International Speedway Corporation

P.O. Box 2801
Daytona Beach, Florida 32120-2801

Telephone: (386) 254-2700
Fax: (386) 947-6816
Web site:

Public Company
Employees: 1,000
Sales: $647.8 million (2004)
Stock Exchanges: NASDAQ
Ticker Symbol: ISCA
NAIC: 711212 Racetracks

With 11 racetracks hosting more than 100 auto racing events each year, International Speedway Corporation (ISC) is the largest motorsports operator in the United States. Some of its tracks include California Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, and Watkins Glen International. The company also owns MRN Radio, the largest independent sports radio network in the United States; Daytona USA, the official NASCAR motorsports attraction in Daytona Beach; Americrown Service Corporation, a catering service and food and beverage concessions provider; and Motorsports International, a manufacturer of motorsports-related merchandise. The France family owns 35 percent of ISC and also controls NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

Early History

The history of racing and the legendary names of automotive competition in the Daytona Beach area of the state of Florida can be traced back to 1903. Legend has it that racing on the beach started when two gentlemen entered into a friendly wager as to which one of them had the most reliable and fastest "horseless carriage." That one wager, and resulting race, gave rise to what soon became known as the "Birthplace of Speed." Within a very short time, the wagers between gentlemen stopped but the competition to settle who had the fastest automobile continued. As word of the competition grew, and more people began to visit Daytona Beach just to view the automotive races, even the nascent film industry took an interest. The 1905 silent movie, Automobile Races at Ormond, Florida, provided the first glimmerings of an allure that would attract people for years to come. Suddenly, throngs of people came to watch the speed trials for the ever-improving motorized road vehicles. One of the most famous of all the speed trials during these early years involved Ransom E. Olds, the creator of what was later known as the "Oldsmobile" and the first man to engage in a race on Daytona Beach in a timed run.

During the years leading up to World War I, Daytona Beach attracted competitors from around the world to test the speed of their automobiles. In fact, most of the land speed records set during the early part of the 20th century were accomplished by drivers at Daytona Beach. Although the advent of World War I and America's involvement in the European conflict slowed the development of Daytona Beach as the gathering place for land speed trials, nonetheless, the attraction to the Florida location experienced an immediate resurgence following the end of the war in November of 1918.

Through the 1920s, and even during the height of the Great Depression, Daytona Beach attracted drivers who competed in speed time trials. As the Daytona Beach races grew in reputation and prominence, drivers from as far away as Britain, France, Italy, Hungary, Germany, and Spain became regular competitors. Major H.O.D. Segrave of Great Britain was the first man to exceed 200 mph on the beach. Frank Lockhart from the United States died on the same stretch of beach while attempting to establish a new speed record. As the motor car developed in both power and speed, however, the organizers of the Daytona Beach speed trials soon recognized that racing cars were outgrowing the facilities available at the beach. As a result of these developments, it was decided that the speed trials should be relocated to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the state of Utah. The last (and one of the legendary) land speed trials on Daytona Beach was held in March 1935, when Sir Malcolm Campbell in his famous Bluebird V set the best speed ever recorded on the beach at 276 mph.

Having already firmly established an international reputation as the "Birthplace of Speed" in the automotive racing industry, the organizers of the original Daytona Beach speed trials began looking for something new to continue the area's famous legacy. They found it in stock car racing. Although not a brand new sport, the organizing committee initiated a decidedly innovative approach. Regularly scheduled stock car races would be held on a course that combined a portion of Daytona Beach with a portion of a public road. The original course of 3.2 miles incorporated a north turn immediately south of the center of the city of Daytona. Running approximately 1.5 miles on the beach and then turning 1.5 miles onto a paved public highway, the two sections of the course were connected by banked sand turns. The inaugural race on March 8, 1936 signaled the start of a new era in the history of racing at Daytona Beach. Most of the initial competitors were from the United States, but as the reputation of the race grew, drivers from around the world began to flock to the beach once again. Not satisfied with sitting on their laurels, the organizers decided to take the next step and on January 24, 1937, inaugurated the Daytona 200 motorcycle race, the first of its kind in racing history.

World War II and the Postwar Years

Because of the reconfiguration of most American industrial factories in the name of national defense, racing at Daytona Beach was suspended for the duration of World War II. Most of the organizers closely associated with the racing at Daytona Beach were either serving in the Armed Forces or working in various industrial capacities for the American war effort. When the war ended in the summer of 1945, the organizers banded together once again to restart the racing tradition at Daytona Beach.

One of the most important influences on the postwar era of racing at Daytona was a man named Bill France. France, a mechanic from a local shop in Daytona, had entered the first stock car race in March 1935. Although he had finished fifth in the race, he developed a lifelong enthusiasm for the sport of racing. During the war, France worked as a welder and mechanic building submarine chasers at the Daytona Beach Boat Works. But when the war ended, he once again took his place among the competitors at Daytona Beach.

After the 1946 racing season had come to an end, France decided to retire from competitive racing and devote his energies to promoting stock car and motorcycle racing on the beach. A tireless and enthusiastic man, in 1947 France initiated the organizational meetings for what was to become NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. NASCAR was established in 1948, and France and NASCAR became the driving force behind Daytona Beach racing.

One of the most important actions taken by France and NASCAR during the years after World War II was the promotion of a new design for the beach/road course in Daytona. The racing circuit was moved down to the south end of the beach, near Ponce Inlet, primarily because of the growth in Daytona. The newly designed course measured 2.2 miles for stock cars and 4.1 miles for motorcycles. Yet France soon realized that the continued and rapid growth in both Daytona's population and the racing crowds signaled the end of racing on the beach. Consequently, in April of 1953, France decided to form his own corporation, Bill France Racing, and begin planning the construction of a permanent speedway facility in Daytona.

By 1955, France's dream of a modern speedway facility in Daytona began to take shape when he entered into negotiations with the Daytona Beach Racing and Recreational Facilities Authority to construct and operate a $2.5 million motorsports arena. After private funding had been arranged for building the facility, the most up-to-date engineering and construction methods were used to follow the blueprint for a 2.5-mile tri-oval circuit that incorporated 31-degree banking in both its east and west turns. France changed the company's name to Daytona International Speedway Corporation in 1955.

In November 1957, the Daytona Beach Racing and Recreational Facilities Authority signed an agreement with France and his Daytona International Speedway to lease the property indefinitely. One year later, the beach/road course was used the final time for auto racing.

With much fanfare and publicity, the Daytona International Speedway hosted its inaugural race on February 22, 1959. The first Daytona 500 fielded an array of 59 cars and posted a sweepstakes award totaling $67,760. More than 41,000 people were in attendance to watch the first race of the Daytona 500. As history would have it, they were not disappointed. The finish of the race was too close to call, yet Johnny Beauchamp was declared the "unofficial winner" and basked in the adulation of Victory Lane. Unfortunately for Beauchamp, the final results were determined three days later by a clip of newsreel that provided conclusive evidence that Lee Petty had won the close race in his Oldsmobile. The first of many close stock car races that enhanced the reputation of Daytona International Speed-way, it was followed by another dramatic finish on July 4th when Fireball Roberts won the first Firecracker 250 stock car race in a modified Pontiac.

Company Perspectives:

International Speedway Corporation strives to be a recognized leader in motorsports entertainment by providing and improving distinctive environments for customers, participants and employees. The Company is committed to the wise growth and expansion of its operations in order to provide a significant level of growth and profitability for its shareholders, while remaining a good corporate citizen.

The Growth of Racing from the 1960s through the 1990s

During the next three decades, many new races were added to the schedule of Daytona International Speedway. The last motorcycle race on Daytona Beach was held in 1960; one year later it was moved to the Speedway, with Roger Reiman winning the first Daytona 200 on a Harley-Davidson. In 1962, Dan Gurney won the first Daytona Continental Sports Car Race in a Lotus Ford. Other races established during these years included the Pepsi 400; the Daytona Speedweeks, a 16-day preliminary set of races that initiated the major league racing season; the Rolex 24 at Daytona; the Exxon World SportsCar Championship and Supreme GT Series; the Busch Clash and Daytona ARCA 200; the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Supercar Series; the Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Races for the NASCAR Winston Cup, which determined the entrants for the Daytona 500; the Discount Auto Parts 200; the Firebird International Race of Champions; and the Daytona 300 NASCAR Busch Race. The company officially adopted the International Speedway Corporation (ISC) moniker in 1968.

By the early 1980s, ISC had become so famous that the running of the 25th anniversary of the Daytona 500 was a major international sports event. Drivers from more than 20 countries competed for the honor of driving in Victory Lane, which was won by Cale Yarborough in his Super-Pontiac. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan was the Grand Marshal for the NASCAR Winston Cup Race, won by Richard Petty. During these years, corporate sponsorship of racing at Daytona increased dramatically. Racing became known as one of the few sports where commercialism was not only accepted but expected. As a result, major corporations such as Ford, Chevrolet, Gatorade, DuPont, Goodyear, Anheuser-Busch, STP, and Western Auto signed on to sponsor major races at Daytona Speedway, which had the effect of significantly offsetting costs associated with those races.

ISC, which was first headed by Bill French and then by his son, began to expand its holdings during the 1980s and 1990s. Darlington Raceway in South Carolina was purchased in 1982, and Tucson Raceway in Arizona also was acquired. In addition, management decided to acquire a 50 percent interest in Watkins Glen International Road Course in New York in 1983.

The company purchased a 12 percent interest in Penske Motorsports Inc., the owner and operator of Michigan International Speedway and Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania in 1996. It also initiated construction of a new, state-of-the-art California Speedway, located near Los Angeles. At the same time, ISC expanded into areas other than speedway operation and management and racing promotion. Americrown Service Corporation was formed by International Speedway Corporation to operate the food, beverage, and souvenir concession stands at the Daytona, Talladega, and Darlington speedways. Also responsible for providing catering services to corporate customers in suites at these facilities, in 1995 Americrown expanded its services to other unaffiliated sporting events, such as the LPGA championships. International Speedway Corporation added a radio station to its holdings, MRN Radio Network, to produce and syndicate races promoted by the company. Finally, in July 1996, the company opened Daytona USA, a motorsports museum and theme park complex that includes attractions such as interactive media, racing exhibits, theaters, and a racing museum.

At this time, one of the fastest growing spectator sports in the United States was stock car racing, and ISC was at the forefront of its development and promotion. More than 70 stock car, sports car, truck, and motorcycle races were held annually at the company's properties, and nearly 80 percent of its income was derived from NASCAR sanctioned races at Daytona, Talladega, and Darlington. With revenues consistently on the rise, International Speedway Corporation had a clear road ahead for ever-larger profits.

Racing into the Late 1990s and Beyond

Success led to additional growth and expansion for ISC as it prepared to enter the new millennium. In 1997, it acquired the remaining shares of Watkins Glen International and Phoenix International Raceway. During 1999, ISC purchased all remaining shares of Penske Motorsports Inc. The deal added four tracks to ISC's burgeoning holdings, including California Speedway, Michigan Speedway, N.C. Speedway, and Nazareth Speedway. ISC also acquired Richmond International Speed-way in a $215 million deal.

During the late 1990s, the company set plans in motion to build a new motorsports facility in Kansas City, Kansas and Chicago, Illinois. Ground was broken in 2000 and the new speedways hosted their inaugural NASCAR Winston Cup Races in 2001. The company also partnered with Donald Trump to develop a motorsports facility in the New York area. In 2003, Nextel Communications Inc. usurped Winston's 32-year position as the sponsor of NASCAR's premier racing series. As such, the Nextel Cup Series was born out of a ten-year, $750 million sponsorship deal. Brian France, son of France, Jr., was named chairman and CEO of NASCAR that year while daughter Lesa France Kennedy became ISC's first female president.

ISC's close ties with NASCAR left it in an enviable position in the industry, but often left smaller competitors crying foul at its monopoly-like control. NASCAR made changes to its 2004 Nextel Cup championship schedule, favoring larger ISC markets versus smaller markets in the South. A Speedway Motorsports shareholder filed suit against NASCAR, claiming the schedule change gave an unfair advantage to ISC. The suit was settled eventually and as part of the agreement, ISC sold its North Carolina Speedway to Speedway Motorsports. ISC acquired Martinsville Speedway in Virginia in 2004—it used the money gained from the sale of its North Carolina track to fund the purchase.

Key Dates:

Bill France initiates the organizational meetings for what is to become NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.
NASCAR is established; France and NASCAR become the driving force behind Daytona Beach racing.
France creates Bill France Racing.
Daytona International Speedway hosts its inaugural race.
The company changes its name to International Speedway Corp.
Darlington Raceway in South Carolina is purchased.
ISC completes its merger with Penske Motorsports Inc.
North Carolina Speedway is sold; funds from the sale are used to purchase Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

By now, ISC's growth seemed unstoppable. The company's revenues had grown steadily since the 1990s, climbing from $418 million in 2000 to $648 million in 2004. More than 85 percent of 2004 revenues stemmed from NASCAR events. According to the company, NASCAR was the second highest-rated sport on television. It had 75 million fans across the United States. In fact, one in three American adults claimed to be a fan and during 2004, 17 of the top 20 highest-attended sporting events in the United States were NASCAR events. With a growing fan base, an expanding presence across the United States, and the top position in the motorsports industry, ISC was on the right track for success in the years to come.

Principal Subsidiaries

Americrown Service Corporation; ASC Holdings, Inc.; ASC Promotions, Inc.; The California Speedway Corporation; Chicago Holdings, Inc.; Darlington Raceway of South Carolina, LLC; Daytona International Speedway, LLC; Event Equipment Leasing, Inc.; Event Support Corporation; Great Western Sports, Inc.; HBP, INC.; Homestead-Miami Speedway, LLC; International Speedway, Inc.; ISC.Com, LLC; ISC Properties, Inc.; ISC Publications, Inc.; Kansas Speedway Corporation; Kansas Speedway Development Corporation; Leisure Racing, Inc.; Martinsville International, Inc.; Miami Speedway Corporation; Michigan International Speedway, Inc.; Motor Racing Network, Inc.; Motorsports Acceptance Corporation; The Motorsports Alliance, LLC; Motorsports International Corporation; New York International Speedway Corporation; North American Testing Company; Pennsylvania International Race-way, Inc.; Phoenix Speedway Corporation; Raceway Associates, LLC; Richmond International Raceway, Inc.; Rocky Mountain Speedway Corporation; Southeastern Hay & Nursery, Inc.; Talladega Superspeedway LLC; Watkins Glen International, Inc.; 88 Corporation; 380 Development LLC.

Principal Competitors

Dover Motorsports Inc.; National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.; Speedway Motorsports Inc.

Further Reading

Bernstein, Viv, "Next Generation of NASCAR's Ruling Family Puts New Face on Sport," New York Times, February 20, 2005.

Cohen, Adam, "Blowing the Wheels Off Bubba," Time, February 26, 1996, pp. 56–57.

"From the Green to the Pits," Forbes, July 4, 1994, p. 20.

"International Speedway Expands," Wall Street Journal, December 2, 1999.

Lowry, Tom, "The Prince of NASCAR," Business Week, February 23, 2004, p. 90.

Mitchell, Mary A., "Racing Museum Revs Up," Travel Weekly, July 11, 1996, p. F3.

——, "Winter Business Picks Up Speed," Travel Weekly, March 21, 1994, p. F26.

"NASCAR: Unsafe at This Speed?," Business Week, November 1, 1999, p. 90.

Powell, Tom, "NASCAR Touring Show To Make Debut in August," Amusement Business, May 23, 1994, p. 15.

Rouch, Chris, "Red Necks, White Socks, and Blue Chip Sponsors," Business Week, August 15, 1994, p. 74.

Sullivan, Lee, "Brickyard Brickbats," Forbes, April 11, 1994, p. 20.

Waddell, Ray, "Interactive Motorsports Attraction Daytona USA To Open Summer '96," Amusement Business, September 4, 1995,p. 34.

——, "New Daytona USA Tops Projections," Amusement Business, August 5, 1996, p. 43.

—Thomas Derdak
—update: Christina M. Stansell

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