Guest Blog: How TruGreen Prepares a Winning Experience at Daytona International Speedway

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Daytona 500 infield

on February 12, 2018 by Andrew Gurtis and Jason Griffeth

2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the running of the Daytona 500, the most iconic event in NASCAR®. TruGreen is the Proud Turf Care Provider of Daytona International Speedway. Making sure that the grass is green in the infield adds to the appeal of this iconic destination. We asked these great partners to tells us more about how they prepare the season, Daytona 500, and 500,000 visitors.

Preparing for the Season

For the season and for the Daytona 500 in late February, we start preparation during the second week of November with an aeration and a verticut. During the week of Thanksgiving, we overseed on top of the celebration Bermuda. About 10 days pass and we then use fertilizer and fungicide.
 
We prepare the field similarly at the end of March/first of April for the big race in July, the Coca-Cola 400.
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. 
 
In order to repair the turf so quickly after traffic from a race, we do grow some sod in the back that is overseeded with the same types of grasses.

The Tri-oval

Every year, there is a different pattern in the tri-oval. The patterns come from suggested designs. We then come up with a narrowed list and post them on social media where fans pick from the top three and then choose their favorite design. Once we decide how to do it, we 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 At Daytona sports car 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.
 
There is a real respect for the field though by the racers. The drivers don’t do any burnouts on the turf. That’s only reserved for the Daytona 500 champion.

Racing Year-Round for 500,000

Daytona International Speedway has stadium seating for 101,500 avid racing fans. When you add in the infield with thousands of motorhomes, teams, and suites, there are well over tens of thousands more in attendance.
 
During the rest of the year, there are so many racing events including the World Karting Association, sports car racing, NASCAR, supercross racing, and the NASCAR Racing Experience, which is over 70 days a year. In all there are more than 200 days a year for racing and 364 days of event each year. 
 
Every year, there are more than 500,000 people who pass through these grounds.
 
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Hallowed Grounds

So many tracks have other kinds of infields but the experience at Daytona differs to fans. In all the brand studies though that we’ve done over the years, it consistently shows that Daytona International Speedway is considered “hallowed ground” to racing fans just like Augusta National, Notre Dame Stadium, and others. When a guest steps foot on the property, they get a unique experience.

Raceday and the Daytona 500

Even for events like the Daytona 500, they can purchase pre-race tickets where some fans even get to go into the infield. They get to see nationally known musical groups like this year’s entertainers Rascal Flatts. There are 40 NASCAR heroes that they can interact with at the race. The “stars” of racing will all be right there. And it’s unique in all of the sports and all the more elevated because it is at Daytona. 
 
There’s a level of expectation about raceday that is a unique experience….that it’s the biggest and the best. It’s NASCAR’s biggest race. It’s where NASCAR was founded. Anything at Daytona is the biggest and the best. A trophy from Daytona means something and that translates into the guest experience in every way. It’s “the show” and the duration of Speedweeks. On top of the year-round care at the stadium, there is a specific 9-day attention to every single detail of the stadium prior to the Daytona 500. It’s the 60th anniversary of the Daytona 500….the Great American Race. The energy is simply unparalleled in sports.
 
There are a lot of exciting things that fans and families can expect from Daytona International Speedway this year. With this being the 60th running of the Daytona 500, you can expect to see tributes to past champions and past race cars. Another exciting guest is Dale Earnhardt Jr. who is the race’s Grand Marshal. He will give command to start the Daytona 500. Also, the world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform the fly over at the end of the anthem….a powerful experience.

Why Daytona Chose 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.
 
It’s been great. TruGreen is part of our team. They are part of us. 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 a lot and often 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.
 
It goes back to responsiveness and proactiveness with an outside set of eyes that “cares” and has something to offer. It’s important to talk to guys on the crew and know that you can trust them.
 
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 5000 acres and less than half of that is turf.
 
TruGreen help 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.
 
If the grass isn't green, then Daytona doesn't look as appealing a destination.

 

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Andrew Gurtis is the Senior Vice President of Operations at Daytona International Speedway

Jason Griffeth is the Ground Supervisor responsible for all of the turf areas at Daytona International Speedway

 

Need a winning experience for your own lawn or commercial property? Contact TruGreen by clicking the orange button at the top of the page.

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