seats. Southeastern Galvanizing would later become a Valmont® company.
One of things France liked most about the galvanized grandstand was that as new sections of seating were added, they looked exactly like the originals. It also provided a neutral, uniform background that wasn’t distracting to drivers. On top of it all, galvanized steel required no painting or annual maintenance, saving tens of thousands of dollars a year.
After more than 40 racing seasons, samples were taken from 25 different locations on the original structure in 1992 to measure the thickness of the zinc. The standard established for structural steel by ASTM is 3.9 mils. The sample readings came back averaging 4.2 - 4.8 mils, virtually guaranteeing another 70 years of no-maintenance service.
In 2013, a $400 million project called “Daytona Rising” was launched to add luxury suites, more concession areas, additional seating and track safety improvements. Valmont Coatings Tampa Galvanizing was selected for much of the “fan-sensitive” portions of the project, including stairs, handrails and platforms.
Completed in 2016, the renovation brought the total amount of galvanized steel used at the track to more than 100 tons, making Daytona International Speedway one of the largest galvanized structures in the world.