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Race fans at this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona got a sneak peek into Daytona International Speedway’s DAYTONA Rising redevelopment project. The west end of the frontstretch grandstands, containing 40,000 new seats, wider concourses and two injector entrances officially opened, while construction continues on the reminder of the facility. The project will be complete in time for next year’s 54th running of the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 58th annual DAYTONA 500.

What fans won’t see is the behind-the-scenes milestone technology being used. The sheer magnitude and complexity of this project prompted the design-build team of architect ROSSETTI and design-builder Barton Malow Corp., both from Detroit, to utilize the latest Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) technology.

While VDC is being used on a variety of building types, the DAYTONA Rising project marks a high point of consultant collaboration and integration of information in a major sports development. Employing VDC for the planning, design and execution of large-scale, complex sports projects, yields a cohesive design/build experience.


ROSSETTI approached VDC as a strategic ecosystem to integrate and consolidate the enormous amount of information being developed for the project, and to manipulate it early in the design process with foresight for constructability. VDC cut through tedious data management and redundancies; it allowed for design reviews in the model, critical studies to aid decision-making and an entirely paperless project.

More than 25 different software programs were used in the project’s technology toolbox, with REVIT/Navisworks being the dominant Building Information Modeling (BIM) platforms. The 3D model enabled the entire project design team to view design virtually and view elements in relation to placement of systems, such as electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling, and others. The project team also viewed clearances, spaces and adjacent environmental areas, including the signage, ticket gates, the racetrack and the infield. BIM draws from databases of information about materials, quantities, and allows for takeoffs to verify items, such as concrete slabs, steel tonnage, glass square footage, numbers of doors, metal panel quantities, roof systems, railing and seating counts.

A virtual walk-through with the client, International Speedway Corporation (ISC), allowed them to visualize the grandstands, concourse and showed the placement of 11 new “neighborhoods” – rest and relaxation areas the size of football fields with concessions, merchandise booths, eating areas and gathering spaces.


For any sport, the bowl is the soul of the venue. Designers strive to develop sight lines based on a common focal point for the fans. While this is often taken for granted, it was one of the biggest challenges for DAYTONA Rising because of its scale. The focal point varies greatly along the length of the grandstands, due to the slope of the track, the distance to the track and the track elevation. This is very different than a traditional stick and ball sport stadium where the view to the field is 100 degrees. With race cars whizzing past the grandstand at an average speed of 180 mph, the amount of action directly in front of fans is only about .1 percent of the total action on the track. Therefore, DIS required a 180 degree field of view to see the entire 2.5 mile track (or 3.5 mile including the road courses on the infield). 

To better appreciate these challenges, the new stadium at 2/3 of a mile in length actually follows the curvature of the earth. It is the equivalent of three Empire State Buildings laid end-to-end. This sets up an entirely different field of play with its own set of design rules. 

To study these variables, ROSSETTI used its proprietary Sightline Designer, a parametric plug in for Grasshopper, which allowed designers to make decisions in real time to shape the viewing quality of the seating bowl and heights of the concourses. 
ROSSETTI created 30 individual sight line views of the race track compared to the average of six sight line views for other sports venues.

Sightline Designer allowed designers to set a focal point from 20 feet out from the track wall and four feet up from the track, which is assumed to be the roof of a sports car in the middle of the track (this would be the lowest car on the track as NASCAR stock cars are slightly higher).

According to Daytona International Speedway President, Joie Chitwood III, the result is “sightline perfection.”


At the beginning of the construction documentation (CD) phase, International Speedway Corporation decided to keep the existing grandstand’s steel structure for the lower bowl and seating steel. This needed to be integrated into the proposed design, since the original design was all new construction, although ISC had considered relocating portions of the structure to another location. 

To accomplish this new request, a Point Cloud 3D scan of the existing structure was performed and used to create a model of the existing steel. The detailed geometry captured in the laser scan uncovered variations and provided a model of existing conditions, which saved immense field measuring time that would have been required to document all of the various conditions. The process involved setting up a laser every 30 feet or so (each column bay) along the mile long grandstand and recording data. This information was then converted into a 3D model usable by structural engineers, Walter P Moore. However, even with the most sophisticated technology, there are lessons learned. According to ROSSETTI Technical Director, Greg Sweeney, the data still had to be reconciled with some field surveys to get the most accurate information.

The change saved about 3,000 tons of steel and approximately $10 MM while streamlining the construction sequence, because it allowed the existing seating to remain intact for the first few races. To meld the previous and new design together, the ROSSETTI team created bridges through the existing steel with bracing to reach the new seating/stadia installed onto the existing steel. This redesign maintained the wider seating for an upgraded spectator experience.


In the past, suites were built out, like a model home, to help with the selling effort prior to construction. Keeping with the technology theme, ROSSETTI went a step further by developing software and purchasing iPads so that ISC could walk potential sponsors and hospitality buyers through their suites and clubs. ROSSETTI created an interactive PDF to view illustrative renderings and animation sequences for an out-of-the box experience in the spaces. The virtual walk-through saved time and money. VDC not only kept the project on track, it was used to solve three major design challenges. 


During the construction phase, Barton Malow used the models generated by ROSSETTI as a starting point and required all the major subcontractors to develop fabrication models as part of the VDC process. Hyperlinked pdfs were utilized to distribute drawings, details, RFI’s and Submittals. A truly paperless construction site was achieved with iPads in the field to view the model, documents and to add notes in real time. Barton Malow’s field office included multiple touch screens and large video displays to provide connection to the digital documents. 

For subcontractors, BIM showed all the actual elements/ systems, and mounting methods proposed, including underground utilities, concrete piles, foundations, steel, concrete rebar, metal floor deck, CMU, metal studs, stairs, railings, stadia, metal panels, plumbing, fire protection, electrical, mechanical, low voltage, lighting, signage, food service, and more. This method allowed for all parties to be able to better coordinate the installed work and allowed ISC to understand the installed condition before it was built. For example the steel fabrication model alone required 16,000 tons of structural steel and miscellaneous metals. BIM technologies were utilized in the major undertaking for logistical trade coordination, construction management, and RFI communications. This BIM coordination helped shorten the opportunity solving time span in design.


BIM gives the client the ability to use the software as part of their operating system for facilities management: maintenance, repair, upgrades, testing systems and future renovations. It also provides a framework for future expansion. In this way, the model will continue to provide valuable information to International Speedway Corporation for decades into the future.

Check out two additional articles on Design + Technology at Daytona Rising:

Sport Techie DAYTONA 500: The 2015 Tech State of America’s Iconic Race Track 
Slash Gear Daytona Rising: Reinventing a NASCAR icon 
SportsBusiness Journal Upgrades Launching Daytona into New Era