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Daytona Beach is historically known as having a beach where the hard packed sand allows motorized vehicles to drive on the beach in restricted areas. This hard packed sand made Daytona Beach a mecca for motorsports, with the old Daytona Beach Road Course having hosted races for over 50 years. This course was replaced in 1959 by the Daytona International Speedway. The city is also the headquarters for NASCAR and the Grand American Road Racing Association.

Daytona Beach is a year-round family-friendly resort area, but could also accurately be called a seasonal town, with large groups of out-of-towners descending upon the city for various events, most notably Speedweeks in early February when over 200,000 NASCAR fans come to attend the season-opening Daytona 500. Other events include the NASCAR Coke Zero 400 race in July, Bike Week in early March, Biketoberfest in mid October, and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race in January. In the past Daytona Beach catered to spring breakers, but in recent years most of the vacationers have migrated to other sites, like Panama City Beach.

The city and its beaches, lined with hotels, motels, condominiums and houses, attract over 8,000,000 tourists each year. In a wide variety of price ranges, hotel and motel rooms are typically plentiful even during special events. Daytona Beach has high security around its main hotel locations, with multiple cameras filming hotel and beach areas. It is one of the few places in the world where a car can be driven on an ocean beach. Most other driving beaches require 4 wheel drive or other special equipment.

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